Contents of this issue:
  • U.S. won't participate in international math and science test
  • Grosse Pointe teacher may be dismissed for anger problems
  • National test measures students' knowledge of economics
  • Judge rules in favor of Detroit school closings
  • Zeeland to open innovative, international school
  • Comment and win book money

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. has withdrawn from an international test used to measure students' competence in math and science on a global scale, according to MSNBC.

The test, called TIMSS, or Trends in Mathematics and Science Study, is taken by high school students enrolled in advanced math and science courses like algebra, geometry, calculus and physics. The last test was administered in 1995 and the U.S. scored better than only two countries: Cyprus and South Africa, MSNBC reported.

Mark. S. Schneider, commissioner for the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, said the U.S. decided to withdraw after three other countries decided not to participate. Armenia, Iran, Italy, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Slovenia and Sweden will still administer the test to its students, according to MSNBC.

"We looked at the countries who are participating, our scarce resources and our overextended staff," Schneider said, according to MSNBC, "and we decided to give it a pass."

Administering the test to 4,000 students would have cost the government between $3 million and $10 million, MSNBC reported.

American Mathematical Society Executive Director John Ewing said the U.S. probably withdrew because it was expecting to perform as poorly as it did in 1995.

"Maybe they don't want to hear more bad news," Ewing told MSNBC. Ewing also commented on the importance of knowing where the country stands so that it can improve its math and science education.

"It's pennywise and pound foolish," Ewing told MSNBC. "It is crucial that we know what our most talented students can do and how we are serving them. I can't think of anything more important than having data on how you are training your future mathematicians and scientists."

Testing advocates are currently in the process of searching for private funding for the test, according to MSNBC.

MSNBC, "U.S. Drops Out of Global Math Test," Aug. 9, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Asian Food for Thought," Dec. 10, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Undereducated Today, Outsourced Tomorrow?" Nov. 16, 2004

GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. — A choir teacher at Grosse Pointe South High School may face dismissal after receiving a misdemeanor assault conviction for road rage that seems to parallel some documented cases of aggressiveness in the classroom, according to The Detroit News.

Ellen Bowen has a number of complaints and reprimands in her file dating back to 1994 and she has been disciplined at least five times since 2004, The News reported.

Bowen has received reprimands for, among other things, cutting a student's hair, calling a student a derogatory name, accusing a custodian of installing a video camera, threatening to bring a shotgun to school in order to improve behavior, throwing a stapler at a student and implying in front of her class that a student who left early was pregnant, The News reported.

In 1999, then Grosse Pointe South principal, Arthur Miller, worked to develop a behavioral improvement plan for Bowen. This past year, she was suspended for one day by Principal D. Allen Diver, according to The News.

Bowen, who makes $92,000 a year, is currently suspended with pay and is not allowed on school property until the board of education makes a decision about whether to fire her. Standing by her side are members of the community who are involved in her musical productions. Hundreds of supporters, calling themselves "Friends of Ellen" are listed on a Web site which also includes photos and testimonials, The News reported.

"I found her a remarkably talented teacher, a demanding professional, dedicated to her students and their education," Bowen's lawyer, James R. Andary told The News. "It is unfortunate this has reached a frenzy that never should have happened in Grosse Pointe."

The Detroit News, "Files detail teacher's temper," Aug. 10, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Public school teacher accused of standing on student," July 24, 2007

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Officials are encouraged by the first National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test in economics, according to The Detroit News.

The results show that 42 percent of 12th graders are "economically literate." Only one out of 10 students could analyze the impact of the unemployment rate on the economy. Four out of 10 students could explain why domestic industries would be interested in pushing for tariffs. Sixty percent of students could identify factors that increase the national debt, The News reported.

"While there is clear room for improvement, the results are not discouraging," Darvin Winick, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, said in a statement, according to The News. "Given the number of students who finish high school with a limited vocabulary, not reading well, and weak in math, the results may be as good as or better than we should expect."

The Wall Street Journal also finds the results promising and thinks students have a better grasp on economic principles than elected officials.

"Maybe Congress should make this test, or one like it, mandatory for all Members," the editorial stated.

Approximately 11,500 students from 590 public and private schools participated in the exam.

The Detroit News, "High school seniors do OK on economics exam," Aug. 9, 2007

The Wall Street Journal (subscription only), "The Kids Are All Right," Aug. 10, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "NAEP results show students performing poorly in civics," May 22, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Reliable Are Michigan High School Economics Textbooks?" June 1, 1999

DETROIT — A Wayne County judge ruled in favor of the Detroit Public Schools and will allow the district to proceed with a plan to close schools, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The board of education voted earlier this year to close 33 schools to compensate for the loss of more than 60,000 students over 10 years. The school closings are a part of a state-mandated deficit elimination plan, the Free Press reported.

BAMN, or By Any Means Necessary, filed a lawsuit claiming the closing of nine of those schools was arbitrary, discriminated against Latino families, and would lead to gang violence and overcrowding. Maria Orozco, a plaintiff and parent of two DPS students who attended a school scheduled to close, refuses to send her children to the school mandated to her by the district.

"I'm not going to allow the district to manipulate my children," Orozco said through an interpreter, according to the Free Press. BAMN plans to appeal the ruling, the Free Press reported.

Detroit Free Press, "Judge upholds schools' closings," Aug. 11, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Parents sue Detroit Public Schools to keep buildings open," June 12, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "DPS enrollment down by thousands," Feb. 23, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school board votes to close 34 schools," April 10, 2007

ZEELAND, Mich. — The Zeeland Public Schools, in response to demand by Holland-area businesses, will open a year-round elementary program for children who temporarily move overseas because of a parent's job assignment, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The K-5 program is financed by area businesses, included Haworth Inc., which is paying the program director's salary as well as donating a mobile classroom. Students who temporarily move overseas will be enrolled in the school and will receive lessons through teleconferencing and through the Internet, The Press reported.

Not all students will be traveling, but the school curriculum will be taught from a global perspective.

"From the parents' perspective in business and industry, they see that it's becoming much more global, and they want their children prepared for a global economy," Kendra DeYoung, the school's program director, told The Press.

The program will operate out of an existing elementary school. The Michigan Department of Education has decided it can fund the education of residents who are temporarily living in other countries. The school is working to guarantee funding for 13 students who are currently living in Mexico and Africa, The Press reported.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Innocademy set to open in Zeeland," Aug. 9, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Several Metro Detroit districts add Mandarin to curriculum," July 31, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Saginaw County schools face competition from new charter," July 24, 2007

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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