Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan will spend nearly $100 million to support non-public school students, according to a report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The report says the state will spend over $40 million more this year on non-public school students than it did just four years ago.

Click here to read the full report. 

Craig Thiel, a senior research associate with the Citizens Research Council, says the money is largely going to the "shared time" program.

Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court /

Private and parochial schools in Michigan will be allowed apply for grants that reimburse them for some state-ordered health and safety programs.

That’s despite a provision in the state constitution that forbids direct or indirect taxpayer support for private or religious schools.

wikimedia user Adbar /

When you hear about the Gates Foundation, the Mott Foundation, or any of the myriad other philanthropic organizations, how do you describe what they do?

Do they give money? Solve problems? Improve conditions?

Is there a downside to throwing money at problems or wielding influence with cash?

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.

Flickr user alamosbasement/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Michigan’s School Reform Office has warned failing schools that they could be shut down by next June – more than 100 of them.

Erin Einhorn, editor at Chalkbeat Detroit, published an article breaking down the effects of closing schools with poor testing results, including more than 40 in Detroit.

Using recent state exam scores as their metric, the office will inform each school by the end of 2016 if their doors will close.

Michigan plans steps to close failing schools

Aug 16, 2016
Motown31 / wikimedia commons

The Michigan school reform office plans to put chronically low-performing schools on notice that they might be closed by next June.

Natasha Baker is with the state school reform office and she says low performing schools that have improved should be looked at as an example and will stay open. 

"[Improving schools] make the necessary decisions to make sure that their schools can turn around quickly, and I think Michigan would be better off if we looked at those success stories," Baker says.

Baker says getting kids into better schools is the priority.

Detroit Horse Power

The Next Idea

I feel exceedingly fortunate to have grown up with horses as a big part of my childhood. I was brought up in suburban Westchester County, New York, about 20 minutes from prime horse country. I started regular riding lessons and showing when I was about 10. At age 14, I began competing in the Olympic sport of Three Day Eventing -- a horse triathlon that combines dressage, cross country, and stadium jumping. My thoroughbred, Rush, and I worked as a team -- training daily, building a partnership, testing our skills, persevering through disappointments and injuries. Horse people can describe at length the many valuable life lessons we learn from these amazing animals. Those skills and experiences hold the most weight for me as I look back on my international competitions and time spent working for top professionals.

Bryce Huffman

If you pay for something, it should be guaranteed that you'll actually receive it. That's the message Michigan teachers are delivering to Governor Rick Snyder.

Michigan's teachers’ unions are locked in a court battle with the state over a 3% payroll deduction. The money is supposed to fund retiree health care. But teachers say there's no guarantee they'll see those benefits.

American Federation of Teachers Michigan President David Hecker says the state's decision to fight the case is taking money from teachers who earned it. At issue is money withheld from 2010-2012. 

Thomas Phillips presenting his plan for the Aspire Tech Bus at the Hack the Central District Cultural Innovation Conference in Seattle last month.

The Next Idea

Over and over again, we've heard that tech jobs in Michigan are going unfilled.

We've heard that there just aren't enough students graduating with the tech know-how employers want, and that students in Detroit just don't get many of the same opportunities as kids from other school districts.

Thomas Phillips thinks he's hit on a way to help solve these problems, and he's calling it the Aspire Tech Bus.

The bottom line, Phil Power told me recently, is that our future is all about the schools.

Power isn’t exactly a wild and crazy left-wing radical. He ran for the U.S. Senate once as a moderate Democrat nearly 40 years ago, but lost the primary to a fellow named Carl Levin.

Governor Rick Snyder did something sensible Wednesday – he asked the Michigan Supreme Court for an opinion as to whether it is legal under the Michigan Constitution for the state to use taxpayer dollars to provide aid to private schools.

In a sense, this is actually putting the cart before the horse, in that Snyder signed an education budget last month that includes a two and a half million dollar appropriation for private schools. At the time, he was urged to use his line-item veto to prevent that from happening, but he declined, saying he believed this was legal.

MDOC Spokesperson Chris Gautz told us that while it was “a very serious situation,” the events of September 10 at Kinross Correctional Facility don’t meet the definition of a “riot.”
flickr user Thomas Hawk /

There are 2.2 million people now incarcerated in American prisons. 

Each year, hundreds of thousands of those inmates are released.

One of the most important ways of keeping them from re-offending and winding up back in prison is education. 

Credit Flickr user Herald Post/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0


Who are Michigan's homeless students? And how does being homeless affect their education?

These are crucial questions for the state, as education plays an important role in homeless students' ability to escape the chains of poverty and homelessness.

Joshua Cowen is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. He recently published a study examining these important questions. His study reveals exactly who Michigan's homeless students are and where they come from. It also reveals how homelessness affects a students performance in schools.

Of the 662 Michigan schools that qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision, 167 would no longer be eligible under HR 5003, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Tim Lauer / Creative Commons

For many children living in poverty, hunger is an everyday reality, and going to school hungry can have a big impact on a kid’s ability to learn.

That’s one of the reasons why the federal government offers free lunches to low-income students.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Sue Schooner has never taken a social work class, nor has she ever had children. But that didn’t stop her from creating and leading Girls Group, an organization that empowers young women to complete high school and be the first college graduate in their families.

The creation of Girls Group led to a change of heart for Schnooner.

5th-grade teacher to open for Eddie Money

May 25, 2016
Courtesy of Crashing Cairo

Rock stars like Gene Simmons and Sting used to be teachers, not long before having sold-out concerts across the world. For Crashing Cairo, this serves as a good omen as they prepare to open for Eddie Money at the DTE Energy Music Theatre on Friday.

The Michigan pop-rock group's lead singer, Robert Wax, is a fifth-grade teacher at Norwood Elementary in Royal Oak. Drummer David West is a software engineer who also advises future engineers.

Richard T. Cole, who most people know as Rick, is a remarkable man who’s had several careers, sometimes simultaneously. I was first aware of him when he was press secretary and chief of staff to Governor Jim Blanchard in the 1980s.

Later, he was a senior executive at Blue Cross Blue Shield, and worked with Mike Duggan back when the man who became Detroit’s mayor was overhauling the Detroit Medical Center.

The governor and the legislature are currently fighting over how to rescue the Detroit public schools from financial collapse. There’s a general recognition that this has to be done, if only because the consequences of not doing so would cost the state even more.

The state constitution requires Michigan to provide an education for all children.

Flickr user thinkpublic/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea


Modern, high-tech innovation has benefited the world enormously. It has improved health and safety, and helped us communicate and travel across borders. But lots of people cannot afford these technologies – many of which are of limited usefulness for economically disadvantaged citizens who live outside of metropolitan areas. Indeed, these citizens were never the main market for these technologies in the first place.

David Williss / Flickr -

State lawmakers are working on a bill that would require schools in Michigan to teach students about genocide, including the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust. Corey Harbaugh is making it his personal mission to ensure that teachers in Michigan have resources and models about Holocaust education and to help them teach it as well.

Detroit teachers protesting downtown on May 2, 2016.
Sarah Jardine

Nearly all Detroit schools closed today due to a massive sick-out conducted by the city's teachers.

Earlier this year, there were a series of sick-outs aimed at bringing attention to both the poor physical and financial state of Detroit Public Schools.

Today's protest is different from previous events because the teacher's union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, is encouraging teachers to take part. 

Child on computer
Lars Plougmann / Flickr -

In the search for a better way to educate our children, many have turned to technology. Virtual schools or blended schools that combine virtual and traditional face-to-face teaching are a national trend. However, according to a study from The National Education Policy Center, these virtual schools – most of which are run by private, for-profit companies, are doing a poor job of educating our kids.

cursive handwriting
theilr / Flickr -

You may have seen the internet meme floating around social media. It says, “Someday us old folks will use cursive writing as a secret code.”

Proposed budget would cut free SAT, M-STEP tests

Apr 14, 2016
Jane M Sawyer / morgue file

A budget proposal now in the state house would cut funding for free SAT testing.

The proposed $10 million cut comes from the House Appropriations Committee. If passed, schools would no longer provide each student with a college admissions test – students would have to pay to take the test elsewhere.

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, chairs the School Aid Subcommittee, and said while eliminating the SAT got the most attention, his real goal is to start a discussion about replacing the M-STEP standardized testing – which the bill also removes. 

“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 /

Michigan's Schools of Choice program is now 20 years old.

In some parts of the state, the competition for students can be intense. Public school districts put up yard signs, families are sometimes offered gifts to sign up for a school out of district, and the number of publicly funded, privately run charter schools has increased.

Students from the Detroit Food Academy.
Jen Rusciano / Detroit Food Academy

It started with mangos on a stick.

In the spring of 2011, kids at a high school in southwest Detroit were challenged to use their entrepreneurial spirit to come up with a creative way to get their classmates to eat some fruits and vegetables.

After more than 300 mangos were sold, the groundwork for the Detroit Food Academy (DFA) was laid.

nearly one in every five DPS students  qualifies for some special education services
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A survey conducted by a Michigan school-improvement advocacy group shows people in the state want to see education become a higher priority. 

Lit Kurtz

The Next Idea


Homelessness is a complex problem with no one easy solution. In Michigan, the needs are enormous. People experiencing homelessness see our state as more like a Third World country than like one of the richest areas in the world.


Information freeze thaws after injunction on election law

Feb 13, 2016
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - An information freeze for local and school officials is thawing after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on a new Michigan election law that critics called a gag order.

The injunction came as a relief to many local and school officials fearful of legal repercussions for distributing information about upcoming ballot proposals. Gov. Rick Snyder signed the legislation into law this year.

Apple with books
Creative Commons

A new report out today from Education Trust-Midwest says some charter school authorizers in Michigan aren't doing their jobs very well.

The report says some of the entities that open and oversee charter schools have made marginal improvements overall, but performance remains low when compared to leading education states.