September 24, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Charter enrollment increases by 24 percent in Washtenaw County
  • Pontiac avoids emergency manager for now
  • WB-RC school district sees enrollment drop after scandal
  • Kettering offers course at Powers Catholic High School
  • Less experienced charter school teachers deliver results

Charter Enrollment Increases by 24 Percent in Washtenaw County

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – In just a single year, public charter school enrollment has increased by 24 percent in Washtenaw County, according to MLive.

Central Academy, an area public charter school that offers Arabic, saw its enrollment increase by 13 percent, MLive reports.
Hasan Darwish, a ninth grader, has been enrolled at Central Academy since third grade, and told MLive that the family atmosphere and small classes are what he likes best about the school.
“[My teachers] know what I like and I know what they expect of me,” Darwish told MLive.

MLive reports that Ann Arbor Public Schools failed to account for charter schools’ impact, and though the district budgeted for flat enrollment, it actually declined by 210 students.

According to MLive, 1,331 students assigned to AAPS attend a public charter school instead.

SOURCES: MLive, “Charter schools gaining larger proportion of student enrollment in Washtenaw County,” Sept. 22, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “What Michigan’s Charter Schools can Teach the Country," May 20, 2013

Pontiac Avoids Emergency Manager for Now

PONTIAC, Mich. – In order to deal with its $38 million overspending crisis, the Pontiac Board of Education has approved a consent agreement with the state, according to The Oakland Press.

The Press reports that Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon has the power to put the district on a path to emergency management if the district does not meet the requirements of the agreement.

Under the consent agreement, according to The Press, no existing collective bargaining agreements can be broken, but all new contracts must be approved by the state treasurer. The Press reports that many district contracts have expired.

SOURCE: The Oakland Press,“Pontiac school board OKs consent agreement, avoids emergency manager,” Sept. 18, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“Pontiac School District’s Financial Crisis Due to Poor Management, not Lack of Money,” Aug. 9, 2013

WB-RC School District Sees Enrollment Drop After Scandal

WEST BRANCH, Mich. – The West Branch-Rose City school district has seen enrollment drop by 87 students this year, meaning a loss of more than $600,000 in revenue, according to The Ogemaw Herald.

The Ogemaw Herald reports that the enrollment decline could be due to the district closing a middle school, as well as fallout in the wake of a recent scandal involving a teacher convicted of having an inappropriate relationship with a student.
Six WB-RC teachers wrote letters to the judge sentencing the former teacher and requested he be given leniency, The Herald reports. Many parents threatened to remove their children from the district if the teachers remained, according to The Herald.
SOURCE: The Ogemaw Herald, “WB-RC schools estimating loss of more than 80 students this year,” Sept. 16, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Escaping the Scandal in Rose City,” Aug. 8, 2013

Kettering Offers Course at Powers Catholic High School

FLINT, Mich. – Kettering University is partnering with Powers Catholic High School to offer dual enrollment calculus classes, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that this is the first time Kettering entered into such a partnership. Powers Principal Sally Bartos told The News that she hopes that the school will be able to undertake more partnerships with Kettering in the future.
Powers senior Chris Boggs told The News that “Having [the class] at the level of difficulty will prepare us more for college. It will give us more confidence saying ‘I can do this. I’ve already done it.’”

SOURCE: Detroit News, “Kettering offers dual enrollment to Powers High,” Sept. 21, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Private schools cope with weak economy,” May 26, 2013

Less Experienced Charter School Teachers Deliver Results

DETROIT – The Detroit News reports that Michigan public charter school teachers have an average of three years of experience, compared to conventional school teachers who have 11.

The News reports that the difference in experience may be due to mobility of younger teachers, Teach for America placements or burnout.
“We don’t often find that quality teaching is attached to age or tenure,” Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, told The News. “We are starting to see if you focus on quality, a healthy mix of teachers may be some new and some older.”
Peter Middleton, a teacher at Black River Public School for 12 years, told The News that he’s seen several colleagues leave after a few years.

But, he said, young teachers can relate to students in ways older teachers cannot. “They can offer new and fresh perspective. They give it their best shot,” he said. “We have a lot of teachers who inspire young people.”

The most detailed study of Michigan charter schools to date, by Stanford University, shows that Michigan charter school students are outlearning their peers, according to AnnArbor.com.

SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Amid growth of Michigan charter schools, teachers often less experienced,” Sept. 19, 2013

AnnArbor.com,“Study: Michigan charter school students out-learning their peers at traditional districts,” Jan. 14, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “What Michigan’s Charter Schools can Teach the Country," May 20, 2013