Contents of this issue:

  • Legislature fails to pass school pension reform
  • Michigan granted NCLB waiver
  • Detroit targets vacant buildings near schools for demolition
  • MSU study: Americans support local control of school districts
  • Work group begins updating education finance laws
  • Charterized school system contract details posted

Legislature Fails to Pass School Pension Reform

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Legislature has failed to pass pension reform for the state’s public school teachers, according to MLive.

The current defined-benefit pension system has accumulated a $45 billion unfunded liability, MLive reported.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, told MLive that a defined-contribution plan has broad legislative support.
A conference committee has been appointed to resolve differences between House-proposed and Senate-proposed reform, according to MLive. Sen. Richardville told MLive that a compromise will be ready by mid-August.
SOURCE: MLive, “Michigan Senate falls short on teacher pension compromise, districts face missing $300 million in savings,” July 18, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Policymakers Still Tripped Up By Pension Transition Costs,” July 17, 2012
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Lemons, Leaky Basements and a Losing Bet” July 2012.

Michigan Granted NCLB Waiver

LANSING, Mich. – The U.S. Department of Education has granted Michigan a waiver from some requirements of the No Child Left Behind act, MLive reported.

Instead of aiming for 100 percent of students scoring proficient by 2014, the Department of Education has accepted Michigan’s goal of 85 percent of students scoring proficient by 2022, according to MLive.
Details will be available when Michigan’s final agreement with the federal government is released, MLive reported.
SOURCE: MLive, “Michigan schools now free from No Child Left Behind demand of perfection, but federal waiver requires changes,” July 19, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Michigan denied NCLB waiver," June 30, 2012

Detroit Targets Vacant Buildings Near Schools for Demolition

DETROIT – State money from a mortgage settlement fund could be used to demolish abandoned buildings near public schools, the Detroit Free Press reported.

More than 5,000 vacant buildings are within 400 yards of city schools, according to the Free Press.
The Free Press reported that the demolition program would likely target vacant buildings near Cesar Chavez Academy and Bennett, Harms and Roberto Clemente elementary schools.
A former board member of the MorningSide Community Organization voiced skepticism, telling the Free Press: “What are we going to do with the vacant lots? How does demolishing houses make the neighborhood safer if the city’s not going to clean up the land?”
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan would raze abandoned houses in Detroit," July 14, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Private Initiative in a Detroit Neighborhood," Jan. 16, 2009

MSU Study: Americans Support Local Control of School Districts

EAST LANSING, Mich. – An analysis of 40 years of public surveys found that Americans support local school board control, according to Michigan State University News.

Rebecca Jacobsen, assistant professor of education, told MSU News that “A lot of policymakers today think they can just go around the local boards; that the federal government can create a policy that goes directly to the schools or works around the existing institutions. But that’s not going to work in the long run, because local control is not dead.”
SOURCE: MSU News, “Americans support local control of schools,” July 16, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “More Than Half of School Districts Ignore Governor’s Request for Health Care Reform,” June 23, 2012

Work Group Begins Updating Education Finance Laws

LANSING, Mich. – A working group charged with updating the Michigan School Finance Act met last week, according to MLive.

The group’s goal, reported MLive, is not to change the amount of state funding, but to distribute state funds in a better manner that takes into account student needs and technological advances.
“We need to realize that schools are not going to be a 900,000 square-foot box anymore,” State Superintendent Mike Flanagan told MLive.
SOURCE: MLive, “Mike Flanagan: Key to revamping education funding is realizing ‘schools are not going to be 900,000-square-foot box anymore’”,” July 17, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “School Funding at All-Time High,” June 21, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Common School Funding Myths,” Sept. 7, 2010.

Charterized School System Contract Details Posted

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – The management agreement between the Muskegon Heights School Board and a charter public school operator has been made available, according to Michigan Radio.
Michigan Radio reports that the charter school operator, Mosaica Education Inc., will be monitored by quarterly reports on academic performance, and that the school board can retain an outside consultant to evaluate the charter school operators’ performance.
According to Michigan Radio, Mosaica will earn $8.75 million over the course of five years for the licensure of its curriculum and for managing the schools.
Michigan Radio also reports that the company plans to hire 66 teachers and three principals, and will strive for a student teacher ratio of 25 to one.
SOURCE: Michigan Radio, “Check out the details of Michigan’s first privatized public school system” July 17, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan School Privatization Survey 2011” Dec. 7, 2011 

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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