Contents of this issue:
  • New report blames Detroit Public Schools deficit on poor management

  • Michigan legislators propose tying state middle school money to math

  • Florida creates "provisional" status for some schools failing NCLB

  • Michigan Senate committee begins hearings on mandatory attendance age

  • Michigan legislative hearing to review school funding proposal

DETROIT — A report issued last week by Gov. Jennifer Granholm's Detroit Public Schools Transition Team attributed the Detroit district's $200 million deficit to management failures by the district's leadership, according to The Detroit News.

The study, prepared by MGT of America Inc., a Florida-based consulting firm, said the Detroit district has spent millions of dollars more than it should have. The document reportedly cited an above-average number of central administrators; unused offices in buildings leased by the district; and generous stipends paid to retired teachers hired as consultants. According to The News, the report described the district's current deficit-reduction measures as "overly optimistic" and added, "DPS will be paying the price for the current lack of budget discipline ... well into the future."

In response, district spokesman Kenneth Coleman told The News, "This is a very quick study and they even acknowledge that." Coleman said the district has remained true to its deficit-reduction plan by closing schools and cutting staff.

The district borrowed $213 million this year, according to The News. The transition team was appointed by the governor to help the Detroit district manage the change from an appointed school board to one elected by Detroit voters.

The Detroit News, "Report rips Detroit school leadership on deficit," June 10, 2005

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

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

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

MIDLAND, Mich. — According to the Midland Daily News, Midland state Rep. John Moolenar last week presented a proposal by Michigan House Republicans to link a $65 increase in per-pupil funding for public middle schools to improvements in the schools' math scores.

Any middle school that accepted the state money would continue to receive the funds in subsequent years if it produced improvements in students' math performance. The $65 in state per-pupil money is reportedly separate from the $175 per-pupil increase that has also been proposed by House Republicans. Schools would be able to use the extra dollars as they wish.

According to the Daily News, Moolenar's office noted that U.S. middle school students' performance on international math tests is weak, even though U.S. elementary school students perform well in math. Moolenar reportedly added: "If we expect our students to excel in math at the high school level and beyond, we need to promote and reward excellence at the middle school level. Math proficiency is the price of admission for so many high-tech fields."

Midland Daily News, "Middle school money," June 8, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Fair Comparison: U.S. Students Lag in Math and Science," March 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Markets, not MEAP, best way to measure school quality," Spring 2000

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the state of Florida announced last week it has created a new state category to describe more than 825 state schools that have performed well by state standards, but have failed by the standards contained in the federal No Child Left Behind Act. If the federal government reconsiders the performance of these schools and accepts it as adequate, the number of Florida schools considered failing by federal standards might be cut almost in half.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, the state's newly minted category of "Provisional Adequate Yearly Progress" is being assigned to schools that received a grade of "A" or "B" under state guidelines, but failed to achieve "adequate yearly progress" under federal guidelines. Both the federal government and Florida state government rate public schools based on the performance of their students on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

The legal implication of the new designation is unclear, and the Sun-Sentinel reported that Florida Education Commissioner John Winn said, "I cannot say when it would be resolved." Schools that have failed to meet federal standards and that accept federal money for low-income students could be required under the NCLB to provide students with additional tutoring services. If, however, federal officials decide to accept the "provisional" designation as representing adequate performance under the NCLB, "provisional" schools might not have to provide the tutoring.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "State's new grading category may save failing schools, but raises questions," June 10, 2005,0,6525189.story?coll=sfla-news-education

Michigan Education Report, "NCLB underfunded?" Spring 2005

Michigan Education Report, "President signs 'No Child Left Behind Act,'" Winter 2002

Michigan Education Report, "No Child Left Behind law demands 'adequate yearly progress' and offers school choice options for parents," Fall 2002

JACKSON, Mich. — The Michigan Senate Education Committee began hearings last week on proposed legislation to increase the compulsory school attendance age from 16 years old to 18 years old, reported The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

The legislation is sponsored by state Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor. According to The Citizen Patriot, most Jackson County school officials support raising the age, and the paper quoted Chris Kregal, principal of Springport High School, as saying: "As a teacher, I've seen a marginal student in the ninth and 10th grade change by the time he becomes a senior. They realize they aren't a kid anymore."

The Citizen Patriot also suggested that some people oppose the increase if improvements are not made to the state's schools. "The bottom line is that we've got to have schools that are so interesting and so exciting that they don't want to leave," said Michigan Business Leaders for Education Excellence Executive Director Jim Sandy, according to The Citizen Patriot.

Though figures from Michigan's Center for Educational Performance and Information show the state's graduation rate was 85 percent in 2003, other studies, according to The Citizen Patriot, suggest that around one-quarter of the state's eighth-grade students are "likely" to drop out.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Age debate under way," June 11, 2005

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

LANSING, Mich. — According to the Lansing State Journal, the state Senate Education Committee and a state Senate appropriations subcommittee will hold a joint meeting this Thursday to consider a proposal that would establish a minimum for annual spending increases on Michigan's public elementary, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions.

Under the proposal, which is sponsored by state Senate Minority Leader Robert Emerson, money for K-16 education would increase at a minimum annual rate of 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. The legislation would also cap at 12.99 percent the schools' contributions to the state's teacher pension fund, while further stipulating that local school districts receive state monies equal to 90 percent of what they would be entitled to if all eligible students in their district attended district schools.

The Journal reported that a public rally in support of higher state education spending is scheduled to occur at the state Capitol on June 21. The rally is being organized by the K-16 Coalition for Michigan's Future, which reportedly estimates that 3,000 to 5,000 people will attend the event. According to the Journal, coalition leader Tom White remarked, "We need the Legislature to be involved." Ari Adler, spokesman for state Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, reportedly said, however: "There is a concern on our part about the cost of the legislation. We need to get a handle on that."

Lansing State Journal, "School funding proposal to get hearing," June 13, 2005, 2005 Senate Bill 246

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding: Lack of Money or Lack of Money Management?" August 2001

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

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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