[Photo of Michael Van Beek]

Michael Van Beek

Director of Research

Michael Van Beek is director of research for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He joined the Mackinac Center in June 2009 as director of education policy. He has authored several studies for the Center as well as analysis and commentaries that have been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, The Grand Rapids Press, The Oakland Press and elsewhere.

For four years prior to working at the Center, Van Beek taught political philosophy, government, economics and history at North Hills Classical Academy, a private primary and secondary school in Grand Rapids. He also served one year as a North Hills assistant administrator.

Van Beek obtained his Master of Arts in American history from Purdue University and his Bachelor of Arts in history from Hope College.

He lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife, three children, a dog and an assortment of semi-domesticated creatures, including a coyote named Gandalf, Felix the fox and the Harrisons, a family of red-tailed hawks.

How Michigan’s School Foundation Allowance Works

Analysis: The Underfunded Schools Myth

How Public School Funding Works

The Underfunded Myth

Michigan Department of Education Miscalculates Average Teacher Salary

The Michigan Department of Education improperly calculated the average public school teacher salary in the state for the last six years, reporting figures significantly lower than what is correct. Corrected figures for the past two years were recently released. … more

Paying Teachers Not to Teach

At a recent rally where school employees called for an increase in state taxes, a representative of the Warren Education Association claimed that school revenues were in such disrepair that some students were having to go without desks. A spokesperson from Warren Consolidated schools denied this claim, but even if it were true, a few very minor policy changes well short of tax hikes would be all that is necessary pay for many new desks. … more

Port Huron Teacher Contract: Summary and Analysis

In the Port Huron Area School District, about 70 percent of the $106 million operating budget goes towards paying employees covered by current collective bargaining agreements for teachers and a few other employee groups. Yet few people know what is in these or other school labor contracts. … more

The School Employee Concession Myth

The School Employee Concession Myth

Utica Teacher Contract: Summary and Analysis

Average Teacher Salaries Continue to Rise

A new report from the Michigan Department of Education shows that average teacher salaries in Michigan grew by 3 percent to $58,721 in 2009. However, the average salary for unionized teachers in conventional school districts (93 percent of all teachers) was $62,556. … more

Saline Teacher Contract: Summary and Analysis

Breaking News: House Vote Would Force Charter Schools Into Underfunded Pension System

Moments ago, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill that would force every charter school in the state to enroll its teachers in the underfunded and hugely expensive "defined benefits" pension system to which conventional public school employees belong. This year, conventional school districts are required to pay an amount equal to 16.94 percent of their payroll into this system, which promises its members lifetime monthly pension payments and health insurance upon their retirement. To deal with the increased cost pressures, next year, school contributions are expected to rise to 19 percent of payroll. … more

Analysis: Can We Build Better Teachers?

Farmington Public Schools' Union Contract

Online Learning Can Improve Michigan Public Education

Schooling the MEA in Basic Economics

East Lansing Schools Union Contract

Nearly every aspect of a teacher's job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is an analysis of the current collective bargaining agreement for teachers and a few other employee groups in the East Lansing School District… more

Teacher Contracts: An Analysis

Nearly every aspect of a teacher’s job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is a synopsis of the agreement for Fruitport Community Schools. … more

Debating Failing Schools

What MEAP Scores Mean

Detailed Analysis of Western's Teacher Contract

The following is a detailed analysis of the current Western School District teacher contract. The district employs 180 teachers and enrolls 2,900 students. Of its $22 million operating budget, 90 percent goes toward employee compensation. … more

'Survey of Pain' Says Taxpayers Need to Hurt More

The Michigan School Business Officials and a tax-increase advocacy group called "Save Our Students, Schools and State," have released results from a canvass of 300 school districts, dubbed the "Survey of Pain." Tax hikes are proposed to alleviate the pain, but official data on the economy and Michigan's tax system cast considerable doubt on Michigan's ability to afford their remedy. … more

Walled Lake Teacher Contract Analysis

Superintendent Pay, Teacher Pay, and School Spending Reform

Evaluations of Early Education

Detailed Analysis of Walled Lake's Teacher Contract

The following is a detailed analysis of the current Walled Lake Consolidated Schools teacher contract. … more

Climategate's Effect on Students

MichiganScience is a Mackinac Center quarterly magazine that helps meet the need for accurate and accessible information about the increasingly complex scientific issues confronting voters and lawmakers. The magazine reflects the idea that even the most technical scientific policy issues can be discussed with lively prose and compelling visuals. … more

Most School Health Care Plans Are Too Expensive For Michigan

Most School Health Care Plans Are Too Expensive For Michigan

Charter School Demand Continues to Rise

The Great Charter School Debate

The Source of the School Budget Quagmire

State Ignores $600 Million for Schools

What a Teacher Pay Freeze Really Means

Teaching Requires Testing

Fabricating the Facts: The MEA’s New Health Insurance Study

A Recipe for Failing Schools

Longer School Year Won’t Improve Student Achievement

Detroit’s Schools Are Going Bankrupt, Too

Longer School Year Won’t Improve Student Achievement

Detroit’s Schools Are Going Bankrupt, Too

The Nature of Teachers Unions

When We Should Break a Promise