Contents of this issue:
  • DPS administrators to get raises

  • NEA gives millions to special interest groups

  • New Detroit Board of Education holds first meeting

  • Dearborn schools could lose one day's funding

  • Michigan teacher training gets poor marks

  • Livonia parents fight school closings

DETROIT, Mich. — Detroit Public Schools administrators will receive pay raises next month, even as teachers work the first of five days without pay, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Principals will get 10.6 percent pay increases, or about $10,250, while assistant principals will be paid 4.7 percent more, or about $3,675, the Free Press reported. The pay hikes come after the district performed an "internal pay equity analysis," the newspaper said. Half of the administrators will get raises starting in February, while the other half must wait until next year's budget is approved in June.

The district's more than 7,000 teachers have not had a pay raise in three years, and will work five days without pay during the second semester, the Free Press reported. That agreement was part of a one-year contract approved last August.

"They told us they had to have these cost-saving cuts for the district to survive," teachers union President Janna Garrison told the Free Press. "I think we will certainly protest and insist that the five days not be taken."

Deborah Williams, chief human resources officer for DPS, told the Free Press that administrators took a 10 percent salary cut this year and that they also pay more toward benefits. The average Detroit teacher makes $63,900, the Free Press said, compared to $77,600 for an assistant principal and $96,500 for a principal.

"One of our goals it is to have top-quality leadership," Williams told the Free Press. "We were having difficulty recruiting and retaining the highly qualified people we need in those jobs."

Detroit Free Press, "Administrators to get raises," Jan. 5, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school officials investigate principal salary padding," July 16, 2002

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit principals protest 12-month work year," July 2, 2002

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation's largest teachers union used members' dues to give more than $65 million last year to groups such as Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, The National Women's Law Center and the Fund to Protect Social Security, according to an editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal also said Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, makes $439,000 a year, while the national average salary for teachers is about $48,000. The union has a payroll of $58 million for about 600 employees, with more than half of them making more than $100,000 annually.

"The NEA is spending the mandatory dues paid by members who are told their money will be used to gain better wages, benefits and working conditions," the editorial stated.

The numbers come from reports unions must now file with the Department of Labor, The Journal said. The NEA took in $341 million last year, including $295 million in member dues.

"What wasn't clear before is how much of a part the teachers unions play in the wider liberal movement and the Democratic Party," Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency told The Journal. "They're like some philanthropic organization that passes out grant money to interest groups."

The Wall Street Journal, "Teachers' Pets," Jan. 3, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "NEA national convention exhibits political overtones," July 6, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Voluntary Unionism Puts Interests of Students and Teachers First," February 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Union Political Involvement," December 2001

DETROIT, Mich. — A publicly elected Detroit Board of Education met last week for the first time in six years, according to The Detroit News.

About 1,000 people, some of whom booed, were at Cass Technical High School Tuesday to greet the 11-member board, The News said. Detroit Public Schools had been run by an appointed board since a state takeover in 1999. The new board argued for 20 minutes about whether or not it could have two vice president positions.

"It's just like the new Iraq," parent Timothy Gary told The News.

"This is not bickering," board member Jonathan Kinloch said. "This is us participating in the democratic process."

The board met for about four hours, passing a resolution opposing a ballot measure that would ban affirmative action in Michigan, The News reported. The board has several more issues to resolve, including a budget deficit, how to stop an enrollment decline and a proposal from Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans for his office to provide school security.

The Detroit News, "Board starts with sparks," Jan. 4, 2006

The Detroit News, "School board ready for heat," Jan. 3, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Private K-12 scholarships: a viable alternative for Detroit's school children," Dec. 15, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools enrollment drops again," Nov. 29, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Six years later: Takeover of Detroit Schools shows few intended results," Dec. 15, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "DPS' credit rating falls after $259 million tax error," Dec. 15, 2005

DEARBORN, Mich. — A mix-up regarding the start date of a Muslim celebration could cost Dearborn Public Schools $100,000 in state funding, according to the Detroit Free Press.

About one-third of the district's 17,000 students are Muslim, and most are expected to stay home today, the first of three days marking the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the Free Press reported. If attendance on any one school day dips below 75 percent, the state reduces the per-pupil funding by a prorated portion. The exact amount lost will not be known until official attendance figures are reported.

The district had scheduled Wednesday through Friday off, but miscalculated the start date by one day, the Free Press reported. The start of the festival is determined by the appearance of the new moon over Mecca, rather than a date-certain.

Dearborn could cut the lost funding from its budget, or hold school on a teacher training day later this year, when students had been scheduled to be off.

Detroit Free Press, "Holy day mix-up may cost Dearborn schools," Jan. 7, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Per-pupil School Funding Guarantee," May 1, 1993

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Improving Education for Michigan Children, No. 42: Give schools 'real-time' funding for their per-pupil portion of state aid," May 6, 2002

LANSING, Mich. — For the fourth consecutive year Michigan earned a near-failing grade when it comes to efforts for improving teacher quality, according to The Detroit News.

Michigan again received a D+ in teacher training in the Quality Counts 2006 study, published in last week's Education Week magazine. The state received a B for academic standards and accountability, but Cs or lower for equitable distribution of education resources and school quality, The Detroit News reported. Michigan's overall grade was a C, according to The Saginaw News. The national average was a C+.

Michigan scored 65 out of a possible 100 points and was third lowest in categories pertaining to teacher education and qualifications, teacher assessment and accountability for teacher quality, The Detroit News reported.

A Detroit News editorial said this issue is alarming in light of tougher high school graduation requirements the State Board of Education proposed last month.

"That curriculum is needed, but it will only work if qualified teachers are in front of the classrooms," the editorial said.

The Saginaw News, "Teacher training falls short: study," Jan. 4, 2006

The Detroit News, "Poor teacher training threatens new curriculum," Jan. 5, 2006

The Detroit News, "Mich. gets D+ for its teacher quality effort," Jan. 5, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Michigan expects to meet NCLB teacher requirements," Nov. 15, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Back to the future: College looks to the past to train tomorrow's teachers," Sept. 13, 2000

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Frivolous, Trendy Teacher Training in Michigan," March 28, 2003

Michigan Education Report, "Michigan lagging in teacher quality says federal agency," Sept. 8, 2002

LIVONIA, Mich. — Parents here have hired an attorney as they fight a plan to close schools and consolidate grades, according to both the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.

School board members last month approved a plan that would close seven elementary school buildings and separate the remaining schools into K-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-12 grades, the Free Press reported. About 1,000 parents, calling themselves "Citizens for Livonia's Future," oppose the plan, and plan to file recall petitions against five of the seven school board members, the newspapers reported. The group also hired Mayer Morganroth, who has represented Jack Kevorkian and Geoffrey Feiger.

District officials said the plan would cut costs by $2 million in the first year, the Free Press reported. Morganroth said "the program is not cost-effective," and he plans to file an injunction in Wayne County Circuit Court to stop the plan from taking effect, The News reported.

The Detroit News, "Livonia parents fight school cuts," Jan. 5, 2006

Detroit Free Press, "Parents in Livonia hire lawyer to fight schools," Jan. 5, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Livonia to close seven schools," Dec. 13, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Metro Detroit schools face budget cuts," Jan. 29, 2002

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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