Contents of this issue:

  • New Catholic academy intended to attract Latino students
  • Bill would allow tenure for 'effective' teachers only
  • Will contract talks hold up $25 million reform plan?
  • Tiger Stadium is proposed charter school site
  • College takes action on possible financial aid fraud

New Catholic Academy Intended to Attract Latino Students

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Six Catholic parishes with a strong Latino presence will jointly open San Juan Diego Academy in July 2011, church leaders announced last week, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Officials hope the K-8 school will turn around declining enrollment in Catholic schools in the area and said the move fits a church tradition of serving immigrants, The Press reported.

University of Notre Dame research shows that only 3 percent of Latino families nationwide enroll their children in Catholic schools, but that those who do enroll are more likely to earn high school and college degrees than their counterparts in public schools, according to The Press.

Tuition is one obstacle, parish officials said, according to The Press. The academy will offer need-based scholarships and require volunteer service, The Press reported.

The Grand Rapids Press, "6 Grand Rapids area Catholic parishes to open San Juan Diego Academy to attract more Latino students," Nov. 10, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Adding private schools to the school choice debate," June 7, 2010

Bill Would Allow Tenure for 'Effective' Teachers Only

LANSING, Mich. — A bill requiring that teacher effectiveness be part of the tenure process passed the Senate Education Committee last week, along with one requiring teacher evaluations to rate educators as “effective” or “ineffective,” according to the Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

Senate Bill 1582 would require that teachers be rated as effective or not, and that at least 50 percent of the evaluation be based on student academic growth, which in turn must be measured in part by state assessments, MIRS reported.

Senate Bill 1581 would require effectiveness to be considered when awarding tenure and also allow for an ineffective tenured teacher to be returned to probationary status, MIRS reported. Schools also could dismiss a teacher who fails to become “effective” within a set time period, according to MIRS.

"These reforms will refocus the teacher tenure law to reward effective educators, not just those who have longevity," said Chair Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, according to MIRS.

Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., “Tenure Reforms Clear Senate Panel,” Nov. 9, 2010 (Subscription required)

Michigan Votes, “A Teacher Quality Primer: Reforming Teacher Tenure Practices,” June 30, 2008

Will Contract Talks Hold Up $25 Million Reform Plan?

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Public Schools is in line to receive $25 million in federal grants to improve its lowest-performing schools, but teacher contract negotiations may stand in the way, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Last week the school board passed a resolution supporting its negotiating team as a way of signaling the Michigan Department of Education that it is “working very diligently” to come up with a reform plan by today’s deadline, board President Senita Lenear said, according to The Press.

The district needs teachers to agree to such measures as performance pay, revised teacher evaluations and additional work hours, The Press reported.

Grand Rapids Education Association President Paul Helder said that any reform plan also should address good attendance and small class sizes, according to The Press. The union and district have been in contract negotiations since May.

The Grand Rapids Press, “Teachers union negotiations could jeopardize $25 million in grants for Grand Rapids Public Schools,” Nov. 2, 2010

The Grand Rapids Press, “Grand Rapids school board hopes to land $25 million in grants even without teacher contract in place by Nov. 16,” Nov. 9, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “New Research Suggests ‘Reforming’ Rather than Closing Failing Schools a Forlorn Hope,” March 30, 2010

Tiger Stadium is Proposed Charter School Site

DETROIT — Cornerstone Charter Schools wants to build an elementary school at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull where Tiger Stadium once stood, according to radio station WDET.

The K-8 school would share the site with an office complex and possibly retail and residential buildings under a plan submitted to the city of Detroit, Cornerstone CEO Bob Sommers told WDET. The ball field would remain intact and available for use by the school and community, according to the station’s report. WDET is based at Wayne State University.

Sommers said total project costs aren’t known, but the school alone could cost up to $20 million, WDET reported. Other community partners are working with the charter school organization on the redevelopment plan.

“We think that this is a community that will be sustainable and actually growing over the next decade or two,” Sommers told WDET.

In a separate article, reported that the plan would require approval from the Detroit Economic Development Corp., which has been soliciting proposals for the site. The property is in a tax-free renaissance zone, reported.

WDET, “Charter School Proposes New Develop at Michigan & Trumbull,” Nov. 8, 2010, “Report: Charter school, mixed-use development proposed for site of old Tiger Stadium in Detroit,” Nov. 8, 2010

Michigan Education Report, “An economic stimulus for the mind,” Feb. 10, 2009

College Takes Action on Potential Financial Aid Fraud

LANSING, Mich. — A computerized review alerted Lansing Community College to 174 suspicious financial aid applications and may have saved it up to $275,000, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The computer program looks for traits that may be associated with fraud, such as registering for unlikely combinations of classes or multiple applications that use the same address, the Journal reported.

The college then asks those applicants to come in for a personal review. This year, 68 of the 174 didn't show up, and eight were denied aid, according to the Journal. About 60 more remain under review.

The college disbursed more than $104 million in aid in the most recent year, compared to $36 million in 2005-2006.

The Lansing State Journal, "LCC cracks down on financial aid scams," Nov. 14, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Do You Need Government Money to Attend College?” April 26, 2010

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at

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