Contents of this issue:
  • Charter school enrollment breaks 100,000
  • Warren schools use radio ads to attract students
  • Brighton teachers' union discusses illegal strike
  • Public school enrollment drops 25,000; state could save $75M
  • DPS put on notice for failing to meet NCLB requirements
  • Comment and win an iPod

Michigan Education Digest will not be distributed Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2007, or Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008.

The first issue of 2008 will be released Jan. 8.

LANSING, Mich. — Enrollment in Michigan's charter public schools has topped 100,000 for the first time since the charter school law was passed 13 years ago, according to The Detroit News.

Official numbers from the state Department of Education have not been released, but a survey of the state's 230 charter public schools by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies found an enrollment increase from 99,124 in 2006-2007 to 100,146 this year. The report also states that more than 10,000 students are on waiting lists for charter public schools throughout the state.

Enrollment at 79 charter public schools in the Detroit area increased by 2,122, causing some to argue that these public schools draw funding away from conventional schools, The News reported.

"Charters are OK if they're fulfilling their mission to educate children, but too many of these schools continue to draw funds away from neighborhood schools without meeting the same standards or having the same successes," Michigan Education Association Director of Communications Doug Pratt told The News. Charter public school supporters note the schools' ability to do more with less. The MAPSA survey said that charter public schools average $2,289 less per pupil in state aid than the districts in which they are located and $923 less than the statewide per-pupil allowance, according to The News.

"Not all children are the same, and parents like that each of these schools has an individual approach, whether it be performing arts, or a particular method of learning," Daniel Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, told The News.

The Detroit News, "Charter enrollment up," Dec. 12, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Charter Schools: 13 years and Still Growing," May 3, 2005

WARREN, Mich. — The Warren Consolidated School District is purchasing radio ads to advertise its schools of choice registration window in hopes of attracting more students next semester, according to The Detroit News.

Last year, 236 students left the district, taking with them about $2.25 million in state aid. Because part of the blended student enrollment number used for funding comes from a count day in February, a campaign to attract students is helpful, The News reported.

"The program was set up to help families where if you have a student in a failing school, you should be able to get them out," Wyman Lare, the district's director of pupil/personnel services, told The News. "But in reality, it has created this competition. We have school districts to the south, east and north of us — all of which would be happy to take students away from us."

Other districts, however, have embraced the competition of the schools of choice program.

"In my professional opinion, it's a situation that has forced us to act more business-like," Warren Woods Superintendent Robert Livernois told The News.

The Detroit News, "Fight for students reaches airwaves," Dec. 12, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Foundation Allowance: General Education," May 31, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Conclusion: Competition Is Improving Public Schools for Michigan Children," in "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000

BRIGHTON, Mich. — The Brighton teachers' union may plan an illegal strike after going three months without a contract, according to The Detroit News.

The union has filed an application with the Michigan Education Association for permission to strike, despite the fact it is illegal under Michigan law for teachers to strike, The News reported. The MEA has a $10 million fund to cover legal costs associated with illegal strikes, according to The News.

"We'll use it as a last resort if we really can't get a decent or fair contract any other way," Barry Goode, president of the teachers' union, told The News.

School board Vice President Bill Anderson told The News that striking teachers could lose their jobs.

Brighton Area Schools has been on the MEA's high priority list since October. The 400 teachers have been working under a contract that expired Sept. 1, while the district's service employees' contract expired in June 2006. Teachers recently held a sit-down during contract negotiations. There have also been a sick-out and week-long teacher demonstrations. Anderson said he thinks the issue will be resolved before more extreme measures are taken.

"I think that's within reach," Anderson told The News. "I think that we're closer to settling a contract than we are closer to seeing them strike."

The Detroit News, "Brighton teachers prep to strike over lack of contract," Dec. 13, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teacher's Strikes, Court Orders and Michigan Law," Sept. 11, 2006

LANSING, Mich. — A drop in public school enrollment of about 25,000 students will save the state budget $75 million, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The state has seen enrollment drops for five consecutive years, with total conventional and charter public school enrollment at its lowest since 1994-1995. This is also the longest sustained student loss since public school enrollment fell more than 350,000 students from 1977 through 1986. Experts cite the suffering economy and a decrease in birthrates as reasons for such a drop. According to Kenneth Darga, state demographer, there will be 17 percent fewer students entering kindergarten in 2011 than in 1990, the Free Press reported.

Some parents have decided to take their children from public schools and enroll them in independent ones. Ann Hill, of Grand Blanc, moved her 6-year-old daughter to a Catholic school for first grade because she was concerned about decreased funding for public schools and increasing class sizes.

"We're Catholic, and there are things that the Catholic schools can offer that we appreciated," Hill told the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "State loses 25,000 public school kids," Dec. 14, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Pupil Counts," in "A Michigan School Finance Primer," May 30, 2007

DETROIT — The Detroit Public Schools has failed to meet the requirements of federal law because it did not give students in high-poverty and underperforming schools the option to transfer to another school or receive free tutoring services, according to The Detroit News.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, schools with a large number of students in high-poverty living conditions that also fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years are required to allow students to transfer to another school and pay for transportation. If schools still fail to improve, they are required to offer free tutoring to low-income students, The News reported.

Some of the specific issues of non-compliance for the 2006-2007 school year include: not giving adequate time for students to transfer or receive tutoring, not giving enough registration time to ensure that all interested parents could take advantage of transferring or tutoring and the biased promotion of certain tutoring service providers, according to The News.

The specifics of non-compliance for the 2007-2008 school year include: failing to send out notifications to parents identifying the schools' AYP status, notifications about the right to transfer were sent later than the first day of school and parents did not receive the minimum of 30 days to enroll their children in tutoring, The News reported.

Sharon Kelso, a Detroit resident with a granddaughter enrolled in DPS, told The News that she received a packet of information from the district about the right to transfer to another school on Nov. 29, and said the deadline for taking advantage of the option was Dec. 1, according to The News.

If the district fails to take corrective action, it may face financial penalties from the state, The News reported.

The Detroit News, "State puts Detroit schools on notice," Dec. 14, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "NCLB Falls Short of Helping Parents," Aug. 24, 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

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to