Contents of this issue:

  • Senate: Charters yes, teacher privatization no
  • Enrollment up in many West Michigan districts
  • CMU union headed to court over delayed pay hikes
  • Flint district nixes two administrative pay raises
  • Teacher uses video to reverse lecture/homework format

Senate: Charters Yes, Teacher Privatization No

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate passed legislation to allow more charter schools in Michigan, but nixed a provision in the same bill that would have allowed school districts to privately contract for teachers, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

The “teacher privatization” provision was eliminated when legislators approved an amendment to the measure in a voice vote, according to MichiganVotes.org, the legislative tracking service of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Mackinac Center also publishes Michigan Education Digest.

Under the original language, school districts would have been able to contract with private companies to provide teachers. Supporters said this would save money because the district would not have to pay into the state retirement system for teachers who are privately contracted, an earlier Press report said.

Regarding charter public schools, the bill lifts a cap on the number of schools authorized by state universities and waives property taxes for groups that own property leased to charter schools, The Press reported.

Advocates said this will open the door for successful out-of-state charter operators to begin schools in Michigan and give parents more choice in their children’s education, according to The Press.


The Grand Rapids Press, “Senate approves plan to lift charter school cap, but removes provision allowing teachers to be privatized,” Oct. 6, 2011

The Grand Rapids Press, “Lawmakers hope to lure successful charter school companies to Michigan by waiving property taxes, lifting cap,” Sept. 30, 2011

MichiganVotes, “2011 Senate Bill 618: Eliminate charter school cap


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Money for Nothing?” Oct. 7, 2011

Enrollment Up in Many West Michigan Districts

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — West Michigan school districts largely reported higher enrollment this fall, with school officials saying the growth reflects an improved housing and jobs market, according to The Grand Rapids Press. Schools of choice also were a factor in some districts, The Press reported.

School officials welcomed the higher numbers, in particular because fall enrollment now plays a larger role in calculating state aid. School districts “count” students each fall and winter; previously, the fall numbers accounted for 75 percent of the total, but now they account for 90 percent, according to The Press.

Forest Hills Public Schools gained 85 students, compared to a 97-student decline last fall, The Press reported, and Superintendent Dan Behm credited an improved housing market.

Kentwood, Hudsonville, Zeeland, Holland, Caledonia, Jenison and Byron Center school districts all reported increases, as did most public charter schools in the region, while Wyoming, West Ottawa, Kelloggsville and Grandville saw enrollment decline, according to The Free Press.

Grand Rapids Public Schools’ enrollment also declined, but less than was projected, The Press reported. Preliminary numbers put enrollment at between 18,100 and 18,200, down from 18,536, according to The Press. The district’s new high school completion program, carried out in conjunction with Grand Rapids Community College, added more than 80 students to the district’s enrollment, The Press reported.

Grandville Superintendent Ron Caniff said that cutting back on school choice was one factor in the district’s lower enrollment, while Holland Superintendent Brian Davis said schools-of-choice enrollment there increased by 30 percent from last year, according to The Press.


The Grand Rapids Press, “West Michigan school districts’ student ‘Count Day’ suggests more economic stability,” Oct. 6, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Commentary: Research Shows Parental Choice Works,” Sept. 23, 2011

CMU Union Headed to Court Over Delayed Pay Hikes

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — A new state law is standing between Central Michigan University professors and their previously scheduled pay raises, and they are going to court to resolve it, according to The Saginaw News.

Public Act 54 was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in June. It freezes wages and benefits from the time an employment contract expires until a new contract is signed, according to The News. The collective bargaining agreement between CMU and its Faculty Association expired June 30 and the sides have not been able to reach agreement on a new one, The News reported.

The Faculty Association now has asked a circuit court judge to direct CMU’s Board of Trustees to pay faculty salary adjustments and promotions as outlined in the expired contract, The News reported.

CMU President George E. Ross said in a letter to the Academic Senate that if the court finds the law unconstitutional, then the university will pay the wage increases, according to The News.

The News reported that Laura Frey, Faculty Association president, was not available for comment.


The Saginaw News, “Working under expired contract, CMU faculty seek court opinion on previously scheduled raises,” October 6, 2011


MichiganVotes, “2011 House Bill 4152: Limit certain automatic government union employee pay hikes

Flint District Nixes Two Administrative Pay Raises

FLINT, Mich. — The Flint Community Schools Board of Education rejected proposed pay raises for two administrative staff members recently, citing other employee groups that have made contract concessions, according to The Flint Journal.

The board decided against promoting a current construction manager to director of maintenance and operations, which would have required a pay increase of about $14,000 under current contract obligations, The Journal reported.

The directorship had been left vacant as the district considered, then decided against, privatizing those services, according The Journal. Superintendent Linda Thompson said the manager already has been taking on some of the related work and indicated that the district needs someone to take final responsibility for that position, The Journal reported.

The board also said no to a proposal for a pay increase of about $7,000 for an administrative employee who is doing extra work because another employee retired and was not replaced, The Journal reported.

“As I said last season, everyone’s going to have to do more and there’s no money,” board member Vera Perry said, according to The Journal.

Board trustee David Davenport pointed out that district employees who are represented by the SEIU are now paying 50 percent toward their insurance premium, up from 10 percent, The Journal reported.

“I say they can take a cut like I took one,” warehouse attendant Hattie Young said, according to The Journal.


The Flint Journal, “Flint school board rejects administrative pay raises, agrees to higher attorney rates,” Oct. 5, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Privatization Still Growing in Michigan Schools,” Sept. 5, 2011

Teacher Uses Video to Reverse Lecture/Homework Format

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In a reversal of the classroom lecture approach to teaching history, a Michigan educator is requiring students to watch her lectures on video and then spend class time on homework, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Judy Walton, a teacher at Forest Hills Northern High School, told The Press that the new arrangement frees up class time for small group discussions, one-on-one mentoring and question-and-answer sessions.

“I haven’t changed the content of the class; I’ve changed how I deliver it so that it benefits students more,” Walton told The Press. Her lectures are available on video for the students to view at any time on their computers or smartphones, The Press reported.

She opens each class period with an in-depth question that tells her whether students watched the latest video and read the assigned pages, according to The Press.

Clintondale High School, near Detroit, uses a similar approach schoolwide, according to The Press.


The Grand Rapids Press, “How high school teacher ‘flips’ classroom: Students watch lectures at home, do homework in class,” Oct. 4, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Online Learning Can Improve Michigan Public Education,” April 13, 2010

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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