Education

Education
10:26 am
Mon June 30, 2014

U of M president says university fought for financial aid amid 75% tuition increase over her tenure

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman wraps up her 12-year tenure on July 13, 2014.

She spoke on Stateside with Cynthia Canty today. Listen to our interview with her here:

Coleman oversaw a time of growth at the university – spearheading a capital campaign that resulted in the most money ever raised by a public university.

U of M also saw a building boom on Coleman's watch.

But there was another kind of boom during Coleman's tenure. Undergraduate tuition went up more than 75%.

Coleman says the university has worked hard to keep tuition affordable in spite of spiraling tuition rates.

"And what we've done here at the University of Michigan is to work extremely hard to raise money for financial aid and to make it available."

*Correction: A previous version of this story said that today was Coleman's last day as president. Her final day is July 13. We regret the error.

Education
6:53 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Charter school advocate rips Detroit Free Press investigation

Dan Quisenberry, President of MAPSA, appearing on Off the Record with Tim Skubick.
Credit Off the Record

One of Michigan’s top charter school advocates is blasting the Detroit Free Press’ recent investigation into charters.

Reporter Jennifer Dixon and others uncovered incidents suggesting conflicts of interest, a lack of transparency, and mixed academic results in charters.

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Education
7:00 am
Fri June 27, 2014

The Best Classroom Project: Helping Detroit parents navigate a confusing school landscape

Jason and Dara Hill, with daughter Norah, at home in Indian Village.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

This week, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative is looking at how the city is functioning under bankruptcy.

Mayor Mike Duggan says his top priority is reversing the city’s long population decline.

But there are a couple key quality of life issues Duggan has no control over. One of them is the city’s schools.

Here’s the story of one Detroit family’s effort to find good schools.

Meet the Hills

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Education
10:48 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Flint school district budget deficit soars to $20 million

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school district is sinking deeper into red ink.

Less than 12 months ago, an audit placed the district’s budget deficit at $10.4 million.  It's now pegged at $20.4 million.  

The Flint school district has been struggling to reduce its multi-million dollar deficit for years. But last night, school district officials described recent budget plans as being “far from reality,” even describing the district’s current budget as only ”close to reality.”

Isaiah Oliver is the president of the Flint Board of Education.  He calls the new deficit number “devastating”

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Education
7:27 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Muskegon Heights schools has lots to do as charter company departs

Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Mosaica Education, the charter company running Muskegon Heights schools, only has a few days left in its contract. But the district still has lots to do to get everything in place for the fall.

Last night the district hired its superintendent at a special board meeting. But it still has to finalize agreements with a staffing agency to hire all of its teachers and few other vendors by Monday.

This summer it has to finish building repairs, and rearrange all the grade levels because an elementary school building will close.

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Stateside
4:43 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Michigan's program for troubled schools has a new leader

Credit Jane M Sawyer / morgue file

Michigan's Education Achievement Authority, formed in 2011, was created to help failing schools. It currently operates 15 schools in Detroit.

EAA Chancellor John Covington stepped down with one year left on his contract. What does this mean for the EAA and the students in its 15 schools?

Bridge Magazine education writer Chastity Pratt Dawsey covers the EAA extensively. She said there had been talk for months that Covington was going to resign.

Veronica Conforme was named the interim replacement. She’s from New York City, where she was Chief Operating Officer for New York City public schools. Pratt said it's unclear if they are going to keep Conforme at the helm or if they are going to hire someone new.

Pratt added that the EAA had to do damage control in the media and let everyone know that they are trying to do better.

“There were some misgivings about [Covington's] leadership and whether or not the EAA was going in the right direction,” Pratt said.

Pratt added that the EAA had problems since it was put together hastily in 2011. In its first year, it was supposed to be funded by donations, which has not been done for any school in the United States.

“The first year, the donations did not come in as expected. They get the kids the second year of operations, they don’t get the Title I money that they think they are going to get,” Pratt said.

The EAA had to borrow money, using the Detroit Public Schools as a conduit. They started to lose students. MEAP scores were lower than promised. Their online individualized education plan did not see the success people thought it would. State legislators even complained about a lack of transparency in the system, and that Covington had a lucrative contract.

Pratt said that the EAA needs to turn around their academics. Parents and teachers are saying they want results, not excuses.

“Do something, make it happen. Otherwise, what was the point?” Pratt said. 

*Listen to full interview above.

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.

Education
5:45 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Review team to determine what district already knows: Benton Harbor schools in financial stress

Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Leonard Seawood discusses the district's finances in front of the Emergency Loan Board in April 2014.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor Area Schools has taken the next step in process that could result in an emergency manager.

Gov. Rick Snyder announced today his appointment of a six-member review team. The team has 60 days to determine if the district is in financial stress.

The district’s superintendent, Leonard Seawood, told state officials a few weeks ago it is. 

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Education
1:32 pm
Sat June 21, 2014

Stop looking at this kitten and pay attention in class

MSU researchers found that students who we’re busy shopping online or watching cat videos did not test as well as other students who stayed off-line.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

College students should stop surfing the internet in class and start paying more attention to their professors. That’s the finding of a new report from Michigan State University.

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Education
4:47 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Detroit Public Schools release budget proposal for next year

Credit DPS website

For the first time in six years the Detroit Public Schools' proposed budget does not call for any schools to be closed. 

The district expects it will bring in about $50 million fewer than it planned for next year. But officials say despite that, they are planning new programs and won't close any schools. 

The idea is to keep the city's schools competitive with charters and suburban districts. 

But there is still the matter of a $127 million deficit the Detroit school district is battling. 

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Education
1:22 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

MSU and the University of Michigan to raise tuition rates

Michigan State University.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Students at two of Michigan’s largest universities will be paying more in the fall.

The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents increased in-state undergraduate costs by 2.6% yesterday.

For out-of-state students, the increases will be higher: According to The Michigan Daily, out-of-state undergraduates will see their cost of attendance rise by 3.4%.

That brings the total cost of in-state attendance to $13,158. For out-of-state students, cost of attendance will be around $41,578.

Michigan State University followed suit today, increasing its in-state costs by 2.6% for in-state underclassmen, and 2.9% for in-state juniors and seniors.

The state’s budget increased its funding for higher education this year by 5.9%.

For the University of Michigan and its three campuses — Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn — that translates to $295 million coming from Lansing. That’s an increase of $18.5 million.

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Education
6:00 am
Thu June 19, 2014

New EAA chief: School reform district has already "shattered the status quo," but needs to do better

EAA interim chancellor Veronica Conforme
Credit via Education Achievement Authority

The Education Achievement Authority’s new leader says that system has already “shattered the status quo” in some of Michigan’s most troubled schools.

But Veronica Conforme says EAA leaders also need to “take a hard look” at how the district is performing.

Conforme outlined her vision for the state-run school reform district Wednesday, one day after the EAA board named her interim chancellor.

Former Chancellor John Covington, who had led the district since it launched in 2012, stepped down Monday.

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Education
6:00 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Education Achievement Authority appoints interim chancellor, plans big budget cuts

Veronica Conforme, a former top-ranking official for the New York City school district, became the EAA's interim chancellor Tuesday.
Credit via Education Achievement Authority

It’s only Wednesday, but it’s already been a very turbulent week for the Education Achievement Authority.

The EAA board met Tuesday, the day after former Chancellor John Covington announced he was resigning for personal reasons. Covington was not in attendance as board members accepted his resignation.

The EAA is a state-led “reform district” for Michigan’s lowest-performing schools.

It’s Gov. Rick Snyder’s chief education initiative, and Covington has been at the helm since it launched in 2012 with 15 former Detroit Public Schools.

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Education
3:28 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Emergency manager says new arrangement at Muskegon Heights schools will be more economical

(right to left) Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross, Parent Team president Kaja Thornton, High School principal Carla Turner-Laws and King Elementary Principal Stacey Pallett. All the principals hope to be re-hired by the staffing agency next year.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Muskegon Heights schools’ emergency manager thinks a new setup to run the district next year will be more economical than hiring another charter company.

For the last two years, a for-profit company ran Muskegon Heights schools. But it ran into cash flow problems. The state had to give the district two cash advances this spring to pay staff and give it an emergency loan to keep schools open through the end of the school year.  

“We are in a survival mode,” Muskegon Heights schools emergency manager Gregory Weatherspoon said at a press conference Tuesday. “We will go for whatever will work and save us money and this was a cost savings to us,” he said.

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Education
8:03 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Muskegon Heights schools rejects for-profit charter bids in favor of (some) local control

Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Updated: Emergency manager says new arrangement will be more economical than charter school company

Muskegon Heights schools will not hire another for-profit charter company to run the district. Instead, the district plans to hire its own superintendent, a staffing company and the intermediate school district in Muskegon County to run schools for the next three years.

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6:32 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Plant your soul: The poetry of a Detroit elementary school

Lead in text: 
All this year, producer Zak Rosen has been reporting on the first year of the James and Grace Lee Boggs School in Detroit. Whitney Walker is the office manager at school, which her daughter Zoe also attends. Whitney Walker is also a poet, and in this installment of the Boggs School series she offers a documentary poem about her transformative experience working at the school.
Whitney Walker has had a lot of jobs in her life. But she was never content until she landed at her current gig as the office manager at the James and
Education
8:07 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

The guy with one of Detroit's toughest jobs is resigning

EAA Chancellor John Covington has resigned.
Credit The Broad Superintendents Academy

Let's do this MEAP style. Choose one of the following.

John Covington is:

A) an education visionary, brought in to turn around some of Detroit's worst schools using a model that lets kids learn at their own level, regardless of age or grade;

B) an overpaid, underperforming puppet of a state takeover of Detroit's schools;

C) It just depends on whom you ask. 

Right or wrong, the chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority is stepping down. 

Hired to fix Detroit's failing schools, amidst political turmoil 

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Stateside
7:25 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Michigan lawmakers stall plan to replace MEAP with new exams

Credit Alberto G. / Creative Commons

One of the many decisions made by state lawmakers during their budget actions last week was to keep the MEAP in place for another year.

The more than 40-year-old MEAP exam stays put even though Michigan adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. And the state's education department has been working for the past three years to bring in the new testing that is aligned to the Common Core. That new test is called the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

The state lawmakers' recent decision could mean that educators and students have to hit the reverse button and go back to MEAP. But State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in April that the MEAP was simply “not an option."

Brian Smith has been reporting on the Common Core and Smarter Balanced vs. MEAP tussle. He said that as the issue moved forward, the Department of Education started to talk to testing vendors and see what could possibly be done.

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Education
1:47 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

GM donates robots to Oakland Community College

OCC offers seven industrial robotics courses using robots such as this at their Auburn Hills Campus.
Credit OCC

The robotics students at Oakland Community College are getting a gift today. 

General Motors is donating robots that were once used to make cars on its assembly plant floors. They are going to the school's industrial robotics program at the Auburn Hills campus. 

The equipment is valued at $20,000  and will be used for hands-on training for students learning how to program and maintain robots.  

Dr. Timothy Meyer is chancellor at Oakland Community College. He says the donation will help prepare students for manufacturing jobs that can help boost the local economy. 

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Education
7:20 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

House speaker's dad to join Western Michigan University board

James Bolger earned a master's degree in public administration from Western Michigan.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed House Speaker Jase Bolger's father to serve on the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees.

James Bolger is a retired Michigan State Police official who lives in Whitehall. The Kalamazoo Gazette says he'll fill the seat vacated when Trustee Michelle Crumm resigned.

Bolger will complete Crumm's eight-year term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2020.

Bolger earned a master's degree in public administration from Western Michigan.

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Education
5:45 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Lawmakers decide against docking MSU $500k for labor courses

Lawmakers decided not to punish MSU for offering a course on organized labor after all.
Credit William Mu / Flickr

State lawmakers have backed down from penalizing Michigan State University over controversial courses about organized labor. The $500,000 fine was taken out of a budget bill approved this week in the Legislature.

“As we’ve made the rounds and talked to a number of members, I think as we give them all information, I think there’s fewer concerns than were originally raised,” said David Bertram, MSU’s assistant vice president for state affairs.

Bertram says no taxpayer money is used to support the program.

“As a matter of fact, we actually make a small profit off of this that goes into the graduate program at our school of human resources and labor relations,” he said.

The program is offered to groups hoping to learn more about union organizing. It is not open to regular undergraduate or graduate students.

The state budget for the fiscal year starting in October is on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

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