Contents of this issue:
  • Detroit schools chief may be replaced by two or three administrators

  • Bill calls for steroid prohibition in high school sports

  • Percentage of college grads up since 1990, but national rank falls

  • EDITORIAL: Proposed changes to Proposal "A" bad economics

  • Oakland Intermediate District chief reorganizes staff

  • Declining enrollment at Roman Catholic schools continues

DETROIT — Officials for the Detroit Public Schools announced last Thursday that current schools CEO Kenneth Burnley would not be a candidate for the district's interim CEO position, and speculated that the post could be split into two or three separate positions, reported the Detroit Free Press.

School Board Chairman Bill Brooks said the board is considering an "Office of the CEO" to fill the interim position, which will last for one year beginning on July 1. Under this scenario, the post would be filled by two or three administrators, according to the Free Press. "It's one of the options being discussed," said Brooks.

Burnley decided in January to interview for the interim job, which will exist during the district's transition from an appointed school board to a traditional, elected school board system. The appointed board was installed by a 1999 state-imposed reform of the district; last November, Detroit residents voted to restore the district's previous governance structure. "Announcing this decision today will give the board ample time to identify a qualified individual to lead the district during the transition period," said Burnley.

Detroit Free Press, "No clear choice to lead Detroit schools," Apr. 1, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Government Encouragement," February 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The $200 Million Question," January 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Ironic Choices," November 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Playing Monopoly With Detroit's Kids," July 2004

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — State Rep. Daniel Acciavatti introduced a bill in February that would require school districts to suspend the athletic eligibility of students who take steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.

Under the bill, the Department of Community Health would compile a list of prohibited substances and distribute that list to school districts, charter schools and nonpublic schools around the state, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. "I want to see every high school in the state of Michigan have a policy dealing with performance-enhancing drugs," said Acciavatti.

According to the Gazette, reports of high school steroid use have nearly doubled from 1991 to 2003. But Kevin Langs, athletic director at Climax-Scotts High School, expressed concern about the bill. "I think there's a little apprehension whenever the government gets involved," said Langs. "Is it a political thing where someone is just trying to get their name out there, or is it actually good for the kids?"

Kalamazoo Gazette, "GOP bill would require school steroid policies," Mar. 31, 2005, 2005 House Bill 4118

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy," October 2001

DETROIT — The percentage of Michigan's population with a college degree has increased since 1990, reported the Detroit Free Press, but other states have experienced larger increases; Michigan's national ranking among the states has dropped from 35th to 37th since 2000.

Though the percentage of Michigan residents over the age of 25 who are college graduates has increased — from 17.4 percent in 1990 to 24.4 percent last year — the state is below the 27.7 percent national average, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Kurt Metzger, research director for the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University, said many college-educated Michiganians have been seeking employment elsewhere in the country. "They are looking at a 7.5-percent unemployment rate, snow in late March and a state that can't figure out what to do about public transportation. They say to themselves, 'Why should I stay?'" said Metzger.

Though a recent report from a statewide task force that studied higher education in Michigan recommended doubling the number of college graduates in the next 10 years, Michael Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, identified obstacles to reaching that goal. "We need to raise expectations among high school students," he said. "We must change the culture. ... They need to understand that a postsecondary credential is important to their success in life."

Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's college graduate rate sinks to 37th in nation," Mar. 29, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Cost of Remedial Education," August 2000

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Graduation Rates an Imperfect Measure of School Excellence," January 2002

PONTIAC, Mich. — An Oakland Press editorial published yesterday called Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plans to attempt legislative changes to Proposal "A" bad economics and "an act born of a desperate desire to increase taxes instead of reducing government spending."

Proposal "A," a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1994, shifted a large portion of Michigan's school funding from property taxes to an increased state sales tax. According to The Press, Gov. Granholm's proposed change to the amendment "would link payments on commercial property to the occupancy rate." Increases in property tax would be limited to 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower.

Municipalities that have seen decreased funding from the state are "ravenous" for more tax money, said The Press, but "The good news is that it's beginning to force them to seek cost-saving through cooperation and consolidation of operations with neighboring cities, villages and townships." Reversing that trend would be counterproductive, according to The Press, in part because "almost without exception, a high-tax municipality is a depressed municipality."

The Oakland Press, "Fiddling with Proposal A won't solve state's problems," Apr. 4, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "'Proposal A,' 10 Years Later," February 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding, Proposal A, and Property Taxes," November 2001

Michigan Education Report, "Proposal A provided more money, but better management needed," Fall 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Finance Reform Lessons from Michigan," October 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," December 2002

DETROIT — Oakland Intermediate Schools Superintendent Vickie Markavitch has made a number of changes to the structure of her district's administrative organization by reducing the number of top administrators and moving other jobs, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Before the changes, the district operated with four assistant superintendents and one deputy superintendent. Markavitch's reorganization, which she announced late last month, changed the top staff to two deputies and one associate superintendent, reported the Free Press. "There were some areas of redundancy," she said. "And I wanted to flatten the bureaucracy. I'm not used to so many layers."

Additionally, the changes include assigning in-house council duties to the current director of human resources and creating several director-level positions. Though some of the assistant superintendents will move to director-level positions, "No one was demoted for demotion's sake," Markavitch said. "I offered them the work and they accepted."

Former Oakland Intermediate Schools Superintendent James Redmond is currently serving a 6-month prison term for misconduct and conflict of interest while in office.

Detroit Free Press, "Oakland Schools trims top ranks," Mar. 30, 2005

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

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

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Less Government, Not More, Is Key to Academic Achievement and Accountability," Oct. 3, 2001

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Catholic Education Association announced last week that nationwide enrollment in Roman Catholic schools declined more than 2 percent from the 2003-2004 school year to 2004-2005, reported CNN.

According to CNN, the total student population in Catholic schools has decreased from 2.6 million in 2000 to 2.4 million in the 2004-2005 school year. Additionally, 173 schools closed or merged, while just 37 new schools opened. "Sustaining (the schools) has been a struggle, but in the last four or five years it has become a very difficult struggle," said Association President Michael J. Guerra. "We don't want to lose these folks. We don't want to serve only those who can afford the bill."

Yet, there are positive signs for the schools as well. Over one-third of the Catholic schools around the country have waiting lists even as schools in many large cities close, according to the NCEA. Additionally, businesses and charitable organizations continue fundraising efforts to help low- and moderate-income families afford tuition at Catholic schools. "Because other funding is drying up," said Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools Executive Director Gregory P. Ciminera, "Businesses are going to have to step up."

CNN, "Catholic schools' enrollment drops again," Mar. 30, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Painting the private school picture," Spring 2000

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education," January 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Forging Consensus," April 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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