Contents of this issue:
School employee background checks turn up felons
UP students add voices to labor battle
Study: Artificial caps on charter schools hurt students
Board member may face recall for moving kids to new school
DPS still seeking solutions to school violence
Politicians debate school aid surplus
SCHOOL EMPLOYEE BACKGROUND CHECKS TURN UP FELONS
LANSING, Mich. — About 2,500 people with criminal records, including more than 100
convicted of sex crimes, were found to be working in Michigan
schools after a recent computer search by the Michigan State
Police, according to The Detroit News. The names and dates of
birth for 200,000 school employees were compared against the
State Police database. The search found about 4,600 total
criminal offenses, The News reported, with almost half, 2,200,
A package of laws that took effect Jan. 1, known as the "Student
Safety Initiative," is intended to protect students from sexually
abusive school personnel, The News reported.
"You can't educate children if you can't provide a safe
environment," Speaker of the House Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, told
"I'm shocked at the number of crimes they found," a 53-year-old
Ann Arbor man whose fourth-grade daughter was sexually assaulted
by her teacher told The News. "It goes to show that they should
have been doing that (background checks) with everyone they
hire." The News did not use the father's name in order to protect
the girl's identity.
The new laws call for all school personnel to be fingerprinted by
July 1, 2008, The News reported. The laws also stipulate that
anyone found to be convicted of a sex crime must be fired
immediately. Those convicted of other felonies can only keep
their job if the district's school board and superintendent
approve. Until all school employees are fingerprinted, the
Department of Education is giving the State Police names and
dates of birth of job applicants for background checks, The News
reported. The results are then given to individual school
The Michigan Education Association, the largest teachers union in
the state, will not comment until fingerprint data is available.
"We've been hesitant to make any comment until the data is
absolutely positively as clean as it can get," MEA spokeswoman
Margaret Trimer-Hartley told The News.
The Detroit News, "2,500 ex-cons in school jobs," Jan. 22, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "High cost of fingerprinting school
employees," Dec. 6, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Granholm signs student safety bills,"
Oct. 4, 2005
, "2005 House Bill 4928 ("School Safety"
UP STUDENTS ADD VOICES TO LABOR BATTLE
IRONWOOD, Mich. — Students at an Upper Peninsula high school last
week expressed their displeasure with the ongoing labor strife
between the teachers union and school board, according to the
Ironwood Daily Globe.
About 100 students at Luther L. Wright High School wore maroon T-shirts to class that read "What about US!" on the front and "87
percent" on the back, the Daily Globe reported. The "87 percent"
refers to the number of American workers who do not belong to
unions, senior Ian Edwards told the newspaper.
Edwards is the son of a school board member, according to the
Contract negotiations between the Ironwood school board and the
Ironwood Education Association have been tense, according to the
Daily Globe. Union members have conducted two candlelight vigils
before school board meetings, staged an informal picket at school
and have worn blue T-shirts reading "excellence in education" to
a board meeting.
"We want it to come to a conclusion or compromise," Edwards told
the Daily Globe. "It seems a little unprofessional and
Alisha Stanczak, one of the students who wore a maroon shirt,
told the Daily Globe one teacher questioned her and another made
her leave class.
"It's pretty much a drama-fest," she told the newspaper.
The last contract between IEA members and the district expired on
June 30, 2005, the Daily Globe reported.
Ironwood Daily Globe, "Students launch their own protest,"
Jan. 18, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "UP teachers threaten job actions,"
Jan. 17, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Collective Bargaining:
Bringing Education to the Table," Aug. 1, 1998
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Voluntary Unionism Puts
Interests of Students and Teachers First," February 2001
STUDY: ARTIFICIAL CAPS ON CHARTER SCHOOLS HURT STUDENTS
WASHINGTON — A national study released last week says limits on
the number of charter schools in Michigan and elsewhere deny
opportunities to children, according to New York Newsday.
The study, conducted by the National Alliance for Public Charter
Schools, says charter school limits in 25 states and the District
of Columbia mean thousands of families are "stuck in failing
schools," according to a press release from the NAPCS.
"The demand for charter schools is growing," Nelson Smith,
president of the NAPCS, said in the press release. "If we are to
continue to close the achievement gap in this country and create
real opportunity for children, caps on charter schools must be
lifted — now."
According to the NAPCS, more than 1 million children now attend
public charter schools in the U.S.
Nelson added that about 40 percent of charter schools nationwide
have average waiting lists of 135 students each. State-imposed
caps are most severe in 10 states, including Michigan, the
"Everyone agrees that charter growth must be connected to
quality," Smith said in the release. "But legislated caps are not
the answer — and they do nothing to improve educational results.
In fact, caps prevent successful schools from expanding and
replicating. Legislatures must remember that the goal is to
create more high performing schools, not protect those that
New York Newsday, "Study says enrollment cap hurting charter
schools," Jan. 18, 2006
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Impact of State
Caps on Charter Schools," Jan. 18, 2006
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, "The Education Gadfly: Short
Reviews of New Reports and Books: Stunting Growth: The Impact of
State-Imposed Caps on Charter Schools," Jan. 19, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "State-appointed panel recommends
lifting charter cap," April 16, 2002
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Study: School Choice
Threatens School Employee Unions' Financial and Political Clout,"
June 24, 1999
Michigan Education Report, "Support creation of new Detroit
charters," Dec. 15, 2005
BOARD MEMBER MAY FACE RECALL FOR MOVING KIDS TO NEW SCHOOL
FRUITPORT, Mich. — A Fruitport Community Schools board member
could face a recall because his children attend school in another
district, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.
Jeff Moody, elected to the board in 2004, withdrew his children
from Fruitport schools after his election and enrolled them in
Spring Lake Public Schools, The Chronicle said. Moody told the
newspaper in a written statement that the move was due to growing
"We were shocked," he said in the statement. "It did not take
long for our daughter who is quiet, smart and well behaved to
feel unimportant and insignificant in the chaos of 30 fourth-graders."
Moody also said he removed his fifth-grade daughter when the
district failed to address overcrowding in her classroom.
Steve Keglovitz told school board members at a recent meeting
that he had collected 120 signatures on an informal petition, The
Chronicle reported. To officially start the recall process,
petition language must be approved, then circulators would have
180 days to gather 1,120 signatures in order to force a vote.
"It saddens me to have to bring this out in public, but I have
signatures of people who feel along the same lines as me,"
Keglovitz said during the school board meeting, according to The
Chronicle. "As a school board member, you can affect change
within the district if something is not going right, not send
your kid to another district. I look to you to make things better
for my kids, and I think it sends the wrong message to be a board
member and take your kids out of this school system."
School board President Betty Kinney said during the meeting there
is no requirement that board members have children who attend
school in the district, The Chronicle reported. Candidates who
seek school board seats must be 18, a registered voter and a
resident of the district.
The Muskegon Chronicle, "School leader faces recall for pulling
his kids out of district," Jan. 13, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "With Clear Eyes, Sincere
Hearts and Open Minds," July 27, 2002
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in
Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education,"
Jan. 29, 2001
Michigan Education Report, "Public schools of choice give parents
more options," Jan. 18, 1999
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Choice in Michigan: A
Primer for Freedom in Education," July 16, 1999
DPS STILL SEEKING SOLUTIONS TO SCHOOL VIOLENCE
DETROIT — A student was shot near a Detroit high school and a
security guard was robbed as she entered an elementary school
last week, according to The Detroit News. The incidents marked
four violent acts on or near Detroit Public Schools property in
Perry Smith, 17, was shot in the right arm about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday as he walked near Pershing High School, The News said.
The gun fire came from a silver Dodge Stratus. Earlier that day,
a female security guard was robbed of $7 and forced to undress at
gunpoint as she entered Grant Elementary/Middle School, where she
works, The News added. The gunman ran away when a police car
Two girls, 15 and 16, were stabbed during a fight involving the
mother of a third student on Jan. 12 outside Martin Luther King
Jr. High School, The News reported. The following day, an Osborn
High School student was arrested after a gun was fired on school
"Violence knows no boundaries," DPS spokesman Lekan Oguntoyinbo
told The News. "A lot of the violence that occurs on or around
the school's property originates in either the home or the
neighborhoods and then spills into our schools."
He added that the district takes such incidents very seriously
and will continue to meet with parent groups to find solutions,
The News reported.
The Detroit News, "Student shot outside high school,"
Jan. 18, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Two students stabbed at Detroit high
school; shots fired," Jan. 17, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school shootings,"
Dec. 13, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Granholm Signs Student Safety Bills,"
Oct. 4, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "Strict discipline academies,"
May 30, 2002
POLITICIANS DEBATE SCHOOL AID SURPLUS
LANSING, Mich. — Republican legislators and Gov. Jennifer
Granholm are at odds over how to spend a surplus in the School
Aid Fund, according to Booth Newspapers.
Booth reported last week that Granholm wants all K-12 public
schools to get an extra $25 per student this school year. That
would boost the state per-pupil foundation grant to $6,900. The
proposal would cost $42 million, or a little more than half of
the $80 million surplus in the School Aid Fund.
Republican House members last month introduced bills to give
schools $49 more for each middle school student to be used on
improving math skills, and another $18 per pupil for districts
that receive less than $7,200 in state aid for every student,
Booth reported. Those initiatives would cost about $35 million.
Greg Bird, spokesman for the state budget office, said Granholm's
plan would help all districts.
"It's fairer to do it across the board," he told Booth. "We
believe all school districts, all students should benefit."
The surplus in the School Aid Fund is due to a House Fiscal
Agency study that shows there are 5,100 fewer students in
Michigan than was projected, Booth reported. Enrollment is
expected to be about 8,400 students lower than expected next
Booth Newspapers, "Granholm wants to boost funding for every
school in state," Jan. 15, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding: Lack of Money
or Lack of Money Management?" Aug. 30, 2001
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding and Student
Performance," June 28, 1991
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of 148,000 published by the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.