December 3, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Large number of charter schools run by for-profit organizations
  • EM-appointed DPS board member will stay, says judge
  • Grand Rapids graduates less than 50 percent of students
  • Few school districts score high enough to receive bonus
  • Milan officials explain successful student academic boost
  • SPECIAL ALERT: What do you imagine would be the easiest and most convenient way to get notified of important education votes your state legislators make?

Large Number of Charter Schools Run by For-Profit Organizations

LANSING, Mich. – A Western Michigan University professor’s research shows that 33 for-profit organizations operate public charter schools in Michigan, according to MLive.

MLive reports that this total is more than the number of for-profit organizations running public charter schools in Arizona and Florida.
The research shows that the largest for-profit operator is National Heritage Academies, with more than 30 schools, according to MLive. The Leona Group, MLive reports, runs more than 20 schools.

SOURCES: MLive,“Report: Michigan leads nation in number of for-profit charter school operators,” Nov. 28, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“Administrator Group Rails Against Education ‘Profiteers;’ Makes Millions Off Schools,” Dec. 27, 2012; Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Charter School Market Working,” Jan. 16, 2013

EM-Appointed DPS Board Member Will Stay, Says Judge

DETROIT – Eleven Detroit Public Schools board members recently sued to remove another board member who had been appointed to the DPS board by the district’s emergency manager, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that Wayne County Judge Annette Berry dismissed the suit. The school board member, Jonathan Kinloch, was appointed by Emergency Manager Roy Roberts, according to The News.

The News reports that Kinloch’s term on DPS’ school board will last through December 2014.

SOURCE: The Detroit News,“Judge denies request to void appointment of Detroit Board of Education member,” Nov. 26, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“Emergency Managers Are Bad, Bankruptcy Far Worse,” July 11, 2013

Grand Rapids Graduates Less Than 50 Percent of Students

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Public Schools graduates less than 50 percent of high school students in four years, according to MLive.

MLive reports that just 44.56 percent of Grand Rapids high school students graduate, compared to the statewide average of 76.2 percent. Though Michigan’s graduation rates improved between 2010-11 and 2011-12, Grand Rapids’ dropped during the same time period, according to MLive.
Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal told MLive that the district is working to address the issue, with moves that include better teacher evaluation and a new academic plan.

SOURCE: MLive,“Grand Rapids schools working to improve graduation rate data that shows it lags behind state average,” Nov. 29, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Failing Schools Able to Mark Themselves Up to a Passing Grade,” Nov. 13 2012

Few School Districts Score High Enough to Receive Bonus

LANSING, Mich. – Just two Lansing-area school districts received a $100-per-pupil bonus for academic achievement, according to the Lansing State Journal.

According to the State Journal, the two districts that received the full award were Okemos and Fowler. Some critics, reports the Lansing State Journal, say bonuses are unfair because student growth isn't enough of a factor.
According to the Lansing State Journal, districts can receive up to $60 per pupil for elementary and middle school students scoring well on state math and reading tests, and another $40 per pupil for demonstrated high school student achievement.

SOURCE: Lansing State Journal,“Just 2 mid-Michigan school districts earn $100-per-pupil state academic incentives,” Nov. 26, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Reducing ‘Best Practices’ Money Best for Taxpayers,” Feb. 15, 2013

Milan High Explains Successful Student Academic Boost

LANSING, Mich. – Milan High School was recently identified as a ‘reward school,’ according to The Milan News-Leader, meaning that the school’s students scored better than expected. As a result of the designation, school officials presented their practices to a statewide conference held by the Michigan Department of Education, according to The News-Leader.

Milan officials say that their success is a result of using data to make decisions, collaboration with teachers and addressing weaknesses strategically, The News-Leader reports.
According to The News-Leader, Milan High School offers ACT-focused classes, and students take tests annually that are affiliated with the ACT.

SOURCE: The Milan News-Leader,“Milan: High school officials discuss academic improvements at conference,” Nov. 28, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“Conservative Budgeting Helps Some Teachers Get Cash Back," Nov. 26, 2013

Special Alert: New Voting App Joins the Mackinac Center Family of Apps

Imagine an easy and convenient way to get notified of important education votes your state legislators make. Imagine an easy and convenient way to alert your legislator about your agreement or disagreement with those votes. Coming this December, you won't have to imagine it. A new iPhone app alerts you of important votes which take place and enables you to tell you legislator — within just a couple taps of your screen. See more here.