Land O Links

land-o-FINAL*Does the state of Michigan own too much land? Bridge posed a variant of that question last summer in its award-winning package “Land Wars.”

Brad Garmon of the Michigan Environmental Council provides his answer: Nope.

*Look out, more people are discovering the charms of visiting Michigan: “Visitation to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore grew nearly 14 percent to a record 1.5 million. And traffic to The Henry Ford campus in Dearborn was up about 25 percent to more than 1.9 million, thanks in large part to the Titanic exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum.”

*Florida teachers are suing over a new state system to evaluate their work, saying it’s unfair “… because it partly rates their job performance on test scores of students they don’t know and subjects they don’t teach.”

Why in the heck would Florida want to do that, you ask?

“When rolling out new teacher evaluation systems, school districts have faced a predicament: How do you judge teachers who educate students in grades that are not tested or in subjects the tests don’t cover? How do you use math and reading scores to evaluate an art teacher?

“Officials in Florida, Tennessee and the District decided to evaluate those teachers by using test scores of other teachers’ students.”

*Florida lawmakers also decided to create two tiers of high school diplomas: " ... one for college-bound students seeking an academic challenge, and one for students headed into the work force."

Why?

"School superintendents across the state support the move, in part because the current class of high school freshmen are facing challenging new graduation requirements. Some districts have expressed concerns that tougher standards will prevent thousands of students from earning a diploma."

A similar debate over the stringency of high school standards is under way in Michigan, as Bridge reported in detail last week.

*The state of California, long beset with its own fiscal crises, used furloughs for state employees to save precious tax dollars. That policy had, in hindsight, a rather obvious side effect:

“The state will owe $1 billion extra to many workers when they retire or quit, for vacation time that went unused while they were being forced to take unpaid days off. The furloughs were intended to save $5 billion from February 2009 to July 2013, effectively cutting workers' pay 5% to 14%. The $1 billion for unused vacation -- some in excess of state accrual limits -- will eat into those savings, according to a report by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.”

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