Contents of this issue:
  • Study: One in 10 schools labeled "dropout factories"
  • Educators push to raise compulsory school attendance age
  • Education group awards legislators for school benefits reform
  • Two special education busing employees fired for negligence
  • Comment and win an iPod

FLINT, Mich. — A national study found that one out of 10 high schools across the nation fail to graduate at least 60 percent of the students who are assigned to the school as freshman. Seven schools in the Flint area fall into this category, but school officials are disputing the label, according to The Flint Journal.

The study was conducted by Johns Hopkins University for the Associated Press and used data from the U.S. Department of Education that tracked graduating classes from 2004 through 2006. Flint area schools included on the list are International Academy of Flint, Bendle High School, Bentley High School, Carman-Ainsworth High School, Flint Central Academy, Flint Northwestern Academy and Flint Northern Academy. State statistics report that only two of these schools, Flint Central and Flint Northern high schools, had a graduation rate lower than 60 percent, The Journal reported.

According to data from Michigan's Center for Educational Performance & Information, Bendle, Bentley and Carman-Ainsworth high schools and International Academy of Flint had graduation rates above 90 percent in 2004-2005. Traci Cormier, director of the International Academy, noted the disparity in figures is a result of students transferring out of the school because of its academic rigor, according to The Journal.

Michigan is planning to calculate its 2007 graduation rate using a formula specified under the No Child Left Behind Act, which reflects an attempt to standardize reporting across the nation, The Journal reported.

The Flint Journal, "Area high schools listed as 'dropout factories,'" Oct. 31, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Graduation Rates an Imperfect Measure of School Excellence," Jan. 7, 2002

LANSING, Mich. — Education leaders are pushing legislators to increase the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

A bill to mandate the change is being discussed in the Senate Education Committee. Currently, 20 states and Washington D.C., require students to attend school past the age of 16, and 12 require students to remain enrolled until they are 18, The Press reported.

"The bill is absolutely a concern to us but, like a great many things these days, it comes down to money," Darin Ackerman, Sen. Wayne Kuipers' chief of staff, told The Press. "You can't just raise the age and not provide the kinds of alternative programs these students will need."

The bill has won the support of some educators throughout the state, including Grand Rapids Superintendent Bernard Taylor and Justin King, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards.

"I don't see how they have time to work on laws like prohibiting people from jumping off piers and not touch this," King told The Press.

Wyoming Superintendent Jon Felske supports the legislation but says the issue is more complex than people think.

"On one hand, do you want to have in your classes a 16-year-old kid who doesn't want to be there and is a potential discipline problem and disruption to all the other students?" Felske told The Press. "On the other, do you want to have laws in this state that would leave people to believe that they don't need a high school diploma to be successful in life?"

The Grand Rapids Press, "Stay-in-school bill is held back," Nov. 4, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Should Michigan raise the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18? No, Michigan should figure out why students leave," May 24, 2007

Grand Rapids, Mich. — The Education Action Group has awarded two legislators for their work in trying to reduce health insurance costs for public school employees, according to the Grand Haven Tribune.

The group awarded State Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, and Rep. Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, with bronze eagle statues for their roles in the passage of legislation that will reduce costs for schools and increase competition for school employee health insurance, the Tribune reported.

According to, Senate Bill 418 will require third-party administrators such as the Michigan Education Special Services Association to disclose aggregate claims data so that school districts can use the information to seek competitive health insurance bids. MESSA is affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employee union and outsources insurance underwriting for school districts. SB 418 was signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Oct. 1, 2007.

Grand Haven Tribune, "Kuipers honored by school advocacy group," Nov. 1, 2007, "2007 Senate Bill 418"

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Selective Moral Outrage," Sept. 24, 2007

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. — Highland Park school officials reported a bus company fired a driver and aide after a special needs student was left on a bus all day, according to The Detroit News.

The boy was picked up in the morning and he fell asleep on the way to school. In the afternoon, the bus aide discovered the boy was not at school when it was time to be picked up, The News reported. School officials and the boy's family were told that he had been dropped off at the wrong elementary school. ABC Student Transportation, the company hired for special education busing, sent a notice to the district that the two employees had been fired and promised to take corrective action, according to Highland Park School Board member Robert Davis, The News reported.

"It is a very unfortunate situation," Davis told The News. "We hope this does not happen again and if so, we'll look for a new transportation company."

ABC declined to comment on the issue, according to The News.

The Detroit News, "Two fired after pupil is left on bus," Nov. 1, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Monitor. Monitor. Monitor.," in "A School Privatization Primer," June 26, 2007

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win one of three iPods.

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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