Contents of this issue:
Detroit-area districts encourage students to attend "count day"
"Quick Start" program prepares students for early MEAP
New law: Michigan schools will start after Labor Day
Detroit Public Schools and Apple Computers collaborate
Proposal "A" drafters positive, recommend modifications
Plurality of Michigan voters support teacher insurance pool
Granholm signs student safety bills
DETROIT-AREA DISTRICTS ENCOURAGE STUDENTS TO ATTEND "COUNT DAY"
Detroit — The Detroit News reported last week that Detroit-area school
districts were encouraging all of their students to attend school last
Wednesday for the official student count. The count determines the
funding districts receive from the state.
According to The News, some Detroit schools were promising pizza
parties and prizes for students who came to school for the count. The
attendance numbers from the fourth Wednesday in September account for
75 percent of the formula by which the state calculates per-pupil
grants. Last year, Detroit Public Schools received $7,180 per student.
Kathleen Booher, executive director of the Tri-County Alliance for
Public Education, told The News that the student count is important
because, "If the count is low, schools may indeed have more students
than showed up. And they of course have to provide an education for
those students, but they are receiving no dollars for them." According
to The News, the student count is especially important in Detroit,
which is running budget deficits and losing students annually. This
year, DPS estimates it will lose 10,000 students and face a $200
million budget deficit, The News reported.
DPS put up billboards and ran radio ads reminding parents and students
of count day, The News reported. District spokesman Lekan Oguntoyinbo
told the newspaper, "We really need our numbers to be up this year. If
we are just one student short, it could throw our budget into a tizzy."
The News reported that Guyton Elementary, a Detroit school, deployed a
town crier with a bullhorn in neighborhoods around the school to remind
residents about count day.
Other area districts, such as Southfield, sent home reminders for
parents and organized parent-teacher meetings regarding count day,
according to The News.
The Detroit News, "Districts push to get kids in class for student
count," Sept. 27, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Schools use tricks, treats to lure students
on 'count day,'" Oct. 1, 2002
Michigan Education Report, "Education At A Glance," Summer 2005
"QUICK START" PROGRAM PREPARES STUDENTS FOR EARLY MEAP
Muskegon, Mich. — According to The Muskegon Chronicle, students in
Grand Haven are preparing for the Michigan Educational Assessment
Program test earlier than ever this year, aided by a program designed
over the summer. The program is a result of a change in when the MEAP
is administered; the test now takes place in October instead of January
The "Quick Start" curriculum, a program put together by five Grand
Haven educators shortly before the current school year began, has been
implemented in the Grand Haven district to help students gear up for
the MEAP. Jean McCabe, a Grand Haven district curriculum consultant,
told The Chronicle, "Our purpose is less about MEAP scores than it is
to help students acquire the skills that will enable them to become
successful on the MEAP and in other endeavors."
Quick Start is an eight-day program that includes materials for
teachers and students. According to The Chronicle, teachers are not
allowed by the state to do MEAP preparation in the two weeks prior to
the exam. Quick Start was designed to get students ready quickly before
the window of opportunity closes.
According to The Chronicle, Susan Boesen, one of the designers of Quick
Start, said students who were using the program, "snapped back into
place, began working and feeling good about themselves."
The MEAP tests English, mathematics, science and social studies, and is
required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The test is
administered annually to third- through eleventh-graders. The early
start time was designed to allow teachers to get test results mid-year
so they could work on weaknesses, according to the Chronicle.
The Chronicle reported that other Muskegon-area districts are
considering whether a program like Quick Start might work for them too.
Some districts say they are relying on individual teachers to get
students ready for the test. Linda Reipma, executive director of
secondary education and MEAP coordinator at Muskegon Public Schools,
told The Chronicle, "After this initial fall testing schedule we may
take a look at the results and make a decision then about what we might
be doing additionally."
According to The Chronicle, Quick Start co-designer Marcia Klemp thinks
her program will benefit students. She said, "We wanted to get the kids
quickly back into reading and writing and get them thinking right away
... (and) we want students to be life-long learners. It's not just for
this test." The Chronicle reported that future plans for the program
include compiling individual teachers' ideas and sharing them with
other school districts.
The Muskegon Chronicle, "Students getting 'Quick Start' on statewide
assessment tests," Sept. 29, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "New MEAP procedure will begin this fall,"
Aug. 30, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "More students to take MEAP; Testing earlier
in school year," Sept. 6, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "ACT scheduled to take the place of MEAP in
2007," Sept. 27, 2005
NEW LAW: MICHIGAN SCHOOLS WILL START AFTER LABOR DAY
Detroit — The Detroit Free Press reported last week that Gov. Jennifer
Granholm signed a bill requiring schools to start after Labor Day
beginning next year.
According to the Free Press, schools must still provide 1,098 hours of
instruction to students, but classes may not start before Labor Day.
Granholm said it would be up to individual districts to decide how to
meet their instruction-hour goal, the Free Press reported.
The bill was supported by tourism officials and business leaders from
the northern and western parts of Michigan, who hoped it would boost
late summer travel, according to the Free Press. In a statement about
signing the bill, Gov. Granholm said: "There is no doubt in this state
that tourism is an important part of our economy. I made sure that this
would not harm education. ... You can have both a robust economy and a
robust education system."
According to Michigan Information & Research Service, three months ago
the governor had not made a decision on the post-Labor Day bill. Low
poll numbers in Northern Michigan may have been a factor in her
decisions, MIRS reported. In a press conference last week, Gov.
Granholm said that the legislation will "jumpstart our economy, which
has needed a boost," and will create jobs in northern Michigan and the
Upper Peninsula, MIRS reported.
MIRS also reported that the Michigan Education Association was
concerned that starting after Labor Day would give teachers less time
to prepare students for the Michigan Educational Assessment Program
tests. Mike Flanagan, state superintendent of public instruction, said
that the MEAP schedule would be revised in light of the scheduling
change, according to MIRS. The union also prefers that individual
districts are given the choice of setting their own start dates.
According to MIRS, in a press conference last week, Gov. Granholm said:
"As a parent and as one voter, I like the idea of starting classes
after Labor Day. But I do things as governor based on what's good for
the state of Michigan."
Detroit Free Press, "Gov. Granholm signs bill to have classes start
after Labor Day," Sept. 29, 2005
Michigan Information & Research Service, "Governor Signs Labor Day
Bill," Sept. 29, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Post-Labor Day start bill could reach
governor soon," Sept. 20, 2005
, "2005 House Bill 4803 (Ban school year starting
before Labor Day)"
DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND APPLE COMPUTERS COLLABORATE
Detroit — Detroit Public Schools and Apple Computer Inc., have joined
forces to facilitate a new high-tech high school project within
Detroit's Crockett High School, according to The Detroit News.
The district and Apple recently reached a $1.2 million, four-year
agreement for DPS to lease computer equipment from Apple for the
project, The News reported. DPS will receive iPods, digital cameras,
software and 780 laptop computers as part of the agreement. Many of the
laptops will be spread out to DPS middle schools, but 240 of the
computers will be used at the new Detroit Digital Learning Community
High School, a smaller, experimental high school within Crockett, which
focuses on creating a high-tech learning environment, The News
According to The News, Juanita Clay Chambers, the district's chief
academic officer, said that the new school is "reshaping the whole
teaching and learning environment. We have found that type of learning
has motivated (students) to do a better job." Detroit Digital will
allow students to take notes, write reports and do other work on
computers over a wireless network, Chambers said.
The News reported that Detroit Digital High is part of Gov. Granholm's
push for smaller high schools that some education officials see as
being more effective than traditional high schools. Granholm's
education adviser, Chuck Wilbur, told The News: "The governor sees this
as the first of a whole new generation of high schools in Michigan. It
is the first of what we will hope to be a wave."
Under the lease agreement, Apple will provide DPS with 100 days of
technology teaching and on-site support, The News reported. DPS is
using federal money to pay the lease.
The Detroit News, "Apple, Detroit schools team up," Sept. 27, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "The answer is smaller schools," Winter 2002
Michigan Education Report, "Schools prepare for the 'Digital Age,'"
PROPOSAL "A" DRAFTERS POSITIVE, RECOMMEND MODIFICATIONS
Lansing, Mich. — A group of former legislators responsible for the
development of the landmark 1994 Proposal "A" school funding law
released a report last week that reviews impact a decade later and
calls for a number of improvements to tighten Michigan's school funding
system, according to Gongwer News Service.
The group is composed of six Democrats and six Republicans who were
instrumental in putting together Prop A in 1994. Only one, Michigan
Senate Minority Leader Bob Emerson, D-Flint, is still in the
Legislature but the group has continued to review and monitor Prop A,
According to Gongwer, former state Representative Lynn Jondahl said on
a public television program last week that Prop A should receive high
marks for stabilizing school funding and narrowing funding gaps between
rich and poor districts. But the group says there are still some issues
that need to be addressed.
The group said the increasing number of funding categories designated
for specific uses, which Prop A attempted to reduce, has "served to
diminish the financial strength of the basic (state) grant." They
recommended changing the way in which school pupil counts are conducted
and suggested issuing per-pupil grants based on the prior school year's
pupil count to ease districts through the transition of losing
students, Gongwer reported.
Other changes proposed by the group include greater flexibility in
using enhancement millages at the intermediate school district level;
finding ways to prevent Michigan's wealthiest districts from losing
funding in real dollars without widening the funding gap between rich
and poor districts; encouraging the Legislature to fix the conflict
between the increase in assessed property values allowed by Prop A and
the requirement for a rollback in millages stipulated by the Headlee
Amendment; and helping district cash flow by looking at when state aid
payments are made, according to Gongwer.
Many have praised Prop A for promising significant property tax relief
and less disparity among school districts. However, as Mackinac Center
Legislative Analyst Jack McHugh commented earlier this year, public
schools "have diligently searched for loopholes in Proposal A's
prohibition on new local taxes for operating expenses." McHugh noted:
"Statewide, local school building, site and sinking fund taxes have
risen from 2.6 to 4.3 mills-a 65 percent increase."
Gongwer News Service, "Prop A Lawmakers Propose Changes,"
Sept. 29, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "School officials find a new 'Proposal A'
Loophole," Spring 2005
Michigan Education Report, "Fix Michigan Schools with Proposal A+,"
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Finance Reform Lessons from
Michigan," Oct. 12, 2001
Michigan Prospect, "Proposal A Forum,"
PLURALITY OF MICHIGAN VOTERS SUPPORT TEACHER INSURANCE POOL
Lansing, Mich. — A poll conducted by Marketing Resource Group for
Inside Michigan Politics shows that 49 percent of Michigan voters would
support a measure requiring teachers and other public school employees
to become part of a state insurance pool to reduce healthcare costs for
public school districts, Michigan Information & Research Service
reported last week.
According to MIRS, the poll results showed that of the 49 percent who
would support such a measure, 26 percent said they strongly support it
and 23 percent said they somewhat support it. Of the 27 percent who
were opposed to the idea, 15 percent were strongly opposed and 12
percent were somewhat opposed. MIRS reported that 24 percent of
respondents did not have an opinion on the issue.
The poll surveyed 600 likely voters.
Michigan Information & Research Service, "Poll: Plurality Like Teacher
Health Pool," Sept. 28, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "District shortfalls spark employee
insurance debate," Aug. 16, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Insurance Analyst: MESSA vulnerable due to
prices," Sept. 13, 2005
GRANHOLM SIGNS STUDENT SAFETY BILLS
Lansing, Mich. — Gov. Granholm signed an 18-bill bundle of school
safety legislation last Wednesday, according to Michigan Information &
MIRS reported that the legislation, which was prompted by media
investigations of sex offenders in schools, was introduced by
Republicans as the Student Safety Initiative in June. During a signing
ceremony in Grand Rapids, Gov. Granholm said, "Parents deserve peace of
mind knowing that their children are safe, especially when they are
away from home. This legislation will ensure that sexual predators
cannot harm children while they are riding the bus, playing on the
school playground, learning in classrooms, or at day care," according
A news release from the governor's office said that Gov. Granholm sent
a letter to legislators in May urging them to craft legislation that
would keep sex offenders out of schools, require background checks on
school and day care employees, allow past sex crimes to be considered
at trial and prevent convicted offenders from returning to classrooms,
noted that Public Act 121, which the governor signed
on Sept. 23, prohibits "certain convicted sex offenders on probation
from residing within a 'student safety zone,' defined as an area within
1,000 feet of a school."
Michigan Information & Research Service, "Granholm Signs Student Safety
Package," Sept. 28, 2005
, "2005 Senate Bill 617 ('School Safety' package)"
Michigan Education Digest, "School safety legislation passed by
Senate," Sept. 6, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Bills require fingerprints for more school
workers; old prints purged," Sept. 13, 2005
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (https://www.educationreport.org
a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 140,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.