Contents of this issue:
  • Granholm moves MEAP oversight back to Department of Education
  • U.S. House bill would penalize high tuition rises
  • Supreme Court to decide Pledge case
  • Bill would allow communities to secede from districts
  • New education group calls for federal law change
  • REPORT: Wisconsin has greatest percentage of highly qualified teachers

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Monday signed an executive order to move administration of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) achievement test to the state Department of Education.

Former Gov. John Engler moved oversight of the test to the Department of Treasury in 1999 during turf battles over education reform. The Merit Award Board, which distributes scholarships to college students based on MEAP scores, will still be under purview of the Treasury. The Board will also be able to decide the qualifications for the scholarship awards.

Delay in the release of MEAP scores was a factor in Granholm's decision. Schools received scores in August but expected them in late May or June.

Detroit News, "Granholm transfers MEAP test to Department of Education," Oct. 20, 2003

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Granholm Should Move MEAP Test Administration Back to Education Department," November 2002

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "POLICY BRIEF: Which Educational Achievement Test is Best for Michigan?" May 2002

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New federal legislation introduced Tuesday in the House of Representatives would penalize colleges and universities for increasing tuition for several consecutive years.

The bill proposes a "college affordability index" that would compare a college's tuition increases to inflation over a three-year time span. The government will give three years to institutions to correct costs that expand tuition over the index. If a college fails to do so, it could lose access to federal aid programs, work-study, and loans and grants for needy students.

Critics say that the proposed sanctions would only hurt the students it intends to help. "Price controls on tuition will force (colleges) to reduce or eliminate the programs now in place to serve those who find it most difficult to attend college," David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, told USA Today. "And the potential sanctions of colleges losing access to federal programs designed to help needy students will force many of those students to abandon their college education goals," he added.

USA Today, "House bill aims to manage rising costs of college Universities steadily jacking up tuition could lose federal funds," Oct. 17, 2003

New York Times, "Bill Would Penalize Colleges on High Tuition Rises," Oct. 17, 2003

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private Prepaid Tuition Programs Can Help Make College Affordable," September 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Competition Among Professors Would Help Parents Afford College," August 1999

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court announced last week it will decide this term whether the phrase "under God," found in the Pledge of Allegiance, violates the principle of separation of church and state.

The case was last decided in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel found that the phrase's inclusion is unconstitutional.

The Pledge was written in 1892, without the phrase "under God," and officially endorsed by Congress in 1942. In 1954, Congress added the words "under God" to contrast the difference between America's democracy and communist states that outlawed religion.

USA Today, "Supreme Court to consider Pledge," Oct. 14, 2003 2003-10-14-scotus-pledge_x.htm

LANSING, Mich. — Rep. Shelley Goodman Taub, R-Bloomfield Hills, introduced late last month a bill to allow a community's residents to vote to secede from a school district and to transfer their community to an adjacent district.

The bill would permit a greater level of parental choice, said Taub. "If families are not happy in their current school district, they should have the opportunity to change their school district. Parents ought to know what's best for their children," she told the Oakland Press.

However, school officials in the Pontiac area say the proposal would be detrimental to schools. "It just opens up a Pandora's box," Pontiac school board President Richard Seay said. "I don't fault any parent who does the best for their children. But a decision like that has long-term detrimental effects for poor school districts."

Oakland Press, "Bill ignites district fight," Oct. 9, 2003 news.cfm?newsid=10343905&BRD=982&PAG=461&dept_id=467992&rfi=6, House Bill 5065

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A newly formed group of educators and civic leaders called upon the federal government to revise the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2002.

The group, called Citizens for Effective Schools, said punishments for schools failing to meet adequate yearly progress as required by the Act are too harsh and should instead focus on giving suggestions so as to help schools improve. Group members include the New York Urban League, the Education Law Center of New Jersey and a number of teachers and administrators from around the country.

Currently, the law provides specific sanctions for failure to meet yearly progress in standardized test scores and teacher quality, such as requiring schools to pay for private tutoring and transportation to other schools. Dan Lanagan, spokesman for the Department of Education, told the New York Times that there are "no plans to amend the law."

New York Times, "Education Group Calls for Revised Law," Oct. 16, 2003

Michigan Education Report, "No Child Left Behind law demands 'adequate yearly progress' and offers school choice options for parents," Fall 2002

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling," January 2001

Michigan Education Report, "President signs 'No Child Left Behind Act,'" Winter 2002

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — An analysis of data submitted to the U.S. Department of Education shows that of all the states, Wisconsin has the highest percentage of highly qualified teachers in classrooms.

The Associated Press reports that almost 99 percent of Wisconsin's public school classrooms are taught by what the federal government identifies as highly qualified teachers.

Alaska is the lowest-ranked state, at 16 percent; Michigan reports that at least 95 percent of its teachers are highly qualified.

Under the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2002, "highly qualified" teachers must have a bachelor's degree, state certification, and demonstrated mastery of each subject they teach. Each state sets its own standards for licensing.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Study gives teachers near-perfect grade," Oct. 20, 2003

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Must Teachers Be Certified to Be Qualified?" February 1999

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 130,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Neil Block at

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