Contents of this issue:
  • Grand Rapids business leaders want new charter school
  • Some question effectiveness of advanced teacher certification
  • Public school teacher accused of standing on student
  • Saginaw county schools face competition from new charter
  • Flushing teacher sentenced for bugging colleague's classroom
  • Comment and win book money

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A group of business leaders has applied to Grand Valley State University for a new charter school, modeled after the University Preparatory Academy in Detroit, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

CEO Partnership for Urban Education, a group consisting of Alticor President Doug DeVos, Alticor Chairman Steve Van Andel, Steelcase CEO James Hackett, and other business leaders, has discussed chartering a school with both Grand Rapids Public Schools and with GVSU. GRPS Superintendent Bernard Taylor was unaware that the CEO organization filed an application with Grand Valley, but said he wasn't ready to commit to a plan for a charter school, The Press reported.

GVSU will decide within six months if it will approve the application; the school currently has 31 applications for two available schools. The plan for the schools is one of four that has made the initial cut by the university, according to The Press. The state of Michigan arbitrarily limits the number of charter schools that public universities can authorize to 150.

The school would start by offering education to approximately 64 students in the 6th grade and then add on a grade each year, until it offers grades 6-12, according to The Press.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Businessmen push for charter school in GR," July 20, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Should Michigan lift the cap on charter public schools? Yes," Nov. 21, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit Mayor calls for more charter, private schools," May 24, 2007

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A paper for a 2003 White House teacher preparation conference, written by Grover Whitehurst, claims that the value of continuing education for teachers is unclear, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.

"The bulk of evidence ... is that there are no differential gains across classes taught by teachers with a master's degree or other advanced degree in education compared to classes taught by teachers who lack such degrees," Whitehurst, the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, wrote in his paper, according to The Gazette.

Whitehurst says this is because pay scale increases are tied to the number of additional credits taken, and teachers look for the easiest ways to accumulate them. He also suggests the quality of continuing education courses are uneven because many universities use the courses to increase revenue, without paying attention to quality of instruction, The Gazette reported.

Some think the most successful advanced teacher courses are those that are very specialized.

"The best programs, in my mind, are developed in collaboration between districts and universities and are designed to address specific needs," Joseph Kretovics, an education professor at Western Michigan University, told The Gazette. "(Effective professional development) needs to address the work that teachers are doing and will be doing ... Just to take 18 credits willy-nilly - why bother?"

Plainwell Community Schools Superintendent Sue Wakefield, as well as Eric Palmu, superintendent for Galesburg-Augusta Schools, say they would prefer merit-based raises over those based on credentials.

"We've gotten into a rut because it's easy and it's measurable," Palmu told The Gazette. "It's a serious error in our judgment. ... Credentials don't translate into better teachers — or administrators, for that matter. But making that paradigm shift to a merit-based system is going to take a huge change in thinking."

The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Does advanced teacher certification mean better teaching?" July 22, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Michigan lags behind some states: alternative teacher certification," Nov. 21, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Does Teacher Certification Matter?" Sept. 14, 2004

FREMONT, Mich. — A Fremont Middle School math teacher is charged with assault and battery for allegedly standing on top of a 12-year-old boy after he refused to get off the floor of a classroom, police said, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Robert Kosztowny, 56, who has been teaching math for 28 years in Fremont, was arraigned earlier this month and released on bond. If he is found guilty he may face up to 90 days in jail, according to The Press.

Superintendent John Kingsnorth told The Press that Kosztowny admitted to placing a foot on the student.

"If he just put his foot on the child, that's one thing," Kinsnorth said. "If he stepped with his full weight, that's another."

The boy's mother contacted police three days after the incident and reported to police that her son was sore the day after. According to the student, Kosztowny stood on him after the boy followed a friend who was assigned to sit in the corner of the classroom.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Police: Boy claims Fremont middle school teacher stood on him," July 20, 2007 storylist=newsmichigan

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Parents Still Have an Option to Check Kids' Safety," Feb. 2, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Some convicted felons still working in schools," July 5, 2006

SAGINAW, Mich. — The International Academy of Saginaw, a new charter school, has been actively recruiting students from the Saginaw and Buena Vista school districts, according to The Saginaw News.

The academy is managed by SABIS Educational Systems Inc., a company based in Eden Prairie, Minn., and anticipates sending mailings to 15,000 families and is advertising on two radio stations, The News reported.

"They target those communities; it happens all the time," Mary T. Wood, director of Michigan Alliance for Charter School Reform, told The News. "They're going after dissatisfied parents, the ones looking for an alternative."

Saginaw Schools have created options within their district for parents, including two schools for gifted students, themed schools, and single-gender classes. The district also plans to respond to the International Academy's marketing plan by creating its own door-to-door campaign, The News reported.

The Saginaw News, "Schools face competition," July 17, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Saginaw school district struggles to keep students," July 3, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Advertising for students: Schools use radio, TV, billboards to lure 'customers,'" May 24, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Ypsilanti schools compete for Ann Arbor students," Jan. 16, 2007

FLUSHING, Mich. — A Flushing Community Schools middle school math teacher has pleaded no contest to charges of trespassing for eavesdropping, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Anne M. Harvey, 44, has worked for the Flushing Community Schools for 10 years and was placed on leave after a bugging device was found. Authorities said that Harvey placed a listening device on the back of another educator's chair after her daughter complained of problems with that teacher, the Journal reported.

Harvey was sentenced to six months of probation, 75 hours of community service and fined $250, according to The Journal.

Lansing State Journal, "Flushing teacher pleads no contest in bugging colleagues classroom," July 20, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Fifth-grade teacher charged with drug dealing," Jan. 20, 2004

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win a $50 book gift certificate.

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

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at

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