Contents of this issue:

  • CMU faculty ordered back to work, hearing Friday
  • 19 districts meet ‘best practices’ so far
  • Community college enrollment leveling
  • Some Detroit students don’t show up for school for weeks
  • Poll: People like teachers more than teachers’ unions

CMU faculty ordered back to work, hearing Friday

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Central Michigan University faculty were expected to return to work today after a judge granted a restraining order against their one-day strike, according to The (Mount Pleasant) Morning Sun.

An Isabella County judge ordered the members of the Faculty Association union back to the classroom and scheduled a hearing on the matter for Friday, The Sun reported. The association, which represents tenured and tenure-track faculty members, and the university are in contentious contract negotiations, with wages and health benefits the main sticking points, according to earlier media reports.

Some classes were cancelled Monday when the 600 union members refused to report, but adjunct professors and graduate assistants were called in to conduct other classes, The Sun reported.

CMU called the strike illegal and argued that students and the university would be harmed, but union attorneys said the work stoppage does not constitute a strike under the Michigan Public Employment Relations Act and that there has been no permanent or irreparable harm to students, The Sun reported.


The (Mount Pleasant) Morning Sun, “Judge orders striking profs back to work,” Aug. 23, 2011

The (Mount Pleasant) Morning Sun, “Update-2: CMU professors on strike,” Aug. 22, 2011


Michigan Education Digest, “Without contract, CMU faculty paying more for MESSA,” July 9, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “How to Defuse PERA’s Ticking Time Bomb,” Aug. 8, 2011

19 Districts Meet ‘Best Practices’ So Far

LANSING, Mich. — Only 19 public school districts have met the ‘best practices’ required for them to receive an additional $100 per student in state funding this year, but it’s still early in the game, education officials told the Michigan Information & Research Service.

Michigan Department of Education spokesperson Jan Ellis told MIRS that 19 of 550 districts have met the criteria.

Four of five practices must be implemented by the district: Require employees to pay at least 10 percent of their health care premiums; consolidate some services with other districts; seek competitive bids on noninstructional services; post online a “dashboard” of district performance; and become the policyholder of medical plans provided to district employees.

Brad Biladeau, associate executive director for government relations for the Michigan Association of School Administrators, told MIRS that the association expects most districts to eventually meet the criteria. In some cases districts and unionized employees would have to open up contracts and revise language on health care premiums or policyholder arrangements, Biladeau said, according to MIRS.

“I don't think it's anything that is insurmountable for school districts at this point,” Biladeau told MIRS.

Schools have until June 1, 2012, to submit documentation to the Michigan Department of Education, according to MIRS.


Michigan Information & Research Service, Inc., “Only 19 Districts Have Met Best Practice $ Criteria,” Aug. 19, 2011 (Subscription required)


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

Community College Enrollment Leveling

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Following years of growth, community college enrollment in Michigan is leveling and in some cases declining, school officials told The Grand Rapids Press. Two reasons might be a smaller population of high school seniors and shrinking funds for job retraining programs, The Press reported.

Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo Valley community colleges anticipate 5 percent enrollment declines this fall, and the president of the Michigan Community College Association told The Press that 25 to 30 percent of other community colleges also are reporting dips.

“But when you consider that the colleges have seen record enrollment for the past five years or so, the number of people attending is still a very high number,” Michael Hansen, association president, told The Press.

President Steven Ender of Grand Rapids Community College said recently that there is less money available this year for No Worker Left Behind and other training programs, according to The Press.


The Grand Rapids Press, “After years of record growth, community colleges across state looking at enrollment declines,” Aug. 21, 2011


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Michigan School Exporting Education to China,” Aug. 18, 2011

Some Detroit Students Don’t Show Up for School for Weeks

DETROIT — A surprising number of children do not show up for the first day or even the first few weeks of classes in Detroit Public Schools, so the district is now sending staffers door to door in an effort to boost enrollment, according to The Detroit News.

An estimated 20 to 30 percent of children who live in the district do not attend school in September, officials told The News. They cited a number of reasons: Parents who are trying out a charter public school; homeless families who never received information about start dates; confusion over school assignments, lack of transportation, and even an attitude that the first few weeks of school are not that important, The News reported.

To counter those issues, attendance agents are visiting homes in neighborhoods affected by school consolidations, and the district is sending enrollment vans to churches and family reunions, The News reported.

“In my 13 years of teaching, about one-third don't show up every year,” Mark O'Keefe, executive vice president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, told The News. “There were parents who simply don't bring their kids back on the first day of school. It's part of the way things are here.”

Starting school late not only affects children academically, but last year cost the district $28.5 million in state funding due to shifting enrollment counts, spokesman Steve Wasko told The News.


The Detroit News, “Home visits aim to lift DPS enrollment,” Aug. 18, 2011


Michigan Education Digest, “Detroit unions sue over pay cut,” Aug. 8, 2011

Poll: People Like Teachers More Than Teachers’ Unions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new poll shows that a growing number of people believe that teachers’ unions have hurt the quality of public education, although they like and trust individual teachers, according to a report in Education Week.

However, when it comes to battles between governors and teachers’ unions, just over half of the poll respondents said they sided with the unions, the report said.

The poll is conducted annually by Phi Delta Kappa International and the Washington-based Gallup Organization, Education Week reported. This year’s survey was conducted in June, using a national sample of 1,002 adults age 18 or older. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points, Education Week reported.

In the 1976 poll, 38 percent of the poll respondents felt that unions hurt education and 13 percent didn’t have a strong opinion, Education Week reported. This year, 47 percent said unions have harmed public education and only 2 percent didn’t have an opinion, the report said.

Nearly three of four people surveyed said they had confidence and trust in teachers today, and that the highest-achieving high school students should be encouraged to become tomorrow’s educators, Education Week reported.

In another area, fewer of the respondents favored school vouchers, but more favored charter schools and school choice in general compared to previous polls, according to Education Week.


Education Week, “Poll: Americans Trust Teachers, Split on Teachers' Unions,” Aug. 17, 2011

Phi Delta Kappa International, “PDK/Gallup Poll


Michigan Education Digest, “Michigan has Oversupply of New Teachers,” Aug. 9, 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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