Contents of this issue:
  • Judge rules against Lakeview union

  • Charter schools see enrollment surge

  • Ads placed in Ypsilanti school buses

  • Bullock Creek board calls in mediator

  • State graduation requirements could hamper some schools

  • School looks for donations

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. — A Macomb County Circuit Court judge rejected a union request for an injunction that would have stopped Lakeview Public Schools from implementing a new health insurance plan on Jan. 1, according to The Macomb Daily.

Judge Deborah Servitto denied a request by the Lakeview Education Association, The Daily reported. The health insurance change from a MESSA plan to a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO will reduce the district's costs by about $500,000 annually. MESSA is the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party insurance administrator founded by the Michigan Education Association.

"It really benefits the students, the citizens and in the long run the teachers of Lakeview Public Schools," district attorney Craig Lange told The Daily. "Lakeview's whole approach has been in finding savings that wouldn't require layoffs or reduction of educational standings."

The Lakeview Education Association, which represents 165 teachers, filed unfair labor practices against the school board in August, The Daily reported. Among the union's complaints are pay raises implemented without a contract and the new health insurance, under which they will continue to not pay premiums but will have to contribute to out-of-pocket expenses such as prescription drugs. Servitto said the union did not prove the new insurance benefits were inferior, The Daily reported, and that some changes will benefit teachers.

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission will hold a hearing Jan. 19.

"We will continue to use any legal options available," union President Jane Cassady told The Daily.

The Macomb Daily, "Judge lets board impose new health care plan on teachers," Dec. 19, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Teachers sue Lakeview Public Schools," Nov. 29, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Lakeview Drops MESSA," Aug. 30, 2005

Lakeview Public Schools, "Lakeview School Board takes action on contracts," Aug. 11, 2005 20Action%20on%20Contracts.pdf (PDF file)

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Education Special Services Association: The MEA's Money Machine," Nov. 1, 1993

LANSING, Mich. — Charter school enrollment increased 13 percent this school year, to more than 91,000 children, according to information released by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. The Detroit News reported that charter enrollment was up 22.5 percent in Detroit. More than 10,000 students left Detroit Public Schools since last school year, and an equal number left the previous year.

Barbara Williams told The News that she took her daughter out of DPS four years ago, when the girl was in first grade, and placed her in a charter school.

"The Detroit Public Schools were too large for me," Williams told The News. "They didn't know how to communicate with me or my daughter. They said they were trying to change and I saw them falling behind."

Charters, also called public school academies, are public schools under Michigan law. They receive less per-pupil funding than conventional public schools, and cannot raise additional dollars through property taxes.

Margaret Trimmer-Hartley, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Education Association, the largest teacher union in the state, said parents see charter schools as safer and more personal, The News reported. She added that conventional public schools should emulate charters in that regard.

A press release from MAPSA said Detroit-area charter school enrollment is above 40,000 students, with another 6,500 on waiting lists. MAPSA and the Black Alliance for Educational Options recently surveyed Detroit parents and found nearly 60 percent of families feel there are not enough educational options in the city, and more than half have considered moving out of the city to gain more options.

"Detroit parents care deeply about the schools their children attend," said Harrison Blackmond, president of the Detroit Chapter of BAEO, in the news release. "They're sick of excuses about needing more time and more money. They need dramatic local and state action today that creates quality schools where children are able to excel rather than doomed to fail."

Lekan Oguntoyinbo, DPS spokesman, told The News the district's academic standards are higher than many Detroit charters.

"For many years, we did not do a good enough job of telling our story," he said. "A lot of parents don't know how much progress we have made."

The News pointed to Joy Preparatory Academy, where Williams sends her daughter. The school doubled its enrollment this fall, despite performing worse than DPS on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test.

Kelly Updike, spokeswoman for the management group that runs Joy Preparatory, said urban students who enter charters are often a few grade levels below where they should be.

"It takes time to change that and some (test) scores can't measure the many aspects required to serve the whole child," she told The News.

Michigan Association of Public School Academies, "Detroit Parents Ready to Move to Find Good Schools," Dec. 12, 2005 newsID=1311

The Detroit News, "Charter schools see boom in signups," Dec. 19, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Granholm warns against charter school ban," Oct. 18, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling," January 2001

Michigan Education Digest, "Former Detroit superintendent praises charter schools," May 2000

YPSILANTI, Mich. — Ypsilanti Public Schools is allowing ads in its school buses in an effort to boost its general fund, according to The Ann Arbor News.

The first ad, measuring 11-by-25-inches, was placed in all 45 buses shortly before Thanksgiving, The News reported. It was a public service announcement from the Ad Council and U.S. Army that read: "Whatever it takes, don't let your friends drop out."

The school district signed a three-year contract with InSight Media of Pittsburgh to sell the ad space on its buses, The News reported. The district will get half of the money from the ads for the first year; 40 percent the second and third years. Revenue could reach $70,000 a year.

"We don't control anything other than the message," Emma Jackson, district spokeswoman, told The News. "They're the ones pounding the pavement to sell the advertisements."

A review committee, made up of a student, a parent, a teacher and a school board member, must approve an ad before it is placed on the buses.

"We want to make sure the message is going to be positive and not offensive in any way," Jackson told The News. "We have safeguards in place. We are hoping parents and the community at large understand that this is a means of bringing in needed revenue to our district."

The Ann Arbor News, "Ypsilanti schools allow ads in buses," Nov. 18, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "And Now a Word from Our Sponsors — Your Local Public Schools," Aug. 4, 1999

Michigan Education Report, "Public schools step up marketing," Jan. 18, 1999

MIDLAND, Mich. — Bullock Creek Public Schools will ask a state mediator to help resolve disagreements with its teachers union, according to the Midland Daily News.

The Bullock Creek Board of Education has asked the Michigan Bureau of Employment Relations to send a mediator after months of discussions with the Bullock Creek Education Association have failed to result in a new contract, the Daily News reported.

"We don't feel like we're getting anywhere," Superintendent John Hill told the Daily News.

Union President Renaye Baker said the disagreements are focused on salary and benefits, the Daily News reported. Hill said in addition to increasing retirement and energy costs the district faces, Bullock Creek teachers receive health insurance plans that cost the district more than $16,000 each. The average family health insurance plan nationwide, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, is about $10,800.

The district proposed meeting with the mediator on Jan. 11, but the union has yet to agree, according to the Daily News.

Midland Daily News, "Bullock Creek calls in state mediator for talks," Dec. 15, 2005 dept_id=472542&rfi=6

Kaiser Family Foundation, "Survey Finds Steady Decline in Businesses Offering Health Benefits to Workers," Sept. 14, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teacher Health Insurance Money Should Not Fund Politics," July 1, 1998

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Education Special Services Agency: The MEA's Money Machine," Nov. 1, 1993

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — State-mandated graduation requirements could complicate studies for Michigan students who take International Baccalaureate programs, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. The IB course of study is offered worldwide and focuses on rigorous course work that allows students to earn college credits.

Only four high schools in Michigan offer the IB, including Portage Central and Portage Northern. Officials there say IB students may not have enough time in the day to complete certain graduation requirements that are part of an 18-credit plan recently approved by the State Board of Education, the Gazette reported.

"It would be like trying to meet Michigan's requirements and meet Ohio's requirements," Denise Bresson, Portage's director of curriculum, told the Gazette. "For students who are more advanced and who actually start specializing in high school, taking a lot of math or a lot of science, those who know where they're headed, it causes them to be at a disadvantage."

The IB diploma is accepted in place of standard diplomas in Florida, Texas and Oregon, the Gazette reported. Portage officials have asked Michigan to make the same accommodations.

Kalamazoo Gazette, "State plan could conflict with International Baccalaureate," Dec. 11, 2005

International Baccalaureate Organization, "Welcome to the IBO"

Michigan Education Digest, "State-mandated graduation requirements presented," Nov. 22, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Hope in State Graduation Standards Misplaced," Nov. 22, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Credit Conundrum," Dec. 12, 2005

SAGINAW, Mich. — Saginaw Public Schools is creating a way for taxpayers and others to contribute more money to the district, according to The Saginaw News.

Board of Education members want to establish a foundation and start it with a spring talent show and golf outing. The fund will be administered through the Saginaw Community Foundation, The News reported. Superintendent Gerald Dawkins said nearly $180,000 in donations already has been given, and the spring events could raise another $25,000 to $50,000.

The fund will help pay for academics, athletics and fine arts, but board President Norman Braddock would like to see it go beyond that, The News reported. He envisions something similar to the Kalamazoo Promise, an anonymous scholarship program that will pay up to 100 percent of college tuition for graduates of the Kalamazoo Public Schools.

"That's the best thing since sliced bread," Braddock told The News. "It's a lofty goal, but worth pursuing."

The Saginaw News, "Schools plan to organize foundation," Dec. 18, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Money for Nothin'?" July 8, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education," Nov. 13, 1997

Michigan Education Report, "Are mandatory funding increases for public schools the key to student success? No," Dec. 15, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Are mandatory funding increases for public schools the key to student success? Yes." Dec. 15, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Kalamazoo students promised free college," Nov. 15, 2005

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 148,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Ted O'Neil at

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