Contents of this issue:

  • Union recommends Democrats to its conservative members
  • Superintendent pay sparks headlines
  • Low-income numbers on rise in Dearborn
  • Report: Half of Michigan college students graduate
  • Armada teacher receives $25,000 Milken Award


EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Education Association reported in October that a large percentage of teachers nationwide consider themselves "conservative," while also recommending in the same publication that teachers vote for Democrats in nearly all political races, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential.

The October issue of The Voice noted that a National Education Association survey in 2005-2006 found that 45 percent of teachers under age 30, and 63 percent between the ages of 40 and 49, classified themselves as "conservative," Michigan Capitol Confidential reported.

The same issue endorsed 111 Democrats in 114 political races, according to Capitol Confidential. MEA President Iris Salters told Michigan Capitol Confidential that local committees recommend candidates for endorsement.

"What they try to do is identify the person that best will support public education and school employees," Salters told Michigan Capitol Confidential. Since that interview, the MEA has added three Republicans to its endorsement list, for a total of six, according to a separate Michigan Capitol Confidential report.

State House Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, whom the MEA has not endorsed, told Capitol Confidential that it was "clear the MEA is very partisan."

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy publishes Michigan Capitol Confidential and Michigan Education Digest.

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Teacher Union Doubles Republican Count on Recommended List," Oct. 23, 2010

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "MEA Concedes Large Percentage of 'Conservative' Teachers, Endorses 97% Democrats," Oct. 18, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Tracking union money in local school board elections," Nov. 14, 2007


COOPERSVILLE, Mich. — School superintendent salaries made headlines in Coopersville and Livonia recently, as school board members defended compensation of about $300,000 and $199,000, respectively, in those districts.

School board members told media that the high pay reflects job performance and the need to compete for the best superintendents, while others said such pay levels aren't appropriate during tough economic times, according to The Detroit News and The Grand Rapids Press.

Coopersville Area Public Schools Superintendent Kevin O'Neill, who is retiring this year, received total compensation of about $311,000 in the 2009 tax year, according to information posted at the district website and reported by Michigan Capitol Confidential. He is the highest-paid K-12 superintendent in Ottawa County based on comparisons done by The Press.

In Livonia Public Schools, the school board gave Superintendent Randy Liepa a $50,000 pay hike on Oct. 18, raising his 2011-2012 compensation to about $199,000, The News reported. The district has closed 10 buildings and cut bus routes to save money, the report said. President Lynda Scheel said a search firm had approached Liepa recently and that dozens of openings are coming up in other districts, The News reported. 

The Detroit News, "Livonia board defends super's raise," Oct.20, 2010

The Grand Rapids Press, "At $262,797 a year, retiring Coopersville superintendent is by far highest paid school chief in West Michigan," Oct. 20, 2010

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "School Board Prez Says State's 3rd-Highest Paid Superintendent is 'Worth It'" Oct. 13, 2010


DEARBORN, Mich. — Almost two-thirds of Dearborn Public Schools students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, up from about 36 percent in 2000, a school official told the (Dearborn) Press & Guide.

The growing number of low-income students is one reason for the increasing number of district schools now receiving federal Title I assistance, Mark Zigterman, director of student services, told the Press & Guide.

The district receives about $10 million annually in Title I funds, the report said.

To qualify for Title I assistance, at least 40 percent of a school's students must apply and qualify for free or reduced price lunches, the Press & Guide reported.

Some schools receive "targeted" Title I assistance, which must be used to help the lowest-performing students, while others receive "building-wide" funds, which can be used on programs to help all students, according to the report.

(Dearborn) Press & Guide, "More Dearborn schools qualify as low-income," Oct. 23, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Michigan School Money Primer: Federal Government," May 30, 2007


DETROIT — Only about half of the students who entered public universities in Michigan as full-time students in 2003 graduated within six years, according to an analysis of federal data by the Detroit Free Press.

There is a huge gap in graduation rates among institutions, the Free Press reported. For example, while 89 percent of students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor graduate, only 26 percent at Lake Superior State University do so, the report said. Rates are lower for minority students, the Free Press reported.

Officials told the Free Press that students' high school preparation, financial support and part-time jobs all affect graduation rates.

Some universities offer tutoring or peer mentoring to help students succeed, officials told the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "Colleges aim to boost low grad rates; many students unprepared," Oct. 24, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Allow full high school access to community colleges," Dec. 29, 2009


ARMADA, Mich. — Patty Paxton, an elementary school teacher in Armada Area Public Schools, received one of 55 Milken National Educator Awards this year, the Milken Family Foundation announced.

The $25,000 unrestricted awards are given to educators who, among other criteria, teach in ways that result in measurable student academic growth, according to the Foundation. According to information at the foundation website, Paxton's students made gains of 46 percent in math and English language arts on the Michigan Education Assessment Program tests in 2009.

The announcement said Paxton created a homework club for students, holds workshops for parents and hosts a summer program for students to keep up their skills.

Educators are recommended for Milken Awards by a panel appointed by each state's department of education, the announcement said.

Milken Family Foundation, "Could a $25,000 Milken Educator Award Soon Be Coming to a Great Educator Near You?"

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Analysis: We Still Need to Reform Teacher Pay," Sept. 28, 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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