Contents of this issue:
  • More Michigan schools fail to make AYP
  • DPS teachers union strikes
  • Private company partners with Detroit high school
  • Marquette teachers accept less costly MESSA insurance
  • Some Lansing-area students denied school choice

LANSING, Mich. — The number of public schools in Michigan that failed to meet federal standards increased 25 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to The Detroit News.

A "school report card" released by the Michigan Department of Education last week shows 544 schools did not make Adequate Yearly Progress under guidelines set forth by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, The News reported. The number of failing schools is up from 436 last year, and 297 in 2004.

The bulk of the report is made up of high schools, with 399, which is about one-third of all high schools in the state, The News reported. Detroit Public Schools has 102 schools on the list, meaning almost half of the district failed to meet federal standards. Of those, four have failed eight years in a row and face sanctions, according to The News.

A complete list of schools that failed to meet AYP is available at

The Detroit News, "More schools flunk," Aug. 25, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Tutors assist students in Michigan's underperforming schools," May 25, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Report: Michigan plan does not address minority students," Aug. 15, 2006

DETROIT — The union representing Detroit Public Schools teachers went on strike Monday for the second time in seven years, according to The Detroit News. It is illegal under Michigan law for teachers to strike.

Teachers were supposed to report for work Monday, while classes are scheduled to begin Sept. 5. The union voted Sunday to reject a contract offer from the district, The News reported.

Superintendent William F. Coleman III said a strike could be "devastating," for the struggling district that has seen enrollment drop by 10,000 students a year for three years.

"Any lost day of instruction will make it that much more difficult for Detroit public school students to compete against the students throughout the rest of Michigan," he told The News.

Any delay in the start of classes also could cause Detroit's enrollment to drop farther, as parents explore other options for their children. According to the Detroit Free Press, enrollment at the 41 charter public schools in Detroit grew 23 percent, to more than 23,750 students, last year, while in the Highland Park school district, some 40 percent of the students formerly attended DPS.

Teachers who participate in illegal strikes can be fined for each day they refuse to work, and the union can be fined $5,000 a day, according to The News. Penalties are not usually imposed because the law requires a separate hearing for each teacher involved. The Detroit Federation of Teachers bargains for about 6,000 teachers and a total of 9,500 employees.

Coleman told The News he would personally conduct the hearings for teachers who strike, and use other legal remedies to get teachers back to work.

The district and union have met 49 times since March, but have been unable to resolve contract issues, particularly on salary and benefits, The News reported. Teachers are requesting a 5 percent pay increase, while the district says it needs a 5.5 percent pay cut to eliminate a $105 million deficit. Both sides filed unfair labor charges after the talks ended Aug. 25.

The Detroit News, "Detroit teachers strike," Aug. 28, 2006

Detroit Free Press, "Will more students flee Detroit?" Aug. 29, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit teachers discuss illegal strike," Aug. 22, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit teachers union wants more money," June 27, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Study: Detroit graduation rate worst in the nation," June 27, 2006

DETROIT — An auto supply company located next to Southwestern High School in Detroit has been a source of resources and guidance the past five years, according to the Detroit Free Press.

ArvinMeritor paid Detroit Public Schools $600,000 so the company could expand onto Southwestern's football field, the Free Press reported. That money was used to build a new athletic complex for the school that includes facilities for football, baseball, track and tennis.

Employees from the company tutor students in math and science, mentor freshmen through a Big Brothers Big Sisters program and coach a robotics team, the Free Press reported. ArvinMeritor pays $7 an hour to students who work as co-ops, and donated $40,000 to renovate Southwestern's auditorium.

Some 80 percent of the employees at the company live in the area served by Southwestern, including Israel Morales, a 2001 graduate of the school who now coaches its soccer team, according to the newspaper.

"This is fertile ground for the recruitment of people to work in our area," ArvinMeritor spokesman Jerry Rush told the Free Press. "We believe in the potential that is there."

Detroit Free Press, "Working Together: Supplier, school become a team," Aug. 24, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Michigan students win robotics competition," June 20, 2006

MARQUETTE, Mich. — Teachers in the Marquette school district agreed to a one-year contract recently that moves them to a less expensive version of union-backed health insurance, according to The Marquette Mining Journal.

Teachers approved the new contract, which the newspaper said is the first in recent memory settled before the start of classes, by more than a 4-1 margin.

The agreement calls for teachers to switch health insurance plans from MESSA Super Care I to MESSA Choices II, The Mining Journal reported. The Michigan Education Special Services Association is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association union. MESSA acts as a middleman in repackaging health insurance and selling it to school districts. Teachers will no longer pay any deductibles under the less expensive Choices II, and will receive a 2 percent pay raise, according to The Mining Journal. Teachers also agreed to higher co-pays for their own prescriptions.

The Marquette Mining Journal, "District contract approved," Aug. 22, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "CMU saves millions without MESSA," April 11, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Holton staffers drop MESSA," May 2, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Pinckney teachers voluntarily abandon MESSA," Feb. 7, 2006

LANSING, Mich. — The parents of about 250 students in the Lansing area were denied a choice in what public school their children would attend under Michigan's limited schools of choice program, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The State Journal reviewed information from seven school districts in Ingham County and found that of nearly 1,000 schools of choice applications, about 25 percent were rejected. More than 180 of those rejected students were turned away by just two districts — East Lansing and Holt, according to the State Journal. Districts that had to turn students away did so because they received more applications than there were available openings. East Lansing, for example, received 187 applications for 107 openings, yet Lansing Public Schools received just 77 applications for 1,000 spots, the State Journal reported.

Under Michigan's 1996 schools of choice law, parents have the option of sending their children to a neighboring school district, rather than the one to which the student is assigned, but only if the other district participates in the program and has space available.

Lansing State Journal, "Schools find room for more 'choice' pupils," Aug. 20, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The School Choice Movement's Greatest Failure," Aug. 7, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education," Jan. 29, 2001

Michigan Education Report, "Public Schools of Choice gives parents more options," Jan. 18, 1999

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Ted O' Neil at

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