Education

Classroom
User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Highland Park schools can’t afford to offer high school next year, only grades K-8.

There are about 160 kids at Highland Park High school now. That’s only a third of the number of students there three years ago. That’s when district finances got so bad an emergency manager was appointed.

Finances have improved, thanks in large part to $7.4 million in emergency loans from the state. Repayment of those loans is spread out over decades.

GsGeorge / WIKIMEDIA Commons

The Ann Arbor teachers union is battling with the school district over contract negotiations.

Both have filed charges of “unfair labor practice” against the other.

The union says its current contract lasts until the district pays back $4.5 million in pay cuts that teachers took several years ago.

“They have not done that,” says union president Linda Carter.

But the district says it has to put together a new contract that complies with recent state laws.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A program that’ll offer students in Grand Rapids free college is getting a big boost. A group of 400 donors has raised more than $33 million in one year.

Sixth-graders who commit to come to school regularly and get good grades can go to college for free. The scholarships target middle schoolers who funnel into a low-performing Grand Rapids high school.

Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Despite some state intervention this school year, Benton Harbor schools is still struggling. This spring has been rough for the district.

Benton Harbor schools has more than a $15 million deficit. The district signed a consent agreement with the state last fall to avoid an emergency manger.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

A bill meant to improve teacher evaluations across Michigan has cleared the state Senate.

Similar legislation never got out of the Senate last year. Bill sponsor state Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, says Senate Bill 103 relies less on state standardized tests to evaluate teachers and administrators.

Apple with books
Creative Commons

A new report from the Education Trust-Midwest says without vast improvements to public education, Michigan is on track to become 49th in the country for white student achievement by 2030.

ETM says since 2003, white students have fallen from 13th to 45th in the nation for fourth grade reading.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint police spent part of this past week reaching out to the city’s teenagers.

"It’s all about safety,” Police Chief James Tolbert told students at Flint Southwestern Classical Academy.   Tolbert spoke during a session on things the teenagers can do to avoid trouble.

Cadets from the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy
Michigan National Guard / Creative Commons http://tinyurl.com/k8j8sr4

A new report released this week says the state-run Michigan Youth Challenge Academy failed to account for thousands for dollars between 2012 and 2014.

The report from the Michigan Auditor General says the military-based program in Battle Creek also failed to keep track of its own performance, and didn't feed cadets enough calories.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“We have to right-size this school district.”

That’s what outgoing interim Flint schools superintendent Larry Watkins said tonight, after the school district voted to close three more schools.

Closing the three elementary schools will save the district an estimated $7 million over the next seven years.  

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools is revamping some of its offerings in the hopes it will make its schools more competitive.

Todd Losie is the principal at FLICS, a K-through-8 school that sits right next to Renaissance High School.

Both schools will go for International Baccalaureate certification.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Responsibility for turning around Michigan’s worst schools now lies directly with Gov. Rick Snyder.

 His order taking direct control of school turnarounds – which was issued earlier this year – took effect Tuesday. Those duties previously belonged to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), which is governed by the elected State Board of Education (SBE).

(courtesy of KQED)

A new pilot program in Grand Rapids will try to raise student achievement at high-poverty schools.

Education Trust-Midwest announced Monday it's launching a program to provide greater support and coaching to teachers. Education Trust-Midwest is a nonpartisan education research organization based in Royal Oak.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Principals and teachers at Detroit Public Schools' eight lowest-performing schools will be required to reapply for their jobs, under a new restructuring plan designed to boost academics, public image, and student enrichment.

Principals will reapply and be chosen first, and then will have an opportunity to evaluate their staffs and select a team, according to school spokesman Steve Wasko. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 80 Americorps members will spend part of the next few years helping Flint school children. 

The national service program named Flint as one of ten communities nationwide that will participate in its Operation Americorps. Similar grants have already been announced in New York,  Tucson, Arizona and Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The program combines three different parts of Americorps. 

Ashlie Forchione

Michigan State University graduate students marched on campus to protest a contract they say does not provide an adequate lifestyle for vital university staff.

About 250 students participated in the march, sponsored by the Graduate Employees Union. They are demanding a set of accommodations in their next contract that includes tuition waivers, affordable health care, an inclusive work environment, and a living salary.

Union President Sylvia Marques says MSU's pay for graduate students is on the low end for Big Ten universities, and that combined with high health care premiums, it is difficult for the students to make ends meet. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder rolled out his plan today to overhaul education in Detroit and get Detroit Public Schools out of the deep, deep hole it’s in now.

DPS is reportedly the worst-performing urban school district in the country, with years of falling enrollment and $2 billion in crippling debt.

Andrea Claire Maio

Where do students in a neighborhood struggling with blight, drugs, and gangs turn?

If you're talking about students at Cody High School in Detroit, it’s to Coach Jimmie Knight.

debt
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

 A new report says restructuring Detroit Public Schools' debt could cost other school districts millions of dollars.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan says other districts would lose about $50 per student if DPS is allowed to use property taxes to pay off its debt. Schools normally use these taxes to fund operations. But if the taxes were used to pay off debt, the state would have to make up the difference.

Mika Chang (left) with her sisters Bea, Kallia, Shannon and her nephew, Vincent.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

When we talk about immigrant communities in Detroit, the Hmong don’t usually come up in that conversation. The ethnic group from Southeast Asia began settling in Northeast Detroit’s Osborn neighborhood in the years after the Vietnam War. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state ranks schools on a top-to-bottom list each year. Those in the lowest five percent are considered “priority” schools. There were almost 260 priority schools until now, when the state superintendent removed 27 of them from the list. He said the schools had implemented improvement plans successfully since the schools were placed on the list in 2010.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The Ann Arbor school board has unanimously voted to ban guns on school grounds, less than two months after a man wore a gun to a school choir concert.

Dozens of parents turned out to recent board meetings asking the board members to pass the ban.

But it required lengthy discussion with the board’s legal advisors, because technically, an exception in Michigan law makes it legal for someone with a concealed pistol license to open carry in schools.

Detroit charter school teachers working to unionize

Apr 15, 2015
Liza Lagman Sperl / Flickr

Teachers at three charter school districts in Detroit could vote as early as next month on whether to unionize.

Teachers at University YES, University Prep Academy and University Prep Science and Math have filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board to be represented by the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff (ACTS). ACTS is a union local affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

U.S. Department of Education / Creative Commons

Officials at Michigan’s Department of Education say schools are ready for the new standardized test. The eight-week window to take it opens today.

The new test measures kids’ understanding of core subjects. But unlike the old test, the new one is online.

User: Working World / Flickr

It's being billed as the largest anti-bullying rally in the state: 13 of Detroit's public schools are gathering with Special Olympics Michigan this week. 

The students will sign a pledge not to use the word "retarded."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school district needs a new superintendent. Larry Watkins announced today he's retiring.

During Watkins’ two years as interim schools superintendent, the Flint school district has seen its budget deficit grow (from $4 million to nearly $22 million), staff laid off and enrollment continue to decline.

Classroom
User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Fifty-six Michigan school districts and charter schools started this school year in deficit. The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, made up of community leaders in Detroit, is asking the state to assume $350 million in school debt. State lawmakers are being asked for $725,000 dollars to cover unpaid debts of the former Buena Vista school district, the one they dissolved two years ago.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Nearly 800,000 Michigan students are scheduled to take a new standardized test this month. But some parents may opt their kids out of the test.

The new Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, is replacing the old MEAP test.  Third through 8th grade students will take the M-STEP exam beginning next week.  Roughly 80% of the students will take the test online. 

But some groups oppose the new test and its ties to Common Core standards.  They are encouraging parents to pull their children from the testing.

SpecialKRB / flickr

More than 2,800 students log online to attend Michigan Virtual Charter Academy. The state’s largest virtual school is also one of its worst performing districts. Yet every single teacher was rated “highly effective” for the last two years, according to data recently released by the state.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Today, we reported about how much teacher evaluations vary from district to district. It makes comparing teachers across the state pretty much impossible.

But here’s a breakdown of where districts report the best and worst teachers are.

Andrew Taylor / Creative Commons

We know we want to attract and keep the best teachers in Michigan, but how do we know who the best teachers are?

School leaders across the state started measuring how teachers stack up in 2011. But the teacher effectiveness ratings, as they’re called, can be pretty useless.

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