Contents of this issue:
  • DPS fights union to keep at-risk program
  • Lansing schools may save by cutting teachers' stipend
  • Report: Charters have higher teacher certification
  • School safety drill angers parents
  • Merrill schools move to alternative fuel

DETROIT — The Detroit Federation of Teachers union is refusing to sign a waiver exempting those who teach in Last Chance, a program for at-risk students, from DFT's collective bargaining agreement, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit Public Schools receive state funding for the program, which is run by private organizations. DFT will only sign the exemption waiver if DPS uses half of its share of the state funding to give union members pay raises, the Free Press reported.

Janna Garrison, president of the DFT, said that the union has granted waivers for the past two years and was told by the district that it would try to "work something out," the Free Press reported.

DPS, in exchange for signing the waiver, has offered to pay the union's $100,000 in legal fees the DFT accrued during a recent strike, the Free Press reported. The teachers union conducted an illegal strike that denied instruction to students for several days in September.

Detroit Free Press, "In Detroit, schools and union dispute money again," Oct. 31, 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, "Detroit dropout programs encourage kids to go back to school," Sept. 27, 2005

LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing school district will save $2.5 million a year by ending a $166 monthly health care stipend for teachers, according to the Lansing State Journal.

District officials said the stipend was offered on a temporary basis for teachers who chose a less costly version of union-affiliated health insurance. The monthly bonus was used as an incentive for teachers who opted for Tri-MED, under which they agree to pay a portion of their own doctor visits and prescriptions, the State Journal reported.

"For some of our teachers, this stop in payment is 10 percent of their income," union President Jerry Swartz told the Lansing State Journal.

The stipend was included in a contract that expired in August, according to the State Journal.

"We can't allow these inherent expenditures to take place because our surplus is simply not going to be there," board member Jack Davis told the State Journal.

The Michigan Education Association school employee union said it will file an unfair labor practice charge, as well as a wage and hour violation, against the district, the State Journal reported.

Lansing State Journal, "District, teachers clash on insurance," Nov. 3, 2006

Lansing State Journal, "Loss of stipends angers teachers: Lansing schools' move cuts income of about 1,000 staff," Oct. 31, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Lansing public school board decides to close five schools," Feb. 22, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Budgets: A Crisis of Management, Not Finance," Feb. 11, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002

LANSING, Mich. — Charter public schools have a higher percentage of certified teachers than their "host" conventional public school districts, according to a new report issued by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

According to The Detroit News, the report states 95 percent of teachers in charter schools are certified, compared to 87 percent of teachers in conventional public schools.

Dan Quisenberry, president of MAPSA, said the data shows charter public schools attract quality teachers.

"It's due to the diligence by the school to ensure they hire certified teachers," Quisenberry told The News.

Michigan Department of Education officials are concerned about the validity of the statistics because the information was self-reported by districts and could be inaccurate, according to The News.

"A school district cannot employ a teacher that is not certified or permitted," Martin Ackley, spokesman for the MDE, told The News, "And districts know that."

The Detroit News, "More charter teachers certified," Oct. 27, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Governor's letter calls on authorizers to improve charter performance," Sept. 27, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teaching by Example," Oct. 24, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Does Teacher Certification Matter?" Sept. 14, 2004

WYOMING, Mich. — Parents and students were caught off guard by "lock-down" drills held in the Godfrey Lee school district middle and high schools, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Local police officers in riot gear stormed into two separate classrooms, took students into the hall and patted them down. Students were given no reason to believe they were participating in a drill, according to The Press.

Many parents were outraged and believed the drill went too far.

"Some of these kids were so scared, they just about wet their pants," Marge Bradshaw, a parent of four children who attend the schools told The Press. "I think it's pure wrong that the students and parents were not informed of this."

Despite concern from many parents, the Godfrey Lee school board is standing by its decision, according to The Press.

"How are you going to know if you're prepared or not if you don't go 100 percent?" board member Doug Alspaugh told The Press.

The Grand Rapids Press, "School board members approve of tactics in drill," Oct. 31, 2006

The Grand Rapids Press, "Realistic school drill riles parents," Oct. 28, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "The three P's of school safety," Nov. 1, 2000

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private Protection: A Growing Industry Could Enhance School Safety," Nov. 16, 1998

MERRILL, Mich. — Merrill Community Schools has partnered with private industry in an attempt to reduce heating costs, according to the Midland Daily News.

The district recently purchased a $70,000 corn-fed furnace from Best Burns, prompted in part by an increase in natural gas prices. The boiler, along with other energy-saving changes, is expected to save the district $30,000 per year, the Daily News reported.

The system currently is tied in to the middle school's hot water heating system, and can be upgraded to heat the high school, according to the Daily News.

Midland Daily News, "Merrill Schools a state leader for alternative energy," Oct. 31, 2006 PAG=461&dept_id=578054&rfi=8

Michigan Education Digest, "Private firm helps Battle Creek schools cut energy costs," July 19, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Walled Lake implements program to save on energy," Nov. 1, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002

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 Sarah Grether at

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