[Photo of Audrey Spalding]

Audrey Spalding

Director of Education Policy

Audrey Spalding is the director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. In this position, Spalding oversees the Center's education research and publications, including Michigan Education Digest and Michigan Education Report. She started at the Center in 2012 as an education policy analyst.

Before joining the Mackinac Center, Spalding worked as a policy analyst at the St. Louis-based Show-Me Institute, where she provided analytical research and legislative testimony on tax credits, land banking and education. Her public policy op-eds have been published in a variety of newspapers, including The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press, the Battle Creek Enquirer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis Business Journal and The Kansas City Star.

Prior to her time at Show-Me, Spalding was an education reporter for the Columbia Missourian, where she was a co-recipient of the 2008 Missouri Press Association's Community Service Award for her efforts to highlight school district expenditures. 

Spalding received her bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri, having majored in both journalism and economics. She is a native of Ann Arbor, Mich.

MEA Upset at Having to Follow State Law

TTB a Poor Measure of Charter Performance

Free Press should use better metric. … more

MEA Upset at Having to Follow State Law

Teacher Unions Agree to Faulty Contracts in Order to Maintain Mandatory Dues

At the Forefront: Addressing the Board of Education

How to Make Michigan Schools More Expensive

Mark Schauer's education plan protects the status quo. … more

School Choice

Michigan Education Association Misleading Voters

'Kids Not CEOs' website rife with misinformation. … more

More Problems with Ferndale Teacher Contract

Ignores state laws regarding seniority, evaluations. … more

Roadblocks to Reform?: A Review of Union Contracts in Michigan Schools

This study focuses on Public Act 103 of 2011, which made teacher evaluation, layoff policies and teacher placement prohibited subjects of bargaining, among other things. After surveying 200 Michigan school district collective bargaining agreements, this study finds that as many as 60 percent of districts could have collective bargaining agreements in place that contain language prohibited by PA 103.
Some districts negotiated with their unions to add language stating that if circumstances changed, pages of prohibited language would take immediate effect. Others simply changed the word “teacher” in order to keep the prohibited language but have it apply to other staff members. Finally, some districts appear to have kept prohibited language without explanation.
This study includes further examples and lists of districts that kept the prohibited language in their contracts. As a solution, penalties could be added to the collective bargaining reform laws in order to encourage district compliance. … more

Displaced: How Michigan Districts Are Ignoring Anti-Seniority Reforms

Districts Asking for More Money Already Getting It

Mismanagement, not funding, deserves scrutiny. … more

Happy National School Choice Week!

Plenty of reasons to celebrate in Michigan. … more

Kent County Land Bank Is Not a Good Deal For Citizens

Facts, Not Fiction, on State School Spending

K-12 spending up three consecutive years. … more

Michigan Students Need Private School Choice

Families want more options. … more

Highland Park: The Road to Recovery

The Public School Market in Michigan: An Analysis of Schools of Choice

This study examines the use of Schools of Choice throughout Michigan over the last decade. Nearly 100,000 Michigan students use Schools of Choice to attend a school outside of the district in which they live. Participation has grown steadily, with enrollment growing by 144 percent over the past 10 years.
This study finds that students enter districts that have higher graduation rates and higher test scores. On average, Schools of Choice students chose districts with higher pupil-teacher ratios, lower expenditures per pupil and higher average teacher salaries.
 … more

The Highland Park Transformation

A New Turnaround Model: Michigan's Highland Park Goes Charter

This brief examines the series of events that led to the Highland Park school district being converted to a system of charter public schools in 2012. Used as a strategy to help the district eliminate its large fiscal debt while still providing resident students with a local public school option, Highland Park's charter conversion is one of the first of its kind in the state and even the nation.
During the first year of charter school operation, students demonstrated significant learning gains, with some grades posting academic growth far above the average Michigan student. … more

Michigan’s Baby Bust Will Hurt Taxpayers if Schools Don’t Cut Back

Commentary: Education: U.S. Spends More, Gets Less

American students near bottom on international test. … more

Michigan Land Bank Demolishes Eminem's Childhood Home

More than 100 bids, yet house burned down. … more

Michigan Needs to Choose School Choice

Michigan Needs to Choose School Choice

Michigan's Top-to-Bottom Ranking: A Measure of School Quality or Student Poverty?

This study examines the state’s “Top-to-Bottom” ranking, which has been repeatedly criticized by educators for appearing to be correlated with school poverty rates. Mackinac Center research finds that schools that serve more lower-income students tend to receive lower scores on the TTB list.
These results matters because TTB rankings are used to impose consequences on low-ranking schools. This study suggests that Michigan should look at how other states rank schools in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of penalizing schools that serve lower-income students. It also makes the case that a choice-based accountability system is preferred, as it would allow students to escape schools that are not serving their needs and reduce the risk of penalizing undeservedly low-ranked schools. … more

It's Time to Take Teaching Seriously

But more certification exams aren't the answer. … more

Private Group Helps Fill Gap During Slowdown

Library of Congress archives still accessible. … more

Flawed Study Says Michigan Cut School Funding

But it ignores billions of dollars. … more

Thirkell Elementary: The School That Could

State Should Boost 'Parent Power'

It's About the Children, Not the System

Slate author, sadly, puts system above students. … more

Berrien Springs: Leading School Choice Policy

At Thirkell, State Grade Doesn't Match Up

School posts impressive results despite low rank. … more

School Success Story: Cesar Chavez Academy

Berrien Springs: Leading the Way

Innovating outside of district boundaries. … more

Escaping the Scandal in Rose City

School Consolidation Won’t Save Much

Milton Friedman's Education Ideas Still Relevant Today

Comprehensive school schoice helps failing schools. … more

School Consolidation Won't Save Much

Other reforms would provide better results. … more

Top 10 Rural Elementary and Middle Schools

Michigan's top rural elementary and middle schools. … more

Report Card Identifies Top-Performing Schools; Ranks DPS Elementary #1

Top 10 Town Elementary and Middle Schools

Michigan's top town elementary and middle schools. … more

Top 10 Suburban Elementary and Middle Schools

Michigan's top suburban elementary and middle schools. … more