Contents of this issue:

  • StudentsFirst gives Michigan low grade on education policy
  • Jackson Community College wavering on charter school approval
  • Attorney General continues suit against DPS school board
  • Value-added school rankings published by Bridge Magazine 
  • Judge rules Plainwell district can refinance bonds

StudentsFirst Gives Michigan Low Grade on Education Policy

LANSING, Mich. – StudentsFirst, a reform-minded education advocacy group, gave Michigan a C-minus in its ranking of state education policies, according to MLive.

MLive reports that StudentsFirst gave Michigan high marks for teacher tenure reform and for establishing the Education Achievement Authority, the statewide reform district for persistently low-achieving schools.

However, according to MLive, StudentsFirst gave Michigan low scores when it came to “empowering parents,” and recommended that schools be required to obtain parental consent before placing a student in an ineffective teacher’s classroom.
SOURCE: MLive, “StudentsFirst gives Michigan a ‘C-’ grade for education policy, but that’s not bad compared to most other states,” Jan. 7, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Merit-Based Teacher Pay Rewards Everyone," June 25, 2012

Jackson Community College Wavering on Charter School Approval

JACKSON, Mich. – After a four-hour study session on the issue, Jackson Community College trustees have still not yet decided whether to authorize a new charter public school, MLive reports.

The creation of a charter school that would offer early college courses was requested by a parent group called “100 Families,” according to MLive.
MLive reports the charter school would serve sixth through 12th grades, with a 13th grade added so that students could graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.
Board Chairman Ed Mathein told MLive that “There are board members wavering. There are concerns and there are those who are comfortable with what we have here already.”
MLive reports that some trustees asked during the meeting whether the college had considered working with existing public schools, and whether the college would lose tuition from future students.
SOURCE: MLive, “Jackson Community College trustees need more time before voting on authorization of charter school,” Jan. 12, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “College takes proposals for requested public charter school," Dec. 11, 2012

Michigan Attorney General Continues Suit Against DPS School Board

DETROIT – Despite changes to the state emergency manager law, Attorney General Bill Schuette is continuing to push for the removal of Detroit school board members, according to The Detroit News.

Though the state emergency manager law was repealed in November, a replacement law will take effect in March, The News reports.
“Whether an emergency manager is in place or not, the district has to abide by state election laws,” a spokesperson for Schuette told The News.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Michigan AG wants Detroit school board ouster today,” Jan. 10, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Six years later: Takeover of Detroit Schools shows few intended results,” Dec. 15, 2005

Value-Added School Rankings Published by Bridge Magazine

LANSING, Mich. – Bridge Magazine has identified top Michigan schools by using a “value-added” ranking system. Schools were ranked based on how students scored on state standardized tests with student socioeconomic backgrounds taken into account.

Bridge’s ranking is based on a school report card published by the Mackinac Center in June 2012. Both report cards identified Star International Academy, a charter school in Dearborn, as the top-ranking school in the state.
According to Bridge Magazine’s analysis, the top-ranking conventional school district is Godwin Heights.
SOURCE: Bridge Magazine, “Which Mich. Schools Add Most Value For Students?” Jan. 10, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Michigan Public High School Context And Performance Report Card, July 19, 2012

Judge Rules Plainwell District Can Refinance Bonds

PLAINWELL, Mich. – A judge ruled that Plainwell Community Schools can refinance $9.6 million in bonds, according to MLive.

Plainwell Superintendent Sue Wakefield told MLive that the district was behind on its mandatory repayment of the bonds, which are backed by the state’s school bond loan fund.
MLive reports that Treasury officials were trying to block the school’s request for refinancing in order to force the district to increase its debt levy.
SOURCE: MLive, “Judge rules in favor of Plainwell schools in bond refinancing case,” Jan. 2, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Debt Program for Public Schools Has Gone Too Far,” Aug. 17, 2012