National standards, film project, contract concessions

Contents of this issue:

  • Michigan adopts national standards
  • 'Wannabes' may not return to Howell
  • Livonia considers charter school
  • Salary survey under way
  • Concessions save support jobs


LANSING, Mich. — Michigan has agreed to integrate "Common Core State Standards" into its public education system, part of a national effort to have every state adopt the same academic standards in English and math, according to press releases from involved organizations.

The State Board of Education unanimously adopted the standards at its June meeting, calling them an "instructional blueprint" for K-12 schools based on what is taught in top-performing states and countries globally, according to a press release from the Michigan Department of Education.

All states are being invited to adopt the "Common Core." By 2014, Michigan students will be tested on the content found in the new standards.

Michigan upgraded its own standards for elementary education in 2004 and for certain high school curricula in 2006. The new national standards align well with those, meaning the state will see minimal changes, according to the release.

Michigan State University Professor William Schmidt, who helped develop the national math standards, said he believes they will help reform U.S. education, according to an MSU press release.

Michigan Department of Education, "State Board of Education Unanimously Adopts Common Core Standards," June 15, 2010

Michigan State University, "MSU professor applauds release of national education standards," June 2, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Recipe for Failing Schools," Aug. 27, 2009


HOWELL, Mich. — Filming of "The Wannabes Starring Savvy" wrapped for the season in May, and whether the production returns to Parker High School in Howell may depend on the outcome of claims and counterclaims regarding alcohol use, building damage and educational value, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported.

Howell Public Schools Superintendent Ron Wilson told the Press & Argus that he has no interest in extending a lease with S3 Entertainment Group LLC, the Ferndale-based company that uses the high school as a film site. However, he has not officially requested the school board to reject an extension, the Press & Argus reported.

Wilson said there has been damage to the building and two instances of alcohol consumption on site and that the company only provided "minimal educational value" to school district students, according to the Press & Argus.

Jeff Spilman, managing partner of S3, told the Press & Argus that the company hosted several film classes and numerous visits to the set, that any building damage would be repaired as required in the lease and that the ban on alcoholic beverages was "buried" in the lease. One of the instances of alcoholic consumption took place among VIP guests at a charity event, the Press & Argus reported.

Though the company would like to continue to use the school long-term, it has only asked for a six-week lease extension because it doesn't feel welcome, Spilman said, according to the Press & Argus.

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, "Howell may call filming a wrap at district facility," June 20, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Michigan Film Incentive: EMS and Child Day Care vs. Movies."


LIVONIA, Mich. — Livonia Public Schools may grant a charter to a Japanese American school that would open to kindergarteners in September, according to The (Livonia) Observer.

 The Japanese American School of Southeast Michigan would be located in a former elementary school in the district and would be affiliated with a private Japanese American preschool already operating at that site, The Observer reported.

The Livonia school board would be responsible for overseeing the public charter school, including appointing the board of directors and monitoring its performance, according to The Observer. The district would receive 3 percent of the school's per-pupil state aid, plus reimbursement for any services it provides and rent for the space at McKinley. The district also will receive $5,000 per pupil for any JASSEM student who also lives within the Livonia school boundaries, The Observer reported.

School officials said the arrangement is expected to bring $40,000 into Livonia Public Schools in the first year and offer a high-quality opportunity to students, The Observer reported. Donna McDowell, administrator of communications, called it a "cutting edge move" for a K-12 district, since most public charter schools are authorized by universities or intermediate school districts.

The (Livonia) Observer, "Livonia district eyes charter school," June 18, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Two languages, two cultures, one global citizen," May 21, 2010


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A study of how college salaries compare across Michigan has been delayed until mid-September, when it may be used to determine future wages at Grand Rapids Community College, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Municipal Consulting of Ann Arbor was hired by GRCC to conduct the study and said it is collecting information on wages and job descriptions from 13 colleges and two municipalities, The Press reported.

GRCC President Steven Ender has said that some of the college's salaries are "approaching being excessive and unsustainable," The Press reported. He said he will not propose salary cuts, but may seek to freeze some, the report said.

The Press reviewed GRCC salaries in 2007 and found that nearly half of full-time professors made more than $100,000 when base salaries and overtime were combined.

Professors in early 2008 agreed to a three-year contract providing a 2.25 raise the first year and 2 percent in the two subsequent years, while amending the overtime system, The Press reported.

Ender was hired last year with a base salary of $180,000, which he voluntarily cut to $176,400, putting the difference in a fund for needy students, The Press reported. His contract includes a $15,000 housing stipend, a $6,000 car allowance and a $25,000 expense account.

The Grand Rapids Press, "GRCC salary study pushed back to mid-September," June 18, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "15 Specific Ideas to Move Michigan Forward," June 7, 2010


JACKSON, Mich. — Support staff in Northwest Community Schools will switch health insurance plans and pay 10 percent of their own premiums as part of an agreement that also will protect their jobs, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

The Northwest Education Support Personnel Association agreed to concessions that, combined with retirements, will amount to an approximate $850,000 reduction in labor costs, The Citizen Patriot reported. The district is no longer considering outsourcing its support services.

The district learned it could save $400,000 in transportation costs and $500,000 in custodial costs by contracting with private companies, according to The Citizen Patriot.

Union President Lindy Loughlin told The Citizen Patriot that union members approved the concessions overwhelmingly rather than face losing their jobs.

"Our main priority was to keep our people — whatever it took," Loughlin said.

The support staff now will enroll in health care plans through Priority Health, rather than the Michigan Education Special Services Association, an insurance administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association. The new plan will include health savings accounts. The change is expected to reduce costs by $400,000.

Retirements among the support are expected to save an additional $450,000, The Citizen Patriot reported.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Union members of Northwest Community Schools' support staff accept enough concessions to avoid privatization," June 16, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Health Savings Accounts Can Save Michigan Money," June 30, 2009

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 med@educationreport.org

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to