Contents of this issue:
Jewish day school no longer recognizes teachers union
GRPS private busing gets positive reviews
Lansing schools offer to help Katrina evacuees
Study concludes school funding outpaces inflation under Prop A
MEA protests Lakeview contract
School safety legislation passed by state Senate
More students to take MEAP; Testing earlier in school year
Mackinac Center to award four $1,000 scholarships
JEWISH DAY SCHOOL NO LONGER RECOGNIZES TEACHERS UNION
Detroit — The 21-member board of directors at Farmington Hills' Hillel
Day School of Metropolitan Detroit decided to end their recognition of
the Hillel Federation of Teachers last week, according to the Detroit
Free Press. The move comes days after a Michigan Court of Appeals
decision that prevented unionization of teachers at a suburban Detroit
Catholic high school.
Steve Freedman, the head of Hillel, told the Free Press that the school
"doesn't need an outside organization" to be involved in decisions
about how to best serve Hillel's teachers, administrators and parents.
Teachers at Hillel began work last week by signing their own individual
service agreements with the school. The union had been in the process
of negotiating a new contract when the school's board of directors
voted unanimously to end discussion with the union. The Free Press
reported that under the new individual contracts, pay will increase by
up to 17 percent for some teachers, and benefits will stay the same.
Teachers at Hillel earn an average yearly salary of $50,000. They are
some of the most highly paid private school teachers in the country,
According to New York's Forward newspaper, Hillel Federation of
Teachers head Robin Lash said that the board acted unilaterally and
that the teachers were "quite somber." However, Freedman told Forward
that the teachers are "moving on" and "very excited" about their new
students. He added that the school has a right "to govern itself — to
set its own curriculum, to determine the credentials of its teachers —
without outside parties."
Forward speculated that the Michigan Court of Appeals decision could
affect other religious schools in the state.
Forward, "School Boots Teachers' Union, Fueling," Sept. 2, 2005
Detroit Free Press, "Hillel School board ends recognition of union,"
Aug. 23, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Michigan Catholic School Remains
Union-Free," Aug. 22, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Court rules against union in Brother Rice
case," Aug. 23, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "Brother Rice case in court," Spring 2005
GRPS PRIVATE BUSING GETS POSITIVE REVIEWS
Grand Rapids, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Press reported Wednesday that
Grand Rapids Public Schools received fewer transportation-related phone
calls than usual on its first day of school last week. Last June, the
GRPS school board voted to contract with Dean Transportation to operate
its busing service in a deal that is projected to save the district $18
million over the next five years.
GRPS Superintendent Bert Bleke told The Press Wednesday that the issue
had been "emotional and politically charged," but that he still
believes contracting with Dean Transportation was "a good decision."
The Press article said that union leaders are "uncomfortable" with the
The first day of service went smoothly, said Dean Transportation owner
Kellie Dean, except for some delayed elementary school routes, The
Press reported. Dean told The Press, "I think we had a good day."
Dean Transportation hired 40 drivers from among 400 applicants seeking
positions not filled by the 125 GRPS drivers rehired by Dean. Dean's
drivers are getting different retirement and health benefits, and
contribute between $193 and $882 per month for health insurance
premiums. The company is also paying its employees who formerly worked
for GRPS a weekly bonus of $250 to ease the transition, The Press said.
Dean drivers spent the summer in training sessions before the start of
school last week.
Dean driver Oscar Lowery, one of many former GRPS drivers who have been
hired by the company, said, "Change is scary, and there were a lot of
people worried about what was going to happen. A lot of times, a new
company will come in and kick everyone to the curb. But we've been
treated very well."
The Grand Rapids Press, "GRPS reports fewer calls than usual on first
day of private bus service, Aug. 31, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "Grand Rapids union privatizes busing,"
LANSING SCHOOLS OFFER TO HELP KATRINA EVACUEES
Lansing, Mich. — The Lansing State Journal reported Friday that closed
school buildings in Lansing and Detroit may be used to house victims of
hurricane Katrina. The effort to offer shelter is being headed up by
Lansing educator Freya Rivers, with help from the Michigan Legislative
Black Caucus and the Lansing School District, according to the Journal.
The Lansing district's spokeswoman Roni Rucker Waters told the Journal,
"Our buildings are empty and ready to accommodate the families who are
in need." The Journal also reported that Dean Transportation has
volunteered to bus people from New Orleans to Lansing.
Lansing State Journal, "Recently closed Lansing schools could house
hundreds of refugees," Sept. 2, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Storm Drain," Oct. 7, 2004
STUDY CONCLUDES SCHOOL FUNDING OUTPACES INFLATION UNDER PROP A
Lansing, Mich. — An Anderson Economic Group study shows that "schools
have been well-funded since Proposal A passed in 1994," according to a
Michigan Information and Research Service report last week.
AEG's Scott Watkins analyzed school finance data and concluded that
average school revenue and expenses in the state grew at rates
exceeding inflation and consumer prices. Watkins told MIRS, "I think
there's a lot of misunderstanding of the amount of funding that schools
are getting. There's a lot of misinformation being put out there by the
school lobbying groups."
Tom White of Michigan School Business Officials and chairman of the K-16 Coalition, a group that is lobbying to require annual spending
increases for education, told MIRS that the data seems "factual," but
that, "There are so many different ways to look at the numbers."
According to MIRS, White compared the minimum per-pupil state grants in
January 1995 and January 2005, and claimed that schools relying on the
minimum grant received only a 0.72 percent actual revenue increase
But, according to Watkins, "If you look at the operating revenue and
compare that to inflation, the per-pupil operating revenues are up 55
percent and inflation has only been 21 percent during that period. That
excludes the 217 percent explosion in property tax revenue for debt
sinking funds and millages."
MIRS Capitol Capsule, "Go Figure — Two Sides To Education Numbers
Game," Sept. 1, 2005
Anderson Economic Group, "Recent growth in public K-12 spending,
revenues outpaces inflation," Aug. 29, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "K-16 Coalition begins circulating petition
for inflationary increases," Aug. 23, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "K-12 spending guarantee ignores economics,"
Michigan Education Report, "Jen and the art of education," Summer 2005
MEA PROTESTS LAKEVIEW CONTRACT
St. Clair Shores, Mich. — According to The Macomb Daily, teachers from
various school districts in Macomb County demonstrated last week on
behalf of teachers from Lakeview Public Schools. The district ended
stalled negotiations with teachers last month and imposed a new
About 200 teachers marched up and down 11 Mile Road in St. Clair Shores
to show their support for the 182 Lakeview teachers who they say are
not getting a fair deal, according to The Daily.
Michigan Education Association President Lu Battaglieri told the
newspaper that teachers "are being denied a fair and equitable
contract." He said that the district "forced members of our union to
accept the insurance they want us to have, not the insurance we want to
have," and told the demonstrators they were being "denigrated,
devalued, and demoralized," according to The Daily. "This could end up
in the courts with litigation. But I have a stable of attorneys in
Lansing who are ready to fight the fight," Battaglieri said.
Last week, Michigan Education Digest reported that the new Lakeview
contract dropped the Michigan Education Special Services Association,
an insurance administrator established by the MEA. The district
estimated that the change of insurance administrators could save up to
The Macomb Daily, "Teachers from across county join Lakeview in rally,
march," Aug. 30, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Lakeview Public Schools drops MESSA,"
Aug. 30, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "4M: The real structural problem,"
Feb. 16, 2005
SCHOOL SAFETY LEGISLATION PASSED BY STATE SENATE
Detroit — A package of bills that seeks to protect Michigan's school
children from sex offenders was passed unanimously by the Michigan
Senate last week, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to sign the legislation. She said in
a statement, "Michigan will not rest until we have done everything we
can to keep the 'bad guys' away from our children."
, one of the bills, Senate Bill 129,
would "prohibit a person on the sexual offenders registry from living,
working or loitering within 1,000 feet of a school, with certain
exceptions for those convicted of less serious non-coercive crimes or
for certain offences committed as a juvenile." The bills would
institute background checks for all school employees, not only teachers
and administrators. Other provisions would increase penalties for sex
offenders not reporting necessary information to law enforcement, the
Free Press reported.
The Free Press also noted that last year state auditors found that 222
licensed school workers, many of whom were teachers, had criminal
records. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is concerned
that the current registry system includes people who "aren't dangerous
to society," Shelli Weisberg, an ACLU lobbyist, told the Free Press.
Detroit Free Press, "Legislature approves bills to protect children
from sex offenders," Aug. 31, 2005
The Detroit News, "Granholm gets child safety bills," Sept. 2, 2005
, "2005 Senate Bill 129 (Establish sex offender parole
Michigan Education Report, "The three P's of school safety," Fall 2000
MORE STUDENTS TO TAKE MEAP; TESTING EARLIER IN SCHOOL YEAR
Detroit — This fall, there will be a 75 percent increase over last year
in the number of Michigan students who will be taking the Michigan
Educational Assessment Program test, The Detroit News reported.
The state Department of Education says the number of students taking
the test will rise from 520,000 last year to 910,000 this year, due
mainly to the fact that third- and sixth-graders will now be included,
in compliance with federal law. Students in grades three through eight
will take math and English MEAP tests; students in fifth and eighth
grade will take a science MEAP test; and sixth- and ninth-graders will
be tested in social studies.
As well as including more students, the tests will be moved from their
old dates in January and February to a date in October. The News
reported that some schools opted to start before Labor Day, in part to
accommodate the testing changes. "With the testing in early fall, we
wanted to put students in a better position to be successful," said Ron
Simon, superintendent of Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools, a
district northwest of Lansing.
Michigan Education Association spokeswoman Margaret Trimer-Hartley told
The News that the union is concerned about an overemphasis on MEAP
tests, especially with the first-time participation of third-graders.
"If you make them fill in bubbles with a No. 2 pencil on a test like
this, you could cut off that enthusiasm (for education) for a lot of
them. It raises a host of issues in the classroom."
The MEAP is the main component in measuring Adequate Yearly Progress
under the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.
The Detroit News, "This school year, more pupils to take Michigan
standardized tests," Sept. 2, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "New MEAP procedure will begin this fall,"
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Which educational achievement test
is best for Michigan?" May 28, 2002
MACKINAC CENTER TO AWARD FOUR $1,000 SCHOLARSHIPS
High School Teachers: Help one of your students win a $1,000 College
Scholarship!* Join the Mackinac Center for Public Policy for our annual
High School Debate Workshops. For further details please visit
, or call (989) 631-0900.
*A $1,000 college scholarship will be awarded to one student from each
Debate Workshop. An essay topic will be released the day of the
workshop. Essays will be judged by a panel, and authors of the winning
essays will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Students must attend the
workshop to apply.
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of 140,000 published by the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.