Contents of this issue:

  • Divided opinion on service tax
  • Group plans seven Detroit high schools
  • Court upholds Grand Rapids privatization
  • Fenton support staff moves to Teamsters
  • College bound in grade school
  • Correction


LANSING, Mich. - A public education advocacy group said Monday that Michigan should begin taxing consumer services at 5.5 percent, while reducing the existing sales tax from 6 to 5.5 percent, as a way to generate $550 million for schools in 2011, according to The Associated Press.

However, in a separate report in the Grand Haven Tribune, a cosmetologist warned that her industry already is seeing fewer customers and that a service tax would create more financial pressure.

Save our Students, Schools and State, a coalition of public education groups, said that a survey of 300 public school districts showed that 86 percent anticipate layoffs in the coming year if school funding is reduced by a projected $268 per pupil, an AP report posted at mlive.com said.

The projection is based on the anticipated deficit in the School Aid Fund and the fact that schools will have to contribute more to the school employee pension system next year, the report said. SOS supports a plan to require school employees to pay more of their own health insurance costs, AP reported.

Service taxes have been proposed in several states, according to a report by Stateline.org, published in the Tribune. Pamela Hahn, secretary of the Michigan Cosmetologists Association, said that a service tax might result in more salons closing and fewer businesses paying taxes, the report said.

"How does that help?" Hahn asked, according to Stateline.org.

The Associated Press, "Survey: 86 percent of Michigan school districts expect layoffs," March 8, 2010

Grand Haven Tribune, "States weigh sales tax on services," March 8, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding, State Budget Explained," Jan. 18, 2010


ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michigan Future Inc. has awarded an $850,000 grant to Detroit Edison Public School Academy to help it open a new high school this fall, the first in a planned series of grants, according to AnnArbor.com.

In all, Michigan Future said it will award $13 million to help establish seven new high schools over the next three years, with a goal of sending more Detroit students to college.

The nonprofit organization said that it will work with existing conventional, private and public charter schools to create the new schools, according to AnnArbor.com. The schools must maintain an 85 percent graduation rate, achieve 85 percent college attendance among graduates and achieve an 85 percent college graduation rate.

The new schools must be open to Detroit students but do not have to be located within city boundaries, AnnArbor.com reported. The funding comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Skillman Foundation, Kresge Foundation and McGregor Fund, AnnArbor.com reported.

AnnArbor.com, "Ann Arbor nonprofit Michigan Future offers new model for Detroit school system," March 1, 2010

Michigan Education Digest, "Charters plan 25,000-seat expansion," Sept. 1, 2009


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Kent County Circuit Court recently upheld an arbitrator's decision that Grand Rapids Public Schools did not violate a labor contract when it privatized transportation workers in 2005, even though their contract with the district had not expired, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

District leaders said that the court ruled that arbitrator Paul Glendon acted within the scope of his authority after a review of relevant information, The Press reported.

The board hired Dean Transportation in 2005 to operate district buses for five years, concurrently privatizing 225 jobs, according to The Press.

Since then the district, the company and the Grand Rapids Education Support Personnel Association, the union which represents the drivers, have been involved in a series of legal disputes, The Press reported. GRESPA is affiliated with the Michigan Education Association.

The MEA filed suit against Dean in 2007, alleging that the company interfered with the union's contract; Dean settled that case for $600,000, The Press reported. Early in 2009, a U.S.

Appeals Court upheld a National Labor Relations Board ruling that allowed the drivers to retain GRESPA representation.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Court backs Grand Rapids Public Schools board in challenge to bus driver privatization," March 5, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Defeating Privatization: The MEA's Legal Strategies," July 5, 2007


FENTON, Mich. - Members of the Fenton Education Support Personnel voted to leave the Michigan Education Association and join Teamsters Local 214, according to the (Fenton) Tri-County Times.

Carla Juarez, chief steward, said that the group needs to be represented by a union that recognizes the needs of the support staff, the Times reported.  

Juarez told the Times that, since 2007, support staff in Fenton Area Public Schools agreed twice to lower-cost insurance, gave up paid holidays for one year and agreed to two years of pay freezes.

She described the union as proactively working with administrators both to save money and protect support staff jobs, the Times reported.

Negotiations will begin soon on the next employee contract, the Times reported.

"It is important to make changes, even hard changes, such as changing insurances and looking at pay freezes, just to name a couple," Juarez told the Times. "It is time for all groups in the district to become part of the solution, not part of the problem."

(Fenton) Tri-County Times, "FESP staff makes union switch from MEA to Teamsters," March 6, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Union Spending in Michigan: International Brotherhood of Teamsters," Aug. 28, 2008


DETROIT - Grade school is not too young to be college bound, according to the leader of a program that says every child has the right to be prepared for higher education.

The program is the California-based "No Excuses University Network," which counts Dove Academy in Detroit as its first Michigan member, founder Damen Lopez told Michigan Education Report.

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

"No Excuses" schools are expected to create a school culture in which going to college is the norm, and in which students are academically ready to do so. That's the reason for the colorful college flags posted in the hallways and the "college-bound" pledge that students recite, Stacey Doctor, Dove assistant principal, told Education Report.

But the program also emphasizes six key academic strategies, including teacher collaboration, a belief children can learn, and use of assessment data, the report said.

Affiliating with an outside program or mentoring organization as a school achievement strategy has gained fresh attention in Michigan recently, the report said.

Michigan Education Report, "Dove Academy: The end goal is a college degree," March 3, 2010


An article in the March 2, 2010, edition of Michigan Education Digest should have said that Superintendent Ralph Coaster is retiring from Lake Fenton Community Schools. The name of the school district was incorrect.

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at

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