Contents of this issue:
  • Editorial: Newspaper supports Michigan waiver legislation
  • Kansas Supreme Court orders school funding increase
  • Michigan public universities may boost tuition following aid cuts
  • Detroit cardinal criticized over Roman Catholic school closings

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - An editorial in The Grand Rapids Press this weekend endorsed proposed legislation that would allow a Michigan school district to apply for waivers exempting it from nearly any part of the Michigan school code or School Aid Act if the district committed to higher student achievement.

Two bills, approved in the House, would allow districts to free themselves from regulations that have hampered student achievement in the past, according to The Press. Under the law, detailed The Press, "Districts would have to identify the specific rules they want to forgo, and sign a contract agreeing to improve performance as measured by standardized tests and other criteria."

Districts wouldn't be allowed to obtain waivers for issues dealing with student safety, health or teacher certification. The effective period for the waivers could last for up to five years, while "the Education Department would have to check performance against the agreed benchmarks, and could yank the waiver any time if a district isn't measuring up," reported The Press. "The end result should be better education for youngsters. State leaders shouldn't need advanced degrees to see the good in that."

The Grand Rapids Press, "Flexibility, accountability," June 20, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Rally for the Classroom, Not the Budget Process," June 2005

Michigan Education Report, "After School 'Diapers/Formula' Rule Wins 'Outrageous Regulation' Contest," Spring 2002

DETROIT - The Kansas Supreme Court ordered the state to increase education funding, prompting Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to call a special legislative session for June 22 to find a solution, reported The Detroit News.

The court had previously put on hold a decision by a lower court judge that last year ordered the state to shut down all public schools until legislators fixed Kansas' school funding system. Still, last week's decision by the state Supreme Court requires that the state increase funding for public schools by $285 million, or about 10 percent. Legislators had supported a plan to increase funding by 5 percent, or $142 million.

Some Kansas lawmakers indicated a willingness to defy the court order to maintain control over school policy. "I think it's high time we confronted the court," said state Rep. Frank Miller, according to The News. "One thing we could do is just refuse to obey." When asked what the repercussions would be for defying the court's orders, state Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt reportedly said, "I would just as soon not learn the answer to that question."

The Detroit News, "Legal woes may shut down Kansas schools," June 16, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding: Lack of Money or Lack of Money Management?" August 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Finance Reform Lessons from Michigan," October 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Will More Money Improve Student Performance?" June 1998

DETROIT - Many Michigan public colleges and universities plan to increase tuition this fall in light of cuts or small increases in state aid, according to The Detroit News.

State colleges and universities have experienced reductions in state aid for the past three years - the first such occurrence in the state in a quarter century, reported The News. Projections of aid cuts or small aid increases from the Legislature may lead to tuition hikes this year. "If appropriations are not forthcoming from the Legislature, which they don't appear to be, institutions will have to raise their tuition substantially," said University of Michigan associate professor Steve DesJardins, according to The News.

Average annual tuition at Michigan colleges increased 11 percent during the last academic year, compared with a 10.5 percent average increase nationwide. Several state universities now offer financial incentives to encourage students to take more credits per semester and graduate in four years in an effort to reduce the financial strain on students, The News reported.

The Detroit News, "State colleges to boost tuition," June 15, 2005

Michigan Privatization Report, "Bringing the Market to the Ivory Tower," Winter 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Going Broke by Degree," September 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Privatize the University of Michigan," March 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private Prepaid Tuition Programs Can Help Make College Affordable," September 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Competition Among Professors Would Help Parents Afford College," August 1999

DETROIT - Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida is receiving criticism after announcing the closure of 18 Roman Catholic schools in the Detroit metro area, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton reportedly said the school closings represent the abandonment of urban residents. "Where would you evangelize if not in the city of Detroit? If we were really serious, we would be ... opening up schools," Gumbleton told the Free Press.

Activists plan to protest the school closings outside a $250-per-plate fundraising dinner for the Sacred Heart Major Seminary at the Dearborn Ritz-Carlton, which will feature guest speaker Bill Cosby. Letters from protest organizers called on activists to denounce the archdiocese's "desertion of mission," reported the Free Press.

Cardinal Maida defended his actions, saying that it is necessary to move some schools to the suburbs to follow population migrations. Maida announced last week a fundraising drive to obtain $30 million to build a Catholic academy in northern Macomb County. "Today, because of the booming suburbs, we have to be where the people are," Maida said, according to the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "Maida to face school critics at meeting," June 15, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Catholic Schools and the Common Good," June 2005

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

Contact Managing Editor Neil Block at

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to: