Detroit Charter Schools 47, Detroit Public Schools 0

A Stanford University study suggests attending Charter Schools in Detroit results in significantly better educational achievement than attending government schools. Stanford University study finds charter pupils gain an extra three months of learning

Detroit school children are learning at a rate of an extra three months in school a year when in charter public schools compared to similar counterparts in conventional Detroit Public Schools, according to the findings of a Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) study done by Stanford University on students in the Detroit area.

It isn’t perfect, of course,

“While on average the Detroit charter students have higher learning gains than their traditional school counterparts, when we look at the school results, only about half of the Detroit charter schools perform significantly better than their local alternative,” said Dev Davis, research manager for CREDO at Stanford University.

It isn’t certain what a comparison of the Bell curves for non-Charter vs Charter schools’ performance in Detroit would be from that statement, but here is a crude example which I think satisfies all the criteria Ms Davis specifies. Blue is the Detroit Public School System, green is the Detriot Charter schools.

Which curve would you prefer for your child?

Ms Davis seems to be soft pedaling the Charter story, at least for the Detroit study. I find it interesting that she does not mention a number important to this study; How many Charters are doing worse? CREDO generally does look at that:

A Credo study in 2009 of charter schools in 16 American states found almost half of the schools were no better than public schools; 17 per cent performed significantly better, while 37 per cent performed worse.

In fact, the CREDO report states that 47% of Charter schools in Detroit perform “better than their market,” and “Slightly more than half of Detroit charter schools were not significantly different from their market.” So none are performing worse than government schools.

That’s not the end of Charter advantages, though. I am fairly certain that no weight was given to the reduction in anti-capitalist, blame America first propaganda to which students are exposed. And, while I’ll agree that some Charters probably surpass even government schools in such polemics, at least the parents are choosing the slant they want. I would also contend that the improved educational outcomes are positively correlated with less time spent on social justice indoctrination and more on math and reading.

NO! 2 4

That title is intended to make it easy for you to remember to vote NO! on the two most dangerous proposals on the Michigan ballot. If you do nothing else, remember: NO! 2 4.

You will bring your own opinon about the present day contribution of public-sector unions to this post, and will probably leave with that unchanged. However, the world has changed and the response of the public sector union elite has been unconscionable. They have decided exploitation is fine, as long as it’s taxpayers being exploited. That’s Proposal 2; To enshrine collective bargaining rights in Michigan’s Constitution.

For better or worse it’s been decades since the UAW had to strike. The Pinkertons haven’t busted a strike, or a head, in nearly a century. Nine year olds haven’t been forced to work 7 day-a-week, 18 hour shifts in coal mines since before Dickens’ wrote about it. In any case, none of those memes apply to any government workers in this country today. And they never did.

Here’s a fact that does apply: It has been 70 years since Big Labor and Big Government denounced the idea of public sector union collective bargaining. Proposal 2 runs counter to the considered opinion of that champion of collective bargaining and creator of the New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt. On August 16, 1937 he wrote to Mr. Luther C. Steward, President, National Federation of Federal Employees, as follows:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Even the labor movement considered the idea of public employee collective bargaining an idiotic idea. George Meany, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O had this to say in 1955: “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.” He meant that collective bargaining with the government was like two wolves and a sheep debating on the dinner entrée. “Bargaining,” as it is commonly understood, involves two parties discussing their differences. It does not mean two parties deciding how a third party should be exploited.

Public sector union collective bargaining has brought us the highest cost for education in the world along with less than mediocre results. Despite the economic conditions in this country, and despite the fact that 40% of Chicago high school graduates are functionally illiterate, the teachers in Chicago just got a 17% increase in pay: As a result of a strike FDR would have considered illegal and immoral.

The consequences of collective bargaining with government are bankrupting Illinois and California due to skyrocketing pension and retiree health insurance costs.

Since 2002, for every $1-an-hour pay increase, public employees have gotten $1.17 in new benefits; private-sector workers, meanwhile, have received just 58 cents in added benefits.

We know the financial impact of Proposal 2 would be huge, but what about changes to existing law? As the MEA has noted, Proposal 2’s Amendment to Michigan’s Constitution could effectively repeal many laws, unexceptional in the private sector, regarding employment:

The new prohibited bargaining topics created by 2011 PA 103 and included in Section 15(3) of PERA would NO LONGER exist. This law currently prohibits bargaining over the decision or impact concerning the following subjects:
a. The placement of teachers;
b. Personnel decisions for teachers during a reduction in force, recall or hiring after a reduction in force, as set forth in MCL 380.1248;
c. Teacher evaluation systems, including the format, timing or number of classroom observations, as set forth in MCL 380.1249 and in the Teachers’ Tenure Act.
d. Teacher discipline policies, which may NOT include a standard different than the arbitrary and capricious standard; and
e. Performance-based compensation systems for teachers, as set forth in MCL 380.1250
f. Notification to parents and legal guardians that children are being taught by ineffective teachers, as required by MCL 380.1249a.

Wow. And that’s just the MEA’s early analysis.

There is, in fact, no way to be sure about all the laws which would be retroactively repealed. The audacity of this power grab by the public sector union elite is matched only by its venality.

Proposal 2 would have us place collective bargaining rights in the Michigan Constitution. This is a pre-emptive strike by public sector unions, notably the SEIU and MEA, to prevent right-to-work legislation ever being passed in Michigan.

If Michigan wants to emulate the financial basket cases in Sacramento and Springfield we should put this fiscal time bomb into our Constitution. If we want to roll the dice on what laws the MEA wants repealed we should vote for it. Me? I’d rather we didn’t make the whole state into Detroit. A vehement NO!! on Proposal 2.

With Proposal 4, we have yet another example of public sector union greed and corruption. Proposal 4 is an attempt to Constitutionalize Jennifer Granholm’s stealth gift of $30 million to the SEIU. The SEIU dearly wants to re-institute the dues Granholm helped it loot from private citizens who had no interest in SEIU “representation.”

The SEIU wants to perpetuate a fake union in order to skim dues from government payments to individuals who provide home care for their own relatives. To grab this money, SEIU is willing to reduce the funds available for care by extracting dues from self-employed citizens who don’t want to be SEIU members. “They didn’t build that,” so the SEIU must be paid. This is the best argument for a right to work law we’ll see any time soon.

While the MEA is circulating ideas that Proposal 2 would overturn prohibited bargaining topics created by PA 103, such as teacher discipline, Proposal 4 requires background checks on people providing care for their own relatives. Those checks will initially be vetted by SEIU appointees. This amendment is designed to accomplish two things: 1-Restraint of trade in order to 2- fill the coffers of a corrupt and venal union. NO!! on Proposal 4.

The education monopoly

Ken Shelton, Middle Schools Computer teacher: “…the ultimate goal is to educate the children…”

In contrast to Mr. Shelton, the goal of a teachers union is to perpetuate the teachers union and the political objectives of its leaders, and the goal of the typical school board is to be re-elected. That is, the major players are players of politics. They do not care about winning a game called education. The worst part of this is that these education-indifferent interests are allies in lobbying. The general government is the entity they strive to “educate.” This system does not prioritize children’s education as even secondary.

The vast majority of those who do consider children to be the point of the whole exercise are neither union activists nor school board members. They are teachers. Not all teachers admire education over self-interested politics, but all the ones who should be paid to teach do.

The unions have devolved into a means of protecting bad teachers and paying them the same salary as great teachers. This is an example of a union secondary objective.

Good teachers are not paid enough. Great teachers are woefully underpaid. They teach anyway, even now. How many more good and great teachers might there be if we were able to value teaching skill, passion for educating children and results? I think at least enough to replace the bad teachers at no net present cost. And it would be far cheaper in the longer term.

Average teachers are probably overpaid, and bad teachers should be served with restraining orders keeping them 1,000 feet from students and any educational dollars.

Does our system allow that to be recognized? No. Here are some teachers speaking about why that is.

MEA Culpa

I reproduce an e-newsletter* from Jack Hoogendyk regarding Governor Granholm’s proposal to spend $300 million on high school reform.

Dear Duane,

In her state of the state address a couple of weeks ago, the governor introduced a new idea to improve high school graduation rates and encourage more students to attend college. There was a note familiarity to the idea…

The Proposal: Specialized High Schools

As described by Peter Luke in his column of February 4th, “A new $300 million state fund would over the next three years provide planning grants and startup cash to districts that agree to dramatically change the way high school students are educated. The proposal would replace large high schools that don’t work well with smaller schools of 400 pupils or fewer. The principal and a teaching staff of his or her selection would have broad freedom to personalize learning environments for students.

The financial incentive for districts to participate is clear. Every student who drops out of school represents a loss of nearly $7,500 in annual state aid.”

Why Does This Idea Sound Familiar?

Five years ago, retired businessman Robert Thompson offered $200 million of his own money to build 15 specialized high schools in Detroit. You could accurately describe it as startup cash in a district that dramatically needed to change the way high school students are educated. His offer would have replaced large high schools that didn’t work well with smaller schools. The principal and a teaching staff of his or her selection would certainly have been given broad freedom to personalize learning environments for students.

If it was such a good idea five years ago, why didn’t it happen? Follow the money.

As described in a National Review article on July 28, 2004, “Granholm may have committed her most ignoble act in late 2003: the craven rejection of $200 million proffered by Michigan businessman Robert Thompson to build charter schools for Detroit’s inner-city poor. Her cave-in to Michigan’s powerful teacher-union lobby was a slap in the face of Democrats’ claimed constituency, the thousands of urban black families on waiting lists to send their kids to charters.”

The Thompson offer of five years ago and the governor’s idea of two weeks ago are similar; they both look for ways to improve graduation rates in failing districts. They key difference is that Mr. Thompson’s proposal uses private dollars and works outside of the MEA and union scale employment; the governor’s proposal is a government solution that will cost much more to implement.

A private investment of $200 million would have provided hundreds of new jobs in an ailing economy. Under the governor’s proposal, new schools will be constructed under the prevailing wage which means inflated labor costs with the bill going to the taxpayers rather than a private business owner.

While I certainly am open to any ideas the governor has to improve the abysmal graduation rates of inner city school districts, I find it unfortunate that the governor and the city of Detroit were unwilling to accept a $200 million gift and the Legislature was unwilling to lift the cap on charter schools to give students in Detroit better opportunities for success.

This newsletter is written by Jack Hoogendyk, who is solely responsible for its content. The opinions expressed here are those of the author alone.

I, for one, share Hoogendyk’s opinion.

The net difference between private and state funding for this idea is half a billion dollars on its face. It is actually quite a bit more, because the economic impact must include the loss to consumers and investors of $300 million in loot that could have otherwise been deployed, the inefficiency of processing that money through the government bureaucrats, the closed-shop prevailing wage requirement for State funded construction and the lowered productivity the MEA’s tentacles will wring out. Not to mention the increased risk of failure of the entire concept due to increased government regulation.

It is quintessentially Democrat to decide that an idea that would have been privately funded will work better if it is funded by the State. Better yet if it involves an entrenched labor union. The total costs noted above, which I guess to be a billion dollars, can be laid directly at the feet of the MEA. This is what it costs to buy their support. You’re paying for it. You didn’t have to. The project would now be in its fifth year, instead of not even begun. On Robert Thompson’s dime.

The UAW, though it has been running General Motors since about 1960, has finally had to come to terms with the fact that the market won’t support the wages and benefits to which it had become accustomed. The MEA does not care about a market, and this arguably damages teachers, students and Michigan’s future. Thompson’s proposal was rejected because it was likely to make this starkly obvious.

On a related note, Hoogendyk makes note of a bill reported out of the Michigan House Education committee last week to raise the compulsory education age to 18.

The governor says this will lead to higher graduation rates. There is no data to support that assumption. What it will do is inflate the school population by 25-30,000 “students” who have no interest in being in school, and probably shouldn’t be there. This will increase the expenditures to the school aid fund by over $200 million, putting pressure on a fund that is already short of cash.

Ask yourself, who does this benefit most?

*If you would like to receive the free weekly newsletter via e-mail, just drop a note to

Faux Pod

The Lansing State Journal reports that Michigan Democrat House Leader Andy Dillon wants the “iPod for every school-child” initiative to wait until the budget is settled. See TOC’s Circumspice for more on this and other aspects of Michigan’s economy.

Let us state it simply: Dillon wants to discuss adding $38 million in spending ONLY AFTER the billion dollar budget deficit is solved. Then it would only be a piddling $38 million dollar deficit? Clearly, he can’t remember how Michigan got into a budget crisis in the first place.

Published April 13, 2007
[ From Lansing State Journal ]
Dems back off iPod for every student plan
House leader says initiative will wait until budget settled

Tim Martin
Associated Press

House Democrats tried to derail a distracting controversy Thursday, saying a statement made last week about providing iPods for Michigan students had been misconstrued and was diverting focus from the state’s budget crisis.

Democrats, at least for now, say they aren’t considering providing an iPod or MP3 player for Michigan students. House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford, said in a statement this week the initiative can’t be pursued until the state has settled its budget problems.

Democrats also said Dillon and the two other Democratic state lawmakers who earlier this year visited Apple Inc., the iPod’s maker, now will pay for the trips themselves.

The iPod idea first surfaced last week during a budget-related press conference held by House Democrats. Rep. Matt Gillard, D-Alpena and chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing K-12 school budgets, discussed a $38 million “21st Century Learning Environments” plan.

He also pulled out an iPod and said “we want this in the hands of every student in the state of Michigan.”

Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, denied Thursday that there was ever a plan to provide iPods for Michigan students.

Melton also said Democrats, including Dillon, were disappointed the iPod issue came to dominate media coverage.

Dillon was not at Thursday’s news conference.

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis said in a statement that Thursday’s comments by Melton “failed to put to rest the most serious concerns Michigan citizens have about this proposal.”

Apple at least partly paid for Dillon, Melton and Gillard to visit its California headquarters earlier this year.

On Thursday, Melton said the lawmakers will pay the price of that trip – $1,702 each – out of their own pockets.

Emphasis mine. To recapitulate: One guy pulls an iPod out of his pocket to illustrate “the plan.” He’s the chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing K-12 budgets. Another guy denies there was ever any plan for government funded iPods. The Speaker is nowhere to be found at the spin conference, but he later says we need to get the budget settled before we discuss adding $38 million to it for the iPod program. A bunch of these guys tell us the iPod idea is diverting focus from the budget problem. Apple paid at least part of the cost for several of these guys to visit Apple HQ earlier this year. These guys are all Democrats.

Which Democrat can you believe? Maybe it’s the leadership of the MEA. A political party could not be so tone deaf as to mention such a stupid expenditure unless it were viewing the world through the eyes of the major lobby to which it is beholden.

I own a small amount of AAPL stock, and I could benefit, albeit with a clear conscience, maybe as much as the Democrats who visited Cupertino were Michigan to buy $38 million worth of iPods. However, I am also a taxpayer and a Libertarian. As such, I agree with the rhetorical question asked by the Detroit News: An iPod for every kid? Are they !#$!ing idiots? You’ll find a link to that here.

Right Michigan has two additional insights on this story. One is funny, the other shows that the Dems know how badly they screwed up, and how much they want to distance themselves from what they said. Nonetheless, they keep talking. What is needed is an MEA spokesperson to explain why Ipods are necessary to public education in Michigan. Don’t hold your breath, now they can ask for $19 million for pension funding and it’ll look like a bargain.