Consolidation study questioned, performance pay, Teach for America

Contents of this issue:

  • MSU investigates school consolidation study
  • Granholm plan shifts surplus to community colleges
  • Half of districts complying with data law
  • Performance pay approved in Mount Clemens
  • Nearly 19,000 apply for 71 teaching jobs
  • Teach for America sends four to new Detroit charter


EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University is investigating concerns raised by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy that some material in a study of school consolidation may have been plagiarized, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In addition to the question of potentially copied material, the Mackinac Center also said that the methodology used by MSU's Education Policy Center in concluding that the state could save $612 million annually by consolidating school districts is "seriously flawed," Michael Van Beek, the center's director of education policy, told AnnArbor.com.

The university says that it stands by the economic conclusions reached in the study, as does the Grand Rapids Press and seven affiliated Booth Newspapers, which commissioned the work and reported the findings, according to the Free Press.

The Mackinac Center, which also publishes Michigan Education Digest, raised the issue after spotting material in the study that matched text from other studies and reports, but was not attributed to those sources, the Free Press reported.

MSU has since posted a revised online version of the study, with more attribution, at its website, according to the Free Press.

The Mackinac Center's own 2007 study on school consolidation concluded that while some districts operate more efficiently than others, forcing small districts to merge would have little impact on overall education spending in Michigan.

Detroit Free Press, "MSU probing plagiarism allegations," Aug. 22, 2010

AnnArbor.com, "Mackinac Center says school consolidation study by MSU professor may contain some plagiarized material," Aug. 18, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School District Consolidation, Size and Spending: An Evaluation," May 22, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "MSU Consolidation Study Seriously Flawed," Aug. 19, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The (False) Hope of School District Consolidation," Oct. 29, 2009


LANSING, Mich. — Surplus money in the 2011 school aid fund would go to community colleges as part of a larger proposal by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to fill holes in the state budget, according to The Associated Press.

Granholm also proposed a $50 million competition to reward public school districts that consolidate or share services such as transportation and food service, according to AP.

A Michigan Education Association spokesman called the plan a "shell game," according to the Detroit Free Press. The MEA has called for tax reform to generate money for schools, the Free Press reported.

In a report published at Mlive.com, AP said that Granholm would use $200 million of an anticipated school aid fund surplus to support community colleges. Earlier media reports said the total school aid fund surplus is expected to be about $348 million.

There is about $302 million in overspending in the 2010 fiscal year budget, followed by a predicted $484 million in overspending in the budget year beginning Oct. 1, AP reported.

The Associated Press, "Granholm details new plan with no tax increases to balance Michigan budgets," Aug. 19, 2010

Detroit Free Press, "Hurdles loom for governor's budget," Aug. 19, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding Myths"

Michigan Education Digest, "School aid fund has unexpected surplus," May 20, 2010


GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. — About half of Michigan's public school districts have complied with a new law requiring them to post financial data online, while about 31 percent have not, a state official told The Flint Journal. An additional 18 percent are in partial compliance.

July 31 was the deadline for school districts to post online such things as total spending, personnel expenditures, lobbying expenses and salaries of any employee earning six figures or more, The Journal reported.

Glenda Rader, assistant director of the Michigan Department of Education state aid and school finance office, told The Journal that the state is contacting districts that haven't yet posted the numbers, but that no specific consequences are in place for non-compliers.

"I don't have a problem with that being out there, because it's public information," Dana Taylor, director of business affairs and technology in Grand Blanc Schools, told The Journal. Taylor's salary of $111,475, plus $19,385 in retirement benefits, was posted at that district's site.

School officials said people should review the number in the bigger context of what programs the district offers, geographic size, and other factors that affect spending, The Journal said.  Others said that they believe posting the information would help build trust among the public.

The Flint Journal, "New state requirement makes schools post financial data online," Aug. 22, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan School Databases"


MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. — Mount Clemens Community School District teachers have ratified a four-year contract that ties future pay hikes to job performance, according to The Macomb Daily.

The agreement also establishes higher health insurance co-pays for teachers union members, which is expected to save the district about $500,000 over two years, The Daily reported.

All teachers will receive a 0.5 percent raise in December, while additional 0.5 percent raises in the next two years will depend on positive reviews, according to The Daily.

"I think this may be the way of the future in education," Superintendent Charles Muncatchy told The Daily. The district will use an evaluation method designed by Charlotte Danielson, an economist and teaching consultant from New Jersey, the report said.

The Macomb Daily, "Teacher pay to be tied to performance," Aug. 20, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Merit Pay," June 30, 2008


CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Chippewa Valley Schools received nearly 19,000 applications for 71 teaching jobs it recently posted, The Macomb Daily reported.

The openings were for entry-level teachers at a beginning salary of about $35,000, Michael Reeber, assistant superintendent of human resources, told The Daily.

The district used a computer program to highlight candidates for further consideration, focusing on those who had a previous connection with Chippewa Valley Schools, according to The Daily. Most of the jobs have already been filled.

"The number was really an eye-opener for us, and sadly, a sign of the times in our state," Diane Blain, district spokeswoman, told The Daily. Most of the applicants were Michigan residents.

The Macomb Daily, "Chippewa Valley sorts through nearly 19,000 applications for 71 teaching jobs," Aug. 17, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Teacher certification tests don't tell us enough about quality," March 2, 2010


DETROIT — The new YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy will open in September with a staff that includes four "Teach for America" educators, according to a report in the Michigan Chronicle.

This is the second charter public school opened by the YMCA. The first, Detroit Service Learning Academy, opened in 1997 and was spun off from the YMCA in 2004, the Chronicle reported.

The new K-5 school primarily will serve the Brightmoor community, and organizers plan to expand over time to create YMCA elementary, middle and high schools, the report said.

"This is a huge boost in the arm for our teaching program," Principal Shawn Hill told the Chronicle regarding the Teach for America educators.

Teach for America is expected to send 100 recent college graduates to Detroit Public Schools this fall, according to The Michigan Daily.

Michigan Chronicle, "YMCA opens second charter school," Aug. 18, 2010

The Michigan Daily, "Teach for America returns to Detroit, draws criticism from local teachers," May 9, 2010

Michigan Education Digest, "Poll: Charter school support growing," April 23, 2010

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

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