Contents of this issue:

  • Madison teachers threaten lawsuit over retroactive pay cuts
  • Flint-area teachers ‘flip’ their classrooms
  • Two Michigan schools on federal ‘Green Ribbon Schools’ list
  • Flint charter public school to lose authorization
  • Trenton schools now accepting schools of choice students
  • Mackinac Center hosting online learning discussion

Madison Teachers Threaten Lawsuit Over Retroactive Pay Cuts

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Teachers in Madison District Public Schools say a 10 percent pay cut the board of education applied retroactively to the start of the school year is illegal, according to the Detroit Free Press. Local union officials say they plan to file a lawsuit against the board’s decision.

Bobby Robinson, president of the Madison Education Association, told the Free Press he had raised concerns about the retroactive pay cut’s legality with the board prior to its implementation. He cited a legal ruling last year where courts told Detroit Public Schools it could not implement a pay cut retroactively.

"They ignored it," he told the Free Press.

According to the Free Press, the Madison school board implemented the 10 percent pay cut a few days after teachers rejected a proposed 7 percent pay cut. The teachers’ previous collective bargaining agreement expired in 2009.

SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, “Madison School District teachers call 10% pay cut illegal, threaten lawsuit," April 21, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Board turnover in Madison," Jan. 22, 2010

Flint-Area Teachers ‘Flip’ Their Classroom

FLINT, Mich. – Two Flint-area teachers have flipped their classroom and are trying to help their coworkers do the same, according to MLive.

In a flipped classroom, students watch videos of lectures outside of class and then work on the material at school where an instructor is able to help them with questions. This reversal of the traditional class structure is where “flipped teaching” gets its name, according to MLive.

Michael Peter, an economics teacher at Mt. Morris High School, told MLive the flipped approach allows him to spend more time teaching his students and less time lecturing.

"What it allows you to do is actually be a teacher now. It allows you to interact more," he said.

Peter and Lori Banaszak have been running seminars on the weekend to help introduce other area teachers to the flipped approach, according to MLive. A recent session saw more than 40 participants and the pair hopes to host a five-day training seminar next year.

SOURCE: MLive, “Flint-area educators pioneering Flip Teaching movement,” April 23, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Michigan school’s ‘flipped classrooms’ featured on CNN," Jan. 22, 2012

Two Michigan Schools on Federal ‘Green Ribbon Schools’ List

DETROIT – Two Michigan schools are among 78 nationwide named to the first-ever Green Ribbon Schools list, according to The Detroit News. The list is issued by the Department of Education in conjunction with the EPA to recognize schools with environmentally friendly buildings, curriculum and practices.

“Science, environmental and outdoor education plays a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education, helping prepare them for the jobs of the future," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told The News. "U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skill sets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.”

Detroit Edison Public School Academy and Clarkston High School are the two schools from Michigan to make the list, which features 66 public schools, including eight charter public schools, and 12 independent schools.

SOURCE: The Detroit News, “2 Michigan schools on national list of prestigious institutions,” April 23, 2012

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “An Alternative to Green Orthodoxy,” April 3, 2006

Flint Charter Public School to Lose Authorization

FLINT, Mich. – Central Michigan University has decided not to renew Center Academy of Flint’s authorization for next year, according to MLive. CMU said declining academic performance lead to the decision.

Loss of authorization means the charter public school will have to close unless a new authorizer can be found, according to MLive. Officials at the school said they were currently searching for a new authorizer.

"We're moving quickly, all hands are on deck," Russell Kirksey, vice president of the school's board of directors, told MLive.

MLive reports CMU is the largest authorizer of charter public schools, sponsoring 56 across the state. Center Academy is the 17th time CMU has decided not to renew a school’s authorization since 1994.

Buddy Moorehouse, a spokesman for the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, told MLive 50 charter public schools have been shut down by their authorizer since the state introduced them in 1994. Moorehouse said the fact that charter schools are occasionally shut down by their authorizers is a sign the system is working.

"Every year there are schools that are closed down by their authorizers," Moorehouse told MLive. "In a way, that's one of the positives about charter schools because they are more accountable. If they don't perform, they are shut down."

SOURCE: MLive, “Flint charter school Center Academy denied authorization to operate,” April 25, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Commentary: Research Shows Parental Choice Works,” Sep. 23, 2011

Trenton Schools Now Accepting Schools of Choice Students

TRENTON, Mich. – The Trenton Board of Education has voted to accept applications for schools of choice students, according to The Downriver News-Herald. Trenton is the last of 16 downriver districts to accept schools of choice students.

According to MLive, the board’s decision was financially driven. The district is facing declining enrollment and rising retirement costs. If Trenton can fill all 60 openings across three grades it could receive up to $310,000 in additional state aid.

SOURCE: The Downriver News-Herald, “TRENTON: District accepting schools of choice applications,” April 20, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Schools of choice has led to improved opportunities," Jan. 2, 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.

SOURCE: 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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