education

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Drug tests for welfare recipients

A bill which would require drug tests for welfare recipients has moved forward in the Michigan legislature.

"A state House panel yesterday sent the legislation to the full chamber. Under the bill, the state would have to have reasonable suspicion before requiring a test. Cash assistance benefits could be terminated for people who test positive," Jake Neher reports.

Student performance in Michigan falls behind

"A new report from The Education Trust – Midwest says Michigan improved some aspects of student performance, but most other states improved even more between 2003 to 2011. The report says one reason Michigan fell behind is that the state’s strategy for improvement relied primarily on the expansion of charter and virtual schools," Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer reports.

Ending unlimited coverage for auto accidents

Governor Rick Snyder and GOP lawmakers are unveiling a proposal today to end unlimited lifetime coverage for medical expenses tied to auto accidents.

"The insurance lobby and other critics say Michigan's unique requirement for unlimited medical coverage is too expensive. Hospitals and others say it should stay intact," according to the Associated Press.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers are seeking to change the state's high school graduation requirements to make it easier for students to pursue career and technical education programs.

The bills introduced in the House last month would allow students to substitute algebra II with statistics, technical math or another math relevant to their career and technical education. It would also remove the foreign language requirement.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Majority Republicans in the Michigan Legislature are split over spending plans for K-12 schools, public universities and community colleges.

Budgets that moved forward Wednesday include a difference over punishing public employers for signing long contracts before the right-to-work law took effect.

Other rifts include how much to boost preschool funding for at-risk 4-year-olds and whether to give K-12 schools a bigger boost in their per-pupil funding or more for employee retirement costs.

The House Appropriations Committee approved a $15 billion education budget that restricts or cuts funding for the University of Michigan and other publicly funded entities that agreed to new contracts with employee unions before March 28. Workers must continue paying union dues or fees until the contracts end.

Senate budget subcommittees are passing budgets without right-to-work penalties.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The US Department of Education is now investigating the state of Michigan over alleged civil rights violations.

The department’s civil rights office was already investigating two civil rights cases against the Detroit Public Schools.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

Some state lawmakers say it’s time to drop a set standards meant to evaluate schools across the country.

A House panel heard testimony today on a bill to opt out of the Common Core Standards Initiative.

Republican Representative Tom McMillin says it’s a federal takeover of school curriculum.

“We don’t want our kids to be common. We want our kids in Michigan to be exceptional. And this certainly lowers the bar, and makes it so that we have no ability to raise the bar.”

Governor Snyder was on hand in Detroit to wrap up his two-day Governor's Economic Summit Tuesday.

One of the summit's main goals was to start matching workforce talent and job skills with employers’ needs. There was a lot of talk about the need for better-trained employees in some sectors, particularly the skilled trades.

But Snyder says employers have to do their part, too—and treat potential employees like customers.

I didn’t go to an exceptionally good public school system, but I did have to study Spanish from kindergarten through eighth grade. More than 20 years later, I found myself in Colombia covering the aftermath of a volcano that buried a town. My rusty Spanish was anything but fluent, but I was able to ask directions, order meals, hire transportation and have basic conversations.

In high school I studied Latin, and later learned French and German, plus a smattering of Russian and Japanese. I am not really fluent in any of those languages, but they have helped me immeasurably. If I could do my life over, the major change I would make would be to have studied more languages more deeply.

If anything, this is far more essential today. We have a global economy, and a few years ago, Michigan sensibly started requiring high school students to take a second language to graduate. So I was horrified to learn that one of our state representatives, Phil Potvin of Cadillac, has introduced a bill to get rid of our language requirement and the requirement that students take Algebra 2.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Democratic Michigan lawmaker wants to ensure that students are not penalized for missing school to observe a religious holiday.

Democratic Rep. Kate Segal of Battle Creek recently introduced a bill that would prohibit public school officials from counting days students take off to observe religious holidays against them when handing out perfect attendance or other awards.

Segal said in a statement that if children make up their missed work they should not have to choose "between observing their faith and boosting their academic resume."

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

From Maine, to California - from Alaska to Hawaii - one of the biggest challenges facing governors and state lawmakers is how to plug the gaping holes in their budgets.

Certainly, Michigan is right in the thick of that challenge.
 
There are plenty of belt-tightening measures that have been taken - cost-cutting steps that can leave the quality of life for citizens somehow diminished.
 
But a new report offers another way to plug those holes in struggling state budgets: keep our kids from dropping out of high school. Increase the graduation rates.

The education advocates who put this report together find that high school dropouts cost our nation some $1.8 billion in lost tax revenue.
 
Today we took a closer look at the cost of high school dropouts, and we found out how one Michigan school district has successfully managed to raise its graduation rate.
 
We were joined by Michigan State University economist Charley Ballard and the Superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools, Brian Whiston.
 
Listen to the full interview above.

University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - A University of Michigan history professor is being honored for his contributions to education research and policy.

Jeffrey Mirel has been elected to the National Academy of Education. As a member of the academy, Mirel will participate in professional development programs and serve on expert panels to discuss education issues.

He's one of 12 members from across the country elected this year.

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Public Schools is looking for more volunteer readers.

Reading Corps Week in Detroit begins Monday and runs through Friday. The district is planning a rally and training Saturday at Renaissance High School as part of its Reading Corps program.

Education, city and business leaders who have served as reading tutors will participate in the rally. Nearly 900 people have volunteered to help tutor Detroit students as part of the program.

New volunteers will be trained at the rally.

For art teachers in Michigan, it may be hard to even remember what “good news” feels like.

Between budget cuts, pink slips and declining enrollment, more than 108,000 Michigan kids don’t have any art access in their schools. That’s according to a 2012 statewide survey.

But for some 20,000 students, that’s about to change. They’re getting…a free bus ride.

"The money is just not there."

Students at computers
User: Extra Ketchup / creative commons

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

The state of Michigan is quickly becoming a leader in online education with the support of Governor Snyder.

K-12 schools, colleges and universities throughout the state are realizing the potential online learning offers to students. 

A recent education study conducted by The Center for Michigan found that residents are less enthusiastic about online learning. 

As a new form of education, there are still unanswered questions about the advantages and disadvantages of online learning for students.

Michigan Virtual University, founded in the late 1990's by the State of Michigan is now one of the largest virtual schools in the country. 

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Jamey Fitzpatrick, the President and CEO of Michigan Virtual University.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

After the Center for Michigan released its big report on public education in Michigan last month, one of the big themes that emerged for discussion was how to evaluate teachers, and how to better prepare teachers to do their jobs.

We wanted to bring a teacher into the discussion, so we brought in Robert Stephenson.

He taught elementary school for 18 years in Okemos, and he is currently an administrator at Donley Elementary School in East Lansing.

Robert Stephenson was also one of the top five finalists for National Teacher of the Year in 2010.

The report from the Center for Michigan took the thoughts and opinions of people all over the state.

Four out of every five people say they want teachers to be better prepared for the classroom, and two out of three said "we need to hold teachers more accountable."

We asked Stephenson about teacher evaluation, and about what's  missing when it comes to preparing teachers to stand in front of that classroom.

user alkruse24 / Flickr

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Last month, The Center for Michigan, a non-partisan, non-profit think tank, released its major report on K-12 public education in our state.

It was the largest effort ever to collect and analyze what the public thinks about Michigan schools and teachers.

As we heard here on Stateside, that report was based on hundreds of meetings with people all over the state.

And emerging from those discussions was a clear theme: the best way to improve Michigan schools is to improve the skills of the person standing at the front of the classroom.

Two-thirds of Michiganders say we need to hold teachers more accountable.

Four out of every five say they want teachers to be better prepared for the classroom.

Cyndy spoke with a high school principal, an education expert and a professor of teacher education to make sense of these statistics.

marquette.edu

A bill in the state legislature would drop the foreign language requirement in Michigan high schools.

State Representative Phil Potvin dismisses the suggestion that learning a foreign language will better prepare Michigan teens for a globalized economy. He says the requirement has the opposite effect. Potvin says the foreign language requirement pushes kids to drop out of school.

“It’s forcing kids into frustration…it’s forcing kids into failure….at a time that I thought we were here to set up success,” says Potvin.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Bill Schuette / Facebook.com

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has been arguing that seven of the eleven school board members on the Detroit school board are holding office illegally and he wants them removed.

He lost a challenge in court early this week.

Chastity Pratt Dawsey reports for the Detroit Free Press that "Wayne Circuit Court Judge John Gillis Jr. denied State Attorney General Bill Schuette’s motion for summary disposition and granted the school board’s motion, effectively allowing the school board to continue to hold office."

In a statement released today, the attorney for the school board, George Washington, called the lawsuit bogus:

George B. Washington, attorney for the Detroit School Board, said “We are glad that this lawsuit has been exposed as the bogus claim that it always was. Attorney General Schuette and Governor Snider [sic] filed this lawsuit to prevent the largely black and Latino citizens of Detroit from having any say over their own schools. The Attorney General should not appeal this decision and he and the Governor should stop trying to destroy elected government in the City of Detroit."

Schuette has argued that the Detroit school board members cannot be elected by district, because state law requires that a school district have 100,000 students or more to elect board members that way.

It's the difference between a "first class" school district, and a "general powers" school district.

He's argued that Detroit hasn’t met that threshold since 2008.

In his decision, Judge Gillis Jr. wrote that the state code does not address what should happen in a district where student enrollment has declined.

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court won't hear an appeal over the sale of a Detroit-area school for a mosque and Islamic community center.

In an order released Saturday, the court said a September decision by the appeals court in favor of the Farmington school district will stand.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Some students, parents, and education advocates from Detroit and Highland Park will testify at a federal hearing in Washington this week.

They are part of a nationwide group speaking out against changes in Detroit and other poor school districts.

The group alleges that some of the measures, particularly closing neighborhood schools, have “sabotaged and destabilized” education for many children.

Helen Moore is with the Detroit-based group Keep the Vote-No Takeover.

She said the group wasn’t getting far fighting these measures at the local level.

Have you forgotten about the snow already?
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The snow and freezing rain have led to hazardous road conditions around the state. From the National Weather Service:

Freezing rain will continue overnight across portions of the Great Lakes states, where total ice accumulations could exceed one quarter of an inch. Meanwhile, heavy snowfall is forecast from northern Wisconsin into northern Michigan. The wintery mix will move into the Northeast States and northern Mid-Atlantic early Monday.

Parents have received robocalls from their school districts notifying them of the closures, but if you missed a call, here are a few links for school closings.

WXYZ-TV in Detroit has  list of school closings in SE Michigan.

WLNS-TV has this page for districts in the central part of the state.

And WOOD-TV has a list of closings for the western part of the state.

The snow and ice are expected to melt this morning as temperatures rise into the mid-40s across much of the state.

Jane M Sawyer / morgue file

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Governor Snyder announced his plan to increase funding for early childhood education during last week’s State of the State.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra and Dustin Dwyer are researching education in Michigan through the State of Opportunity project.

They spoke with Cyndy today about the benefits of early childhood education.

According to Guerra, there were waves of both skepticism and excitement after Gov. Snyder talked about early childhood education in his State of the State address.

Stateside: Study surveys the state of education in Michigan

Jan 22, 2013
http://thecenterformichigan.net/

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio file.

A recent study called “The Public’s Agenda for Public Education” surveyed more than 5,000 Michigan residents to learn how to best improve public education.

John Bebow, president and chief executive of the Center for Michigan and Amber Toth, outreach director for the Center for Michigan, were both involved in the study.

They spoke today with Cyndy about the survey and the state’s future goals for education reform.

“Those who most need that economic ladder that a great education provides, are feeling least well served by today’s system,” said Bebow.

One student with whom Bebow spoke was using dated textbooks.

“We had a student in a community conversation say, ‘my government textbook says Ronald Reagan was the last president.’ We had other people at the opposite end of the spectrum concerned about how we spend money. There are so many concerns expressed. This survey is by no means a lambasting of the education service industry. People are concerned…” said Bebow.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

What does 2013 have in store for Michigan politics?

Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, and Debbie Dingell, President of D2 Strategies, spoke today with Zoe Clark.

They addressed the importance of Democrats and Republicans collaborating on key issues for the state.

Dingell predicted an ardent strategy from Democrats.

“The air is not cleared and will be an issue for the next two years. The challenge for Democrats is to develop a strategy that gets at the core of the issue but doesn’t hurt Michigan in the process,” said Dingell.

“The biggest challenge for all of us is, how do we do what’s right and what’s best for Michigan? How do we move forward on good public policy where we actually have common ground?” said Anuzis.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

A national education advocacy group ranks Michigan sixth in the country for education policy.

The group Students First says the state gets high marks for bills passed in recent years by the Republican-led state Legislature.     

They include measures making it tougher for teachers to be tenured, and teacher evaluations that depend more on student achievement.     

But Andy Solon with Students First said the state can do better in some areas.

DETROIT (AP) - Declines in school enrollment across the Detroit area are driving school districts into debt and forcing administrators to make additional cuts.

Data reviewed by the Detroit Free Press shows that during the five years spanning fall 2008 to fall 2012 enrollment declined 17 percent in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne county school districts. Highland Park enrollment declined 69 percent, while Detroit dropped 29 percent. Romulus and Inkster declined 26 percent.

Overall, 20 Detroit-area districts had double-digit enrollment losses.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

On Monday, The Grand Rapids School Board unanimously approved a district restructuring plan. Recommended by Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal, the plan aims to both improve student achievement and save money.

The “Transformation Plan” attempts to reinvent the school district by closing ten buildings, reopening one elementary and reforming other programs. The plan will save more than $22.4 million over five years, with at least half being re-invested in replicating and expanding effective school programs.

Stateside: Addressing Michigan's income disparity

Dec 12, 2012
Charley Ballard, Michigan State University economist, spoke with Cyndy about the health of Michigan's economy.
Michigan State University

The gap between the Middle and Upper class in Michigan has widened.

Michigan State University’s Charley Ballard spoke with Cyndy about income disparity in both the state and country.

“There is a lot of emphasis about the level of income, but I am talking about the gap between those at the top, the middle and bottom in terms of how much their household income is. A big story is that the gap has widened. Michigan is typical in that the gap between the gap and top and the middle has gone way up, but the gap between the middle and the bottom has not,” said Ballard.

The disparities in income are largely a result of varying degrees of education among Michigan workers.

“Those at the top tend to be college-educated. Those at the bottom tend to not be,” said Ballard.

According to Ballard, Michigan’s statistics are average when compared nationally.

“In a lot of ways we’re a middle-of-the-pack state. If you take that ratio of the household income for the person at the 90th percentile, upper-middle class, and compare that with the household income with someone at the tenth percentile, that ratio increased by more than 20% in Michigan.”

Jake Neher / MPRN

State lawmakers are mulling over a number of bills that would overhaul public education in Michigan.

One measure would expand a new state-run district meant to turn-around schools with test scores in the bottom five-percent.

The idea has many public school officials pitted against each other.

Schools like Detroit's Denby High school are at the center of the debate.

Last year, it was one of the lowest-performing schools in the Detroit Public Schools system. Now, it’s one of 15 Detroit schools the state oversees through its Education Achievement Authority.

VickieMarkavitch Twitter

Yesterday, we covered the proposed education overhaul bill that could drastically change the ways students attend school.

Today, we spoke with Dr. Vickie Markavitch about Michigan’s education system and her view of the proposed changes.

Markavitch, a Superintendent of Oakland County Schools, claims the changes would have a negative impact on Michigan’s schools.

“I’ve been an educator for 46 years. I don’t think we can turn over our next generation to something that is ‘anyhow, any one.’ It’s a corporatization of public education. It really has nothing to do with improving achievement,” she said.

Stateside: Education reforms aim to change schools' formats

Dec 3, 2012
James Sarmiento / Flickr

The Michigan House of Representatives and Senate are looking at a series of proposals that could drastically change the state’s education system.

Jeff Williams of Public Sector Consultants and MLive reporter Tim Martin addressed the various reforms.

According to Martin, the proposals were met with a variety of responses.

“The folks in favor of it tend to be people who now offer alternatives to the traditional K-12 school districts. Some of the traditional K-12 districts feel these changes are coming too fast. They’re worried about the model and what it might mean for them from a financial standpoint,” said Martin.

The proposals would change the way schools receive funding.

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