Contents of this issue:
  • GRPS board votes 'no confidence' in union; won't collect dues
  • Thirty Michigan high schools on Newsweek's top school list
  • Comstock Park teacher suspended but not fired
  • Oakland County-area Catholic schools grow
  • Home-schoolers: Legal battle was worth it

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Board of Education took a vote of "no-confidence" in the teachers' union and has refused to collect union dues from teachers, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The board says that the Grand Rapids Education Association has failed to take into consideration the district's financial situation while bargaining, The Press reported.

"The GREA leadership is blind if they cannot see the fiscal realities facing this district and the state," board President Kenneth Hoskins said in a prepared statement, according to The Press.

The vote of no-confidence is strictly symbolic, but the board has refused to collect union dues from teachers' paychecks, about $57,000 every two weeks. The matter can be negotiated as a part of contract talks. The board did pass a resolution praising the "dedication and professionalism" of teachers, who have worked without a contract since the fall. The board made the vote after a failed meeting with a state mediator late last week. The union and district are still about $4 million apart with their respective contract proposals.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Grand Rapids school board votes 'no confidence' in teachers union leaders," May 23, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Collective Bargaining Primer," Feb. 28, 2008

DETROIT — Thirty Michigan high schools made Newsweek's ranking of the best high schools in the country, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The news magazine ranked the top 1,300 high schools largely by measuring the number of students who take Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge tests. The highest ranked school in Michigan was the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, which placed 12th, the Free Press reported.

Other Michigan high schools and their rankings include: Grosse Pointe South, 356; Bloomfield Andover, 377; Troy, 545; Berkley, 575; Birmingham Groves, 641; Farmington, 759; Bloomfield Lahser, 822; Birmingham Seaholm, 875; Grosse Pointe North, 882; Walled Lake Central, 927; Farmington Hills Harrison, 986; Troy Athens, 1,026; Chippewa Valley Dakota, 1,060; North Farmington, 1,147; West Bloomfield, 1,162; Novi, 1,186; Northville, 1,189; Walled Lake Northern, 1,267 and Redford Thurston, 1,290.

Detroit Free Press, "30 Michigan high schools make list of nation's best," May 19, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "Black River Public School: One of the Nation's Best," Nov. 21, 2006

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. — A Comstock Park teacher charged with drunken driving and providing alcohol to minors is still teaching, according to WOOD TV.

James Idziak was also suspended without pay on two separate occasions, WOOD TV reported. In 2002 he was suspended for three days after entering a girls' locker room while students were changing, followed a few girls into a bathroom stall after they ran from him and gave them a group hug. The current superintendent said that the teacher's tenure prevented any additional disciplinary action, WOOD TV reported.

"It's amazing to me that because you have tenure you can get away with so much," the parent of a student to whom Idziak provided alcohol told WOOD TV.

According to Kent County Education Association official Mike Stevens, the district could have argued for termination after that series of events. Stevens said a lack of evidence prevented the district from going forward with termination proceedings, according to WOOD TV.

WOOD TV, "Why wasn't Comstock Park teacher fired after locker room incident?" May 21, 2008

Michigan School Databases, "Contract Agreement between the Comstock Park School Board and the Comstock Park Educational Employees Association," March 3, 2008 _KCEA_MEA_E_X.PDF

WATERFORD, Mich. — As Catholic schools across the country, including in Detroit, are closing and facing decreasing enrollment, many schools are being built or expanded in the northern and western parts of Oakland County, according to Spinal Column Online.

Nationwide, Catholic school enrollment has decreased by 14 percent since 2000. The Archdiocese of Detroit has experienced a 33 percent decrease in enrollment over the past 10 years and a 22 percent decrease since 2002-2003. This decrease in enrollment is represented by the closing of five elementary schools and two high schools since last year, Spinal Column Online reported.

"While these regions were populated by high concentrations of Catholic immigrants arriving in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, significant demographic changes have occurred in these areas in the latter part of the last century," Tamra Hull, director of marketing for Catholic Schools at the Archdiocese of Detroit, told Spinal Column Online. "In the last decade, it has become increasingly more difficult for dioceses to continue to provide the substantial financial assistance required to keep the schools open with modest tuition and reasonable compensation for the teachers."

Despite this trend, a handful of Catholic schools will be opening in Oakland County and surrounding areas. An all-girls high school, St. Catherine of Siena Academy, is slated to open in Wixom in the fall of 2009. Another single-gender school, Everest Academy High School, will open in Clarkston. Additionally, Austin Catholic Academy is being built in northern Macomb County and also has a tentative opening set for the fall of 2009. Another number of Oakland County-area Catholic schools are seeing increasing enrollments and renovating to expand their facilities, according to Spinal Column Online.

Spinal Column Online, "Area Catholic schools bucking trend of declining enrollment," May 21, 2008 Area_Catholic_schools_bucking_national_trend_of_declining_enrollment.html

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit-area Catholic schools look to future," Nov. 21, 2006

MIDLAND, Mich. — Chris DeJonge was in her second week of home schooling when the knock on the door came. She opened it to find two local officials who informed her that her children were truants and that she and her husband were breaking the law by teaching them at home.

What she and her husband didn't know in that autumn of 1984 was that their case would eventually reach the Michigan Supreme Court and that a ruling in their favor would pave the way for some of this country's least-restrictive home-school laws.

Nearly 15 years to the day after that ruling, the DeJonges spent a recent Saturday morning talking to Michigan Education Report about their years in and out of the legal system. Now residents of Shelbyville, in rural western Michigan, Mark DeJonge is a commercial construction manager and Chris DeJonge is completing another year of teaching her five youngest children.

Michigan Education Report, "Fifteen years later, home-schoolers say legal battle was worth it," May 27, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Should home-schoolers beware?" May 12, 2000

Michigan Education Report, "Pioneering new methods in education: Jackson home-schoolers share resources, knowledge," Sept. 6, 2006

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, an online 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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