Contents of this issue:
- Philanthropist withdraws $200 million charter offer
- Former union head charged with conspiracy
- Some districts may turn down laptop program
- Head Start reauthorization deadline passes, bill still deadlocked
- Senate abandons D.C. voucher bill
- Minnesota teachers to be paid up to $100,000
PHILANTHROPIST WITHDRAWS $200 MILLION CHARTER OFFER
DETROIT, Mich. — Weeks of bickering and infighting in the state
capitol has caused a Detroit philanthropist to withdraw his $200
million offer to build 15 new charter schools in Detroit.
Bob Thompson, founder of the Thompson Foundation, made the
announcement last Thursday, even after Attorney General Mike Cox
certified the state law allowing the schools to be built,
because a veto message from Gov. Granholm wasn't submitted
within the allotted time period of 14 days. Cox's ruling
immediately touched off threats of a lawsuit to block the
legislation and charges that Cox, a Republican, had politicized
his office. Democrat Granholm announced she wouldn't recognize
the bill as law.
"I am disappointed and saddened by the anger and hostility that
has greeted our proposal," said Thompson in a prepared statement.
The controversy "has been very distressing to all of us involved
in the project with the Thompson Foundation. It has taken a
personal toll on my wife and me."
The Thompson Foundation opened a Detroit charter school last
month that was to serve as the model for the 15 charters that
would have been built in the city.
Detroit News, "Benefactor withdraws $200 million for charters,"
Oct. 3, 2003
Detroit Free Press, "Statement from Bob Thompson," Oct. 3, 2003
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Detroit School Establishment
Turns Away $200 million Gift," October 2003
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Time to Stop Beating Up on
Charter Schools," November 2002
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Charter Schools Don't Need
More Michigan Department of Education 'Oversight,'" August 2003
FORMER UNION HEAD CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The former chief of the Washington Teachers'
Union was indicted Friday on allegations of mail fraud and
conspiracy resulting in the looting of over $2.5 million from the
The charges specify that, between November 1995 and October 2002,
Barbara A. Bullock conspired with her assistant, Gwendolyn M. Hemphill and former union treasurer James O. Baxter to use union
money to buy luxury items, artwork and tickets to entertainment
Bullock also ordered the District of Columbia to levy a $144
payroll surcharge on each teacher's paycheck — most of which was
taken and divided among Bullock, Hemphill, and Baxter. Hemphill
and Baxter have not been charged in the case, but the American
Federation of Teachers is suing the three for restitution of lost
CNN, "Former teachers' union chief charged in conspiracy,"
Oct. 6, 2003
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teachers Unions: Helping or
SOME DISTRICTS MAY TURN DOWN LAPTOP PROGRAM
DETROIT, Mich. — Some Michigan districts may turn down the
state's offer to provide sixth-graders with laptops because of
the potential costs for maintenance and upkeep, even though the
computers would be sold to districts for $25 per student.
The deal may be too good to be true, said Southfield Public
Schools Spokesman Ken Siver. "There is a little bit of resentment
here that the state would make the announcement of free laptops
that aren't really free." In addition, districts have received no
word from the state about how the program should be implemented.
"No one can get the full picture," Nancy Sisung, assistant
superintendent for Warren Consolidated Schools, told the Detroit
Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she hasn't heard any official
complaints from districts. "I've heard people are very excited
about it," she said. But because of tight budgets, some districts
are in a tough financial position that may prevent them from
accepting the offer. Yet, school administrators "... don't want to
be the grinch that stole the sixth-graders laptops," Siver said.
Detroit News, "Districts line up in laptop opposition,"
Oct. 6, 2003
Pioneer Press, "Laptops put to the test," Oct. 5, 2003
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Giving Laptops to Sixth
Graders Won't Improve Their Education," July 2003
HEAD START REAUTHORIZATION DEADLINE PASSES, BILL STILL DEADLOCKED
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate Democrats and President Bush are in
stalemate over a bill to reauthorize the Head Start program.
The official deadline to sign the reauthorization bill into law
passed last week, leaving the $6.6 billion program's future in
the doubt. The two sides disagree on whether to give some states
control of the program and the curriculum.
In July, the House approved the proposal by one vote, only after
trimming down the major changes that Bush and several key
Republicans had planned. "Some people say, 'If it ain't broke,
don't fix it,'" Wade Horn, assistant secretary of Health and
Human Services, told the Knight Ridder-Tribune News Service. "The
president says, 'If it ain't perfect, make it better.'"
Detroit Free Press, "Controversy clouds future of Head Start,"
Sept. 30, 2003
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Hyping the Head Start
Program," April 1993
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Re-Hyping the Head Start
Program," August 2003
SENATE ABANDONS D.C. VOUCHER BILL
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A possible Democrat filibuster, the war in
Iraq, and an 11-day recess forced GOP senators to withdraw their
bill requesting $13 million for school choice vouchers in the
District of Columbia.
The bill would give eligible children up to $7,500 per year to
attend the school of their choice, public or private. District
Mayor Anthony Williams and Board of Education President Peggy
Cooper Cafritz, both Democrats, support the program. Proponents
of the program say that congressional infighting over the bill is
holding children back. Detractors are "saying to the children
they're just casualties of the politics of the Senate — tough
luck," said Senate education committee chairman Judd Gregg, R-
Some Democrats said Republicans are to blame for the stalemate
because of bill logistics, timing, and widespread opposition to
the plan before the bill was introduced. The GOP "... wants to
impose [vouchers] on the District," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-
Mass., told the Washington Post.
Washington Post, "Senate Backs Off D.C. School Vouchers,"
Oct. 1, 2003
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Friedman Says Vouchers and
Tax Credits Useful Route to Greater School Choice,"
March 19, 2002
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in
Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education,"
Jan. 29, 2001
MINNESOTA TEACHERS TO BE PAID UP TO $100,000
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The governor of Minnesota wants to pay some
teachers up to $100,000 in pilot projects to see if financial
incentives help raise student achievement.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who introduced the plan last week, said
principals in certain areas would get sweeping powers to hire and
fire "super teachers," powers that would operate outside the
constraint of union contracts. Then, based upon student
performance and achievement, teachers could be paid bonuses of
$20,000 to $40,000.
Pawlenty said that Minnesota's achievement gap between black and
white students must be reduced in any way possible. "This is a
way to demonstrate whether by paying teachers more — in some
cases dramatically more — that we can retain the best and the
brightest to benefit children. How could you be opposed to that?"
Star Tribune, "Pawlenty pitches paying 'super teachers' up to
$100,000," Oct. 2, 2003
Michigan Education Report, "Incentives for Teacher Performance in
Government Schools: An Idea Whose Time Has Come," Spring 2002
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