Contents of this issue:
  • School districts to fight over Granholm education budget
  • Nationwide increase in college, university enrollments not reflected in Michigan
  • STUDY: Tuition program helps low-income families
  • Oakland ISD officials subpoenaed
  • District and union finalize deal to link pay to students' progress
  • Few schools choose to drop cell phone ban

LANSING, Mich. — A number of school districts have expressed concern over Gov. Jennifer Granholm's education budget plan, which may pit urban and suburban school districts against each other.

The plan, introduced by Granholm last Thursday, would restore a $74 per pupil cut in December, except to districts that spend more than $9,000 per student each year. In addition, the plan would shift state funding from growing districts to those with shrinking enrollments. The changes would save the state an estimated $43 million.

Several large, suburban districts voiced complaints against the plan, saying they would sustain heavy cuts. "We have the same [financial] problems, if not worse, as everybody else," Birmingham Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Richard Perry told the Detroit Free Press. "They're forcing us to tear apart the kinds of programs they're trying to get everyone else to aspire to."

Detroit Free Press, "School funding fight looms," Feb. 13, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Money and Red Tape," January 2004

DETROIT, Mich. — Enrollment in colleges nationwide reached a record 15 million this school year, and a new study expects this number to increase 10 percent over the next 10 years.

In Michigan, however, enrollment is down 18 percent at the University of Michigan and 15 percent at Michigan State University. The lower enrollment figures may be due to several factors, including greater competition among applicants and a lagging economy.

The study, released by the Alexandria, Va.-based National Association of College Admission Counseling, surveyed 600 colleges for enrollment figures over the last four years.

"There is a lot of concern about cost," MSU admissions director Pam Horne said. "Tuition went up about 10 percent last fall at MSU, and the economy has not bounced back in Michigan like the rest of the nation. More students and families are considering community colleges for the first two years and then transferring to MSU."

Detroit Free Press, "Enrollments rise in U.S. colleges," Feb. 11, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private Prepaid Tuition Programs Can Help Make College Affordable," September 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Competition among Professors Would Help Parents Afford College," August 1999

DETROIT, Mich. — School choice policies in Arizona benefit the education of students from low-income families, according to a study issued last December by the Goldwater Institute.

The study included a survey of parents whose children currently receive school choice scholarships and those on the waiting list, which found that those parents with incomes below $30,000 are generally more satisfied with their children's education than are those whose children are not currently receiving the scholarship. The scholarship program, established in 1993, gives 574 students scholarships to attend the school of their choice, public or private. According to the Goldwater Institute survey, 89 percent of parents using the scholarship to send their children to private schools gave their schools an "A," compared to 15 percent of parents on the waiting list currently sending their children to public schools.

National Center for Policy Analysis, "Arizona Tuition Program Benefits Low-Income Families," Feb. 9, 2004

Goldwater Institute, "The Impact of Tuition Scholarships on Low- Income Families: A Survey of Arizona School Choice Trust Parents," Dec. 11, 2003

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education," November 1997

WATERFORD, Mich. — Members of the House education subcommittee ordered subpoenas last week for the investigation of alleged corruption in the Oakland Intermediate School District (ISD).

Officials in the Oakland district requested that the committee not issue subpoenas because they are already fully cooperating with the investigation. "It's an unnecessary use of coercive government power," interim superintendent William Keane said. "I don't need a subpoena to do something I'm already doing."

The representatives that ordered the subpoenas say they are necessary to uncover details in the investigation into the alleged misallocation of millions of dollars. "We need to get the information to find out what happened, so we can get the money to kids and not scams, shams and mismanagements," Rep. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, said. "ISD whistleblowers have been under a lot of pressure in the past, pressure of being fired. This takes away all of that. They are the ones who need to be protected."

Detroit News, "Oakland school officials subpoenaed," Feb. 13, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Eliminate Intermediate School Districts," August 2003

Michigan Education Report, "What Are Intermediate School Districts?" Winter 2000

Michigan Education Report, "Group files complaints against districts," Spring 2000

DENVER, Colo. — A new plan to base teacher salaries in part on student performance may go into effect in Denver, according to an agreement between the Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association union.

The agreement would inject $25 million into a system to give teachers salary increases based upon improvement in their students' performance on state tests. "We encourage teachers to vote for this system," union President Becky Wissink said. "It is good for the students of Denver because it will attract and retain the most effective teachers to schools where needs are greatest."

A final vote by the union's members will take place on Feb. 19 and must be approved by the citizens of Denver by popular vote in November 2005.

Denver Post, "DPS, union link teachers' pay to student progress," Feb. 11, 2004,1413,36~53~1948539,00.html

Michigan Education Report, "Incentives for Teacher Performance in Government Schools: An Idea Whose Time Has Come," Spring 2002

LANSING, Mich. — Many schools still maintain a ban against student use of cell phones on campus even though a statewide ban was lifted last year.

The lifting of the ban, which goes into effect fully next school year, will require that schools still wishing to keep cell phones out of school ban the technology with specific rules. The state's ban against mobile technology was established in 1988, when pagers were associated with drug dealing.

Today, many families use cell phones for communicating with their children and for emergency and safety reasons. According to Boston-based Yankee Group, one in three children ages 11 to 17 own a cell phone. Currently, school policies range from complete bans to restricted use outside of school hours.

Lansing State Journal, "Law lets schools OK cell phones, but few drop ban," Feb. 9, 2004

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 130,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Neil Block at

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