Education

Education
9:06 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Detroit high school for pregnant teens is closing – this time, for real

The Catherine Ferguson Academy serves pregnant and parenting moms in high school.
Credit Catherine Ferguson Academy

It's kind of heartbreaking. 

The Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit is closing at the end of this month, due to low enrollment and financial trouble.

That's the announcement from the Wayne RESA, the intermediate school district that held the school's charter, and the whole thing feels like deja vu.

A beloved school repeatedly finds itself on brink of closure    

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Education
1:13 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Senior prank season in full swing at Michigan high schools

Big Boy sometimes plays a part in senior pranks in different parts of the country.

The end of the school year is upon us. It puts high school administrators on high alert.

Sometimes they don't have to worry about much.

Even though their seniors try it, no, their high school won't be sold on Craigslist. Seniors at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor gave it a go. As did seniors at Freeland High School in Mid-Michigan.

This kind of prank is harmless and fun. Even the more mature members of the community can appreciate this type of prank – as this news segment shows:

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Education
1:39 pm
Sat May 31, 2014

Poll: Student loans were a good investment....but....

The Federal Reserve estimates the total student loan debt at just over a trillion dollars, with the average student borrowing about 30 thousand dollars.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Thousands of new Michigan college graduates entered the workforce in the past month.

Many can relate to the findings of a new poll on student loans.

A new poll by a credit counseling group shows people with student loans believe by a two to one margin that borrowing money to pay for college was a good investment. But most people in that same poll would not recommend taking out a student loan now.

Older people were more pessimistic than younger college grads.

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Education
12:32 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Common Core: the future of testing for Michigan's school kids

A sample question from a field test of what was supposed to be, and might still be, the new Michigan K-12 assessment. Swimmers race. Time is kept to two decimal points. What happens if time is only kept to one decimal point?

As the school year comes to end, parents, teachers and even kids themselves are wondering what kind of testing they'll have to endure when they return in the fall. 

Michigan's adopted a set of standards called Common Core. With it, the state wants to give kids an applied knowledge kind of test called Smarter Balanced.

But not everyone's happy. State lawmakers are trying to stop the new test and trying to take the power to oversee school testing away from the Michigan Department of Education. Some of them want to bring back the MEAP. 

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Education
6:16 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Detroit may have to close 26 schools

Credit MDE

Detroit Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski (say "stroh-dow-ski") wants you to know that administrators get it: Nobody likes closing schools. 

"We look at a school as the anchor or the center of a  neighborhood. And for us to take it away could do some serious damage, and we don't want to do that," she says.

But they do have a $120 million deficit this year.

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Education
5:28 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Activists don't want another private charter school company running Muskegon Heights

Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

If you've got a charter school management company and you'd like to run the chaotic, broke school district of Muskegon Heights, today is your last day to submit a bid.  

That's because the school system's emergency manager recently announced a mutual split with their previous contractor, a company called Mosaica Education.

Mosaica was losing money.

And it was getting a lot of flack for hiring teachers without proper certification (which earned the district state fines) and not delivering all the required special education services. 

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2:12 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Do your homework or hold down a job? How about both.

Lead in text: 
Jennifer Guerra visits a Catholic High School using an apprenticeship model to give their students a competitive advantage.
School is almost over for the year, and one Detroit high school has lots to celebrate. The entire graduating class has been accepted to college. Nearly all
Education
12:20 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Ads aimed at future students claim "Michigan has a rape problem"

Ads like this one appeared on Facebook.
Credit UltraViolet

"University of Michigan has a rape problem. Find out more before you decide."

"Accepted to University of Michigan? You should know about its rape problem."

Those are the Facebook and mobile ads seen recently by some prospective Michigan students and their parents.

They ran during the critical weeks when students have their acceptance letters and are deciding where to enroll.

“This is information a lot of colleges have been trying to hide.”

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Education
11:36 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Lansing school district privatizing bus service

Five thousand Lansing school students will be riding buses operated by a private company this fall.

The school board voted last night to privatize its bus system. Dean Transportation currently provides bus service to a consortium of Ingham County school districts.

When the Lansing School Board tabled a proposal to privatize its bus service in January, the issue seemed to be put on the back burner until next year.

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Education
6:30 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Already run by emergency manager, Highland Park schools face new budget shortfall

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Despite a previous state takeover, a slew of surprise costs and a dramatic drop in student enrollment have led to a new budget deficit for the public school district in Highland Park.

A multi-million dollar deficit prompted a state takeover of Highland Park Public Schools in 2012. The state appointed emergency manager restructured the district’s deficit into long-term debt with over $7 million in emergency loans from the state.

The manager created a new charter school district to educate students. In 2012  The Leona Group LLC., a charter company,was hired to run the entire district for an annual fee of $780,000.

But now the district is running a deficit again.

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Stateside
5:05 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Michigan is running out of money to loan to struggling schools

The Muskegon Heights school district is one system that has experienced "severe financial stress." They received more than $12 million from this loan board.

There's a state law that gives a special board up to $50 million that can be loaned to struggling school districts.

The long-term, low-interest loans are supposed to help these districts restructure and pay down their debt.

But this emergency loan board has already given out $48 million. That’s 97% of the money that was supposed to last until 2018.

How did this happen? And is there a way for struggling school districts to get back on their feet without needing an emergency manager or having to ask for another loan?

Jeff Guilfoyle with Public Sector Consultants joined us today to talk about this problem.

*Listen to the interview below.

Education
2:15 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

In light of federal ruling, Grand Rapids looks to restrict “aggressive” panhandling

Proposed changes to Grand Rapids ordinance would ban people from asking for money from people driving cars.
Credit Brian D. Hawkins / Creative Commons

Grand Rapids police used to use a state law outlawing panhandling to arrest hundreds of people over the years. But a federal judge struck down that law as too broad, saying it impinged on free speech rights.

So now the city is trying to narrow when, where, and how people can ask for money.

Panhandling from drivers on the side of the road, for example, would be illegal.

Grand Rapids’ attorney Catherine Mish says it can cause accidents and be dangerous for the person asking for money. Mish says a person panhandling was hit by a car just this week.

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Newsmaker Interviews
5:39 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons explains latest on statewide teacher evaluation bills

State Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons.

A state wide teacher evaluation system is finally seeing some movement in the legislature. The plan would rate teachers and administrators based on student growth on standardized tests and in-class observations. If teachers and administrators are found to be ineffective for three year in a row, they would be fired.

Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons is the Chair of the House Education Committee. She joined us today.

Education
7:32 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Lawsuit alleges U of M suspended innocent student for sexual assault

Now the school is being accused of going after alleged assailants without due process.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A University of Michigan student is suing the school over a sexual assault case, but this time, the student says the school took its investigation too far.

Drew Sterrett was a rising sophomore the summer of 2012, when he was accused of sexual assault.

He says the school suspended him until 2016, at least, without ever giving him a fair shot at defending himself.

There's no indication that there was ever a criminal complaint or investigation.

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Education
8:07 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

It's not quite the Kalamazoo Promise, but Grand Rapids just got a major new scholarship program

Credit flickr/Schlüsselbein2007

As many as 200 kids per year from the west side of Grand Rapids will get a chance at a free college education, thanks to a new scholarship program announced today. 

The scholarships come out of a program that started a few years ago at Harrison Park Elementary in Grand Rapids. The Challenge Scholars program, a project of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, started with a single class of fourth-grade students, with the goal of doing whatever it would take to prepare those kids for college. 

"From about 2008 to 2011, we just did a deep dive into 'what are we going to do?'" says Diana Sieger, president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. "We started with the fourth grade, but really what we're trying to do is influence that whole school."

So the school got what Sieger calls a "college pathways coordinator," a person who basically prepares kids and their families for what it will take to be ready for college. The school also got added support in math and literacy. 

But 97 percent of kids at Harrison Park Elementary are eligible for free or reduced lunch, which means many of them are living in poverty. Just getting them prepared for college wasn't going to be enough. 

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Education
2:33 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Has public education funding gone up or down under Gov. Snyder's watch?

Gov. Rick Snyder (l), and Mark Schauer (r). Both claim the "education" mantle.
Facebook

Funding for public schools in Michigan is becoming a centerpiece in the race for Michigan's next governor.

In this corner, you have current Gov. Rick Snyder:

"I'm proud to say, in the last three years we've increased educational spending at the state level for K-12 each and every year to the point where we've invested $660 more per student than there was previously before I took office. That's a huge investment in K-12 education."

And in the other corner you have the guy who wants his job, Democratic hopeful Mark Schauer:

"[Snyder] cut over $1 billion from education to pay for his $1.8 billion corporate tax break."

There have been a lot of "so-who's-right-here?" analysis pieces written. You can find them herehere, and here.

As always, with budget numbers – especially with school funding budget numbers – it can be quite confusing. And politicians cherry pick their favorite numbers to make a point.

This much is true: Schools all over the state are feeling the pinch.

Forty-six school systems across Michigan are running in the red. And if they're not running in the red, many are making big cuts to stay in the black.

School funding is a hot-button political issue – especially now that some parents are noticing more kids packed into the classroom, half-day kindergarten is gone, some art teacher positions have been cut, and some schools have closed.

So can we blame those at the top?

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Education
4:48 pm
Sat May 3, 2014

Graduation caps campus career of Mary Sue Coleman at U of M

Pres. Mary Sue Coleman leaves the Ann Arbor campus this summer after 12 years. She mentioned students who have inspired her, including football player Denard Robinson and Chris Armstrong, an openly gay student government president.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Mary Sue Coleman has spoken to graduates for the last time as president at the University of Michigan.

Coleman got a standing ovation from graduates Saturday at Michigan Stadium. She says they're off to pursue their first job or an advanced degree while she is ending 45 years in higher education.

Coleman leaves the Ann Arbor campus this summer after 12 years. She mentioned students who have inspired her, including football player Denard Robinson and Chris Armstrong, an openly gay student government president.

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Education
2:22 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

U of M's endowment is bigger than the GDP of the Bahamas

Editors of the New Republic saw this tweet from NYU professor and Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer:

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Stateside
4:47 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

A look at how we fund schools in Michigan

In the classroom.
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The way Michigan schools are funded is complex and emotionally charged.

Proposal A was passed in 1994. It was a new system for funding schools. It stopped the use of local property taxes as a source of school funding. Instead, it created a new state education tax, and it boosted the state sales tax from four to six cents on the dollar. The extra two cents goes to the school aid fund.

Twenty years after the changes, one thing many Michiganders agree on is that it's time to overhaul Proposal A, but there are many views on how to do that.

This week, Bridge Magazine is featuring a series of reports by Chastity Pratt Dawsey looking at how we fund schools in Michigan.

Dawsey joined us today.

*Listen to our conversation with her above.

Education
7:00 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Detroit Public Schools looking for new teachers

The Detroit Public Schools is hiring new teachers for the upcoming school year.

The district is hosting a teacher recruitment fair Wednesday at Renaissance High School.

The district is looking to fill 300 to 400 positions, says DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski.

In its ongoing effort to cut costs, the district is offering more generous buyouts to some of its more highly-paid teachers.

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