Contents of this issue:


  • Howell: MEA skewed truth on privatization
  • Christian, public schools share teachers
  • Algebra II bills move
  • Manistique bids to be 'demonstration district'
  • Ann Arbor may discuss merit pay

HOWELL: MEA SKEWED TRUTH ON PRIVATIZATION


HOWELL, Mich. - Howell Public Schools officials said the Michigan Education Association intentionally distorted the truth when it published an article claiming the district did not save money by hiring a private custodial firm, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

The "MEA Voice," a union magazine, said that the district spent about $360,000 more on operations and maintenance after privatization, but district officials said that dollar figure was skewed by including more than 30 line items in addition to custodial costs, the Press & Argus reported.

Interim Superintendent Lynn Parrish also said that the article didn't account for the cost of insurance extensions and pension packages which were provided to former custodians.

A representative from the MEA had not yet been reached for comment on the story by Friday, though Jay McDowell, president of the Howell Education Association, told the Press & Argus that the local teacher's union was not involved with the article.

SOURCE:
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, "Howell school officials: Privatization was misrepresented," Aug. 21, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A School Privatization Primer," June 26, 2007


CHRISTIAN, PUBLIC SCHOOLS SHARE TEACHERS


HOLLAND, Mich. - About 15 Holland Christian Schools teachers will become employees of Holland Public Schools this year, but continue to work in the Christian school setting, according to The Grand Rapids Press. The arrangement is designed to save money and jobs for both school systems.

The agreement allows Holland Public Schools to count Holland Christian students as part-time public school students and collect state funding for them, the Press reported, even though the students will remain physically at the Holland Christian campuses.

Holland Public Schools will pay the teachers and also provide benefits, but the teachers will not become members of the Holland Education Association, the report said. Holland Christian will save up to $400,000 in payroll, while Holland Public could receive as much as $300,000 after expenses, officials in each school told The Press.

The teachers, all current or newly hired Holland Christian staff, teach non-core courses such as music, art and physical education.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Holland Christian, Public schools share teachers to save money, boost state funding," Aug. 24, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Public and private schools share faculty for electives," Sept. 6, 2006


ALGEBRA II BILLS MOVE


LANSING, Mich. - The House Education Committee and the full Senate have passed separate measures that would allow high schoolers to graduate without taking Algebra II, according to a report by the Michigan Information & Research Service.

Senate Bill 698 would accept the math content of classes such as electronics and construction as equivalent to the Algebra II requirement, while House Bill 4410 would allow students to take technical education courses as replacements for both geometry and Algebra II, according to MIRS.

Algebra II and geometry both are required for high school graduation under the Michigan Merit Curriculum.

State Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, said the Senate bill recognizes that math concepts can be taught just as well in a "hands-on" style in vocational classes as in a standard Algebra II class, MIRS reported.

SOURCE:
Michigan Information & Research Service, "Curriculum flexibility bills move," Aug. 19, 2009 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Finding algebra in fashion design," Aug. 5, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan Votes, "Senate Bill 698 (Lower high school graduation standards)" and "House Bill 4410 (Authorize reduced high school graduation requirements)"


MANISTIQUE BIDS TO BE 'DEMONSTRATION DISTRICT'


MANISTIQUE, Mich. - Manistique Area Schools is bidding to become a "demonstration district" and collect funding earmarked for innovative education, according to the (Escanaba) Daily Press.

If approved, the district would implement a pre-K-12 plan that calls for more technology, individual learning plans for students, additional time on math and reading at elementary levels and possibly an expanded school year, Superintendent John Chandler told the school board, according to the Daily Press.

According to information at the Michigan Department of Education Web site, the state will select up to 20 demonstration districts as part of "Project ReImagine," an effort to increase student achievement.

The proposals submitted by school districts will become part of Michigan's application for federal "Race to the Top" funds, intended to spur education reform nationwide.

SOURCES:
(Escanaba) Daily Press, "Manistique looking at new education methods," Aug. 18, 2009

Michigan Department of Education, "Project ReImagine"

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "A Teacher Quality Primer," June 30, 2008


ANN ARBOR MAY DISCUSS MERIT PAY


ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ann Arbor teachers are voting on a tentative contract agreement that would freeze wages this year, allow teachers to choose among health insurance options and open the door for "collaborative discussion" on teacher evaluations and merit pay, according to a report at AnnArbor.com.

Superintendent Todd Roberts and Brit Satchwell, president of the Ann Arbor Education Association, both said that district finances are uncertain due to state funding and the outcome of a November millage election, but that at this point the district spending plan outstrips revenue, AnnArbor.com reported.

Teachers would not receive a pay hike under the new contract, though they would receive step increases. Wages in 2010-2011 would be negotiated later, the report said. Teachers would choose between several health insurance options; those choosing the lower-priced HMO would receive money back from the district.

The contract also would open talks on teacher evaluation methods, including the possibility of merit pay, according to AnnArbor.com.

"It warrants a collaborative discussion," Roberts told AnnArbor.com.

"I think teachers have all kinds of merit," Satchwell said, according to the report. "It's time for that debate. Everything is on the table."

SOURCE:
Annarbor.com, "New Ann Arbor teachers contract calls for pay freeze," Aug. 24, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Merit-Pay Pilot Program for Michigan Public Schools," Sept. 23, 2008


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.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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