Contents of this issue:

  • Welfare benefits now tied to student attendance
  • Teacher union contract would allow some alcohol and drug use
  • Federal meal guidelines cause student (and stomach) grumbling
  • Dearborn schools looking for $1 million to pay pension increase
  • Merit pay grant awarded to Educational Achievement Authority

Welfare Benefits Now Tied to Student Attendance

DETROIT – Applicants for welfare cash benefits will now have to prove that their children are attending school, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that children ages six to 15 must attend school full time in order for their families to receive welfare cash benefits. Students are considered truant, according to The News, if they have 10 or more unexcused absences.
Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, told The News that he thinks the new policy may overlook individual circumstances. “Say you have a child who hasn’t been in school due to sickness or there has been a number of deaths in the family and they can’t be there. There could be inadvertent problems not under their control,” he told The News.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Truant kids to cost families state aid” Sept. 25, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Choice and Privatization Reform for Basic Welfare Services,” Aug. 19, 2010

Teacher Union Contract Would Allow Some Alcohol and Drug Use

BAY CITY, Mich. – Under a teacher union contract approved by Bay City Public Schools officials, teachers found to be intoxicated would not be terminated until the fifth offense, according to MLive, and teachers found possessing or using drugs would not be terminated until the third offense.

MLive reports that the intoxication and drug provision currently does not apply to teachers because Michigan law prohibits teachers from bargaining over disciplinary procedures.
However, according to MLive, an internal memo from the Michigan Education Association says that if a sweeping expansion of public employee union powers is passed by voters in November, disciplinary procedures would be negotiable.
SOURCE: MLive, "Opponents: Union-backed Protect Our Jobs proposal would make it harder to fire teachers caught at work with drugs, alcohol,’" Sept. 28, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Proposal 2 Could Protect Teachers Who Are Drunk, Dealing Drugs In the Classroom," Oct. 1, 2012

Federal Meal Guidelines Cause Student (And Stomach) Grumbling

PETOSKEY, Mich. – New federal guidelines calling for schools to offer lower-fat and lower-calorie lunches are leaving some students hungry, according to 7&4 News.

“It’s not very filling at all and I’m hungry for the rest of the day,” Petoskey High School student Tony Dáugustino told 7&4 News.
Some high school students in Kansas even made a video of themselves tired and falling down to the song “We Are Young,” but with the word “young” replaced with the word “hungry,” according to 7&4 News.
7&4 News reports that some students are bringing in snacks to keep themselves nourished.
SOURCE: 7&4 News, "School lunches leave students hungry," Sept. 26, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Few happy with proposed school lunch rules," April 10, 2011

Dearborn Schools Looking for $1 Million to Pay Pension Increase

DEARBORN, Mich. – Dearborn Public Schools’ pension rate increased by about 1 percent due to ongoing legal struggles between the Michigan Office of Retirement Services and the state’s two largest teachers unions, according to the Dearborn Patch.

The increase in required pension contributions is due to a delay in implementing state pension cost-cutting measures, according to the Dearborn Patch. The Michigan Education Association and American Federation of Teachers forced the delay through legal action.
“For every month that the lawsuit goes unsettled, it costs about $111,000 so we certainly hope they settle it soon,” Superintendent Brian Whiston told the Dearborn Patch.
SOURCE: Dearborn Patch, “Pension Rate Jump Could Cost Dearborn Schools $1 Million," Sept. 27, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "$1.6 Billion in Savings Lost Under Prop 2," Sept. 17, 2012

Merit Pay Grant Awarded to Educational Achievement Authority

DETROIT – The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the Educational Achievement Authority a $5.9 million grant to test merit pay, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports that the initial grant provided to EAA, which runs 15 Detroit-area schools, will fund two years of performance-based incentive pay. More funding may be provided if Congress approves it.
“Our best teachers and principals are invaluable leaders in changing life outcomes for students,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in the Free Press. “They are desperately needed in our struggling schools, and they deserve to be recognized, rewarded, and given the opportunity to have a greater influence on their colleagues, students and in their communities.”
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “Michigan reform school district wins $5.9M grant to give to teachers,” Sept. 27, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Should Teachers Be Treated Less Professionally Than Linebackers?" Sept. 2, 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.

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

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