THE WISH N
17 TEVET 5754/DECEMBER 31, 1993
New School Reform Package
Will Affect Oakland County
LESLEY PEARL STAFF WRITER
eventy-five years ago
this week Jacob
Isaacson died and was
buried in Detroit.
Today his grave is
unmarked and no
family comes to visit.
Yet Jacob Isaacson is anything
but anonymous to the residents
of an Arizona city.
He came to New York with his
parents, then se led in the
rough-and-tumb e world of the
West. He was, his father said,
"fearless." He would have to be.
In his life, Jacob Isaacson would
not only found a town in an area
where a man was likely to wake
up face-to-face with an Apache,
he would endure heartbreak from
the woman he loved and spend
much of his life in and out of
Story on Page 38
harter schools, schools
"This is much less scary than we en-
of choice and vouchers visioned," Ms. Strauss said. "Schools of
were the talk among the choice didn't pass. However, we need
Jewish community since to continue to watch that religious in-
Gov. John Engler vowed stitutions don't try to obtain a charter
sweeping reforms in under a different name."
Larry Imerman, president of the lo-
cal chapter of the American Jewish
Meeting a self-im- Committee and ad hoc member of the
posed Dec. 31 deadline, school reform task force including the
Gov. Engler and the Anti-Defamation League and the
Michigan Legislature Jewish Community Council, said he is
are congratulating themselves on their reasonably pleased with the plan but
efforts. Their plan includes charter will continue to monitor government
schools — public institutions run by pri- involvement in education.
vate groups that serve as an alternative
"The task force is not pleased about
to traditional schools — but cross-district the inclusion of charter schools.
choices and vouchers were dropped.
However, we are satisfied that church-
State Board of Education member state considerations were made part of
Kathleen Strauss said the plan is more the legislation," Mr. Imerman said.
promising than she expected, but is sure "That was our biggest concern. That,
its final form will show modifications.
and that we do not bleed funds from
"Equity was never created over the the public schools."
years. Lansing tinkered away with the
Other aspects of the school reform
existing plan for years and they'll tinker package, including funding questions
with this one, too. Nothing is forever in which will go before voters, have left
the Legislature," Ms. Strauss said.
a lot of unanswered questions.
She believes charter schools are less
Birmingham School Board member
of a threat than once imagined. The Judith Adler said of the hoopla, "It's all
guidelines limit who can open an educa- very sketchy still how the individual
tional institution and appear to provide districts will be affected."
for the continued separation of church
A March 15 ballot proposal asking
voters to decide how they will pay for
Legal Aliens At Risk
the some $6 billion lost to schools
through the elimination of property-tax
funding has been nailed down.
Voters can opt for a higher sales tax
of 6 percent. An income tax increase
SCHOOL page 8
KIMBERLY LIPTON STAFF WRITER
ocal and national reset-
tlement officials said this
week they are cautious
but not overly concerned
about the impact of wel-
fare reform on refugees
from the former Soviet
Sources from the Clinton adminis-
tration said earlier this month that a
welfare task force had discussed cut-
ting benefits to legal aliens in the
United States to pay for welfare re-
Details of -task force recommenda-
tions are sketchy, and White House do-
mestic policy advisers have said further
talk about welfare benefits for non-cit-
izens is premature.
"The impact should be minimal,"
said Sandra Hyman, metropolitan
Detroit's director of Refugee Services.
"But it is hard to know how the plan
will come down through the pipeline.
`There are very few refugees who re-
main on welfare," Ms. Hyman added.
"About 1110th of 1 percent remain on
Kathleen Strauss: State Board of
welfare benefits after the first year.
And that figure holds true nationally."
Though no concrete numbers of the
amount of former Soviet Jews living in
the United States are available, a
spokesman from the Hebrew
Immigration Aid Society said the re-
settlement organization has helped
nearly 200,000 Soviet Jews who have
come to the United States since 1987.
Locally, the immigration figure since
1987 is estimated at 2,500.
Neither the Council of Jewish
Federations nor HIAS have released
statements on the welfare discussions.
But HIAS has teamed up with an um-
brella group, Interaction, a New York-
based coalition of voluntary social
service and social welfare enterpris-
es, to monitor progress of any pend-
"Even though this may not impact
us much, the bottom line is that this
could send a message saying, We don't
want refugees, '" Ms. Hyman said. "And
this group of Soviets is highly educat-
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