Contents of this issue:
  • Classes resume after Detroit teachers end illegal strike
  • EMU faculty ends illegal strike
  • Lincoln Park could lose students, money over dress code
  • St. Johns board declares impasse
  • Report: Michigan college outlook bleak

DETROIT — More than 129,000 students in Detroit are once again receiving the instruction to which they are entitled after the teachers union there voted to end a 17-day strike, according to The Detroit News.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers ratified a new three-year contract and agreed to freeze wages this year, while getting a 1 percent raise next year and 2.5 percent in the final year, The News reported. Teachers also agreed to give up 5 percent concessions in non-wages, as well as pay 10 percent of their own health insurance premiums. The district said the contract saves $60 million, far short of the $89 million it had sought. Superintendent William F. Coleman told The News the difference would come from shifting state dollars that are supposed to help at-risk students.

DPS officials estimate the district will see an enrollment drop of about 9,400 students compared to last year, although that could be higher due to the strike. Coleman told The News that losing more students means less state aid, which in turn could lead to teacher and other staff layoffs.

The Detroit News, "Finally, school days," Sept. 14, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "No classes for Detroit students," Sept. 12, 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. — Striking faculty members at Eastern Michigan University agreed to return to classrooms and let an independent fact finder help with contract negotiations, according to The Detroit News.

Professors rejected a contract offer that would have given them raises of 3, 3.25 and 3.5 percent over three years, claiming the contract would only be worth 2.5 percent a year because it also required them to pay more for their own health insurance costs, The News reported.

The Detroit News, "EMU strike ends; negotiations continue," Sept. 14, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "EMU professors stop strike for a day," Sept. 12, 2006

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

LINCOLN PARK, Mich. — Lincoln Park schools are in danger of losing students and money due to a new dress code, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The dress code does not allow students to wear clothes with writing or pictures, other than school-sanctioned items such as those bearing the school's mascot, the Free Press reported. Some students were reprimanded for wearing clothes commemorating the anniversary of Sept. 11, while about 200 students were sent home on the first day of classes, including three who wore shirts featuring the First Amendment, according to the newspaper.

Paula Koths said she will not send her children to school on Sept. 27, known as "count day," when enrollment figures determine how much state aid each district receives. Koths told the Free Press she is protesting "unreasonable rules."

Superintendent Randall Kite told the Free Press about 120 students have left the district, including some because of the dress code. That will result in $850,000 less in per-pupil funding than the district projected. Kite said teacher layoffs and school consolidation may be necessary.

Detroit Free Press, "Dress code could cost district," Sept. 14, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit-area districts encourage students to attend count day," Oct. 4, 2005

ST. JOHNS, Mich. — The St. Johns board of education has declared an impasse in contract negotiations with teachers, a decision that will freeze salaries and eliminate longevity step increases this year, according to the Lansing State Journal.

A letter from Superintendent Bob Kudwa to the teachers union said the board had offered the district's "Best Settlement Offer," which teachers rejected, the State Journal reported.

The district also wants to implement a less expensive health insurance plan through Centennial Group Community Blues, under which teachers would self-fund their own prescription drug costs, according to the State Journal.

Teachers had offered to accept a less costly insurance offered through the Michigan Education Special Services Association, the State Journal reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association teachers union, and acts as a middleman to repackage health insurance plans.

Lansing State Journal, "District freezes SJ teachers' pay," Sept. 10, 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

WASHINGTON — The chances of a high school freshman in Michigan enrolling in college by age 19 has fallen three percentage points in the last 14 years, according to a new report detailed by Booth Newspapers.

The Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, based in California, said the chances of a ninth-grader in Michigan enrolling in college by age 19 is just 38 percent, compared to 41 percent in 1992, Booth reported.

The report graded all 50 states in a number of categories, including college preparation, affordability and completion, Booth reported. Michigan scored an F in affordability, a C- in student preparation, a B for the number of students graduating from college and an A- for the benefit accrued to the state from higher education, such as an increase in personal income, according to Booth.

"We're doing what we can at the institutional level to make sure that the access is there (by keeping costs down)," Daniel Hurley, a spokesman for an organization representing Michigan's 15 public universities, told Booth. "But we also have to recognize there has been a detrimental impact from disinvestment by the state."

Chuck Wilbur, Gov. Jennifer Granholm's education adviser, told Booth a plan to increase the Merit Award scholarship to $4,000 should help make post-secondary schooling more affordable.

Legislation is pending in Lansing.

Booth Newspapers, "Report rips Michigan's higher-ed conditions," Sept. 7, 2006, "2006 House Bill 6302 (Replace Merit scholarship with $4,000 over two years)"

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Seeking Opportunities," Aug. 7, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "State College Money Should Follow Students, Not Lobbyists," May 15, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "More diplomas, more ivory tower research won't cure Michigan's ills," March 7, 2006

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

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to