Contents of this issue:
  • Major newspapers come out against Proposal 5
  • Detroit enrollment projections could be wrong
  • Detroit schools could lay off 430
  • Survey: Teacher satisfaction at 20-year high
  • Taxpayers question Birch Run schools land buy
  • Home-schooled student wins MLK writing contest

DETROIT — Several of the state's larger daily newspapers have urged voters to reject Proposal 5, the ballot amendment that would shift a majority of the responsibility for school employee pensions to the state's general fund.

The Detroit Free Press, which called Proposal 5 "a slick political ploy," said the mandated funding increases in the measure cannot be guaranteed "without huge cuts elsewhere." The Free Press also pointed out that there is no mention of student performance tied to the increased spending.

The Grand Rapids Press said Proposal 5 changes the way student enrollment is counted, and would "exaggerate the number of students in classes," which would lead to a "larger draw on the Treasury."

Calling Proposal 5 a "money grab," The Press pointed out that while the measure asks for school funding to increase at the rate of inflation, public school funding in Michigan already has increased 18 percent above inflation over the last decade.

The Livingston Daily Press & Argus said Proposal 5 would force taxpayers to "shoulder excessive teacher retirement costs." The Press & Argus also said Michigan teachers are paid in the top four nationwide and enjoy "outstanding health care benefits."

The Oakland Press pointed out that if passed, Proposal 5 would create a constant cash flow to schools, "but nothing in the proposal talks about the money making its way into classrooms for education purposes," and goes on to say a vote against it "is a vote against an outrageous effort to take your tax dollars with no questions asked."

The Traverse City Record-Eagle called Proposal 5 a "disaster waiting to happen."

Detroit Free Press, "Prop 06-5 would lock in bad policy; vote no," Oct. 18, 2006

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "Proposal 5 is bad public policy; vote no," Oct. 15, 2006

The Grand Rapids Press, "Definite 'No' on Proposal 5," Oct. 8, 2006

The Oakland Press, "A vote against Proposal 5 isn't vote against education," Oct. 16, 2006

Traverse City Record-Eagle, "Proposal 5 would soak up funding for other services," Oct. 19, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "An Analysis of Proposal 5: The "K-16" Michigan Ballot Measure," Sept. 12, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Mandatory expenditure increase faces uphill battle," May 25, 2006

DETROIT — Initial estimates of how many students left Detroit Public Schools since last year could be off by several thousand, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Officials initially estimated enrollment to be around 119,000, a drop of about 10,000 compared to the 2005-2006 school year. The Free Press, however, reported that Superintendent William F. Coleman said on WWJ-AM radio that enrollment could be closer to 115,000, or about 4,000 fewer students than originally announced.

School board member David Murray said a 16-day teacher strike is to blame for the drop. The Detroit Federation of Teachers union conducted an illegal strike that denied instruction to students for seven days.

"We explained to (the teacher's union) that this would be the consequence," Murray told The Detroit News. "We just have to continue our campaign to get the kids to come back to DPS."

DFT President Janna Garrison said the drop is due to other districts recruiting Detroit students and a sinking city population, according to The News.

Final enrollment figures must be reported to the state by Nov. 15.

Detroit Free Press, "DPS predicts loss of more students than expected," Oct. 18, 2006

The Detroit News, "DPS count might not be so grim," Oct. 20, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit enrollment could fall 25,000," Sept. 26, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Classes resume after Detroit teachers end illegal strike," Sept. 19, 2006

DETROIT — Some 430 teachers and counselors received layoff notices from Detroit Public Schools, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Beverly Gary, the district's associate superintendent for human resources, said fewer than 430 could be laid off, depending on final enrollment numbers, which must be submitted to the state by Nov. 15, the Free Press reported.

DPS already was anticipating cutting 800 jobs before the 16-day teacher strike and a larger-than-expected drop in enrollment, according to the Free Press.

DFT President Janna Garrison questioned the number of notices, saying it should have been closer to 100 because of planned retirements.

"Where are they getting their data?" she asked, according to the Free Press. "Not only does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing, right now I don't think the left hand knows there even is a right hand."

Detroit Free Press, "430 get layoff notices in Detroit," Oct. 24, 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

NEW YORK — A yearly survey conducted by MetLife shows teacher satisfaction is at a 20-year high, according to Education Week.

The survey, titled "MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Expectations and Experiences," was first conducted in 1984. The 2006 survey included a representative sample of 1,001 public school teachers and was conducted in March.

Some 56 percent of teachers surveyed said they are "very satisfied" with their career, compared to 40 percent in 1984, Education Week reported.

About one-quarter of those polled said they plan to leave teaching in the next five years.

"It's very concerning that of the veteran teachers, many of them say they plan to leave in the next five years," Sibyl Jacobson, president of the MetLife Foundation, told Education Week. "Whether that's from demographics, burn-out, I'm not sure. But I do know that is a warning sign, particularly because we have a need for teachers and a need to retain teachers."

Education Week did not address how many of the veteran teachers who say they planned to leave in the next five years would do so through retirement.

The survey found that teachers say they leave because of unmet expectations, lack of training and lack of support from fellow teachers and principals.

Education Week, "Teacher Satisfaction at 20-year High, MetLife Survey Finds," Oct. 18, 2006

"MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Expectations and Experiences," October 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Chicago principals say parents should rate teachers," March 30, 2004

Michigan Education Digest, "Teachers often scapegoats, says survey," June 10, 2003

BIRCH RUN, Mich. — Taxpayers in the Birch Run school district are questioning why the board of education voted to spend $193,000 for property it doesn't plan to use, according to The Saginaw News.

The board recently voted to buy 72 acres near the high school.

"We are constantly being told you have nothing to spare," Linda Taylor told the board, The News reported. "What's first, land or children's needs? You make investments when you have money to spare."

Board President Rodney McNalley told The News the board thinks it is a sound investment.

"We haven't spent any money, we've transferred assets," McNalley told The News. "It made sense for us."

McNalley said the district traded cash for real property, and that the property will not depreciate.

The Saginaw News, "Land buy upsets residents," Oct. 17, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Canton subdivisions petition to switch school districts," Feb. 18, 2003

FLINT, Mich. — A home-schooled teen from Flint is one of 50 nationwide winners in an essay contest sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, according to The Flint Journal.

Emily West, 15, wrote in her essay on "Your Dream for America," that she hopes every person can fulfill their dream, no matter their background or income.

West has been invited to a Nov. 13 groundbreaking ceremony for the $100 million King memorial in Washington, The Journal reported. More than 3,000 students entered the contest.

"I think he was amazing — he's definitely one of my role models," West said of King. "He knew what he was fighting for and wasn't ashamed of it. That's why I look up to him."

The Flint Journal, "Home-schooled teen has write stuff," Oct. 17, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Home-schooled student gets academic scholarship," Sept. 26, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Pioneering new methods in education; Jackson home schoolers share resources, knowledge," Sept. 6, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Home schooling in Detroit; responsibility and unique preparation," Dec. 15, 2005

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 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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