Contents of this issue:

  • Michigan has oversupply of new teachers
  • Detroit unions sue over pay cut
  • Connecticut parents angry over report on union tactics
  • Plymouth-Canton, Livonia consider food service merger
  • Most school millages defeated

Michigan has Oversupply of New Teachers

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An oversupply of new teachers combined with fewer students has created a tough job market for education graduates in Michigan, and some are leaving the state to look for work, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

While some public school officials view that as a “drain” on public education, others say it creates a buyer’s market for school districts looking to hire, according to The Press.

Several factors are driving the oversupply of teachers, The Press reported. One is the dwindling number of public school students — down by 8 percent in the past five years. Another is that Michigan universities are turning out more teachers than ever, The Press reported. Martin Ackley, a spokesman with the Michigan Department of Education, told The Press that the state has granted 7,980 provisional teaching certificates to new teachers already this year, up 35 percent from the year before and the most since 2007.

Tight budgets also are putting a damper on school district hiring, a scenario that recent graduates are likely to find everywhere, not just in Michigan, one school superintendent told The Press.

Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Michael Shibler criticized reductions in public school funding that he said could have been used to hire top-quality teachers that may be leaving the state, The Press reported. But Grandville Public Schools Superintendent Ron Caniff said that his district receives 1,000 applications per job vacancy and has no difficulty finding quality teachers, The Press reported.


The Grand Rapids Press, “Say goodbye to Michigan teachers: As school budgets shrink, so do their numbers,” Aug. 8, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Districts Ignoring Labor Market Signals,” May 2, 2011

Detroit Unions Sue over Pay Cut

DETROIT — Unions representing Detroit teachers, office workers and paraprofessionals have filed a federal lawsuit over a 10 percent pay cut imposed by Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager Roy Roberts, The Detroit News reported.

The suit alleges that a new law allowing Roberts and other emergency managers to modify existing union contracts is unconstitutional, according to The News. The unions have asked the court to block a pay cut and other concessions that Roberts has said are necessary to address the district’s $327 million budget deficit, according to The News.

The suit alleges that Roberts’ order violates a contract clause in the U.S. Constitution and a “takings” clause in the Fifth Amendment regarding taking of private property for public use, The News reported.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit and was assigned to U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh, The News reported.


The Detroit News, “Unions sue to block 'unprecedented' DPS pay cut, challenge new EM law,” Aug. 5, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Acts of God: Don't like the EFM law? There's an alternative: Rein in government employee unions,” April 20, 2011

Connecticut Parents Angry over Report on Union Tactics

HARTFORD, Conn. — Lawmakers and parents are outraged over a report detailing how a teachers union successfully pressured Connecticut legislators to water down a bill intended to give parents more power over failing schools, the Hartford Courant reported.

Titled “How Connecticut Diffused the Parent Trigger,” the PowerPoint report describes the American Federation of Teachers’ efforts to derail the legislation as well as its role in at least one legislator’s subsequent electoral defeat, according to the Courant.

Connecticut parent advocates and members of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus wanted a “parent trigger” bill that would give 51 percent of parents at a failing school who signed a petition the ability to force change, according to the Courant.

The final legislation instead calls for parents to hold a majority of seats on school governance councils and authorizes them to recommend changes if the schools fail to meet federal guidelines for three consecutive years, the report said.

The PowerPoint presentation said that the governance councils “are advisory and do not have true governing authority,” the Courant reported.

The presentation was posted at an AFT website but later removed, and the union has since said the report did not reflect its position, the Courant reported.


Hartford Courant, “Report By Teachers Union Angers Lawmakers, Parent Advocates In State,” Aug. 4, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “PowerPoint Postscript,” Aug. 20, 2010

Plymouth-Canton, Livonia Consider Food Service Merger

PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Plymouth-Canton Community Schools may take over food service operations in Livonia Public Schools, a move that officials said could help the districts save money through combined purchases and might mean extra funding from the state, according to the Livonia Observer.

While Plymouth-Canton would manage the joint program, Livonia food service employees would be retained, according to Lisa Abbey, Livonia’s director of business services, the Observer reported.

Livonia officials anticipate that Plymouth-Canton’s involvement would boost lunch sales; although the districts are of similar size, Plymouth-Canton sells about 10,000 lunches daily compared to 4,000 in Livonia, according to the Observer.

Still, Livonia’s food program is self-supporting, with a surplus of $50,000 to $150,000 each year, Abbey said, according to the Observer. If higher sales resulted in additional revenue, some costs in the general fund could be covered by food service income, she said, the Observer reported.

Plymouth-Canton returned to an in-house food service operation two years ago, ending a 20-year relationship with the private firm Sodexo, the Observer reported.

The state has pledged extra per-pupil funding to districts that follow four of five “best practices,” among them consolidating services with other entities.


Livonia Observer, “Plymouth-Canton District considering food service merger with Livonia,” July 31, 2011


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Extra K-12 Cash to Be Tied to Mandatory Health Care Cost Sharing and Other Reforms,” May 22, 2011

Many School Millages Defeated

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. — School millages fared poorly in many locales across the state last week, as ballot proposals in Macomb, Kent, Jackson, Van Buren and Manistee counties all were turned down, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service.

Lamphere Schools in Oakland County and Bendle Public Schools in Genessee County were exceptions, each passing two millages, MIRS reported.

Voters said no to a 30-year, $45 million request in the Center Line School District for technology, play equipment, athletic fields and other infrastructure, MIRS reported, while a 10-year, 0.5-mill in Wyoming Public Schools in Kent County went down 63 to 37 percent.

The Jackson Intermediate School District request for a 0.77-mill special education tax was narrowly defeated, as was a $14 million bond proposal for Manistee County Area Public Schools, MIRS reported. Voters in Covert Public Schools in Van Buren County also turned down a request for a 20-year sinking fund.

Voters in the Mecosta Community College district turned down a 0.27-mill Headlee override for the second time, MIRS reported.


Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., “Voters Recall Local Officials, Local Millages Pass, School Proposals Fail,” Aug. 2, 2011 (Subscription required)


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Reject a Tax Hike? It’ll be Back,” June 3, 2011

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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