Contents of this issue:

  • Union: Federal money should end privatization
  • Legislator questions automatic A's
  • Retirements mean no DPS layoffs
  • Principal sees potential in Facebook
  • 10-year-old can't enroll in Windsor high school
  • Correction


INDIAN RIVER, Mich. — Inland Lakes Schools is considering hiring a private firm to provide custodial services, but a union representative says that new federal funding makes such a move unnecessary, according to a report by WPBN-TV.

"It's strictly a financial situation where we took bids and the top two companies could save us $80,000 to over $100,000 a year in expenses," Superintendent Mary Jo Dismang told WPBN.

Michigan Education Association representative Bob Kwiatkoski told WPBN that the district is "jumping the gun" because per pupil funding from the state is $11 more per student this year than last, and because a new state report shows that the district will receive an additional $88,000 to $205,000 in federal funding this year.

A recent report by the House Fiscal Agency estimates potential "edujobs" payments for all Michigan public school districts.

Dismang said the privatization savings could be used to hire a teacher and reduce class size, WPBN reported.

"I'm in the business of educating kids, and that has to be my first priority, we're not in the business of finding full time jobs for people," Dismang told the station.

WPBN-TV, "Privatize custodians? It could happen in Inland Lake Schools," Aug. 24, 2010

House Fiscal Agency Memorandum, "Federal Education Jobs Fund Act," Aug. 18, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Privatization Survey 2009," Dec. 7, 2009


LANSING, Mich. — Public schools in Michigan were offered an automatic A on part of their annual state report card this year, a one-time arrangement that may have spared some from being unaccredited, according to a report in Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Schools were guaranteed an A if they filled out the 40-page "Indicators of School Performance," a questionnaire intended to measure school improvement. The report counted as one-third of their overall Education Yes! report card grade, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Muskegon Heights High School, for example, received failing grades in reading, math, science and social studies, but received a grade of D overall because it completed the performance report, Capitol Confidential reported.

State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, who serves on the House Education Committee, called the practice "indefensible," Capitol Confidential reported.

Joseph Martineau, director of the Office of Educational Assessment and Accountability for the Michigan Department of Education, told Michigan Capitol Confidential that the automatic A was an arrangement for only one year. Next year the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools will be considered unaccredited, and the next lowest 15 percent will be put on interim accreditation, he told Capitol Confidential.

Department of Education spokeswoman Jan Ellis told Capitol Confidential that the process of filling out the report "is a whole school improvement effort. ... It's a pretty complicated and time-consuming report."

Muskegon Heights High School Assistant Principal Keith Guy didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment, according to Capitol Confidential.

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "State Gives Failing Schools Perfect Grades for Paperwork," Aug. 27, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "The shell game of 'making AYP,'" March 18, 2009


DETROIT — More than 1,000 teacher retirements will make room for Detroit Public Schools to recall all teachers from layoff and hire up to 300 more to fill staffing gaps, according to a WWJ Radio report.

Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson said he was informed by Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb that all layoff notices have been rescinded, WWJ reported.

"We actually might be hiring, and not just in critical areas. I'm talking about Elementary, Home Room, English, Social Studies and the like," Johnson told WWJ.

About 40 percent of DPS teachers received layoff notices in April due to reduced enrollment and budget overspending, WWJ reported.

WWJ Radio, "Detroit Schools Short on Teachers," Aug. 26, 2010


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Are Public Schools Underfunded? No," July 5, 2010


BAY CITY, Mich. — Principal John Hoving is using Facebook as a way to promote Bay City All Saints Central School as well as to head off possible cyber bullying, he told The Bay City Times.

Hoving created a Facebook profile this summer specifically to communicate with middle and high school students and parents and has asked them to "friend" him, he told The Times. He also created a school "fan page."

The idea is to promote school events and student achievement and to be aware of what students are posting at the popular social media site, particularly any negative messages aimed at individual students, he told The Times.

In one case this summer, Hoving sent a private message to a student regarding what he said could be a "hurtful" comment.

"After I did that, it stopped," he told The Times. "This can stop those confrontations before they escalate."

Justin Patchin, co-director of an online Cyberbullying Research Center, told The Times that educators must remain professional in their communication with students online, but that they should be willing to intervene if they spot inappropriate messages.

The Bay City Times, "Bay City All Saints principal uses Facebook to monitor student behavior, promote school," Aug. 29, 2010

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Lawmaker's Facebook Fans Get Blow-by-Blow Stories of His Votes," May 24, 2010


WINDSOR, Ont. — A 10-year-old Windsor boy who completed part of his education in Michigan is being denied entry to public high school in Windsor even though he's completed the eighth-grade curriculum, The Windsor Star reported. School officials said he's too young for high school and will have to repeat lower grades, the report said.

Bachar Sbeiti attended The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills in his early elementary years, then returned to Windsor and attended a private school there, The Star reported.

Now the Greater Essex County District School Board has said he is too young for high school and his mother told The Star that she has not been able to find a suitable private high school in the area.

Sharon Pyke, a superintendent of education with the Greater Essex District, told The Star that a child of Sbeiti's age belongs in fifth or sixth grade.

"Our belief is that we do not accelerate students," Pyke told The Star. She said the district will develop an individual plan to offer Sbeiti an expanded or more in-depth curriculum.

"It makes me feel bad," Sbeiti told The Star. "The city, I believe, should encourage people to go higher and be smarter."

The Windsor Star, "Windsor whiz kid, 10, kept out of high school," Aug. 20, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The War Against Excellence," April 11, 2005


An item in the Aug. 16 edition of Michigan Education Digest should have said that the Los Angeles Times was aided by a researcher from the RAND Corporation to analyze student test scores as part of a teacher evaluation study. The newspaper did not hire the RAND Corporation. 

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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