MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 24
June 17, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* President Bush praises states for education reform
* Think tank says school choice can revitalize inner cities
* New York parents happy with charter schools
* Legislature approves optional four-day school week
* Commentary: Teacher unions may interfere with reforms
* Washington, D.C. charter school closes itself for poor performance
* Elimination of research papers leaves students unprepared for college

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PRESIDENT BUSH PRAISES STATES FOR
EDUCATION REFORM
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Last week, President Bush applauded state
education systems for implementing reforms required by the "No
Child Left Behind" Act of 2002.

The president's speech marked the U.S. Department of Education's
approval of school accountability plans for all 50 states plus
the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. "The era of low
expectations and low standards is ending," said Bush. "A time of
great hopes and proven results is arriving."

The accountability plans will help gauge "adequate yearly
progress" required by the Act for every public school in the
United States. If a school does not meet the necessary progress
goals, it will be subject to censure and increased federal
intervention. Such schools must improve or provide free tutoring
to failing students, replace staff, and eventually be taken over
by the state.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Times, "Bush touts education reforms by states,"
June 11, 2003
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030610-112149-2633r.htm

Michigan Education Report, "President signs 'No Child Left Behind
Act,'" Winter 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4082

Michigan Education Report, "Michigan lagging in teacher quality
says federal agency," Early Fall 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4603


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THINK TANK SAYS SCHOOL CHOICE CAN
REVITALIZE INNER CITIES
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COLUMBUS, Ohio. - A recent study suggests that school choice can
revitalize Ohio's inner cities and entice middle-class families
back into city neighborhoods.

The study, by the Buckeye Institute, proposes that Ohio's major
cities create "Educational Empowerment Zones" that focus on
school expansion and provide educational vouchers to middle-class
families that move back to the cities.

"All too often, attempts to encourage urban renewal and get
families to move back into cities fail to address one of the
largest stumbling blocks: a lack of access to good schools," said
Joshua Hall, the institute's director of research.
________
SOURCES:
Buckeye Institute, "Buckeye Institute, "School Choice Can Help
Revitalize Ohio's Inner-Cities," Mar. 6, 2003
http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/eez.htm

Buckeye Institute, "Education Empowerment Zones: Revitalizing
Ohio's Cities through School Choice," March 2003
http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/Policy%20Reports/EEZ.pdf

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/2962


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NEW YORK PARENTS HAPPY WITH CHARTER SCHOOLS
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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Parents of charter school students in New York
state are extremely satisfied with charters, according to a new
survey.

Performed by Zogby International, the survey was published by the
Manhattan Institute, a think tank based in New York City. Many
of the responses indicate a higher level of satisfaction with
charter schools than with the students' previous, traditional
schools. Forty-two percent of parents gave their child's charter
school an "A" grade, compared to 21 percent who gave their
child's previous school that grade.

Other results found that parents were satisfied with their
charter's safety (90 percent), parent-teacher relationships
(87 percent), and academic quality (84 percent).
________
SOURCES:
Manhattan Institute, "What Parents Think of New York's Charter
Schools," June 2003
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_37.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Time to Stop Beating Up on
Charter Schools," November 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4864

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/2962


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LEGISLATURE APPROVES OPTIONAL FOUR-DAY
SCHOOL WEEK
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LANSING, Mich. - Michigan House and Senate members last week
approved a bill that would allow school districts to scale back
their school week to four days as a cost-cutting measure.

Now, instead of requiring 1,098 hours of instruction over 180
days, districts are required to hold class for the same number of
hours with no requirement on the number of days. The new
regulations allow districts to hold class only four days per
week, with more hours per day, as a potential money-saving
option.

Opponents argued that the move may take a toll on working
parents, who might have to hire a babysitter for the weekday
their children are not in school.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Lawmakers OK 4-day school week," June 13, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0306/16/a01-192218.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally
Responsible School Districts," December 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4891


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COMMENTARY: TEACHER UNIONS MAY INTERFERE
WITH REFORMS
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DETROIT, Mich. - In a commentary carried by the Detroit News,
Terry M. Moe, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a
political science professor at Stanford University, criticized
teachers' unions for interfering with reforms meant to improve
the nation's schools.

The unions claim that more money is needed to reform the schools,
wrote Moe, even though the reform movement was begun 20 years
ago. "After untold billions of dollars and lofty reform packages
too numerous to list, the public schools remain pretty much the
same, and student achievement remains unacceptably low," he
wrote.

Moe believes the teachers unions don't want change, and that
"When parents are free to choose and thus free to seek better
schools for their kids, big changes will follow." Moe goes on to
say that unions are "single biggest obstacle to educational
progress in the nation."
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Teachers unions delay education reforms,"
June 10, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/editorial/0306/10/a11-188323.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teachers unions: Helping or
Hurting?"
http://www.mackinac.org/9399


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WASHINGTON, D.C. CHARTER SCHOOL CLOSES
ITSELF FOR POOR PERFORMANCE
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Washington, D.C. charter school for youth in
the juvenile justice system relinquished its own charter for
failing to meet economic and performance standards and will close
on June 30.

Paul W. Wright, chairman and treasurer of the school,
relinquished the school's charter in a letter to the D.C. Public
Charter School Board, which oversees charter schools in the
Washington area. "The students we reached out to brought various
educational problems to the learning process. In retrospect, they
required a different curriculum from the one we used," he wrote.

The board placed the school on probation last summer because of
paperwork problems and because it failed "to perform well in
terms of student attendance rates and has not met its own targets
for this objective." The board said the school was the first to
close under its supervision.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Charter School Closes Following Probation,"
June 12, 2003
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A47191-2003Jun11

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in
Schooling," January 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3236


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ELIMINATION OF RESEARCH PAPERS LEAVES
STUDENTS UNPREPARED FOR COLLEGE
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COVINA, Calif. - College professors increasingly say that
students come to college unprepared to write and conduct research
in a coherent manner. This may be due partially to a lack of
formal writing assignments in high school.

"If we send students to college without being able to think,
synthesize or write in a coherent way, students are going to be
crippled, no matter what their test scores are," Gary Orfield,
professor of education at Harvard University, told the Los
Angeles Times.

High school teachers say they do not have the time to grade
research papers. In addition, the Times reports, teachers believe
that plagiarism allowed by the Internet has made term papers
meaningless and say that their students' writing skills are too
weak to write long assignments.

A recent College Board study indicates that 75 percent of high
school seniors never receive writing assignments in history or
social studies. The study also found that a major research and
writing project required in the senior year of high school "has
become an educational curiosity, something rarely assigned." More
than 50 percent of high school freshman, the College Board found,
are unable to analyze information or write papers free of
language errors.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Term papers close to extinction," June 12, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0306/12/a10-191043.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Cost of Remedial
Education," August 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/3025


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MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of 130,000 published by the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private,
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Neil Block at
[mailto:med@educationreport.org]

To subscribe, go to:
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