Contents of this issue:

  • Emergency manager ballot proposal causes power struggle in DPS
  • Godfrey-Lee district sees success with new math focus
  • Forthcoming study finds evaluation may help teachers improve
  • Are charter public school operations transparent?
  • Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts consider merger
  • Grand Rapids district will close eight to 12 schools

Emergency Manager Ballot Proposal Causes Power Struggle in DPS

DETROIT – Placing the repeal of the state’s emergency manager law on the November ballot has triggered its suspension and led to a power struggle in Detroit Public Schools, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports that the DPS board of education last week voted to terminate the Education Achievement Authority, a reform district operating 15 Detroit schools.

EAA Chancellor John Covington has issued a statement that the DPS board does not have the power to remove EAA’s authority, and the state attorney general has sued to remove seven of the 11 DPS board members.

SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, “Detroit Public Schools board can’t stop reform district, leader says,” Aug. 11, 2012

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Emergency Managers Are Bad, Bankruptcy Far Worse, July 11, 2012

Godfrey-Lee District Sees Success With New Math Focus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In just two years, Godfrey-Lee High School has posted large gains in student achievement, MLive reports. 

According to MLive, the high school placed in the bottom 5 percent of Michigan schools two years ago. After increasing its focus on mathematics, and starting a two-week math camp for incoming freshman, the school now ranks in the 63rd percentile of Michigan schools, MLive reports.

According to MLive, Superintendent Dave Britten wrote in a letter to parents that “[w]e’ll continue examining our curriculum, instruction, and supports to respond to the state’s higher achievement expectations.”

SOURCE: MLive, “Godfrey-Lee schools Algebra Camp improving student confidence and competency in math,” Aug. 10, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Godfrey-Lee gets $2.5M in improvement grants," June 21, 2012

Forthcoming Study Finds Evaluation May Help Teachers Improve

BOSTON – A forthcoming study suggests that teachers may improve when evaluated in a detailed manner, according to Educationnext.

The study’s authors, Stanford University doctoral student Eric Taylor and Brown University Professor John Tyler, studied a sample of midcareer elementary and middle school teachers in Cincinnati Public Schools who were subjected to a thorough evaluation.

Taylor and Tyler write in Educationnext that teachers were more effective at raising student mathematics achievement during the year they were evaluated, and more effective after evaluation. However, no evidence was found that evaluating teachers led to an increase in student reading test scores.

Taylor and Tyler write that “…in this setting, experienced teachers provided with unusually detailed information on their performance improved substantially.”

SOURCE: Educationnext, “Can Teacher Evaluation Improve Teaching?” Fall 2012: Volume 12, No. 4.

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Merit-Based Teacher Pay Rewards Everyone" June 25, 2012

Are Charter Public School Operations Transparent?

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Though conventional public school districts are required to post spending and salary information online, charter schools may not be subject to the same requirements due to their organizational structure, WOOD-TV reported.

WOOD-TV found that 19 conventional public school districts in Kent County reported spending and salary information as required by state law. However, only one Kent County charter public school reported the same information.

WOOD-TV reports that many charter public schools contract with private companies to hire teachers, administrators and other employees, meaning that those employees are considered to be private employees and not subject to the state requirement.

SOURCE: WOOD-TV, “Do charter schools play by the same rules?” Aug. 9, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Michigan Charter Schools Closing While Failing Conventional Schools Stay Open,” Aug. 9, 2012

Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts consider merging

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Michigan Radio reports that Ypsilanti Public Schools and Willow Run Public Schools are considering merging their districts due in part to budgetary problems and low student academic achievement.

Voters will be asked on the November ballot whether the two districts should merge, according to Michigan Radio.

Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin told Michigan Radio that he supports the merger, even if it means he will lose his job.

SOURCE: Michigan Radio, “Ypsilanti and Willow Run schools to ask voters, ‘should we merge?’” Aug. 10, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Ypsilanti school board approves deficit-elimination plan,” May 14, 2012

Grand Rapids District Will Close Eight to 12 Schools

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Public Schools will close eight to 12 schools next fall as a response to declining enrollment, WOOD-TV reports.

GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal told WOOD-TV that the district is working to avoid budget problems like those seen in the Muskegon Heights district.

Weatherall told WOOD-TV that the first priority is to create a new curriculum and new standards for each grade, and that figuring out funding will happen later.

SOURCE: WOOD-TV, “GRPS losing students, closing schools,” Aug. 10, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Grand Rapids Superintendent Wants to Use “EduJobs” Bailout Money for Health Insurance,” Sept. 13, 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.

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