Contents of this issue:

  • Cuts, closings ahead in Flint
  • U.P. students feel slighted by map
  • Teachers honored
  • Southfield opens STEM school
  • Going 'Beyond Basics' in Detroit
  • Problems subscribing or unsubscribing? Read this


FLINT, Mich. - Lax accounting, enrollment losses and overspending all contributed to the $10 million budget deficit now facing the Flint School District, The Flint Journal reported.

With no fund equity, the district likely will lay off employees and shut schools in order to close the gap, The Journal said in reporting on a presentation by chief financial officer Andrea Derricks. Enrollment has dropped by 25 percent in recent years, leading to a reduction in state aid, Derricks said, but she also pointed to consistent overspending in some departments and too little control over expenditures.

Michele Stinson, president of the United Teachers of Flint, told The Journal that she hopes the school board will look at cutting more than just teachers and support staff.

Derricks said she has put in place controls that limit how much money is spent and who can spend it, The Journal reported, as well as a freeze on purchasing supplies.

The Flint Journal, "Steep cuts, school closings looming in cash- strapped Flint School District," Nov. 6, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit not the only school district seeing red," June 30, 2008


ESCANABA, Mich. - When Escanaba Area High School students noticed that a national textbook company had mislabeled the Upper Peninsula on a map of Michigan, they not only wrote a letter requesting that the publisher fix the mistake, but also suggesting that more information about the Upper Peninsula would make the book more appealing, according to The Escanaba Daily Press.

The students wrote to Pearson Prentice Hall, pointing out that a map showing the progress of women's suffrage in Michigan used a different color for the Upper and Lower Peninsulas and also labeled the Upper Peninsula as "IL," The Daily Press reported.

The textbooks, new this year, are the Michigan edition of "United States History: Modern America."

"Our curriculum encourages kids to write persuasive essays, so it's nice they wanted to put their learning to practical use," instructor Phil Lynch told the Daily Press.

"We tried to be polite, but get our idea across so they would fix it," student Emily Buchmiller said.

The Escanaba Daily Press, "U.P. loses its identity," Nov. 8,2008

Michigan Education Report, "Winter Weather Wonderland: U.P. schools face weather challenges 6 months a year," Nov. 21, 2006


JACKSON, Mich. - A Jackson-area teacher has been named Michigan's charter school Teacher of the Year, while educators from Forest Hills and Utica have each received Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards, according to newspaper reports in each community.

Lori Zemke, a teacher at The da Vinci Institute Primary School in Jackson, was named Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies at its 11th annual Charter Schools Conference, The Jackson Citizen Patriot reported.

"It was quite an honor," Zemke, 46, told The Citizen Patriot.

"But I just feel like I'm such a small part of what makes our school great."

Also honored recently were Erik Cliff, a teacher at the Central Woodlands 5/6 Building in Forest Hills Public Schools, and Leah Einhaus, a third-grade teacher at Collins Elementary School in Utica Public Schools, who each received $25,000 Milken awards, according to reports in The Grand Rapids Press and the Advisor/Source.

"We're looking for educators who use proven motivational practices and get results," the foundation's senior vice president, Jane Foley, told The Press. Winning teachers may use the financial award at their discretion, the Advisor/Source reported.

The Advisor/Source, "Collins teacher receives big surprise," Nov. 2, 2008

The Grand Rapids Press, "Forest Hills teacher honored with $25,000 Milken prize," Oct. 25, 2008

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Da Vinci teacher is named tops among charter schools," Nov. 6, 2008

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Teacher Quality Primer," Aug. 20, 2008


SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - Southfield Public Schools has opened an honors high school, University High School Academy, with smaller classes emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math, The Detroit News reported.

About 440 freshmen were admitted this year, chosen on the basis of a test and essay, according to The News. Once accepted, the students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average. Superintendent Wanda Cook-Robinson told The News that the school will add a grade each year and that eventually the academy curriculum will be replicated throughout the district's high schools.

The district is partnering on the effort with the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses of the University of Michigan, the Lear Corp., and Michigan First Credit Union.

Marcia Williams, dean of the academy, told The News that, "We wanted to create another option for families who want a smaller high school environment, with about 24 students per class, but who want access to a rigorous curriculum with more focus."

The Detroit News, "School offers mental workout," Nov. 6, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "It's hard, but it's fun: Project seeks to enlarge ranks of scientists, engineers," July 15, 2008


DETROIT - A nonprofit organization whose mission is to offer literacy and cultural programs to metro Detroit children is now working in four Detroit schools and one in Pontiac.

"Beyond Basics" offers tutoring, a book publishing program and other literacy activities, plus an "Expanding Horizons"

enrichment series. Most of the programming takes place during the regular school day in classrooms that each school has agreed to set aside for that purpose.

Pam Good, Beyond Basics executive director, says her goal is to expand the program to as many Detroit children as possible by working cooperatively with principals and teachers.

"I didn't come into this district to change the district. I came in to help children. ... You change reading levels and you change the dropout rate," says Good, a Bloomfield Hills resident.

"Everyone knows you've got to be able to read and do basic math."

Michigan Education Report, "Going 'Beyond Basics' in Detroit," Nov. 11, 2008

Michigan Education Digest, "Tutoring more attractive to parents than switching schools," April 19, 2005


MIDLAND, Mich. - A technical problem with the subscribe and unsubscribe functions at the Michigan Education Report Web site has been resolved. Readers who tried unsuccessfully to use either function are invited to revisit the page.

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

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