Professor says consolidation study misapplied his work

MIDLAND, Mich. — A Syracuse University professor said Friday that he would not endorse the findings of a school consolidation study in Michigan because his original research was "misapplied," Michigan Capitol Confidential reported.

Professor William Duncombe said that it was an "oversimplification" and "extremely naïve" for a Michigan State University scholar to extrapolate the methodology from Duncombe's 2001 study on school consolidation to all Michigan public schools, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential.

MSU senior scholar Sharif Shakrani used Duncombe's earlier study to underpin Shakrani's recent study concluding that Michigan could save up to $612 million annually by consolidating public schools at the county level, Michigan Capitol Confidential reported.

A Mackinac Center analyst raised questions of plagiarism soon after Shakrani's report was released and also questioned its methodology, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential. MSU is investigating the plagiarism allegation.

The Mackinac Center publishes both Michigan Capitol Confidential and Michigan Education Digest.

Duncombe told Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center, that the MSU report was "not an appropriate use of scientific evidence," Michigan Capitol Confidential reported.

Shakrani and MSU Education Policy Center Co-Directors William Schmidt and Robert Floden didn't return messages seeking comment, Michigan Capitol Confidential reported.

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Main Source for MSU School Consolidation Study Says His Data Was Misapplied," Sept. 7, 2010

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