education

That's according to a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

It says per-student spending is $572 less than it was before the recession.

The Center looked at state school funding across the country, and found that most are funding their schools less.

The reduced levels reflect not only the lingering effects of the 2007-09 recession but also continued austerity in many states; indeed, despite some improvements in overall state revenues, schools in around a third of states are entering the new school year with less state funding than they had last year.

Michigan is listed as one of those states with less money for this school year compared to the year before.

How do the cuts in Michigan compare to spending in other states? Take a look:

Big jump in preschool slots for Michigan children

Sep 8, 2013
WoodleyWonderWorks / Flickr

As many as 16,000 more 4-year-olds will be able to attend preschool in Michigan this fall, thanks to a big boost in the state's early education budget.

Zak Rosen

What if something other than jobs could rebuild Detroit?

What if the purpose of education was to help children reach their highest human potential?

What if we had a conversation about the meaning of service to our community?

These are just a few of the many questions being raised at a new charter school in Detroit. It’s called the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. They opened their doors this week.

Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

Today on The Living Room, we get a dose of back-to-school advice from young students in Kalamazoo. After that, a report from a new charter school that’s trying to create its own education paradigm in Detroit.

It’s called the James and Grace Lee Boggs School.

Today marks the beginning of a yearlong series from the school by producer Zak Rosen. The Living Room is produced by Allison Downey and Zak Rosen.

It's getting close to back-to-school time. So today, we took a look at teachers -- in particular, teacher turnover, and what it can do a student's academic achievement. Teachers leaving their profession costs the nation billions of dollars each year. We ask what can be done to keep teachers teaching.

And, there have been some complaints about the cooler, rainier summer we've been having, but it turns out it's been good for our Great Lakes. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to tell us why.

Also, the historic Packard Plant in Detroit may be converted into a commercial, housing and entertainment complex, but is this feasible?

First on the show, it's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

And today he's got his eye fixed on the storm clouds that are gathering for the Detroit Institute of Arts. This particular growing cloud comes from Oakland County. 

Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about the troubles the DIA faces.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

It's late August, and parents are taking their kids on back-to-school shopping trips. There are conversations and speculation about teacher assignments, and in some cases, questions about whether teachers will be returning in the fall.

When teachers leave a school, it hits students hard. A researcher from the University of Michigan and his colleagues studied data over an each year period and found teacher turnover harms student learning, especially in math and English.

A study by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future estimates that teachers dropping out of the profession cost the nation around $7 billion a year.

Trying to keep teachers in the classroom and in the profession is Randi Stanulis’s mission. She is an associate professor of education at Michigan State University and she directs a teacher mentoring program that some say could ultimately serve as a national model.

Randi Stanulis joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

user alkruse24 / Flickr

There are several complicated questions surrounding teacher evaluations in Michigan. Should there be a state standard for evaluating teachers? What should that evaluation encompass? Should teacher pay be pegged to the evaluation, the pay for performance system?

The Michigan council for educator effectiveness spent nearly 2 years and $6 million on a pilot program in 13 districts, and they’ve now come out with a recommendation for a new statewide teacher evaluation tool.

Jake Neher is the Lansing reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He joined us in the studio today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Today we took a closer look at recommendations for statewide standards for evaluating Michigan teachers. How should the job performance of teachers be evaluated?

And, we met a West Michigan man who swims across the Great Lakes and Lake St Clair, raising money for charity.

Also, we spoke with the lead vocalist of The Ragbirds, a band from Ann Arbor that is about to kick off their fall tour with a newborn baby.

First on the show, Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr is looking to hire a group to oversee Detroit's federal grant money.

This comes at the same time that federal officials are searching for ways to offer more aid to Detroit.

Orr visited went to Washington D.C. earlier this month to meet with Michigan Senator Carl Levin and some economists to get ideas about which grants programs would be best for the city.

Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson reported on this in today's Detroit News, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

user kconnors / morgueFile

How should the job performance of Michigan teachers be evaluated? What should the standard be? Should there be a state-wide common standard used to evaluate teachers?

Those were some of the key questions tackled by the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness. The temporary body recently came out with its recommendations for a new statewide teacher evaluation tool.

The Council is recommending that by 2015-16, half of a teacher’s evaluation should be based on classroom practices and the other half on student growth as determined by scores on tests.

The panel also is recommending that a teacher be dismissed after two years of ineffective ratings.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

About 250 Albion and Marshall high school students will spend the weekend getting to know one another.

The students are attending a weekend long ‘symposium’ at Albion college.

More than a hundred Albion students will be attending Marshall High School this fall.

Albion school officials decided to close their high school in a budget cutting move.

Jerri-Lynn Williams-Harper is Albion’s school superintendent. She says this weekend will help build relationships between the two student bodies.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Flint Board of Education has signed off on a deficit elimination plan for the district.

The challenge now is sticking to it.

The Flint school district is $15.8 million dollars in the red.

To address that, school board members last night approved a plan that will cut jobs, close two elementary schools and trim other expenses.   The goal is to reduce the district deficit to zero by June, 2016. 

Antoinette Lockett is the board president. She says retaining students will be key.

Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Council for Education Effectiveness is proposing a new way to evaluate teachers and administrators.  The council presented its recommendations to the state legislature, the governor and the state Board of Education on Wednesday.

Michigan currently has statewide standards for teachers, but there is not an evaluation system in place. Current evaluations are conducted differently in each district. This new system would require teachers to be evaluated every year and receive one of three ratings: "ineffective," "provisional" or "professional." The evaluation is based on the teacher's classroom practice and their students' performance.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers recently approved a huge expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program. That's the state's preschool program for 4-year olds at risk of being under-prepared for kindergarten.

More money for preschoolers was one of the main initiatives in Governor Snyder's State of the State speech last January. And the Legislature was listening, because that $65 million increase represents a 60% expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program.

We wanted to talk about what this expansion means to preschoolers all over Michigan and what more needs to be done.

Mina Hong is a Senior Policy Associate of Michigan's Children, and Scott Menzel is the superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, and he also chairs the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators' Early Childhood Committee.

Hong and Menzel joined us today to discuss the issue.

Dwight Burdette / wikimedia commons

The financially troubled Michigan school districts of Inkster and Buena Vista have until 5 p.m. Monday, July 22 to prove they have the money to run their school districts and that they have plans to eliminate their deficits.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon and Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan informed the districts of that deadline today.

Michigan House Republicans

This week, a state House panel in Lansing kicked off a series of hearings on Common Core. You might have been hearing about the Common Core lately. It's a set of nationwide school standards put together by the National Governors Association and being debated around the nation.

State lawmakers recently passed a budget that bars the Michigan Department of Education from implementing the standards.

Supporters of the standards - including Governor Rick Snyder and State Superintendent Michael Flanagan - say Common Core is essential to making sure students in Michigan are ready for college and careers.

Opponents say the standards strip local control and were developed without transparency.

We sat down with Michigan School Board President John Austin, a supporter of Common Core, and State Representative Tom McMillin, an opponent of the standards.

But first, let's get a better understanding of just what these standards are.

Michelle Richard, Senior Consultant at Public Sector Consultants, specializing in education policy and research, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan.gov

Debate is underway in Lansing about whether to implement a set of state school standards.

A state House panel held its first meeting on Common Core State Standards Tuesday.

Republican Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) grilled state Department of Education officials about Common Core. He says the standards take away local control and were developed and adopted without public input.

Meanwhile, state Superintendent State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is urging lawmakers to go forward with a set of nationwide school standards. Flanagan argues that districts would have final say over standards and curriculum.

“Technically, [districts] don’t even have to follow the Common Core,” Flanagan said. “Now, I think they will. It’s a smart...well thought out set of standards.”

Gov. Rick Snyder also supports adopting the Common Core standards.

State lawmakers have formed a special bipartisan subcommittee to debate the merits of the Common Core Standards Initiative.  

Last month, the State Legislature blocked the state from implementing the school standards. Lawmakers said they needed more time to review Common Core before letting it take full effect in Michigan. The subcommittee met for the first time today in Lansing. 

Republican State Rep. Amanda Price from Park Township is the vice-chair of the subcommittee and she spoke with All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White. 

Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the proposal to consolidate school districts into county-wide systems, the canceled bus tour for Detroit creditors, and the new changes on the Detroit City Council.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

One hundred years ago, the state of Michigan had more than 7,000 local school districts.

There are slightly more than 800 school districts today, and many of them are struggling with their finances.

Today, State Superintendent Michael Flanagan outlined a plan he says would save money.

He wants more school services consolidated at the county level.

State reviewing finances of Hazel Park schools

Jul 7, 2013

Michigan's top educator has ordered a financial review of the Hazel Park schools, a step that could lead to a state takeover of the suburban Detroit district.

The Detroit Free Press says state schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan wrote Hazel Park Superintendent James Meisinger that he's concerned the district's deficit will reach $3.3 million by month's end. That's up from $1.5 million at the end of June 2012.

A report is due Monday.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An alternative school for at-risk kids in Battle Creek has found a new school district to oversee its academic program. .

Marshall Schools was the only district to apply to take over the academic program at the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy.

The alternative school program has operated for 14 years at the National Guard base in Battle Creek. The academy serves about 250 at-risk young people from across Michigan annually.

Dwight Burdette / wikimedia commons

Small school districts with big money troubles could be broken up by the state under a new law signed by Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday.

Saginaw County’s Buena Vista and metro Detroit’s Inkster could be the first districts dissolved and folded into their neighbors under the new law, MPRN's Rick Pluta reports.

Governor Snyder says that the review of the districts is proceeding quickly, so students and their families will know where they’re attending classes in the fall.

“We’re talking days, not months,” Snyder said.

DPS

Consider this some free advertising.

Right now, Detroit Public Schools is proposing its most optimistic budget in years:

  • No teacher layoffs
  • The return of after-school programming, at least in some schools
  • Minimal increases in class sizes
  • New parenting resources
  • A little more money for instruction: about $2 million in total 

But it’s all riding on whether the district can lure 5,000 students away from competitors.

That’s a big bet to make.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint school board members last night approved a budget for next year.

The district’s superintendent says Flint schools may be close to reaching bottom with its new budget.

Flint schools have been struggling with a declining student enrollment and budget problems for years.

The budget approved last night includes closing four schools and laying off around 150 employees.

Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins says more cuts may be needed, if enrollment slides even further.

Nancy Nall Derringer / LinkedIn

Governor Snyder’s school reform agenda includes rewarding schools for so called best practices.

Those include providing physical education, offering online instructional programs or blended learning opportunities, or being a school of choice. Districts meeting seven out of eight of those best practices are eligible to receive 52 additional dollars per pupil in the district.

user dig downtown detroit / Flickr

We've heard about the tuition increases for other public universities in Michigan.

Tomorrow, the board of regents for Wayne State University will vote on that school's increase.

David Jesse over at the Detroit Free Press reports it could be a big one:

Ypsilanti Community Schools

Ypsilanti’s school district is pushing for a districtwide scholarship program that will provide tuition funds to its graduates.

On Monday, Ypsilanti Community Schools officially opened its doors. YCS is the product of school consolidation in Washtenaw County. Earlier this year, voters approved the combination of the financially troubled Ypsilanti Public School district and Willow Run Community Schools.

With a new mascot selected and a logo finalized, the merged district is beginning to rebrand its image.

School supporters hope a new scholarship program that would provide funding for community college tuition for all qualifying students will be a big part of that new image.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Medicaid vote delayed

Governor Rick Snyder called out Republican state Senators for taking their summer recess before voting on Medicaid expansion.  He is requesting that lawmakers return to vote on the legislation.  Michigan Radio’s Jake Neher quotes Governor Snyder as saying “Please come do your job.  Please come take a vote.  Please come vote ‘yes.’”

School budget bill in Governor's hands

Bills allowing the state to dissolve debt-ridden school districts heads to Governor Snyder’s desk today.  They were approved yesterday by the state House, with votes following party lines.  Rick Pluta reports that this may enable the state to quickly shut down the Buena Vista and Inkster school districts. 

Bridges in need of repair

1300 bridges in Michigan have been judged unsafe in a new study from Transportation for America.  Jeff Cranson with the Michigan Department of Transportation believes that Governor Snyder’s 1.2 billion-dollar road investment bill will help fix the problem.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing school board last night approved the district's budget for next year.

The $142 million spending plan is $25 million smaller than the current year budget.    The district is tightening its belt, including laying off between 90 and 100 employees.

Yvonne Caamal Canul is Lansing’s school superintendent. She describes the budget plan as setting a baseline for the district, one the district can grow from in the future.

Right now, it’s about preparing for this fall. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The man hired by the Flint School Board to find buyers for closed school buildings is not optimistic he’ll be able to find buyers.

Last night, the Flint school district hired Cooper Commercial, a Genesee County commercial real estate company, to try to find buyers for more than two dozen old schools and other buildings.

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