Education | Michigan Radio

Education

Stateside 9.28.2016

Sep 28, 2016

 

Today, we hear astronaut Jerry Linenger's tales of fire, free-fall and Mars. And, we learn why its "new district" status may not prevent Detroit schools from being closed.

Flickr user teddy-rised/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Professors at college campuses across the state have handed out their semester outlines, reading lists and assignments for the new semester.

A group of Michigan State University students would like to return the favor.

Screenshot of Wolverine Access, the university's website for students and faculty, showing the gender identity tab.
University of Michigan

Let's say you were given a male name at birth, but you don't identify as a male. Well, the University of Michigan will now let you choose your preferred pronoun.

Those pronouns will appear on class rosters beside students' names.

Students can choose the pronoun he, she, or they ... or fill in their own.

"This was a proposal brought forward by a group of students working through our Spectrum office on campus," said university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When you think Hillsdale College, maybe you think private, well-respected school that makes a lot of Top 10 lists for “Most Conservative Schools.”

Now, Hillsdale is using its brand to help launch a public charter school in Michigan, but the school’s founders are trying to prove to its critics that this new school is neither biased, nor religious.

“When we defer [capital expenditure] or investment in a school district, we’re knowingly ensuring that our students won’t keep up with their peers across the state or the country or the world,” Saunders said.
wikimedia user motown31 / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

One of the state of Michigan’s former emergency managers says the strategy might work for some cities, but an emergency manager just doesn’t work that well for school districts.

Tony Saunders is the former emergency manager of Benton Harbor.

USER CLEAR_IMAGE@SBCGLOBAL.NET / FLICKR

DETROIT (AP) - Wayne State University officials have approved an agreement transferring management of on-campus housing to a private company in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars for construction, renovation and debt payoff.

  The Detroit university's governing board agreed to the deal Friday with Corvias Campus Living. Officials say the 40-year agreement is worth $1.4 billion.

A child reading.
morgueFile

Third graders who fail the state’s reading test might not be able to graduate to 4th grade. That’s if Governor Rick Snyder signs a bill that is headed his way.

The bill stalled a bit over the summer, but Wednesday it quickly jumped from the House to the Senate for a final vote. Wednesday was the last time the Senate and House would meet on the same day before the election.

How many kids are in a typical classroom in Michigan?

That’s a tough question to answer. And believe me, we’ve tried

But a new report from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan gives a clearer picture of class sizes in Michigan’s public schools.

Figuring out all the different pots of money that go into paying for special education is complicated, but you know what’s even more complicated? Figuring out how much special education in Michigan actually costs. And if we don't know that, we don't know whether we're spending too much or too little on special ed. 

Room in an abandoned school in Detroit
user Freaktography / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

More than 152,000 students in metro Detroit attend class in a district or charter other than the district where they live. As minorities move into some districts, other students use the state schools-of-choice law to move to less-diverse districts.

Families say they use "choice" to move their kids to higher-performing, or safer, schools. Consciously or not, however, this law has left many districts in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb County more racially segregated.

Teacher Anastasia Katapodis with her Montessori students at Maybury Elementary School.
Sarah Cwiek / Michgian Radio

This year marks a fresh start for the newly restructured Detroit Public Schools.

The district is unrolling some new, experimental programs for students. They’re meant to entice parents who might otherwise take their kids elsewhere.

After years of upheaval in Detroit schools, success isn’t guaranteed. But at least one school has high hopes they will.

Montessori: Learning together

Anastasia Katopodis has taught young kids in Detroit for 20 years.

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

More than 3000 Detroit teachers are close to a new contract.

Detroit Federation of Teachers members in 94 schools approved the deal this week.

Union leaders say it’s good enough for now. For the first time in a decade, there are no concessions or cutbacks. Most teachers will get modest bonuses.

“We’re not jumping up and down, hollering that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Because I believe and I know that our teachers deserve more,” said DFT Interim President Ivy Bailey.

What is the average class size in Michigan's schools?

Sep 15, 2016
Michigan teachers on whether they've noticed class size changing over time
Courtesy Caroline Gearig / Michigan Radio

Pinning down the average class size in Michigan's public schools is not an easy thing to do.

For example, the Michigan Department of Education reports a student/teacher ratio of 23 to 1. But the way that number is calculated isn't necessarily a good reflection on how many kids are in the class.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The State Board of Education voted today to adopt voluntary guidelines to help schools with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students.

The guidance is intended to help schools create a safe and supportive learning environment for LGBTQ students.

The guidance was voted on after more than three hours of public comment where approximately 60 people were given three minutes to speak on the issue. Those who spoke included school principals, state legislators, students, and medical professionals.

Several parents of LGBTQ students spoke in favor of the guidance, including Joe Adcock. Adcock has a transgender son and said while his son’s school is very supportive, not all schools are.

“We’ve found a lot of schools don’t have this in place,” he said. “And they don’t allow the children to be themselves and it puts them at a great risk for drug abuse and suicide and just not being able to be who they really are.”

But others were not convinced that the guidance was necessary. Some say LGBQ students don't need additional protections. Others, like Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, say adopting this guidance will harm non-LGBTQ kids.

“This isn’t going to reduce bullying,” Colbeck said. “This is going to increase bullying. In particular against people of faith that stand up for what they believe. I think there is going to be a significant increase in bullying against them.”

The guidance, which passed with six votes in favor and two against, addresses issues like bathrooms and locker rooms, student privacy, and parental involvement.  

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A school that’s housed inside the Grand Rapids Public Museum is getting a $10 million boost.

The XQ Super School Project announced the national award today. The institute says it offered the money to get schools “to rethink and redesign the American high school.”

The money going to Grand Rapids Public Schools will help cover the costs of renovating the 80-year-old public museum building into a new high school.

The idea for today’s State of Opportunity story comes from you. After we ran a piece about how special ed placements vary from district to district, several of you got in touch and asked: How do schools pay for special ed?

I went to Elliott Elementary in Holt to get some answers.

United States Department of Education / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What happens when you're the parent of a child with special needs, and your view of how you want your child to be educated clashes with the school district's?

School choice, metro Detroit’s new white flight

Sep 13, 2016
Photo courtesy of Chastity Pratt Dawsey / Bridge Magazine

When the high school in Eastpointe recently welcomed the football team from Lakeview High, it was a homecoming of sorts.

That’s because nearly 700 students from Eastpointe actually attend school in Lakeview, a public school district five miles away in St. Clair Shores. As it happens, many of the students who left Eastpointe for Lakeview are white.

A newspaper clipping of Detroit's busing era.
clipping courtesy of Ray Litt / via Detroit Free Press

The U.S. Department of Education says kids at schools with mostly black or Latino students don’t get as good of an education as kids at schools with mostly white students. Generally speaking, their teachers are not as experienced and their buildings are in worse shape.

You can see that in Detroit, Flint, and other Michigan cities.

There was a major Michigan court case that could have ended segregated schools and made it possible for children to have a good education no matter where they lived.

Here's how that court case might have made a difference today.

Wayne State Univiersity Law School in Detroit, Mich.
Google Maps street view

Two businessmen will donate $5 million each to Wayne State University's Law School.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will donate a sum of $10 million to honor the school's dean Jocelyn Benson, who is leaving at the end of the month.

Benson is leaving her post as dean to become the chief executive officer of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. (Read more about that here.)

Flickr user David Salafia/Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state is advising schools to test their water for lead, even though it’s not required. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality wants schools to take action, even if lead levels are below the federal standard.

The federal action limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Governor Rick Snyder would like to see Michigan have an even stricter standard; 10 ppb.

An empty classrom with light shinging in from the windows.
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

This week, the Snyder administration’s School Reform Office suggested that it could eventually close schools where students have low rankings on state tests.

Schools that rank in the bottom 5% -- with some exceptions -- would be closed under this plan, which would shutter more than 100 schools from across the state.

In an opinion piece this week in the Lansing State Journal, John P. Smith III criticized the state’s plans.

Smith is a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University and he joined Stateside to talk about why he thinks the closing of the schools, and the methodology that led to that decision is flawed.

Most kids will head back to school this week ready to learn. But some will have to spend a good chunk of time re-learning things they forgot over the summer. The dreaded “summer slide” has been linked to persistent achievement gaps between kids from lower-income families and their better-off peers.

"Black people don't necessarily need choice, they need power," Perry told us. "The reason why black communities' schools are not doing well is because black communities are not doing well."
Flickr user Bart Everson/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Proponents of publicly funded, privately run charter schools hail them as the way to keep public schools and public school teachers "on their toes" by creating competition. 

Here in Michigan we have roughly 145,000 students in more than 300 charter schools, according to Education Trust Midwest.

And a report that group released earlier this year showed that charter school enrollment in the 2014-2015 school year consisted of disproportionately minority and low-income students. 

Courtesy of Olivia Johnson

College expenses are rising. There’s no doubt about that.

Trying to pay for tuition, books, a place to live and more can stretch a budget to its breaking point.

Olivia Johnson, a criminal justice student at Ferris State University, knows that struggle, and she’s seen it on campus.

That’s why she started the Student Emergency Food Pantry for Ferris students this year.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

After a summer of negotiating, Detroit teachers are preparing to vote on a new contract.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District — the new, restructured entity that replaces the debt-ridden Detroit Public Schools — and the Detroit Federation of Teachers announced a tentative agreement on Labor Day.

The agreement “provides members with some money in a number of ways,” DFT leaders said. “And for the first time in a decade, this agreement contains no concessions.”

Some highlights:

·        Pay increases for all teachers, based on seniority.

This morning I sent my daughter off to her first day of third grade.

She was excited to go. She was ready to see her friends, and genuinely loves school.

But I'm sure she'll be less than thrilled once her teacher starts assigning homework. Like many kids, I'm sure she'd be happy if homework was simply eliminated.

That will be a reality this school year for more than 500 kids at a Massachusetts elementary school.

Bryan McDonald / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan ranks third in the country for having the most school districts with chronic absence rates at or above 30%. 

Nationwide, chronic absenteeism is about 13%. In Michigan, it's 18%.

That's according to a report released today by Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education.

image of new and old DPS
Lauren Crawford / Michigan Radio

Today is the first day of school in Detroit.

Students in the city’s public school system will return to the same buildings and many of the same teachers. But there will be one big difference: These students are the first to attend school in the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

The old Detroit Public Schools now exists in name only.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The summer tourism season is winding down, but there is concern in the industry that it may not be as profitable as it could have been.

Deanna Richeson is the CEO of the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association. She says Michigan’s summer tourism season was strong overall.

But she’s concerned that a growing number school districts are starting classes in August. 

“When we have our school children returning to school prior to Labor Day that will cut into those revenues enjoyed by the tourism industry,” says Richeson.

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