October 1, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • U of M liabilities more than triple in 10 years
  • State ranking list reconsidered
  • AAPS leaves admin jobs open to help fill revenue gap
  • House approves Common Core
  • Six EAA schools ranked in Detroit top 20 on basis of growth

U of M Liabilities More Than Triple in 10 Years

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan’s long-term liabilities, which include debt and retirement costs, have tripled over the last decade, according to MLive. MLive reports that in 2002, the University of Michigan had about $1 billion in liabilities, but that increased to $3.3 billion in 2012.

Nearly every public university, according to MLive, saw an increase in debt and other long-term costs. Only Lake Superior State University and University of Michigan-Dearborn appear to have decreased debt and long-term costs.
SOURCES: MLive, “See how debt, liabilities have changed over past decade at Michigan’s colleges and universities,” Sept. 29, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “College Subsidies a Growing Problem," Sept. 9, 2013

State Ranking List Reconsidered

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan House Education Committee recently heard testimony on the state’s school ranking system, according to MLive, and is considering an A-F grading system, which proponents say is a more understandable measure of school quality.

According to MLive, the Michigan Department of Education implemented a “rainbow report card” this year, which uses a five-color ranking system to award colors such as green, lime or yellow.

Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, testified before the committee on how Florida implemented an A-F report card, MLive reports.

“One of the keys to having a good strong school accountability system in any state is having a system that parents understand,” she told the committee, according to MLive. “Having parents be able to understand that A and B is good, D and F is bad, C means there’s room for improvement, you’ve just accomplished more than 50 percent of what you’re trying to accomplish in a school accountability system.”

SOURCE: MLive,“Michigan school accountability system under review as legislators discuss letter grades,” Sept. 25, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“At Thirkell, State Grade Doesn’t Match Up,” Aug. 26,

AAPS Leaves Admin Jobs Open to Help Fill Revenue Gap

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Ann Arbor Public Schools is leaving two administrative jobs open to save money, MLive reports. According to MLive, the district overestimated enrollment, and is now attempting to make up for a possible $2 million drop in revenue.

Superintendent Jeanice Kerr Swift told the AAPS school board that the district will limit purchasing, travel, overtime and hiring in response to the drop in enrollment, MLive reports.
According to MLive, the school board will focus on enrollment trends and possible marketing efforts in response.
SOURCE: MLive,“Ann Arbor schools to leave two administrative jobs open as they face $1.9M loss,” Sept. 26, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Ann Arbor Students and Parents Take Cuts While Teachers Get Raises,” July 15, 2013

House Approves Common Core

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan House approved a resolution that would allow districts to implement the Common Core standards, according to The Grand Haven Tribune.

According to the Tribune, the House resolution has provisions that would allow school boards to make curriculum and textbook decisions and develop different standards. The Tribune reports that these provisions were designed to address concerns raised by Common Core critics.
Legislators have not, however, allowed the companion “Smarter Balanced” tests to move forward, according to the Tribune.

SOURCE: The Grand Haven Tribune, “Michigan House approves Common Core standards,” Sept. 27, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Examining The Issues Surrounding Common Core,” Sept. 30, 2013

Six EAA Schools Ranked in Detroit Top 20 on Basis of Growth

DETROIT – Six Education Achievement Authority schools were ranked among the top 20 among Detroit-area schools on the basis of growth by Excellent Schools Detroit, according to Education Week. Education Week reports that special education students saw especially strong growth.

“The kids get the system now—it will be like 2 extra months of school,” deputy chancellor Mary Esselman told Education Week.
Education Week reports that blended and virtual learning at EAA schools isn’t just for students: Professional development and instructional planning blended courses, among other topics, are provided to EAA teachers
SOURCE: Education Week, “Building Buzz in Detroit,” Sept. 26, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “9,000 Students Return to Education Achievement Authority," Sept. 10, 2013