Contents of this issue:
  • Bills would increase oversight of charters
  • DPS student accidentally shot in classroom
  • Report: Michigan achievement, standards get mixed rankings
  • Monroe schools creates marketing position
  • Decatur Public Schools adds to fund balance
  • Comment and win an iPod

LANSING, Mich. — A legal battle over a charter school in Warren has spurred two bills in the state Legislature that would require a charter public school to re-apply to its authorizer when it wants to relocate, instead of just adjusting its contract, according to The Macomb Daily.

The bills, introduced by two Warren legislators, Sen. Dennis Olshove and Rep. Steve Bieda, are the result of a dispute involving Connor Creek Academy East. The charter public school planned to build a combined junior and senior high school in an area where city officials and residents say it will lead to traffic problems and hurt property values, The Daily reported. Olshove said that "several" charter public schools throughout the state are planning to relocate or to expand and have only made contract amendments with their public university authorizers and the Michigan Department of Education. Both legislators think a new application should be filed for each location, according to The Daily.

"Far too often we are finding charter schools averting the law in amending their contracts and expanding or relocating their sites," Olshove said previously. "This legislation is intended to restore some accountability in the application process."

The Macomb Daily, "Legislation would close charter school 'loophole,'" Jan. 14, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Mission Creep," Jan. 11, 2008

Michigan Education Digest, "Charter school gets building permits, still faces legal battles," Nov. 27, 2007

DETROIT — A Detroit Public Schools freshman was accidentally shot Jan. 9, 2008, during a science class, according to The Detroit News.

A bullet grazed the thigh of the student, but he was unaware that he had been shot until he got home from school. He was treated and released from the hospital within a day. The DPS student who was carrying the gun was arrested by police and is being held at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility, The News reported.

"We understand that he was shot by a gun that was shot accidentally," DPS Spokesman Steve Wasko told The News. "Whether or not the bag dropped or the gun dropped out of the bag we don't know. This was not a premeditated incident."

School safety officers conducted a sweep of the school and found no other weapons, according to The News.

The Detroit News, "Detroit student didn't know he was shot in class until he got home," Jan. 11, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The three P's of school safety: parents, prevention, and police," Nov. 1, 2000

DETROIT — A national study rates Michigan students near the bottom of the nation in achievement, but ranks the state highly for implementing policies to correct the achievement level, according to The Detroit News.

The report, "Quality Counts: Tapping into Teaching," released by Education Week ranks Michigan 43rd on standardized test performance. However, the state ranked fifth for streamlining its education programs from pre-kindergarten into the workforce, and 11th in standards for school district accountability. On the whole, Michigan ranked 18th for overall quality of education, The News reported.

According to Lynn Olson, executive project editor for Quality Counts, Michigan has some of the finest education policy in the nation but has to develop plans to create a superior teaching force. The report ranked the state 37th in attracting, encouraging and retaining quality teachers, according to The News.

"Michigan just doesn't have some of these policies in place," Olson told The News. "It has no incentives to attract teachers in hard-to-staff schools or to teach hard-to-staff subjects, or to encourage teachers to take on additional roles such as mentoring or coaching other teachers."

The Michigan Department of Education sees this as verification that recent reforms are moving state education forward.

"This report confirms that we're going in the right direction in the reforms we're making, many of which are just being implemented. It will take several years before we see the benefits of some of these reforms, such as the new high school graduation requirements, which were just implemented this year," MDE Spokeswoman Jan Ellis told The News.

The Detroit News, "Policies in place to raise low Mich. K-12 scores, study says," Jan. 10, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Rankings on National Education Test Fall in 8th Grade, Stagnate in 4th; Proficiency Scores Flat," Sept. 26, 2007

MONROE, Mich. — The Monroe Public Schools will add a marketing position in an attempt to attract more students to the district, according to the Monroe News.

The board of education voted to hire Bobb Vergiels, an announcer for the Detroit Tigers, for the new post. The schools will pay approximately $74,000 for Vergiels' salary and benefits. Board President David Vensel said this was a good step because of the need for families to hear more about the schools. Although the district has been struggling financially, he hopes the position will bring in more students, and the state dollars attached to them, the News reported.

"We're not in good times financially," Vensel told the News. "But we need to promote why Monroe Public Schools would make an excellent choice. I think it'll make money."

Monroe News, "District creates marketing post," Jan. 9, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Conclusion: Competition Is Improving Public Schools for Michigan Children," in "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000

Michigan School Money Report, "District Revenue and Expenditure Report: Monroe Public Schools 2005, 2006" &DCode2=58010

DECATUR, Mich. — The Decatur Public Schools adopted a revised 2007-2008 budget which shows savings of $118,195, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.

The additional revenue will be added to the district's fund balance. When budgeting last June, the district anticipated less than $8.7 million in revenue but will receive $8.86 million. The fund balance is expected to total more than $1.35 million at the end of the year, The Gazette reported.

Decatur Superintendent Elizabeth Godwin told The Gazette that the increase in revenue was due to an increase in funding and strong enrollment figures.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Schools fund balance improves," Jan. 8, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Fund Balance" in "A Michigan School Money Primer," May 30, 2007

A Michigan School Money Report, "Decatur Public Schools" &DCode2=80050

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win one of three iPods.

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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