Contents of this issue:

  • Governor backs $4 million teacher evaluation pilot program
  • Detroit teachers union threatens lawsuit over hiring practices
  • Unemployment fraud uncovered at Detroit Public Schools
  • Zeeland superintendent suspended for plagiarism
  • Muskegon Heights could become charter district

Governor Backs $4 Million Teacher Evaluation Pilot Program

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder said he supports a year-long pilot program to study teacher evaluation processes in 12 school districts statewide, but wants to cap the cost at $4 million, according to MLive.

The Michigan Commission on Educator Effectiveness has developed a plan that it says would cost $6 million, MLive reported.

“It’s important to devise a system that’s fair to teachers, incorporates more than just test scores and provides them with effective professional feedback and development,” Sara Wurfel, the governor’s spokesperson, told MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “Gov. Snyder backs plan for teacher evaluation pilot, but at $4 million instead of $6 million,” May 29, 2012

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Teacher Quality Primer,” June 30, 2008

Detroit Teachers Union Threatens Lawsuit Over Hiring Practices

DETROIT – The Detroit Federation of Teachers says it might sue Detroit Public Schools over the evaluation and hiring process of teachers for the 2012-2013 school year, according to the Detroit Free Press.

DPS laid off all 4,100 of its teachers and has said it will conduct job interviews with those who want to return as per changes to the state teacher tenure law, which prohibits hiring based on seniority, the Free Press reported.

Keith Johnson, DFT president, said he will sue “in the event the district fails to rehire a teacher based on the ongoing evaluation and hiring practices,” according to the Free Press.

“The district continues to engage with Mr. Johnson and the DFT so that its members are informed on the procedures required under state and federal laws,” DPS spokesman Steve Wasko told the Free Press.

SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “DPS teacher hiring process flawed, union alleges,” May 26, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “DFT: Ignore District Interview Procedures," May 22, 2012

Unemployment Fraud Uncovered at Detroit Public Schools

DETROIT – More than 30 current and former Detroit Public Schools employees have been identified in an alleged unemployment fraud scheme, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Some 18 of the employees are accused of receiving unemployment payments while still working for the district, the Free Press reported. More than $470,000 has been paid out since 2008.

SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “Detroit Public Schools suspends 18 employees over suspected unemployment fraud," May 24, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Two Plead Guilty in DPS Payroll Scam," Feb. 3, 2010

Zeeland Superintendent Suspended for Plagiarism

ZEELAND, Mich. – Zeeland Public Schools Superintendent Dave Barry has been suspended for two weeks without pay after admitting to plagiarism, according to WZZM-TV 13 in Grand Rapids.

Barry admitted to plagiarizing someone else’s work for a piece he submitted to a staff newsletter, WZZM reported.

“The Zeeland board of education does not condone plagiarism in the classroom, among the staff or in any part of the education process,” board President Tom DenHerder said, according to WZZM.

SOURCE: WZZM-TV13, “Zeeland superintendent admits to more plagiarism,” May 25, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Professor dismissed for plagiarism in school consolidation study,” May 27, 2011

Muskegon Heights Public Schools Could Become Charter District

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – A change in state law could help the financially troubled Muskegon Heights Public Schools “charterize” its entire district, according to MLive.

Emergency Manager Donald Weatherspoon said he hopes to sign a contract with a private management firm by June 21 that will operate the district as charter public schools, MLive reported.

Senate Bill 618, which eliminated the arbitrary cap on the number of charter public schools allowed in Michigan, also removed a mandate for collective bargaining with teachers for conventional school districts that operate as charters.

“I think it’s a new day in education for the state of Michigan,” Dave Sipka, superintendent of the Muskegon Intermediate School District who also served as interim superintendent for Muskegon Heights, told MLive. “I think this is a historic move.”

SOURCE: MLive, “’A historic move’: Muskegon Heights teachers not sold on charter plan, but former superintendent is,” May 30, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Muskegon Heights Emergency Manager Says No Consolidation,” May 22, 2012

MichiganVotes, “2011 Senate Bill 618”

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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