Contents of this issue:
  • Granholm wants state to pay college costs for the unemployed
  • Petoskey schools contract for food services
  • MEA sues Harrison schools for contracting teachers' aides
  • Three Michigan universities probed for student loan misconduct
  • Comment and win book money

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Jennifer Granholm has unveiled a plan that would provide two years of free education for 100,000 unemployed Michigan residents, according to WLNS News.

The plan will allow those who are unemployed, over 18 years of age and who have a family income of $40,000 or less to receive up to two years of free tuition at a community college or technical school. Twenty-eight community colleges have already signed up for the program, WLNS reported.

Granholm will use $37 million of federal funds for the program and is also looking to take another $40 million from the state's general fund. State officials say securing this money could be difficult, but Granholm believes the program could serve as a long-term solution for improving the economy.

"Making sure that our workforce is trained for the jobs that are available is a key to our economic recovery," Press Secretary Elizabeth Boyd said, according to WLNS.

WLNS, "Governor Announces Free Education for Jobless Workers," Aug. 2, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Can't Afford Tuition Grant Program," March 10, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private Scholarships: A New Beginning for Detroit's Kids," Aug. 25, 2005

PETOSKEY, Mich. — The Petoskey board of education voted 5-0 to competitively contract for its food services and are expecting $250,000 in savings, according to the Petoskey News-Review.

Petoskey contracted with Chartwells for food service management last year, and is expanding the contract to include hourly employees. Last school year, the schools paid Chartwells an administrative fee of $110 per day and 3.5 cents per meal. If the district kept its hourly employees this year, the costs would increase to 4 cents per meal and include an administrative fee of $115, the News-Review reported.

Through Chartwells, the district will pay 4.5 cents per meal, an administrative fee of $130, and a refundable $65,000 for initial payroll costs. The company is still expecting to save the district $250,000. If Petoskey had kept its food service employees, it would see a loss of $52,000, according to the News-Review.

The company plans to hire locally, and is required by contract to interview any former district food service employee. Chartwells also offers single benefits for employees who work at least 28.75 hours a week, the News-Review reported.

"I hope when we get through all this, we're protecting education as best we can," board member Tom Rellinger said at the board meeting, according to the News-Review.

Petoskey News-Review, "Privatizing Petoskey school food services will cost local jobs," Aug. 1, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Support Service Privatization: Getting it Right," Aug. 6, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Profit has a role in public schools," Feb. 23, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Map: School contracting continues to grow," Feb. 23, 2007

HARRISON, Mich. — The Harrison school district's plan to contract for teacher assistants was halted when a Clare County court granted a temporary restraining order while reviewing the Michigan Education Association and Harrison Educational Support Professionals Association's request for an injunction, according to the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun.

Harrison is the first district to consider contracting for teachers' aides and the union believes it is illegal. Under state law, districts are not allowed to contract for teaching positions, but can contract for support services, the Morning Sun reported.

The Harrison board voted in favor of competitive contracting and would save $249,782 in 2007-2008 by doing so. Contracting for teachers' aides is one of the many ways the schools have attempted to cut costs over the past five years, according to the Morning Sun.

A hearing date for the injunction has not been set, the Morning Sun reported.

Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun, "Teacher's aide change leads to suit," Aug. 2, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A School Privatization Primer," June 26, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Substitute teachers privatized in Grand Rapids," May 9, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Privatized subs can save schools money," April 11, 2006

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York's attorney general is conducting an investigation of 39 universities, including three from Michigan, over whether the schools' athletic departments promoted a certain student loan company in return for financial incentives, according to WXYZ News.

Central Michigan University, the University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University are the three Michigan schools under investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. All of the schools being examined in Michigan have allegedly favored Student Financial Services Inc. because of its perks and incentives. Cuomo started this investigation after looking at the relationships between loan providers and school administrators, WXYZ reported.

In his first investigation he found that schools were more likely to promote a certain loan company if they offered administrators "revenue sharing" plans, trips or other perks, according to WXYZ.

"Students trust their university's athletic departments because so much of campus life at Division I schools centers around supporting the home team," Cuomo said, according to WXYZ. "To betray this trust by promoting loans in exchange for money is a serious issue, especially when Division I schools already generate tremendous revenue from their student athletes."

Central Michigan University spokesman Steve Smith said CMU has received the request for information and is studying it. Smith noted that there are some questions as to whether the case violates legal jurisdiction.

WXYZ News, "Student Loan Probe Hits 3 Michigan Schools," Aug. 2, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "House Republicans introduce plan to regulate lenders' profit on student loans," April 27, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Student Loans and the High Cost of College," November 1997

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win a $50 book gift certificate.

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