Contents of this issue:

  • Enrollment ups and downs
  • Howell: Let's bargain in public
  • Hawaii furloughs cost parents
  • District plans its own writing test
  • Extreme makeover: School edition


MASON COUNTY, Mich. - Mason County Central Schools reported 55 more students as of the state's official count day, but most of its neighbors reported declines, according to the Ludington Daily News.

Public schools in Mason, Manistee, Oceana and Lake counties reported 169 fewer students combined, compared to a year ago, the Daily News reported. There are about 2,045 fewer students attending school in the region than 14 years ago, according to the report.

Mason County Central said it added an extra section of kindergarten to accommodate growth at that grade level, the Daily News reported.

Enrollment is the major factor in determining per-pupil funding from the state, the Daily News noted.  However, as of student count day, the state budget was not settled and schools did not yet know their current-year funding levels.

Ludington Daily News, "Fewer students to count," Oct. 1, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Michigan School Money Primer: Pupil Counts," May 30, 2007


HOWELL, Mich. - A day after the Howell Education Association said that taxpayers deserve transparency on teacher contract negotiations, district officials challenged them to bargain in public, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported.

District interim Superintendent Lynn Parrish sent a letter to HEA President Jay McDowell saying that public bargaining would allow "unbiased, unvarnished presentation of all the facts," the Press & Argus reported.

McDowell told the Press & Argus that he hadn't had a chance to review the letter. He had told the Press & Argus the previous day that "the taxpayers deserve some transparency about what has been proposed."

The HEA and the district are at odds over the union's request for a 1.5 percent pay hike, which it called "modest," according to Press & Argus reports, while the district is seeking a 1 percent payback from teachers, pointing out that other employee groups have made concessions.

The district wants to release the details of each side's "bottom line" proposal as of August, but the HEA has declined. Under collective bargaining law, both sides must agree for information to be released, the Press & Argus reported. The August proposals are already outdated, McDowell told the Press & Argus.

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, "Howell schools demand public bargaining with union," Oct. 1, 2009

Michigan Education Digest, "Howell teachers want raise," Oct. 1, 2009


HONOLULU, Hawaii - Hawaii teachers will take 17 "furlough Friday" days this year, but some parents want to keep school open by renting the buildings and paying teachers privately to show up, according to The Honolulu Advertiser.

Several Parent Teacher Student Associations around the Islands are now calculating the cost per family and feasibility of the plan, the Advertiser reported.

A number of community organizations have said they will offer all-day camps or educational programs on furlough days, but some parents want their kids to be in the classroom, according to the report.

Working parents pointed out that the furlough days will cost them money on top of the taxes they pay for public education, since they will have to pay for child care, alternate programs or to pay teachers to teach on furlough days, according to the Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association's latest contract calls for furlough Fridays for about 13,000 teachers at 256 schools, the Advertiser reported.

The Honolulu Advertiser, "Parents consider paying teachers,"

Sept. 29, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan School District Revenue and Expenditure Report, 2007-2008."


BATTLE CREEK, Mich. - The State of Michigan may not plan to test all elementary and middle school students in writing this fall, but Harper Creek Community Schools does, according to The Battle Creek Enquirer.

The state is piloting a new writing test to fourth- and seventh- graders as part of this fall's Michigan Educational Assessment Program, the Enquirer reported. Previously, all third- through eighth-graders took a MEAP writing test. One reason for the switch is the high cost of grading written work, a process requiring at least two evaluators per test, according to Mary Faley, director of curriculum and assessment in Harper Creek.

Harper Creek already gives students its own writing assessment twice a year and, at the request of school principals, may add a third, Faley told the Harper Creek school board recently, according to the Enquirer.

"Writing is not something you can begin in third grade to teach and then expect kids to be ready to assess in the fourth grade," she told the Harper Creek board at a recent meeting.

Because the new MEAP writing test is a pilot, those scores will not be reported to schools or students, Faley said, according to the Enquirer.

In an article earlier this year in The Grand Rapids Press, state officials said the MEAP writing test was too hard.

Battle Creek Enquirer, "State to drop writing test for several grades," Sept. 29, 2009

The Grand Rapids Press, "MEAP essay exam sacked, but officials question if it's about money or problems with the test," March 29, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Into and beyond the MEAP," Nov. 25, 2008


ISHPEMING, Mich. - About a week into the school year, teacher Carol Cox asked her students what they thought of "Consumer Economics" class so far.

To respond, the juniors and seniors in the N.I.C.E. Community School District had to log on to the class Web site, locate the discussion forum, post a written comment and then log off. So far so good, most of them reported.

Welcome to the world of virtual learning where, as one student said in a post, you never have to worry about leaving your homework assignment at school, but you never have the excuse that you forgot your homework assignment at school, either.

N.I.C.E. wants to expand from a few online courses to a full- fledged online academy, Superintendent Michael Haynes told Michigan Education Report. That's one reason it hopes to be chosen for Michigan's new Project ReImagine program, a challenge to schools to re-think Michigan education.

Michigan Education Report is sponsored by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also publishes Michigan Education Digest.

Michigan Education Report, "State to schools: Think outside the classroom," Oct. 2, 2009

Michigan Education Digest, "Online classes get a boost in some districts," Jan. 5, 2009

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

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at

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