Friday, February 2, 2007


vlogg on blogg at[ to be posted]
Status report on global warming. Its continuing.
And its too late ........................
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Global warming man-made, will continue
By SETH BORENSTEIN Associated Press Writer

PARIS (AP) -- International scientists and officials hailed a report Friday saying that global warming is "very likely" caused by man, and that hotter temperatures and rises in sea level "would continue for centuries" no matter how much humans control their pollution.

The head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, called it a "very impressive document that goes several steps beyond previous research."

A top U.S. government scientist, Susan Solomon, said "there can be no question that the increase in greenhouse gases are dominated by human activities."

The 21-page summary of the panel's findings released Friday represents the most authoritative science on global warming. The panel comprises hundreds of scientists and representatives of 113 governments.

The scientists said the changes are "very likely" caused by human activity, a phrase that translates to a more than 90 percent certainty that global warming is caused by man's burning of fossil fuels. That was the strongest conclusion to date, making it nearly impossible to say natural forces are to blame.

The report said no matter how much civilization slows or reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and sea level rise will continue on for centuries.

"This is just not something you can stop. We're just going to have to live with it," co-author Kevin Trenberth, director of climate analysis for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., told The Associated Press in an interview. "We're creating a different planet. If you were to come up back in 100 years time, we'll have a different climate."

Sharon Hays, associate director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, welcomed the strong language of the report.

"It's a significant report. It will be valuable to policy makers," she told The Associated Press in an interview in Paris.

Hays stopped short of saying whether or how the report could bring about change in President Bush's policy about greenhouse gas emissions.

The panel predicted temperature rises of 2-11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. That was a wider range than in the 2001 report.

However, the panel also said its best estimate was for temperature rises of 3.2-7.1 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2001, all the panel gave was a range of 2.5-10.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

On sea levels, the report projects rises of 7-23 inches by the end of the century. An additional 3.9-7.8 inches are possible if recent, surprising melting of polar ice sheets continues.

Trenberth said scientists do worry that world leaders will take the message in the wrong way and throw up their hands. Instead, the scientists urged leaders to reduce emissions and also adapt to a warmer world with wilder weather.

"The point here is to highlight what will happen if we don't do something and what will happen if we do something," co-author Jonathan Overpeck at the University of Arizona said. "I can tell if you will decide not to do something the impacts will be much larger than if we do something."

The panel, created by the United Nations in 1988, releases its assessments every five or six years - although scientists have been observing aspects of climate change since as far back as the 1960s. The reports are released in phases - this is the first of four this year.

The next report is due in April and will discuss the effects of global warming. But that issue was touched upon in the current document.
On the Net:



Politics is a contact sport.

In the interview, Biden described Obama as "the first mainstream African American [presidential candidate] who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Obama later issued a statement that absolved Biden only in part. "I didn't take Senator Biden's comments personally," he said, "but obviously they were historically inaccurate. African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate."
Washington Post Staff WriterFriday, February 2, 2007; Page D01

The Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in nearly a decade, but added small-business tax breaks that are unacceptable to House leaders, preventing Democrats from claiming a quick victory on one of their top legislative priorities.

The Senate voted 94 to 3 in favor of the measure, which would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 over two years.


Florida Shifting to Voting System With Paper Trail By ABBY GOODNOUGH and CHRISTOPHER DREW Voting experts said Florida's move could be the death knell for the paperless electronic touch-screen machines.
"There's something wrong with me. There's something wrong with my brain. And I know when it started." - TED JOHNSON, a former linebacker for the New England Patriots, on the concussions he suffered in August 2002.

Flint Journal
Film Festival

From conscientious objectors in Israel to the challenging of corporate power and the ethics of forced marriage, the winter Global Issues Film Festival brings the human condition to film Wednesday through Saturday at Kettering University.

The winter half of the 2006-07 festival features five films, sponsored by the GM Sullivan Fellowship Program, the Greater Flint Arts Council, the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, Mott Community College and Kettering University's Department of Liberal Studies.

All films are free and open to the public in the McKinnon Theater in the Kettering Academic Building.

"Raised to Be Heroes" (6 p.m. Wednesday, 54 minutes. Directed by Jack Silberman and Tracey Friesen, this film introduces the latest generation of Israeli soldiers to selectively object to military operations undertaken by their country.

"McLibel: Two People Who Wouldn't Say Sorry" (6 p.m. Thursday, 85 minutes). Directed by Franny Armstrong. In the longest trial in English legal history, the "McLibel Two" (Helen Steel and postman Dave Morris) represented themselves against McDonald's powerful legal team in a freedom-of-speech case.

"Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan" (7 p.m. Friday, 51 minutes). Directed by Petr Lom, this is the first film to document the custom of bride kidnapping, an ancient marriage tradition in
Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic in Central Asia. When a Kyrgyz man decides to marry, he often abducts the woman he has chosen, and the film documents in harrowing detail four such abductions.

"Shadow Company" (1 p.m. Saturday, 86 minutes). Directed by Nick Bicanic and Jason Bourque.

The distinction between soldier and mercenary has blurred as the recent use of private military companies (PMCs) in Iraq has been more extensive than at any time in modern history. The film explores the moral and ethical issues of the trend.

"Can't Do It In Europe" (3:30 p.m. Saturday, 46 minutes). Directed by Charlotta Copcutt, Anna Weitz and Anna Klara Ahren. Looking for a truly unusual tourist spot? How about the silver mines of Potosi in Bolivia, where you can don helmets, gloves and overalls and descend into the dark, hot, polluted mines to watch real Bolivian miners at work? This new phenomenon is called "reality tourism," whereby bored American or European travelers seek out real-life experiences as exciting tourist "adventures."

For more information about the festival, call (810) 762-9865 or visit or

Talking Back to Talk Back

TRIM THE FAT: The economy and the quality of life in this state are collapsing, and Rep. Gonzales pursues "feel good" legislation on trans fat. Perhaps he should put his personal agenda, however, noble in better times, on hold. The state has more important issues to deal with right now.
- Swartz Creek -[ See ya at McDonalds-trb]

BE SINCERE: First, Swartz Creek wanted voters to approve $68-million for a new school, which was turned down. Most voters claimed it was too much. Now they're trying to get us to approve $88 million. Is spending millions of dollars on a school the answer? How about focusing more on the students? The district officials need to prove to us they are sincere and our money won't be spent frivolously.

- Swartz Creek -[Move to Flint Please.-trb]

HUMANE TREATMENT? I called Animal Control recently to report my neighbors lack of food and water for their dog. I called back two days later when there was still no food or water. I was told that frozen water in the dog bowl is acceptable because the dogs can eat snow instead.
- Grand Blanc -[Do you know whee your kids are?-trb]

ABUSE OF POWER: It's against the law for a parent to abuse a child, but when you go to Flint schools, it's OK for security in the high schools to abuse a child.
- Flint -[Put up or shut up-call protective services and give more detail-trb]

GREAT ONCE AGAIN: If our mayor and City Council did as much for Flint as they do bickering, what a great city we could be once again.
- Flint -[I agree, what do you suggest?-trb]

SNOW JOB: As a tax payer in the Swartz Creek School District, I have often wondered why in past years the Swartz Creek schools truck with the plow has been seen on several occasions, plowing snow out of certain residential driveways.
- Clayton Township -[They did not tell you about the secret society? or mabey it was the elderly?-trb]

HELP US OUT: Where is the police department in the city of Swartz Creek? Building identification, directional signage and adequate lighting at key intersections is needed in the area.
- Genesee County -[ I suggest NU-Vision-trb]

ENOUGH ALREADY: Are we going to spend the next four years listening to the Republicans crying about what Granholm is doing or isn't doing to please them? It's getting tiresome.
- Fenton -[Some people just cannot accept defeat?-trb]


Detroit News

School Funding
K-12 Funding
Charter school A public school, sometimes with a particular educational approach, that is exempt from certain state regulations; also known as a public school academy.
Foundation allowance A per pupil amount of state funding that pays for school operations.
Intermediate school district (ISD) An education service agency that provides support to school districts within a geographic area (frequently approximates the county).
Mill A monetary unit equal to 1/1000 of a dollar. Millage is the tax rate on property—the number of mills assessed against the property's taxable value.
Public school academy A charter school.
School Aid Fund A fund into which certain state revenues are deposited and from which funds may be spent only on K–12 education.
Taxable value The amount of property value upon which property taxes are levied

[APRIL 1, 2002] After 25 years of futility and 12 ballot proposals, in 1994 Michigan voters approved Proposal A, which revamped the way the state funds K–12 education. Voters reduced the state's relatively high property taxes, which had been about 35 percent above the national average before the reforms and now are about the same as the national average. Proposal A not only gave property tax relief but reduced funding disparities among school districts—spending had ranged from $3,400 to $10,300 per pupil.
Local property taxes for schools were largely replaced with new state education taxes. The reforms
increased the state's 4 percent sales tax to 6 percent and earmarked the increase for the School Aid Fund;
created several new revenue sources for schools, including a 6-mill state education property tax and a 75-cent per pack cigarette tax;
limited annual property tax increases on each parcel of property to the lower of (1) the inflation rate or (2) 5 percent;
stipulated that school districts on the low end of the funding spectrum would receive bigger annual funding increases than would the "richer" schools; and
eliminated a number of categorical (special) grants and rolled the funds into the foundation allowance.
Funding Distribution
To reduce funding disparities among school districts, a "foundation allowance"—a per pupil amount of operating funding—was established for each district in the state. This allowance was influenced by the amount of funding a district had received before Proposal A was passed, meaning that districts that had higher property values before Proposal A were assigned a higher foundation allowance. (In the first year of Proposal A, foundation allowances for K–12 districts ranged from $4,200 to $10,294.) A "minimum" foundation allowance—the least amount a district would receive—was established at $4,200 in FY 1994–95 and has increased each year to the current level of $6,500.
A basic foundation allowance (the "basic")—a target amount to which lower-funded districts one day would be raised—also was established. In FY 1994–95, the first full fiscal year of the new school finance system, the basic was $5,000 per pupil. Districts with a foundation allowance below the basic received an increase in their per pupil funding of up to twice the dollar amount of the increase in the basic. For example, if the basic increased from $5,000 to $5,153, as it did from the first to second year of the reforms, all districts with a minimum foundation allowance of $4,200 in FY 1994–95 received a per pupil increase of twice this $153 rise, or $306. However, every district that was above the basic received only $153 per pupil—the amount of increase in the basic.

Emerging Issues
The 2003–04 legislative session will see Proposal A's 10-year anniversary. This occasion, along with budget cuts caused by the current recession, no doubt will bring the "new" system's strengths and weaknesses under scrutiny, and the following issues are likely to be part of the debate.
Reducing the Funding Gap
As stated above, Proposal A has achieved the goal of bringing all districts up to the basic foundation allowance. The exhibit
shows that the minimum foundation allowance has increased nearly 55 percent from the first year of Proposal A, more than twice the 20 percent increase of the maximum foundation allowance. The per pupil funding gap between the highest- and lowest-funded district has narrowed from $6,900 to $5,255. While it is good news that all districts have reached the basic foundation allowance, it also means that all districts now will receive the same dollar increase each year, and the gap will not be further narrowed without additional legislation.
Infrastructure and Capital Improvements
Proposal A was targeted toward school operating funds, which are used to pay for wages and salaries, textbooks, and other day-to-day operational expenses. It was not intended to address capital needs such as building, expanding, or improving school buildings; these still are funded primarily from voter-approved debt millage. However, the aging of the state's stock of school buildings and the necessity to equip buildings for computer technology are escalating the need for capital improvements, for which money must be raised locally. The value of the property in the district affects the amount of money per mill that a district can raise for capital expenses—for example, in Northport one mill raises about $816 per pupil, but in Highland Park it raises only about $32 per pupil.
Declining Enrollment
Proposal A tied a district's funding much more to enrollment than was the case under the old system, so for every pupil a district gains or loses, it now also gains or loses money. In FY 2001–02, more than 300 of the 554 local districts lost pupils and therefore funding. Although total school enrollment is increasing statewide, much of the growth is found in the state's 190 charter schools rather than in traditional school districts. In future years, total school enrollment is expected to decline statewide, meaning that even more districts, as well as charter schools, will see fewer pupils enter their doors.
Local Revenue-Raising Ability
As part of the effort to provide tax relief and reduce funding disparities, Proposal A severely limits a district's ability to levy additional mills in order to increase operating funds. Under the old system, districts were relatively free to ask voters to approve new millage for operations. Since Proposal A, however, districts may ask at any given time for only up to three "enhancement" mills for operation. In 1997 additional restrictions were imposed, and districts now must request enhancement mills on an intermediate school district (ISD)–wide basis. In other words, they must ask all voters in the ISD in which they are located to approve the additional mill(s) and, if approved, share the resulting revenue on an equal, per pupil basis with all districts in that ISD. Since 1997 only one such millage request has been approved, and it is unlikely that many others will follow.
School Revenue Growth and Stability
When Proposal A passed, there were questions about whether, over time—in a good and bad economy—the new system would provide sufficient revenue to support schools. It appears that during a good economy, school revenue has been sufficient and has exceeded the inflation rate. From FY 1994–95 to FY 2001–02, a period during which the national and state economies were expanding, the foundation allowance grew from $5,000 to $6,500, an average annual increase of 3.8 percent, which exceeds the 2.7 percent Michigan inflation rate. At this writing, the School Aid Fund is larger than the entire state General Fund, the fund that pays for the operation of nearly all of the rest of state government.
In March 2001 the National Bureau of Economic Research declared that a recession was underway in the United States for the first time in ten years. The resulting decline in state revenue for schools forced lawmakers to reduce the FY 2001–02 budget from its enacted level, marking the first school budget cut since the Proposal A reforms came into being. It is too soon to determine whether in a recession schools will suffer more under Proposal A than they would have under the old system, but early evidence suggests that this may be the case, and this question deserves analysis when sufficient data become available.
Reducing the Funding Gap
As stated above, legislation is required to further close the school funding gap. Indeed, in FY 2001–02, a one-time "equity payment" was allocated to reduce the gap between the minimum and maximum foundation allowances from $1,500 to $1,300. This payment gave up to $200 per pupil to districts having a foundation allowance below $6,300, effectively raising the foundation allowance to $6,500. The cost to the state was $129 million. While many people support the concept of greater equity among school districts, the price tag of such an effort is an obstacle. The recent economic downturn makes it unlikely that the state will be able to afford another equity-enhancing program in the near future.
Infrastructure and Capital Improvements
Not since the 1970s, when the state provided funds for "millage equalization," has Michigan provided direct state assistance for infrastructure. Many school representatives and others are pressing for state help with infrastructure needs, but such assistance could cost billions if fully funded. Proponents argue that a state role is necessary because of the vast inequities in local districts' ability to raise such money. They also argue that Proposal A makes it harder for districts to get a debt millage passed, since there is a misperception among many that the reform meant there would be no more millage elections. Opponents counter that the current School Aid Fund was created to pay only for school operations and it is up to the locals to get their debt millages approved by voters and provide their own bricks and mortar. Others may not oppose state assistance on principle but argue that the state simply does not have sufficient funding to provide such support or has higher funding priorities.
Declining Enrollment
Supporters of financial help for districts with declining enrollment argue that such a decline can be caused by demographic or economic factors beyond a district's control. They point out that shrinking enrollment could one day affect almost all districts, as the total Michigan school-aged population is expected to decline 1.9 percent from FY 2001–02 to FY 2005–06. Opponents argue that many districts lose pupils to charter schools or other districts, and the state should not reward a district with extra funding when it simply could not compete with other schools. Others say that schools should adapt by cutting spending when enrollment declines.
Local Revenue-Raising Ability
Support seems to be growing to allow local districts to levy additional local operating millage. In 2001–02, legislation was introduced (House Bill 4917), for the first time since Proposal A passed, to permit districts to go to voters for additional operating millage. Supporters say that if voters are willing to pay more to support their local schools, they should be allowed to so. They also point to the fact that many of the higher-funded districts have received less-than-inflationary increases in their per pupil funding since Proposal A went into effect, and they argue that a millage would help them to keep up with rising costs. Opponents say that allowing additional local mills would erode the property tax relief granted under Proposal A; they also could argue that new operating mills in some districts would once again allow the funding gap between rich and poor districts to widen. As the state constitution requires that the enabling legislation for any type of new school millage must be passed by a three-fourths affirmative vote by both legislature chambers, enacting an operating-millage bill would be difficult.
See also K–12 Quality and Testing; K–12 Schooling Alternatives; Special Education.
Michigan Association of School Administrators1001 Centennial Way, Suite 300Lansing, MI 48917(517) 327-5910(517) 327-0771
Michigan Association of School Boards1001 Centennial Way, Suite 400Lansing, MI 48917(517) 327-5900(517) 327-0775
Michigan Department of EducationHannah Building608 West Allegan StreetP.O. Box 30008Lansing, MI 48909(517) 373-3324(517) 373-4022
Michigan Department of Management and BudgetP.O. Box 30026Lansing, MI 48909(517) 373-1004(517) 373-7268
Michigan Education Association1216 Kendale BoulevardEast Lansing, MI 48826(800) 292-1934(517) 337-5598
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