Contents of this issue:

  • ‘Right-to-teach’ headed to Legislature?
  • Bills call for more charters, mandatory schools of choice
  • New school year brings 19 new charter schools
  • Obama: $30B for teachers, $30B for school buildings
  • Thousands enroll in Indiana voucher program
  • Mackinac Center to host Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels

‘Right-to-Teach’ Headed to Legislature?

DETROIT — Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, would support a “right-to-teach” law in Michigan, under which educators wouldn’t be required to join a union in order to get or keep a job, The Detroit News reported.

Richardville earlier indicated he wasn’t interested in broad right-to-work legislation in Michigan, but that was before the Michigan Education Association donated $25,000 toward a campaign to recall Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, head of the House Education Committee, according to The News.

That move angered many Republican lawmakers, The News reported.

Richardville sees right-to-teach as part of broader education reforms now before the Legislature, his spokeswoman, Amber McCann, told The News (see related item in this week’s Michigan Education Digest). McCann said she expects a right-to-teach bill will be introduced this fall, The News reported.

Doug Pratt, MEA spokesman, said in a statement that Richardville is “seriously misguided in his proposal to attack school employees,” The News reported. The MEA objects to an array of recently passed legislation that gives more authority to emergency financial managers in financially stressed school districts and cities, requires school employees to pay a larger share of health insurance costs, and eliminates a tax exemption on pension income, Pratt told The News.


The Detroit News, “Michigan Senate leader supports ‘right to teach;’ MEA leader fires back,” Sept. 9, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Freedom to Teach,” Sept. 9, 2011


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Senate Leader Supports Right to Work for Teachers,” Sept. 9, 2011

Bills Call for More Charters, Mandatory Schools of Choice

PETOSKEY, Mich. — A wide-ranging set of education reform bills is now before the Senate Education Committee, including measures that would expand charter schools and cyber schools, allow public school districts to privatize teaching jobs, and require public schools to enroll nonresident students as long as they have space available, according to the Petoskey News-Review.

Other measures in the bill would expand dual enrollment options for public school students and also allow private school students to dual enroll in college with their costs covered through the School Aid Fund, the News-Review reported.

Also, the bills would allow parents or teachers to petition to convert a conventional school to a public charter school.

The bills are collectively called the Parent Empowerment Education Reform legislation, according to the News-Review.

Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, said the legislation would give parents and students more say in students’ education, the News-Review reported, while the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan questioned the performance of Michigan’s existing charter public schools.

Rick Diebold, superintendent of the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District, told the News-Review that local administrators are encouraged by potentially wider options for dual enrollment. He also said that local school districts within the Charlevoix-Emmet service area are performing well and that any petition for a charter conversion would not apply, the News-Review reported.


Petoskey News-Review, “Lawmakers: More choices benefit schools, students,” Sept. 9, 2011


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Recall Retaliation? Senate Pushes Charter School Cap Repeal & ‘Union-Unfriendly’ Reforms,” Sept. 7, 2011

New School Year Brings 19 New Charter Schools

LANSING, Mich. — Nineteen new charter public schools are opening this fall, including eight in Detroit, two in Ypsilanti and one each in nine other Michigan cities, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

The 19 new charters will be authorized by Detroit Public Schools, four state universities, Bay Mills Community College, two intermediate school districts and one local district, MIRS reported.

Dan Quisenberry, executive director of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, said while the 19 new schools are welcome, more than 70 percent of existing charter public schools in Michigan still have waiting lists, according to MIRS.


Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., “19 New Charter Schools Opening in Michigan This Fall,” Sept. 6, 2011 (Subscription required)

Gongwer News Service, “Schools of Choice, Charters Expanded Under Senate Bills,” Sept. 7, 2011 (Subscription required)


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Time to Take School Choice in Michigan to the Next Level,” Aug. 8, 2011

Obama: $30B for Teachers, $30B for School Buildings

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thirty billion dollars to protect teaching jobs and $30 billion to modernize school buildings are part of the $447 billion “jobs bill” package that President Obama unveiled Thursday, according to media reports.

Officials estimated that $30 billion would protect up to 280,000 educators’ jobs over two years, according to Education Week. Districts could use the money to pay for benefits and to hire new staff, Education Week reported, and districts would not have to agree to any reform measures as a condition of receiving the funds.

The $30 billion for school buildings could be used for emergency repairs and energy, computer and technology upgrades, Education Week reported. Officials estimated that amount would pay for makeovers of about 35,000 schools.

The biggest 100 school districts would get a direct building modernization grant, which could help Detroit Public Schools, according to Education Week and the Detroit Free Press.

The president said he would present a specific proposal to cut spending elsewhere in order to pay for the jobs bill, according to the Free Press.


Education Week, “Obama Calls for $60 Billion to Save Teacher Jobs, Fix Schools,” Sept. 8, 2011 (Subscription required)

Detroit Free Press, “President Obama to Congress: ‘Pass this jobs bill,’” Sept. 9, 2011


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

Thousands Enroll in Indiana Voucher Program

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s new school voucher program has enabled more than 3,200 students to attend religious or private schools this year, according to the Catholic News Service, with about 70 percent enrolling in Catholic schools.

The voucher program is targeted at students who are transferring from a public school or who previously received a tax credit scholarship, according to CNS. Even as the program is being challenged in court by a group of teachers and religious leaders, Indiana’s state education department has approved about 250 schools as eligible for the program, CNS reported.

Students receive aid based on family income, and the program is capped at 7,500 students this year and 15,000 the next, CNS reported.

The high voucher enrollment in Catholic schools probably reflects that those schools already had state accreditation, are more established and have more space available, John Elcesser, executive director of the Indiana Non-Public Education Association, told CNS.


Catholic News Service, “Vouchers credited with increasing Indiana's Catholic school enrollment,” Sept. 9, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Time to Take School Choice in Michigan to the Next Level,” Aug. 8, 2011

Mackinac Center to host Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy will host Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels at a Nov. 14 dinner event in Lansing, with WJR talk show host Frank Beckmann as emcee. Information on tickets and times will be released soon. For the latest details, readers can check the calendar of events at the Mackinac Center website.

The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.

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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