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January 29, 1998 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-01-29

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I

LOCAL/STATE

The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 29, 1998 - 5A

Black
caucus
releases
aenda
LANSING (AP) - On the eve of
3ov. John Engler's State of the State
speech, black legislative leaders
challenged him to acknowledge and
:eal. with racial inequities in
chigan.
he 18-member Michigan
Legislative Black Caucus released its
agenda for 1998 during a news confer-
ance yesterday. All members are
Democrats and the majority represent
Detroit.
Rep. Mary Lou Parks (D-Detroit),
who chairs the caucus, said Engler
as ignored racial issues and his
policies have injured the state's dis-
- antaged.
The Michigan Black Legislative
Caucus challenges Gov. Engler not
only to address the State of the
State, but also the state of social
economic disparity in Michigan,"
Parks said.
"If the governor truly represents all
Michigan residents and is not as mean-
spirited as he's been portrayed, he will
respond to the call to action in his State
of the State, she said. "Race is an
ge."
Engler spokesperson John
Truscott was unavailable for com-
ment yesterday.
The caucus hopes to augment the
House Democratic agenda introduced
by House Speaker Curtis Hertel (D-
Detroit) last week. That agenda focuses
on expanded government programs in
the areas of education, nursing home
are, child care and gang- and drug-
ated crime.
The black caucus plans to intro-
duce 20 bills this year focusing on
social and economic disparities in
Michigan.
"It will be the most sweeping urban
revitalization package to ever be intro-
duced in a single legislative session,"
said Rep. Keith Stallworth (D-
Detroit).
Rep. Hubert Price (D-Pontiac)
td many poorer black residents
can't find financial services with
interest rates they can afford. He
hopes to create community develop-
ment credit unions that would serve

Michigan's school-to-work
program receives low marks

DETROIT (AP) - The state's school-to-work program,
which seeks to better prepare Michigan students for jobs after
graduation, received a subpar grade from the company hired
by the state to assess it.
"There are some excellent (local) programs out there, but
there hasn't been a lot of evidence that some of the signifi-
cant educational reforms have taken place," Kevin
Hollenbeck, a senior economist for W.E. Upjohn Institute for
Employment Research, said Monday. "We have seen no
major outcomes or systemic reforms.'
The Kalamazoo-based institute, paid $240,000 by the state,
gave the program a "not yet proficient" score, Booth News
Service reported Tuesday.
Michigan was among an initial group of eight states that
received federal seed money in 1994 to plan and start school-
to-work initiatives. Michigan was awarded $49 million for
the next five years.
The-Upjohn Institute researchers said they found state gov-
ernment's leadership of school-to-work lacking because of
Gov. John Engler's desire for local control in education.
"Local agencies have no place to turn for technical assis-
tance in implementation and the state has no opportunity to
provide an overall statewide vision and strategy," Hollenbeck
said.
Jim Tobin, a spokesperson for the state Jobs Commission,
acknowledged a philosophical difference between
Hollenbeck and the Engler administration.
"He thinks it should be a more centralized program and we
think it should be decentralized," Tobin said.
The study also found that many educators have resisted

implementing a school-to-work system because they view it
as little more than vocational education.
Parents also are wary, the study found, because they
believe school-to-work initiatives track students into non-col-
lege-bound curriculums.
Tobin said the Upjohn Institute was "right on" in citing the
attitudes of many parents and educators as obstacles to the
implementation of school-to-work programs.
"People don't seem to appreciate that all children will
eventually need jobs,' Tobin said.
The Jobs Commission, the state's lead economic develop-
ment and job training department, funneled the federal
monies to 44 local work force development boards around the
state that work to develop strategies to meet local labor force
needs.
Educators complain they have often been bypassed in the
process.
"The work force development boards are making decisions
with little input from the schools. There's been a real frustra-
tion," said Mike Boulus, executive director of the Middle
Cities Education Association, which represents urban
schools.
But Hollenbeck and other experts say they are encouraged
by the state's new "career preparation system" that will pump
$25.5 million in state funds to expand school-to-work intia-
tives in local school systems starting this fall.
Michigan is one of the few states with a plan to continue
its school-to-work efforts once the federal money runs out it
1999, said Alan Hershey, a senior fellow at Mathematica
Policy Research Inc. in Princeton, N.J.

Holiday sales rose, retailers say

AP PHOTO
State Rep. Mary Lou Parks (D-Detroit), chair of the Michigan Legislative Black
Caucus, talks with reporters yesterday during a presentation in Lansing.

the working poor.
The group also wants to work on
issues dealing with education, health
care, affirmative action, auto insurance,
juvenile justice and prisons.
Rep. Kwame Kilpatrick (D-Detroit)
attacked Engler's proposal to build new
prisons and increase the state's correc-
tions budget.
He said it costs $30,000 a year to
house an inmate and yet schools are
given roughly $5,800 a year to educate
each student. "These figures tell us that
we are overfeeding the problem and vir-
tually starving the solution," Kilpatrick
said.
The caucus also plans to fight chal-
lenges to affirmative action.
Bills that would ban racial prefer-
ences at all state universities and in pri-
vate and government hiring and con-
tracting are stalled in the House
Constitutional and Civil Rights
Committee.
Committee Chair Rep. Ed Vaughn,
(D-Detroit) said he doesn't plan to
take up the bills unless there's an

outpouring of public sentiment for
them.
"Politicians use the race card to con-
fuse people," Vaughn said. "There's
only one race and that's the human
race."
The caucus supports the University,
which is defending itself against two
lawsuits that target the use of race in
its admission procedures. The lawsuits
were filed by the Center for Individual
Rights on behalf of white students it
claims were unfairly refused admis-
sion.
"As a caucus, we shouldn't be
afraid to say that we support affir-
mative action," Stallworth said. "It
is in Michigan's best interest to
intelligently grapple with social eco-
nomic disparity because it is at the
very heart of urban decay a'nd pover-
ty."
Stallworth said the caucus plans to
introduce legislation that preserves
equal opportunities for blacks and other
minorities without reducing opportuni-
ties for whites.

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan retailers
said yesterday that their Christmas holi-
day sales rose 8.1 percent, helping to
push total 1997 sales up 7 percent.
Electronics and computer stores led the
charge.
"The holiday shopping season turned
out to be solid for most retailers and
pushed up year-end results," said Larry
Miller, head of the Michigan Retailers
Association. "Sales were up in every
area of the state and across all major
trade lines."
December sales rose for 63 percent of
retailers surveyed. That figure rose to 80
percent for electronics and computer
stores.
"Christmas was great - a lot better

than last year," said Mark Collins,
owner of The Entertainment Center in
Traverse City, which specializes in car
stereo systems. "Installs were way
up.
The 1997 holiday sales increase,
measured from Thanksgiving to
Christmas, was the highest since
1994, when sales rose 12 percent from
the year before. Holiday sales rose 5.4
percent in 1996 and 1.9 percent in
1995.
"While the trend appears to be
away from spectacular holiday gains
and toward sales that are spread
throughout the fourth quarter, it still
is important to have a healthy sea-
son, as we did this year," Meyer

said.
Economist Keith Motycka of the
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, who
compiled the sales figures for the retail-
ers group, said they show Michigar
keeping up with or exceeding the
nation's sales rate.
The U.S. Commerce Department
reported a 4.3 percent increase in retail
sales for 1997, compared with the 7 per-
cent increase found in the Michigan sur-
vey.
"They're certainly a healthy reading,"
he said.
U.S. consumer confidence remains
high, despite a drop that followed the
Asian financial crisis, the Conference
Board said this week.

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