Contents of this issue:

  • Financial emergency declared in Muskegon Heights
  • Crystal Falls students to compete in robotics championship
  • Ann Arbor school to host Michigan’s first Muslim spelling bee
  • Ypsilanti, Willow Creek discuss district consolidation
  • DPS to experiment with 10 ‘self-governing’ high schools
  • Mackinac Center hosting online learning discussion

Financial Emergency Declared in Muskegon Heights

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder has accepted the recommendation of the Muskegon Heights review team and declared the district to be in a financial emergency, according to MLive. The review team concluded that “no satisfactory plan” existed to eliminate the district’s debt.

MLive reports the district has until April 17 to request a hearing concerning the governor’s decision, after which the governor could appoint an emergency manager to relieve the school board of control over the district.

Muskegon Heights has been in financial trouble for several years, running an $8.5 million deficit last school year. According to MLive, the financial stress led the school board to request an emergency manager last December.

SOURCE:, “Governor declares financial emergency in Muskegon Heights schools," April 10, 2012


Michigan Education Report, “Muskegon Heights school board asks for emergency manager," Dec. 13, 2011

Crystal Falls Students to Compete in Robotics Championship

CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. – Three seventh grade students from Crystal Falls are headed to Anaheim, Calif., to compete in the VEX Gateway world robotics championship, according to The Iron County Reporter. The Forest Park students earned their spot in the championship by placing first in a regional tournament and will be one of 320 teams in this year’s competition.

The team built its robot as an extra-curricular activity, using Erector Set-like parts and a programmable microprocessor. According to The Reporter, the robot must be able to compete in a series of games as well as place balls into goals of different heights. The robot must also be able to operate autonomously for a 20-second period, guided only by a program written by the students.

According to The Reporter, the student team is being sponsored by several local businesses and community organizations.


The Iron County Reporter, “Robotics team heads to world championship,” April 10, 2012


Michigan Education Report, “Stockbridge students use underwater robot to search for remains,” March 26, 2012

Ann Arbor School to Host Michigan’s First Muslim Spelling Bee

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Precious Sprouts School in Ann Arbor will host a regional contest for the first national Muslim spelling bee, according to The bee is being sponsored by Chicago-based TMA Worldwide to “help connect the Muslim community to the mainstream community.”

“Muslims are not aware of spelling bees because they are focused on getting their children into engineering or medicine,” Tausif Malik, co-owner of TMA Worldwide, told

At only 31 students, Precious Sprouts is the smallest regional host in the tournament, according to The top two finalists in each of three age groups will go on to face competitors from nine other regions in Des Plaines, Ill., in May.

SOURCE:, “Ann Arbor Islamic school to host Michigan's first Muslim spelling bee Saturday,” April 7, 2012


Michigan Education Report, “Adding private schools to the school choice debate,” June 7, 2010

Ypsilanti, Willow Creek Discuss District Consolidation

YPSILANTI, Mich. – School boards from Ypsilanti and Willow Run have both voted unanimously to hold a joint meeting to discuss a possible merger between the two districts, according to The Ypsilanti Courier. Both boards emphasized that district consolidation is not a guarantee and would be years off even if it were to happen.

“At this point, what we’re really seeking is just a … discussion with the two boards so that we can make a determination on what works best for our community and also to hear from the community at large,” Dedrick Martin, Ypsilanti’s superintendent, told The Courier.

According to The Courier both districts have struggled academically and financially in recent years. Some advocates of consolidation see a merger between the two districts as a way to possibly strengthen both educational systems.

“There are those that say that it is impossible to build a world class school district from the financially crippled institutions that now serve our children. They don’t know who we are,” Ypsilanti board President (David) Bates said.


The Ypsilanti Courier, “Ypsilanti, Willow Run continue consolidation discussion,” April 3, 2012


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School District Consolidation, Size and Spending: an Evaluation,” May 22, 2007

DPS to Experiment With 10 “Self-governing” High Schools

DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts has announced a plan to create a hybrid system within the district with 10 high schools being converted into “self-governing” buildings, according to The Detroit News. Each school would have a five-member board with control over budgetary, hiring and operations decisions.

According to The News, the new system is an effort to compete with the educational opportunities offered by charter public schools. Around 45,000 students who reside within DPS boundaries attend a charter public school.

“We want to offer parents in this community choices,” Roberts told The News. “Every time I pick a school and make it a charter school, I take away my ability to pay off the deficit. So I said why don’t you create schools that are charter-esque?”

According to The News, the hybrid system has been tentatively well received by both state and union officials.

"It's nothing we would argue against," Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, told The News. "I think it's another step in the process of our academic and fiscal recovery. The devil is always in the details. There is still a number of details that have to be worked out."


The Detroit News, “DPS to move 10 high schools into new 'self-governing' system this fall,” April 4, 2012


Michigan Education Report, “Detroit to close some schools, turn others into charters,” Feb. 14, 2012

Mackinac Center Hosting Online Learning Discussion

MIDLAND, Mich. – The Mackinac Center for Public Policy on May 23 at the Lansing Center will host former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, who is co-chair of the Digital Learning Council along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, to discuss how digital technology and online learning can improve educational outcomes and expand student opportunities. Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and author of the book “Raising the Grade: How High School Reform Can Save Our Youth and Our Nation.” The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.

Wise, a Democrat, was governor of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005 and served in Congress from 1983 to 2001.


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Online Learning Revolution event featuring Bob Wise.”

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.

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