Contents of this issue:

  • August only month teachers can leave MEA
  • EAA students continue with classes
  • Financial crisis in Benton Harbor
  • U of M expert featured in ‘Building a Better Teacher’
  • Large crowd supports new Jackson public charter school

August Only Month Teachers Can Leave MEA

LANSING, Mich. – August is the only month teachers can choose to “opt out” of the Michigan Education Association, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

The Press & Argus reports that the Mackinac Center is launching an August Opt Out campaign to make sure teachers know they have the option. The Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.
The MEA has rules regarding w hen teachers can opt out, but is not working to inform teachers of their options, according to the Press & Argus. Doug Pratt, MEA spokesman, told the Press & Argus that “Membership organizations don’t go around telling people how not to be members.”

SOURCE: Livingston Daily Press & Argus, “Group spreads word on teacher opt-out,” July 30, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “August Opt-Out,” Aug. 1, 2014

EAA Students Continue With Classes

DETROIT – Students at Education Achievement Authority schools have continued with classes, though most of their peers in other schools are on summer break, according to the Hechinger Report.

The 15-school EAA system has been beset by enrollment losses and the resignation of its top official, reports the Hechinger Report, but is continuing on with its mission to improve some of the state’s worst schools.
The Hechinger Report notes that EAA leaders are trying to address social problems students face with advising programs and are encouraging more students to go to college. One 17-year-old student at the EAA told the Hechinger Report that he is planning to take community college courses after being encouraged by his school adviser.

SOURCE: Hechinger Report, “At troubled Detroit schools, adjusting to more class time,” Aug. 2, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “EAA head may resign,” June 17, 2014 

Financial Crisis in Benton Harbor

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – A financial review team has determi ned that the Benton Harbor school district is facing a financial emergency, according to CBS 62.

The Benton Harbor district has unpaid bills of $3.6 million, CBS reports, and the district won’t be able to stop overspending until 2028.
CBS reports that Gov. Rick Snyder has 10 days to determine what should be done at the district. One option, according to CBS, is to appoint an emergency manager.

SOURCE: CBS 62, “Snyder Gets Bad Report On Benton Harbor Schools,” Aug. 2, 2014
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “State halts takeover of Benton Harbor schools," Jan. 4, 2012 

U of M Expert Featured in ‘Building a Better Teacher’

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – University of Michigan Dean of Education Deborah Ball is featured in a book discussing how to improve teacher performance, according to Inside Higher Ed.

The book, “Building a Better Teacher,” rejects the notion that good teachers are born with certain attributes, instead discussing skills and techniques teachers must develop, Inside Higher Ed reports.
“People put a very large amount of faith in being there, being in schools, getting experience,” Ball said, according to Inside Higher Ed. “[But] just having experience in any realm doesn’t automatically make you better at it.”
Ball criticizes education schools that emphasize experience at the expense of critical training, Inside Higher Ed reports.

SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed, “Teaching the Teachers,” Aug. 1, 2014
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Union Pay Scale Ignores Exceptional Teachers, July 8, 2013 

Large Crowd Supports New Jackson Public Charter School

SUMMIT TWP., Mich. – A crowd of 200 people showed up to support the opening of a new charter public school in Jackson, the Jackson Preparatory & Early College charter school, according to MLive.

MLive reports that 145 students have enrolled so far, with more parents dropping off enrollment packets that day.
“I think this will be a very different way of learning that will benefit students at all levels,” Keilani Stone, an eighth-grader leaving Northwest Community Schools, told MLive. “I think I will expand my learning potential far beyond the final exam.”
JPEC will enable students to attend school up through 13th grade, graduating with a high school degree and an associate’s degree, MLive reports.

SOURCE: MLive, “Crowd of 200 turns out to see, tour ne Jackson Prep charter school,” July 29, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “New Jackson public charter school looking to hire teachers,” April 15, 2014