Contents of this issue:

  • Superintendents work to innovate within legislative boundaries
  • Michigan scores poorly on ‘nation’s report card’
  • Michigan charter public school teacher of the year announced
  • DPS debt increases by $18.7 million
  • Corktown school enters its 175th year
  • Event: Discussion on education with Clark Durant

Superintendents Work to Innovate Within Legislative Boundaries

SUTTONS BAY, Mich. – The Suttons Bay, Berrien Springs and Hamilton Community school districts have all been recognized recently as some of the most innovative in Michigan, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.

The Enquirer reports that these districts offer virtual courses, classes for homeschool students and even classes for students in facilities outside of district borders.
Suttons Bay, according to the Enquirer, offers multi-age groupings, instead of simply placing students in grades based on age. “You’re not stuck with your learning based on being with other students born the same year you were,” Suttons Bay Superintendent Mike Murray told the Enquirer.

Superintendents told the Enquirer that they and staff members spend a large amount of time reviewing laws and regulations to make sure their programs are allowable. The Enquirer reports that the biggest barrier is the fact that the state limits how long students are in school, and the pace at which they can learn.

“If we were really building a system that was good for kids, we wouldn’t stick to these old timeframes,” Hamilton Superintendent Dave Tebo told the Enquirer.

SOURCES: Battle Creek Inquirer, “Band of school reformers pushes boundaries of state regs,” Nov. 8, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“Michigan Schools of Innovation: Berrien Springs Public Schools,” August, 2013

Michigan Scores Poorly on ‘Nation’s Report Card’

LANSING, Mich. – New information from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the “nation’s report card,” shows that Michigan is lagging behind, according to MLive.

Just 37 percent of Michigan fourth graders scored proficient on the NAEP mathematics test, compared to the national average of 41 percent, MLive reports. According to MLive, fourth graders were also behind in reading, though eighth graders fared better, scoring about average.

MLive reports that since 2011, Michigan scores have remained about flat.

SOURCE: MLive,“Michigan lagging behind on ‘Nation’s Report Card’ in mathematics, elementary reading,” Nov. 7, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“Michigan vs. Florida,” June 10, 2013

Michigan Charter Public School Teacher of the Year Announced

WARREN, Mich. – Mary Dyer, a middle school science instructor at Conner Creek Academy East, has been identified as “Charter School Teacher of the Year,” according to The Detroit News. Conner Creek East is chartered by Ferris State University, The News reports.

According to The News, Principal Shawn Leonard, of East Arbor Academy, was named the 2013 Michigan “Charter School Administrator of the Year.” East Arbor is chartered by Grand Valley State University, and is run by National Heritage Academies, according to The News.
SOURCE: Detroit News,“Warren teacher named best in Michigan charter schools,” Nov. 7, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “State ‘Teacher of the Year’ Finalist Given Middle-of-the Pack Pay,” June 21, 2013

DPS Debt Increases By $18.7 million

DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools increased its overspending crisis by nearly $19 million over the summer, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that attempts to boost enrollment over the summer fell flat. Overall, student enrollment is still down, The News reports, and the district had budgeted for 2,200 additional students.
State officials told The News that they are working on a revised deficit elimination plan with DPS. “They have been hemorrhaging kids by the thousands,” Martin Ackerly, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, told The News. “We were more encouraged it wasn’t as dramatic (this fall) as it was in the past.”

According to The News, others were skeptical of the district’s planned increase in enrollment. “This enrollment comes from students in a city that is in bankruptcy, how could you not expect enrollment to decline,” James McTevia, head of a financial turnaround company, told The News.

SOURCE: Detroit News,“DPS debt swells $18.7M, looks at cutting costs,” Nov. 8,

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “DPS Undertakes School Marketing Campaign to Boost Enrollment,” Oct. 2, 2012

Corktown School Enters Its 175th Year

DETROIT – Most Holy Trinity School, a Catholic school in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, is in its 175th year of educating students, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that tuition ranges between $3,100 and $4,100, and that enrollment at the school has been steady. This year, according to The News, 131 students are enrolled, and 65 percent are coming from impoverished backgrounds.
“What really gets me are the children that came here who are now adults and have kids of their own that they want to send here,” administrative assistant and former student Imelda Pena told The News.

SOURCE: Detroit News,“175 Years in Corktown,” Nov. 3, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Private schools cope with weak economy," May 26, 2010

Event: Discussion on Education with Clark Durant

DETROIT, Mich. – Clark Durant, co-founder of Cornerstone Schools, is co-hosting a series of discussions on public education this week. The discussions, to be held on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13, will focus on public education, Cornerstone Schools and updates from Lansing.

Durant will be joined by Gary Naeyaert, executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project. Event information is below.
Macomb County:
Tuesday, Nov. 12: Pizza and reception at 6:30 p.m., remarks and discussion at 7:00 p.m.
Warren Community Center, Room 420, 5460 Arden Ave., Warren MI 48092

Oakland County:
Wednesday, Nov. 13: Pizza and reception at 6:30 p.m., remarks and discussion at 7:00 p.m.
Troy Community Center, Room 303, 3179 Livernois Rd., Troy MI 48083