Contents of this issue:

  • Reform slate to challenge DFT
  • Teachers opt to leave MESSA; district could save $1 million
  • Warren teacher quits amid allegations
  • Wyandotte students beat algebra II odds
  • Howell: No pay hike, no outsourcing


DETROIT - Nineteen Detroit Public Schools teachers are running for election to leadership slots in the Detroit Federation of Teachers union on a school reform platform, according to The Detroit News. The teachers want to open their own charter school modeled after the Los Angeles Green Dot Schools, an editorial in The News said.

Teachers Ann Crowley and Ann Turner are leading the effort, called Detroit Children First, the editorial said. Elections will take place Nov. 24-26.

Green Dot Schools is a nonprofit network of unionized charter high schools that The News said are radically different and more effective than Detroit schools, funneling more money to the classroom and using performance, rather than seniority or tenure, to assess teachers.

The News said that Crowley and Turner were turned down by DPS administrators and union leaders when they proposed using Green Dot as a model for Detroit.

The Detroit News, "Reform-minded Detroit teachers deserve help," Nov. 17, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "First class or 21st Century? Don't pass up chance to reform Detroit Public Schools," July 14, 2008


GAYLORD, Mich. - Gaylord Community Schools could save $1 million a year after teachers voted to replace the Michigan Education Special Services Association with AmeraPlan as a third-party insurance administrator, the Gaylord Herald Times reported.

The switch is part of a new, three-year contract that also provides teachers a 3 percent annual pay raise, according to the Herald Times.

"This is a precedent-setting contract," school board member Bill O'Neill said, adding that the move will save the district $500,000 to $1 million annually, the Herald Times reported. "We have to give credit to the (GEA) negotiating team."

Superintendent Cheryl Wojtas said the Gaylord Education Association did its own investigation into insurance costs. She told the Herald Times that the new plan is similar to the Blue Cross Blue Shield package that teachers previously received.

MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association that outsources insurance underwriting to Blue Cross, and then resells those plans to a majority of Michigan conventional public school districts.

"There were mutually productive negotiations without having to bring in attorneys from the outside. It was definitely a collaborative effort," Wojtas told the Herald Times, noting that the district also has signed a new contract with transportation employees.

The Gaylord Herald Times, "Gaylord teachers ratify 3-year pact," Nov. 14, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "Health insurance: Reformed, but not resolved," Sept. 16, 2008


WARREN, Mich. - A Spanish language teacher quit her job at Michigan Collegiate High School amid allegations that she had an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old male student, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Free Press reported that a spokeswoman for Michigan Educational Personnel Services, which is the employer for the Warren public charter school, said the teacher was given the choice to go on paid leave during the investigation, but quit instead. The name of the teacher was not released.

The student told school officials about the alleged relationship, according to the Free Press. School officials notified MEPS, which then notified police. Charges had not been filed as of Nov. 11.

The student said the relationship was consensual, the Free Press reported, and did not take place on school grounds.

"We've been working closely with the police since the day we found out," Carlie Lockwood, MEPS spokeswoman, told the Free Press.

The Detroit Free Press, "Warren teacher quits amid sex scandal with student," Nov. 11, 2008

Michigan Education Digest, "Zeeland pays teacher to leave," Sept. 30, 2008


WYANDOTTE, Mich. - Wyandotte Public Schools is attracting attention statewide for its 90 percent pass rate among algebra II students, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Though the graduating class of 2011 - today's sophomores - will be the first group required to take the course statewide, Wyandotte put the requirement in place early, the Free Press reported. It attributes its high pass rate to several factors, but primarily a decision to teach geometry to ninth graders, followed by consecutive years of algebra I and algebra II, giving the students more continuity, the article said.

The district also emphasizes teacher preparation and requires eighth graders to take an algebra course that does not count as high school credit, according to the Free Press.  However, so far the success has not transferred to the Michigan Merit Exam, which less than half of Wyandotte's students passed, the Free Press reported.

"Wyandotte deserves a huge round of applause. They got ahead of the curve," Jim Ballard, executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, told the Free Press.

The Detroit Free Press, "Wyandotte kids beat odds, excel in math," Nov. 13, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "New high school graduation requirements in action," May 6, 2008


HOWELL, Mich. - Howell Public Schools maintenance employees have agreed to no pay raises and increased co-pay for prescription medication in their latest contract, according to The Livingston Community News. The district has said it will not privatize maintenance services for the duration of the three-year agreement.

The school district and the maintenance employees union, which currently consists of nine hourly employees, reached agreement following 16 months of negotiations, the News reported. The new contract is retroactive to July 1, 2007, and runs through July 2010.

In addition, the News reported that the workers will pay back to the district 0.5 percent of their pay for the first year, through payroll deductions. The union, represented by the Michigan Education Association, and the school board ratified the new agreement in separate unanimous votes, the article said.

"These employees recognize what (difficult financial times) we're going through," Lynn Parrish, deputy superintendent for labor relations and personnel, told the school board, according to the News.

The Livingston Community News, "Contract for Howell Schools' maintenance workers," Nov. 12, 2008

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Survey 2008: School Service Privatization Grows Again," Sept. 8, 2008

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 Lorie Shane at

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