Contents of this issue:

  • Pay for performance coming to state universities?
  • Education lobby spending more
  • Michigan professor on NCLB waiver review team
  • Ferndale wants to extend tax to 2042
  • Father, son combo on East Detroit board

Pay for Performance Coming to Universities?

LANSING, Mich. — Pay for performance may be coming to Michigan’s 15 public universities next year, a scenario in which state funding is based in part on graduation rates, number of specialized degrees and other factors, according to the Detroit Free Press.

University spokespeople say such a plan would undermine the autonomy they are guaranteed by the Michigan Constitution, the Free Press reported, while supporters say universities need to show accountability.

State universities receive some $1.2 billion in state funding; how much to tie to annual performance measures and what those measures will be has not been decided, the Free Press reported.

Gov. Rick Snyder wants a plan that will increase the number and quality of college graduates, the Free Press reported.

Seventeen states are considering university performance models, according to the Free Press. In Indiana, a state commission is recommending that 5 percent of state aid be linked to such goals as number of degrees awarded and research completed.

Michigan university officials say they’ve already cut programs and staff due to a 15 percent funding reduction from the state this year, the Free Press reported. They also said that basing state aid on such things as graduation rates would put pressure on them not to grant admission to lower-performing students.


Detroit Free Press, “State aid to universities soon could hinge on performance goals,” Nov. 20, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Top 10 Budget Recommendations,” Feb. 1, 2011

Education Lobby Spending More

LANSING, Mich. — Education reform measures working their way through the Michigan Legislature have prompted increased spending by teachers unions and other groups on lobbying, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The Michigan Education Association reported lobbying expenses of $324,000 for the first seven months of 2011, while the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan reported nearly $120,000, a combined increase of 11 percent over the same period in 2010, the Journal reported.

The unions opposed new changes that will make teacher performance a major factor in awarding tenure and making layoffs, the Journal reported, as well as a new law giving emergency managers more authority in dealing with financially stressed cities and school districts.  Still pending are bills that would allow the expansion of charter schools and expanded schools of choice.

The lobbying disclosure reports cite the amount of money spent interacting directly with lawmakers and other government officials, as well as lobbyist salaries and other costs, according to the Journal.

“More of our members have been coming to town to make their voices heard,” Doug Pratt, MEA spokesman, told the Journal. “There's been a laundry list of issues that certainly contributed.”


Lansing State Journal, “Education issues spur lobbyist spending,” Nov. 20, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Good Start, Policymakers. Now for the Heavy Lifting,” July 4, 2011

Michigan Professor on NCLB Waiver Review Team

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Michigan assessment expert is on the 21-person review team that will recommend which states should receive waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act, according to Education Week.

Edward Roeber is an adjunct professor at Michigan State University and formerly was with the Michigan Department of Education and the Council of Chief State Schools Officers. He joins a number of other researchers, think tank representatives, former state education officials and local school district officials on the review team, Education Week reported.

Most states plan to seek waivers that will give them some flexibility on meeting No Child Left Behind mandates, such as the requirement that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014, Education Week reported. Only 17 states have already submitted requests.

Michigan will turn in a waiver request in time for the second round of reviews in February 2012, according to information at the Michigan Department of Education website.

Public comment on Michigan’s draft proposal is being accepted through Dec. 5. The draft proposal and an overview are posted at the MDE website (linked below).


Education Week, “Transparency Watch: NCLB Waiver Judges Identified,” Nov. 17, 2011 (Subscription required)

Michigan Department of Education, “MDE's Draft Request for ESEA Flexibility


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Another Year of Hollow School Progress Reports,” Aug. 23, 2010

Ferndale Wants to Extend Tax to 2042

FERNDALE, Mich. — Residents in Ferndale Public Schools currently pay a 7-mill tax for school improvements that will expire in 2023, and now the school board plans to ask voters to extend that through the year 2042, according to The (Royal Oak) Daily Tribune.

School officials estimate that the extension would bring in $22.8 million, of which $5.2 million would go for asbestos removal, $5.4 million for mechanical upgrades in some buildings, including air conditioning, $3.3 million for technology, and the rest for other smaller projects, according to The Daily Tribune.

School board trustees said they want to get the measure on the ballot quickly, because the formula used to calculate revenue will be updated next spring to reflect a drop in property values locally, according to The Daily Tribune. That would lower the buying power of the bonds that the district intends to issue, The Daily Tribune reported.

Some residents also are concerned that the vote will be on the same ballot as the Republican presidential primary on Feb. 28, 2012, and that the primary will attract voters who are opposed to government spending, according to The Daily Tribune.

Stephanie Hall, the district’s spokesperson for the millage proposal, said that, “This is not a partisan matter; it’s about the future of our schools,” The Daily Tribune reported.


The (Royal Oak) Daily Tribune, “Schools seek $22.8 million millage renewal,” Nov. 19, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Common School Funding Myths,” Sept. 7, 2010

Father, Son Combo on East Detroit Board

EASTPOINTE, Mich. — Jon Gruenberg of Eastpointe will join his father on the East Detroit Board of Education in January after winning one of four open seats in a field of six candidates, according to The (Southgate) News-Herald.

The elder Gruenberg, also named Jon, told The News-Herald that he was surprised to learn his son had filed as a candidate, but ended up giving him advice on what to expect.

The younger Gruenberg, an East Detroit and Central Michigan University graduate, manages a local fast food restaurant, The News-Herald reported. The 24-year-old told The News-Herald that he has fresh ideas for the district based on his education and experience.

He also told The News-Herald that he learned a lesson during the campaign, when someone anonymously provided area media with a Facebook photo of him making an obscene gesture during his college years.

“I was a little younger then and not really thinking, but I now realize how your past decisions can impact your future,” he said, according to The News-Herald.

For school business, the senior Gruenberg will be called Jon Scott Gruenberg while his son will be known as Jon Glen Gruenberg, The News-Herald reported.


The (Southgate) News-Herald, “Son joins father on East Detroit School Board,” Nov. 20, 2011


Michigan Education Report, “The proper role of a public school board,” June 21, 2010

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at

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