PLEASE NOTE: During July and August, Michigan Education Digest is being
published every other week. We will resume our weekly publication
schedule on Tuesday, August 23. -Ed.
Contents of this issue:
Fundraising project stirs controversy
And now, a word from our sponsor
District taps savings for retiree insurance, deficit
Judicial board censures Kalamazoo union president for misusing funds
Detroit Catholic school may become charter
More federal funding for some Michigan schools
Health insurance study draws heated responses
Test results improve for 9-year-olds; others mixed
FUNDRAISING PROJECT STIRS CONTROVERSY
Lake Leelanau, Mich. — The Leland Public Schools' gardens will soon get
a boost from the "booming sales" of a 2006 calendar that features
several prominent Leelanau County men posing seminude, according to the
Leelanau Enterprise. The $20 calendars went on sale in July at local
stores in Lake Leelanau and Suttons Bay. All proceeds will go to the
Leland Public School gardens.
Though many residents don't like the calendar or the Enterprise's
front-page coverage of the story, the paper's editor noted that, "Those
who participated in this project were indeed trying to help their
The calendar features school board member Cris Larsen and district
Superintendent Mike Hartigan. Hartigan told the Enterprise that the
calendar was "a real tongue-in-cheek thing, but for a great cause."
Leelanau Enterprise, "Good intentions, now let's all learn from it,"
July 14, 2005
Leelanau Enterprise, "'The Naked Gardener,' 2006 calendar features
officials posed in the buff," June 30, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Doing More With Less: Competitive
Contracting for School Support Services," November 1994
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Contract Out School Services Before
Laying Off Teachers," November 2003
AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR
McLean, Va. — The Plymouth-Canton Community Schools Board of Education
has decided to allow their schools to be named after donors, USA Today
reported. Though there are no concrete plans yet to name a new or
existing school, the board wanted to be able to consider a specific
naming proposal if the opportunity presented itself.
Tom Sklut, chief development officer for the school district, told USA
Today that an existing school could be renamed or a planned elementary
school could be named for a donor who offsets 51 percent of the $15
million construction costs. Alternatively, elementary schools, which
are traditionally named for local educators, may have hyphenated names
or may receive a "sponsored by" tag. Sklut told the newspaper that the
board is "working really hard not to throw away history."
While playgrounds and schools-within-schools have been named after
private sponsors, opponents to naming schools in such a way assert that
schools and kids are "too important to be for sale." Susan Linn, author
of the book "Consuming Kids," said, "There's no commercial-free space
in (kids') lives." Still, Sklut points to the district's need to
balance the budget because, "The state does not have the money to fund
USA Today, "Your kid's education, brought to you by...," July 10, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Budgets: A Crisis of
Management, Not Finance," February 2005
DISTRICT TAPS SAVINGS FOR RETIREE INSURANCE, DEFICIT
Muskegon, Mich. — To cover insurance costs for retirees, the Mona
Shores Board of Education dipped into its savings fund balance, The
Muskegon Chronicle reported. The board, which recently approved its
2005-2006 budget, will tap its savings for $2.2 million to pay for nine
years of insurance and an additional $612,000 to cover an anticipated
For the last 20 years, the district has given retirees the option of
staying for 10 years with the district's health care provided by MESSA,
which was founded by the Michigan Education Association. Retirees could
choose this arrangement instead of being covered by the state's
retirement program, reported The Chronicle.
Michael Schluentz, the district's director of finance, told The
Chronicle that retirees' insurance is currently under discussion in
contract talks with the teachers union. Citing "budget challenges,"
district Superintendent Terry Babbitt said that retiree health
insurance "has been removed from most contracts in other districts over
the decades because of the costs." The district has already decided to
provide its own insurance plan for nonunion staff, which is expected to
save $175,000 each year.
The Muskegon Chronicle, "School budget woes may spill over to teacher
talks," July 7, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Education Special Services
Association: The MEA's Money Machine," November 1993
JUDICIAL BOARD CENSURES KALAMAZOO UNION PRESIDENT FOR MISUSING FUNDS
Kalamazoo, Mich. — According to a union memo reported on by the
Kalamazoo Gazette, the Kalamazoo Education Association's judicial board
has censured the KEA's president and its former treasurer for misusing
funds and for "conduct unbecoming of a member or officer of the
Millie Lambert, the union's president, was asked to repay the KEA
$5,000 in mileage reimbursement for school years 2001-2002, 2002-2003,
and 2003-2004. She submitted the expenses in December 2004, even though
her term had expired on Aug. 31. According to the Gazette, former KEA
Treasurer Mark Voege wrote a check in December to reimburse Lambert,
but backdated it to Aug. 23, a week before Lambert's term expired.
Lambert has repaid the amount in question.
Steven Cook, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Education Association,
has also asked Lambert to return $1,243.97, an amount she was
apparently overpaid in other reimbursements, the Gazette said. The
Gazette reported that Lambert had not yet repaid this amount.
The investigation may be expanded in scope. The judicial board for the
KEA issued a statement, according to the Gazette, that referred to
"many serious questions that needed to be addressed concerning the
inflow and outflow of association funds. ... Because of the MEA's
findings, it is the recommendation of this board that there be a total
review of KEA finances during the time that Ms. Lambert served as
Kalamazoo Gazette, "Teachers union censures chief on finances,"
July 13, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Corruption and Collaboration,"
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Michigan Education Association:
Is Michigan's Largest School Employee Union Helping or Hurting
DETROIT CATHOLIC SCHOOL MAY BECOME CHARTER
Detroit — Detroit Public Schools officials and the administrators of
St. Martin de Porres may soon announce the formerly Catholic school's
conversion into a charter high school. St. Martin de Porres is one of
18 Catholic schools shut down by the Archdiocese of Detroit in June,
and one of a few whose leaders explored becoming a charter school, The
Detroit News reported.
The district, which has already established seven charter schools in
Detroit, would open the school to about 250 students, if a contract is
signed next week by district officials and school administrators. The
archdiocese has not been involved in negotiations, The News said.
Although district officials are wary of losing students from
conventional public schools, Dan Bully, head of the district's charter
school office, told The News that he believes the school will draw
primarily from Catholic elementary and middle schools, although
religious instruction would no longer be available. Dan Quisenberry,
president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies called
the charter's opening a "healthy step," and told The News that, "We
shouldn't be abandoning schools in the city."
The Detroit News, "Catholic school may stay open as charter,"
July 13, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Charter Schools: 13 Years and Still
Growing," May 2005
MORE FEDERAL FUNDING FOR SOME MICHIGAN SCHOOLS
Detroit — A report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education
Policy states that Michigan will receive a 4.17 percent increase in
Title I funding over last year's amount, according to The Detroit News.
Michigan, one of 41 states that will receive increases this year, will
receive a total of $434 million in Title I funding.
Kim Zuccaro, school board president for East Detroit Public Schools, a
district that will receive a 20 percent increase this year, told The
News that, "Any additional funding is helpful." Tom Fagan, the author
of the report, said that increases would allow districts to "serve more
children or increase the level of services."
Not all districts will get a boost. Among those districts receiving
increases, Detroit Public Schools will receive 9.7 percent more than
last year's amount, and Title I funds for Plymouth-Canton Community
Schools will go up by 2.8 percent. However, districts such as Ferndale
and Clintondale Community Schools will see decreases, The News said.
The decreases can be seen as good news for districts, since they
indicate that the number of students in poverty has declined.
The Detroit News, "$434 million earmarked for schools," July 12, 2005
Cato Institute, "A Lesson in Waste: Where Does All the Federal
Education Money Go?", July 2004
HEALTH INSURANCE STUDY DRAWS HEATED RESPONSES
Lansing, Mich. — A study released Thursday indicated that the state
could save between $146 million and $281 million by creating a
statewide insurance pool for Michigan's 190,000 public school
employees, according to The Detroit News. The research was commissioned
by the state Legislature and written by the Hay Group, a health care
consulting firm based in Arlington, Va. A statewide health insurance
system for public school employees has been proposed in Senate Bills 55
The report drew sharp responses. House Minority Leader Dianne Byrum
told Gongwer News that SB 55 and SB 56 would "drive people from
teaching" and in effect would not allow insurance companies like the
Michigan Education Special Services Administration, which is controlled
by the Michigan Education Association, to offer coverage. MESSA
currently covers about 55 percent of public education workers,
according to The News. The MEA, Michigan's largest teachers union,
objects to putting school employees into one pool, rather than allowing
benefits to be negotiated with local districts, The News reported.
Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema called the study "powerful," said
The News, and noted that the legislation is an answer to "cost pressure
that's overwhelming many schools." Ari Adler, Sikkema's spokesman, told
The News that Republicans want to do "what we can to preserve benefits.
But ... health insurance has a stranglehold on education financing."
The Detroit News, "Teacher benefit pool pushed," July 15, 2005
The Detroit News, "Michigan teachers blast benefits report,"
July 14, 2005
Gongwer News Service, "Byrum says study could undermine teacher
benefits," July 12, 2005
The Hay Group, "Report on the Feasibility and Cost-Effectiveness of a
Consolidated Statewide Health Benefits System for Michigan Public
School Employees," July 13, 2005
TEST RESULTS IMPROVE FOR 9-YEAR-OLDS; OTHERS MIXED
New York — Several papers reported this week on results of the 2004
National Assessment of Educational Progress, Long-Term Trends. The
assessment was first administered by the U.S. Department of Education
in 1971 and is given periodically to students 9, 13 and 17 years of
age. The tests were last given in 1999.
Average reading and arithmetic scores for 9-year-olds showed increases
over 1999 NAEP results and were the highest since the assessment began
in 1971, according to The Detroit News. Thirteen-year-olds posted a
five-point gain over 1999 scores in math, while reading scores remained
about the same. Seventeen-year-olds, however, did not show much change
from 1971 or 1999. Although they showed a three-point gain over 1999,
average reading scores were 285 points out of 500 possible points in
both 1971 and 2004. The average math score for 17-year-olds in 1973 was
304, which rose to 308 in 1999, but fell to 307 in 2004, The News
The "achievement gap," the difference between average scores of white
and black students, narrowed on reading test results for 9-year-olds
from 35 points in 1999 to 26 points in 2004, according to The New York
Times. In 1971, that gap was 44 points. In math, the gap for 9-year-olds closed from 28 points in 1999 to 23 points in 2004. Hispanic
students made gains as well, The Times said.
State-level results will be covered by Michigan Education Digest when
they become available in the fall.
The New York Times, "Young Students Post Solid Gains in Federal Tests,"
July 15, 2005
The Detroit News, "Reading and Arithmetic: 9-year-olds' scores
improving," July 15, 2005
U.S. Department of Education, "The Nation's Report Card: 2004 Long-Term
Trend Results," July 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Ideology Perpetuates the
Achievement Gap," February 2005
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of 130,000 published by the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.