Contents of this issue:
  • No classes for Detroit students
  • EMU professors stop strike for one day
  • Remedial education prevalent on college campuses
  • Kalamazoo enrollment up
  • Studies: Voucher schools "less segregated" than public schools
  • Fruitport teachers flock to less expensive MESSA

DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools students were denied instruction for a second week as more than 90 percent of the district's teachers disobeyed a judge's order to return to work, according to The Detroit News.

Fewer than 600 teachers out of about 7,000 returned to work Sept. 11, as ordered by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Susan D. Borman, The News reported. Detroit teachers have refused to work since Aug. 28, after they rejected a contract offer from the district that sought a 5.55 percent pay cut and higher health insurance co-pays as part of $89 million in concessions, according to The News. It is illegal under Michigan law for public employees to strike.

DPS is closed indefinitely, and the district will ask Borman to find striking teachers in contempt of court, The News reported.

"We'll go back (to court) to exercise our right," DPS spokesman Lekan Oguntoyinbo told The News. "Now how (Borman) does that, that's up to her."

Striking teachers potentially face fines both for violating state law, as well as Borman's order, according to The News. DPS and the Detroit Federation of Teachers heard a presentation on fact finding from Ruthanne Okun, director of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, before ending negotiations Monday afternoon.

The Detroit News, "Detroit cancels classes as teachers defy court," Sept. 12, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teachers' Strikes, Court Orders and Michigan Law," Sept. 12, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "DPS teachers union strikes," Aug. 29, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit teachers union wants more money," June 27, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Study: Detroit graduation rate worst in the nation," June 27, 2006

YPSILANTI, Mich. — Faculty at Eastern Michigan University agreed to suspend their strike for one day and teach classes Sept. 12, according to The Ann Arbor News.

Professors at EMU have been without a contract since Aug. 31, but administrators at the school said they would not negotiate during what they consider an illegal strike, The News reported. Michigan law makes it illegal for public employees to strike. Negotiations were to resume at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 12, according to The News.

Bargaining stopped Sept. 5 after the faculty rejected a 5-year contract that would have given them 3 percent raises each year, The News reported.

The Ann Arbor News, "Eastern Michigan faculty suspend strike, will teach Tuesday," Sept. 11, 2006 storylist=newsmichigan

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teachers' Strikes, Court Orders and Michigan Law," Sept. 12, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "CMU saves millions without MESSA," April 11, 2006

LANSING, Mich. — Community colleges in Michigan spent $21 million on remedial education in 2004-2005, according to Booth Newspapers.

Although the Michigan Department of Education does not track participation in remedial education classes at the state's 105 public and private colleges, it can be as high as three-quarters in some instances, Booth reported.

At Baker College, for example, 75 percent of students must take a remedial math class, including some that cover elementary school-level skills such as decimals and fractions, Booth reported.

About 1,400 freshmen at Michigan State University, out of a class of 8,900, took either a remedial math or reading class last year, according to Booth.

"Most community colleges and Baker College certainly, have seen an increase in under prepared students over the past several years," Cynthia VanGieson, dean of developmental education at Baker College in Jackson, told Booth.

Sen. Wayne Kuipers, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he hopes new high school graduation requirements will put an end to remedial classes, but also plans to pursue legislation that would prohibit it for recent graduates, according to Booth.

A U.S. Department of Education study of students who entered college in 2000 found 28 percent of them needed at least one remedial class, Booth reported.

Booth Newspapers, "College prep moves on campus as remedial classes jump," Sept. 3, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Cost of Remedial Education," Aug. 31, 2000

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The 'Privatized' Cost of Remedial Education in Michigan," Aug. 1, 2000

Michigan Education Report, "Graduation requirements in place," May 25, 2006

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Kalamazoo Public Schools, some of whose graduates can qualify for free college tuition, had 853 more students on the first day of classes last week compared to the start of the 2005-2006 school year, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.

The count on the first day was 9,020, up from 8,167 a year ago. Even when counting about 900 kindergartners who were expected to start the following day, however, the district was still about 600 students short of its projection, The Gazette reported.

Some KPS elementary schools saw 10 percent more students over last year, while Central High School was up almost 80 students.

"We got a huge influx of freshman," Grant Chandler, dean of students, told The Gazette.

Under the Kalamazoo Promise, students who live in and attend KPS from kindergarten through graduation are eligible to have 100 percent of their tuition paid for at any public university in Michigan. Students who enroll after kindergarten, but before 10th grade, can receive 65 percent. The program is funded by anonymous, private donors.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, "KPS first-day head count jumps," Sept. 6, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "K-Promise: A whole new environment for Kalamazoo," March 7, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Charters, independent schools not worried about K-Promise," Nov. 29, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS — A new study shows independent schools participating in voucher programs in Cleveland and Milwaukee are less segregated than the public schools in those metropolitan areas, according to studies released by the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation.

The voucher schools in Cleveland and Milwaukee were found to be 18 and 13 points, respectively, "less segregated" than local public schools. The statistics were determined using a "segregation index," which compares the racial composition of schools to that of school-age children in the area.

"This study confirms the findings of six other studies in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., finding that private schools in voucher programs are less segregated than public schools," said Robert Enlow, executive director of the Friedman Foundation. "The plain truth is that the scare tactics of school choice opponents don't hold up, particularly in light of the evidence in Cleveland and Milwaukee that strongly suggests school choice may tear down the walls of segregation."

Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, "Segregation Levels in Cleveland Public Schools and the Cleveland Voucher Program," Aug. 31, 2006

Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, "Segregation Levels in Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee Voucher Program," Aug. 31, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Fear of Segregation is No Argument Against School Choice," Feb. 7, 2000

Michigan Education Report, "Study: Private schools more integrated than public," April 16, 1999

FRUITPORT, Mich. — More than 80 percent of teachers in Fruitport Community Schools chose a less costly version of union-backed health insurance after approving a one-year contract, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

Teachers who use Choices II, a PPO offered by the Michigan Education Special Services Association, will pay nothing, while teachers who continue receiving coverage under the more expensive Super Care I will pay a $100 deductible every month, The Chronicle reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association union, and acts as a middleman to repackage and resell health insurance plans to school districts.

The Chronicle reported that the change will save the district money. Pam Kihn, Fruitport's director of administrative services, told Michigan Education Digest that amount would be $160,000 a year.

Lynn Vanderberg, chief negotiator for the Fruitport teachers union, said it boosts morale to start the school year with a contract in place.

"It's nice to be able to work together, talk honestly, and reach a compromise," Vanderberg told The Chronicle.

Superintendent Nick Ceglarek told The Chronicle that the contract is "a fair agreement that rewards excellent teaching but allows us to be fiscally responsible as well."

The Muskegon Chronicle, "Teachers, school district ratify one-year contract," Sept. 8, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Blue Cross and MESSA," Sept. 6, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Holton staffers drop MESSA," May 2, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Pinckney teachers voluntarily abandon MESSA," Feb. 7, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "CMU saves millions without MESSA," April 11, 2006

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 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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