Contents of this issue:

  • Bay City teachers OK potential MEA job action
  • DPS taking charter bids; teachers protest
  • Immigration ‘raid’ at school under scrutiny
  • School choice programs gain ground
  • Few happy with proposed school lunch rules

Bay City Teachers OK Potential MEA Job Action

BAY CITY, Mich. — Bay City teachers voted by approximately a 3-to-1 margin to authorize the Michigan Education Association to begin “crisis activities,” up to and including a strike, The Bay City Times reported. Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan.

Local MEA affiliates around the state are voting on the same issue, under directions from MEA President Iris Salters. Bay City Education Association President Kevin Stapish told The Times that 85 percent of its 450 members turned out for Friday’s vote, which ended with 76 percent in favor and 24 percent against.

The MEA has said it will not report the statewide results, according to an earlier report in The Flint Journal.

The voting is a response to Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget, which reduces K-12 public school funding.  Stapish has characterized Snyder's budget as "attacks" on public school employees, The Times reported.


The Bay City Times, “Bay City teachers union approves MEA job action that could result in statewide strike,” April 8, 2011

The Flint Journal, “MEA mum on strike votes,” April 4, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Another Way to Deal with Illegal Strikes,” March 24, 2011

DPS Taking Charter Bids; Teachers Protest

DETROIT — Charter public school operators must have a proven track record before they will be allowed to take over a Detroit Public School building, the district said in outlining its charter conversion plan, The Detroit News reported. While Detroit Federal of Teachers members rallied against the move, the district proceeded with the plan last week by outlining requirements for applicants.

The district is considering turning over 45 schools to charter operators, The News reported. Among other requirements, applicants must already run a charter school and be able to demonstrate academic achievement and community involvement at their sites, according to The News.

DPS hopes to reduce operating costs and improve student achievement, spokesman Steve Wasko told The News. The district wants to have some schools converted by fall and believes that only proven charter school operators could take up the task that quickly, Wasko told The News.

“We know there will be a lot of interest in this. We don't want to waste time sifting through hundreds or thousands of application from bottom feeders or those with no experience,” Wasko said.

On Thursday, DFT members rallied in protest in front of the Fisher Building, The News reported. DFT President Keith Johnson called charters “second-rate schools with second-rate teachers,” according to The News.

Applications are due May 2 and a decision will be made by June, according to The News.


The Detroit News, “Charter school operators seeking DPS building must pass requirements,” April 7, 2011

The Detroit News, “Teachers unions rally against charter schools,” April 8, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Detroit Public Schools Students Bear the Pain of Limited Educational Opportunities,” Sept. 10, 2010

Immigration ‘Raid’ at School under Scrutiny

DETROIT — Immigration agents in Detroit appear to have violated federal policies when they targeted parents at a charter public school in Detroit, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said last week, Detroit Free Press reported.

The agents followed immigrant parents from their homes to Hope of Detroit Academy in southwest Detroit, the Free Press reported. About half a dozen ICE vehicles with tinted windows were around the school, Ryan Bates of the Alliance for Immigrant Rights and Reform Michigan told the Free Press.

Some parents were too frightened to leave the school, Bates told the Free Press, and at least two parents were detained. He called the incident part of a pattern of harassment of minorities, the Free Press reported.

An ICE spokesman said that an internal review is under way, according to the Free Press. Immigration enforcement policy prohibits operations near schools unless they are approved by headquarters, the spokesman said, according to the Free Press.


Detroit Free Press, “Immigration agents improperly targeted Detroit school parents, feds admit,” April 7, 2011


MichiganVotes, “2011 House Bill 4305 (Establish ‘Arizona’ illegal alien law and more),” Feb. 22, 2011

School Choice Programs Gain Ground

COLUMBUS, Ohio — School choice programs are gaining ground in at least three states and the nation’s capital, according to media reports. As reported earlier in Michigan Education Digest, the U.S. House of Representatives recently reauthorized the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a tuition tax credit program in Arizona.

Elsewhere, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed quadrupling the number of school vouchers available in that state, the Toledo Blade reported. The statewide Ohio EdChoice scholarship program would grow from approximately 14,000 vouchers offered to 60,000 vouchers by 2013 under the plan, according to the Blade.

The Ohio Legislature is considering a bill that would fund the expansion by redirecting 80 percent of the $5,700-per-pupil allocated to public schools to the private, parochial or religious school of the student’s choice.

In Indiana, a state senate committee is considering legislation to provide up to 7,500 vouchers to families who want to send their children to private schools, according to The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette.

Under the Indiana bill, children would have to attend at least two semesters in public school, not including kindergarten, before being eligible for a voucher, the Journal Gazette reported. Voucher supporters said that provision should be removed, but at least one legislator said public schools should have first opportunity at enrolling students, according to the Journal Gazette.


Toledo Blade, “Ohioans rally to cheer Kasich’s voucher plan,” March 23, 2011

The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette, “Senate panel introduced to vouchers,” April 7, 2011


Michigan Education Digest, “D.C. Scholarship Program Approved by House,” March 31, 2011

Michigan Education Digest, “Arizona moves to increase tuition tax credits,” April 7, 2011

Few Happy with Proposed School Lunch Rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nobody in the school cafeteria business is happy with the federal government’s proposed new rules on school lunches, Education Week reported, and they all have different reasons why the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” won’t work well.

School districts say the new requirements for whole grains, reduced sodium and more vegetables will be expensive and will result in too much food tossed away by students, while potato growers are unhappy about the limits on starchy foods and parents are worried that calorie limits aren’t high enough for high school athletes, the report said.

On the other side are celebrity chefs and organic food companies who say the new rules are necessary to combat childhood obesity and malnutrition, according to Education Week.

The proposed rules, which apply to school breakfast and lunch, were published in January and are open for public comment until April 13 at www.regulations.gov.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has suggested districts raise prices, if necessary, to offset costs, Education Week reported.


Education Week, “Ultimate Food Fight Erupts as Feds Recook School Lunch Rules,” April 5, 2011 (Subscription required)


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Advice from the Nanny State,” Sept. 7, 2009

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

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/listserver.aspx?Source=MED