April 9, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Milan district working to bring in schools-of-choice students
  • EAA schools grappling with discipline — 5,000 incidents so far
  • Number of homeless students increases by 66 percent in four years
  • Pavlov concerned about expanding ISD authority in EAA bill
  • Mattawan uses virtual courses to expand offerings, cut costs
  • New RTW resource available, includes sample opt-out letter 

Milan District Working to Bring in Schools-of-Choice Students

MILAN, Mich. – In an attempt to bring in more Schools-of-Choice students, the Milan school district is launching a marketing campaign to advertise the district to families, according to the Milan News-Leader.

Milan Superintendent Bryan Girbach told the News-Leader that of the district’s 2,434 students, about 400 came to the district through Schools of Choice.
The state funding formula uses the number of enrolled students to determine how much money a district receives, according to the News-Leader.
Girbach told the News-Leader that declining enrollment has been a problem at the district, and that Schools-of-Choice enrollment has declined as well.
“We have to make sure families fully understand what we have to offer here at Milan,” Girbach told the News-Leader.
SOURCE: The Milan News-Leader, “School district planning marketing campaign to attract school-of-choice students,” April 4, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Choice Benefits Students" Feb. 4, 2013

EAA Schools Grappling With Discipline — 5,000 Incidents So Far

DETROIT – During the first five months of the school year, the 15 schools in the statewide Education Achievement Authority system reported more than 5,000 disciplinary incidents, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that 4,000 of those incidents, which can include fights, truancy and gambling, occurred between mid-November through the end of January. Approximately 10,000 students attend EAA schools, according to The News.
The incidents include 1,000 cases of truancy, 63 drug possessions and 33 firearm possessions, The News reports.
“When you take over the underperforming school, sometimes the reason they were failing is some of the behaviors,” Tyrone Winfrey, chief of staff for the EAA Chancellor, told The News.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Student behavior not making grade at EAA schools,” April 3, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “New Education Achievement Authority bill introduced,” March 12, 2013

Number of Homeless Students Increases by 66 Percent in Four Years

DETROIT – More than 37,500 Michigan students were homeless during the 2011-12 school year, according to The Detroit News. The number of homeless students has increased by 66 percent over the past four years, The News reports.

Students are counted as homeless if they do not have a “fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence,” according to The News. Students staying at another person’s home are categorized as homeless, The News reports.
“People can’t believe that Oakland County has homeless students, but they are in every one of our 28 school districts,” Susan Benson, director of Community Programs and Special Projects for Oakland Schools, told The News.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Ranks of homeless students on the rise in Michigan,” April 3, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Private Compassion is the Best Cure for Michigan’s Pain," Jan. 2, 2013 

Pavlov Concerned About Expanding ISD Authority in EAA Bill

LANSING, Mich. – Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, told the Associated Press that he is concerned about some aspects of legislation to expand the statewide Educational Achievement Authority.

Sen. Pavlov, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, told the Associated Press that the legislation would allow intermediate school districts to run schools identified as failing. “I’ve never seen ISDs associated with running schools,” Sen. Pavlov told the Associated Press.
“Adding another level of bureaucracy to something that stops the real repair from taking place, I need to be more informed on how that is going to be helpful,” Sen. Pavlov told the Associated Press.
SOURCE: Grand Haven Tribune, “Lawmaker doubts part of Mich. School takeover bill,” April 7, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Are Intermediate School Districts Bloated?” Dec. 6, 2010

Mattawan Uses Virtual Courses to Expand Offerings, Cut Costs

MATTAWAN, Mich. – School officials trying to cut costs while preserving educational quality should consider virtual courses, writes Colin Ripmaster, associated director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals and former Mattawan principal.

In a column posted on MASSP’s website, Ripmaster writes that by using courses from Michigan Virtual University, Mattawan was able to offer Mandarin Chinese courses to students. Faced with trying to cut $1 million from a high school budget, Ripmaster used virtual courses to reduce costs.
According to Ripmaster, during the past five years, enrollment at Mattawan grew by 200 students, while seven full-time teaching staff positions were eliminated. He reports that during that time, student achievement increased.
Ripmaster writes: 

…[W]e were able to reduce our failure rate, while increasing our ACT Composite score 2.5 pts, English 2.6 pts., Reading 2.2 pts., Math 2.6 pts., Science 1.6 pts., and Writing 3.4 pts, as well as increasing the percent of juniors meeting the college readiness benchmarks in all four core areas by 16%.

SOURCE: Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, “I’ve Cut and Cut and Cut. Now What? Another Idea for Balancing the Budget While Expanding Course Offerings,” April 6, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Virtual Learning Revolution, March 7, 2011

New RTW Resource Available, Includes Sample Opt-Out Letter

MIDLAND, Mich. – The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has created a new website that serves as a resource for union members and the general public looking to understand Michigan’s new right-to-work law. The website provides sample opt-out letters that workers can to exercise their new freedoms under right-to-work.

MIWorkerFreedom.org also has FAQ sections for both public- and private-sector workers, and analysis showing how right-to-work laws impact state growth and worker income.
SOURCE: The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “New Right-to-Work Website Can Help Union Workers Opt Out of Membership; Provides Information on Benefits of Being a Right-to-Work State,” April 4, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Right-to-Work and the Mackinac Center" Nov. 29, 2012