Contents of this issue:

  • Sweeping collective bargaining proposal on November ballot
  • Teacher pension reform law signed
  • Highland Park student plaintiffs return to school
  • Number of Michigan charter public schools continues to grow
  • Some Flint students begin year without class assignments

Sweeping Collective Bargaining Proposal on November Ballot

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The state Supreme Court has ruled that a sweeping ballot proposal to expand public employee bargaining power will be on the November ballot, according to MLive.
Unions have spent millions to get the proposal, known as “Protect Our Jobs,” onto the ballot, and it could make Michigan a battleground state for public employee labor issues, MLive reports.
Bill Ballenger of Inside Michigan Politics told MLive that “…[Unions are] trying to head off anything that might be coming from a Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Snyder, fearing they could enact ‘right to work’ legislation that would be the coup de grace for organized labor in Michigan.”
SOURCE: MLive, “Supreme Court decision on Protect Our Jobs proposal could make Michigan national battleground,” Sept. 5, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “What the ‘Protect Our Jobs’ Amendment Would Mean for Michigan,” Sept. 10, 2012

Teacher Pension Reform Law Signed 

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law reforming school employee pension costs, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the pension reform law increases the amount retired school employees pay for their own health care costs, caps district pension contributions, and retools health coverage for new school employees.
Supporters say the changes reduce the unfunded liability of the state’s school retirement fund by $15 billion, according to MLive.
Snyder also told MLive that he will appeal a recent court ruling that limits the state from collecting 3 percent of school employee wages to pay for retiree health care costs. While the decision is appealed, the state will continue to collect that money, MLive reports.
SOURCE: MLive, "Gov. Snyder signs teacher pension law, will appeal court ruling on previous, mandated 3 percent contributions," Sept. 4, 2012.
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Legislature passes school pension reform," Aug. 16, 2012

Highland Park Student Plaintiffs Return to School 

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. – Eight students who are suing the Highland Park School District for failing to teach them to read at an appropriate level are returning to school, Michigan Radio reports.

The case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, points to state data showing that just 25 percent of sixth- and seventh-grade Highland Park students passed the state reading exam, according to Michigan Radio.
“The fact is that this is the first ‘right to read’ case, but it won’t be the last,” ACLU attorney Mark Rosenbaum told Michigan Radio. “The reality is that there are children throughout Michigan and throughout the country whose ZIP code is determining their education opportunities.”
SOURCE: Michigan Radio, "Students Say They’ve Been Denied the Right to Read," Sept. 6, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Highland Park Reform May Have to Begin With Finances," July 13, 2012

Number of Michigan Charter Public Schools Continues to Grow 

DETROIT – This school year, 31 new public charter schools have opened in Michigan, reports the Detroit Free Press. That’s the most charter school openings in single year since the 1990s, the Free Press reports.

According to the Free Press, the primary reason for the increase is a law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder that effectively lifted the cap on charter public schools that can be authorized by universities.
Several charter public schools also closed this year, according to the Free Press. Approximately 10 schools were closed by the end of the 2011-2012 school year, the Free Press reported, with six closing mainly for academic reasons.
SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, “Michigan has more charter schools than ever but what’s the smartest choice," Sept. 9, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Michigan Charter Schools Closing While Failing Conventional Schools Stay Open," Aug. 9, 2012

Some Flint Students Begin Year Without Class Assignments

FLINT, Mich. – In the wake of merging middle and high schools, some Flint School District students were not provided class assignments, according to MLive.

Flint officials are blaming the lack of class assignments on a software glitch and are attempting to fix the schedules manually, reports MLive.
A district spokesperson told MLive that parents should continue to send their children to school, even if they do not yet have a class schedule.
SOURCE: MLive, “Some Flint School District students are without class schedules following computer glitch,” Sept. 6, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How to Fix Flint Schools," Oct. 10, 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.

Contact Managing Editor Michael Van Beek at mailto:med@educationreport.org

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