Education

via www.chavezwaterman.com

Teachers and staff at a Detroit charter school are pressing forward with an effort to unionize.

Teachers at the Cesar Chavez Academy have filed to hold an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. They hope that will happen early next year.

Cesar Chavez serves more than 2000 students on several campuses in southwest Detroit. If a majority of their members votes to unionize, they will be represented by the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan.

This week on That’s What They Say, Anne Curzan, English professor of the University of Michigan and Weekend Edition host Rina Miller discuss the origins of holiday words.

Here are a few:  

Mistletoe used to be called “mistleton.” “Ton” meant “twig” in old English.

The “yule” in the word “yuletide” refers to Christmas or the months of December and January, and “tide” means “a period or extent of time.” Therefore, “yuletide” means the “time of Christmas.”

And the “nog” in egg nog refers to strong ale.

Curzan and Miller also discuss how to pronounce the word “poinsettia” and Curzan explains that Santa’s reindeer named vixen is actually names after a female fox or a sexy woman.

UMTRI launches website for Parents of Teen Drivers

Dec 21, 2012

A website is launching just in time to help parents monitor and improve winter driving skills for teen drivers.

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute is launching the site called  Safer Driving for Teens.

Jean Shope serves as an associate director of UMTRI and says parents find it's worthwhile.  “We do find that teens whose parents have used this program, and they’ve had an agreement, drive in a less risky manner…and in other studies certainly have less crashes.”

Elaine Ezekiel / Michigan Radio

You might have heard how Genesee and Lapeer counties closed down all their schools today and tomorrow due to rumors spreading across Facebook, Twitter, and texts.

But how could a rumor close so many schools?

Below is a Storify narrative of how one text message prompted a social media wildfire in southeast Michigan.

You can click on any of the linked text or images to follow the story further.

www.victorshope.org

Maybe this will finally do something for Congress’ approval ratings. This week, lawmakers passed a rare, “one-man Dream Act” for a Nigerian student living in Michigan.

Victor Chukwueke (say “chew-KWEK-ay”) was born with a severe genetic disorder that causes facial tumors. Doctors in Nigeria told him there was nothing they could do for his life-threatening condition.

Wolfgang Sauber / Wikipedia

Schools in Genesee and Lapeer counties will be closed tomorrow and Friday, amid threats circulated on social media.

From the Genesee Co. Intermediate School District Web site:

About a half dozen Genesee County school districts are dealing with a bizarre internet rumor of plans for an armed ‘student revolt’ this Friday.

Police are investigating the alleged revolt, in the wake of last week’s school massacre in Connecticut and the Mayan ‘end of the world’ prophecy.

Grand Blanc schools Superintendent Norm Abdella says messages have been swirling on social media sites that students were planning to bring weapons to schools in Genesee County on Friday.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A long-time district administrator has been picked to be the interim Flint schools superintendent.

Larry Watkins likes to say he’s worked for the Flint school district since he was 14, when he was a high school locker room attendant.  He retired from the district in August, after a long career as an administrator.

Last night, the school board hired him back, on an interim basis, to fill the void left by last month’s retirement of Flint’s former superintendent.

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.

Wayne State University professors have authorized their union leaders to call a strike if they can’t otherwise reach an agreement with the school.

The faculty union and school administration have been mired in contentious contract negotiations for months.

frugal-cafe.com

Many Michigan school children may be feeling anxious about returning to school today in the wake of Friday’s school massacre. 

More than two dozen people died in the shooting spree at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.

A school counseling expert says teachers and other staff will have to be ready to help students with their concerns about safety.

Shawn Bultsma is the former president of the Michigan School Counselors Association. He also teaches school counselors at Grand Valley State University.

Fan-freaking-tastic

Dec 16, 2012

This week on That’s What They Say, Anne Curzan, English professor of the University of Michigan and Weekend Edition host Rina Miller discuss the moving ‘n’ and infixing words.  

The moving ‘n’ is usually found in words like “a whole nother.”

Curzan says “nother” is a lot older than some may think.

“You can find in English back in the 14th century in expressions like ‘no nother’ which would have meant ‘no other’,” Curzan says.

But “a whole nother” isn’t the only example of the moving ‘n’.

“For example an ‘apron’ used to be a ‘napron’,” Curzan says. “Napron is related to napkin. But if you say napron, you can reinterpret that as an napron, an apron.”

Curzan and Miller also discuss the idea of infixing with words like “fan-freaking-tastic” and “absa-freaking-lutely.”

Michigan's education overhaul: What does 'college-ready' really mean?

Dec 14, 2012
MI SHPO / flickr

On Wednesday, we heard Gov. Rick Snyder's chief education advisor say this:

"We have over 230 schools where zero children were college-ready when they got their high school diplomas," Richard McLellan.

McLellan was talking to Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra who reported on proposed changes to Michigan’s education system.

Chris Zollars

A campaign to grant in-state tuition rates for undocumented students at the University of Michigan is heating up.

About a hundred students wearing yellow shirts with red duct tape over their mouths staged a sit-in protest at U of M's Board of Regents meeting Thursday.

user BES Photos / Flickr

Michigan's new statewide district for low-performing schools was not a winner in a national competition to share a $400 million prize. 

The  Education Achievement Authority was launched just this year in an effort to turn around 15 of the state's lowest-performing schools -- all of them in Detroit.  

So it came as a surprise to Sandra York when the EAA was named a finalist in the federal government's  Race to the Top competition.

York is executive director of the Michigan PTA.

Jordan Miller / Facebook

Update 12:03 p.m.

The anonymous Reddit user who posted the information was Jordan Miller's ex-husband, Dan. You can read the entire, sad story on the original Reddit post here.

Tuesday, December 12, 4:36 p.m.

The University of Michigan's social media director, Jordan Miller, resigned yesterday.

That news came three days after an anonymous user on the social media information site Reddit posted allegations that she had lied about her credentials while applying for the position.

From the Reddit post "UM Social Media Director Jordan Miller lies on resume about bachelors degree, keeps job":

I don't like seeing my tax and your tuition money going toward paying someone ~ $100k/yr in earnings obtained through fraud, so I'm posting a little FOIA dump you all may be interested in.

The University's choice to hire Miller as their first social media director made headlines early this year when she was selected from dozens of applicants.  AnnArbor.com reported that the position came with a $90,000 to $100,000 salary.

The anonymous Reddit user posted a link to documents they said they had received from the University in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

New proposal to change Michigan's education system

Dec 12, 2012
jdurham / mourgeFile

Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity has been asking educators, non-profit leaders, and parents this question: Do kids in Michigan have what it takes to get ahead?

So far the answer has been pretty clear: Michigan children from low-income families face an uphill battle when it comes to being competitive on a national level. But many of our interviewees have also agreed that good education has the possibility to dramatically improve a child's future success.

That's the main reason why State of Opportunity is so interested in early education programs. Just last week Jennifer Guerra spoke with Larry Schweinhart, president of the HighScope Foundation, who gave listeners the four ingredients of a high-quality pre-K program.

User Kafuffle / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan will receive some unusual applicants next year.

Several dozen current and former National Football League players are expected to apply to the Ross Business School to learn how to open franchise businesses.

Dubbed the "NFL Franchising Boot Camp," the program will educate 30 of these athletes from across the country about the ins and outs of running a food, hotel or fitness chain.

During the four-day program this April, former professional football players will stay on the Ann Arbor campus and attend workshops with the school's faculty and business owners.

EMU settles Case with Former Student

Dec 11, 2012
(courtesy of the Alliance Defense Fund)

Eastern Michigan University will pay $75,000 to settle a case with a former student who was expelled from a master’s program four years ago. 

The student was unwilling to work with patients whose beliefs went against her religious values.

Userl @Doug88888 / flickr

This week on Seeking Change, Christina Shockley talks with Kenny Hemler of Ben's Encore. It's an organization that aims to give kids in the Detroit area the tools they need to continue the Motor City's rich musical heritage.

It was created after the death of Ben Borowiak. Hemler talks about how the organization has impacted the Detroit area and about the life of Borowiak.

The English language is constantly changing. How do English teachers keep up?

Michigan Radio’s Rina Miller recently got a letter from a listener, Bill, from Eaton Rapids who asks why there isn’t a difference between researching English change and teaching language usage.

“I think there is a difference,” said Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan who specializes in linguistics.

She believes teachers can teach the standard language usage and talk about language change with their students.

“And I think maybe one way to help think about this, is I often talk about it as a repertoire, and the bigger the repertoire we have as speakers and writers, the more versatile we are. So what I’m trying to do is to make sure that students have in that repertoire the standard, formal written variety and perhaps the formal spoken variety so they can use it when they need to or want to. But if they have other varieties in there too, all the better,” Curzan said.

Listen to the full interview above to hear why it’s okay to use ain’t in writing. Also, Curzan explains how people in the 19th century “hated” the English passive progressive construction, “the house is being built," but now it is completely standard. An example of why people should not be too quick to judge a certain form, as it might become popular years from now.

Chris Zollars

The University of Michigan’s got about 15 hundred unhappy lecturers to deal with.

Non-tenured faculty from the University of Michigan's three campuses want a bump in pay, to put them on par with their tenured colleagues.

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.

When it comes to kids in poverty, can preschool make a difference?

Dec 5, 2012
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Providing a child in poverty with quality early education is expensive, but so is letting that child rely on government assistance as an adult. The question is: which cost would society rather pay?

Larry Schweinhart says society should pay the upfront costs associated with early education and reap the benefits later.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Republican state lawmakers say they are committed to passing an overhaul to public education in the “lame duck” session.

Opponents of the bills have been ramping up pressure to hold off until next year.

The bills include the expansion of a state-run district for struggling schools and a measure seeking to increase school choice.

House Education Committee Chair Lisa Lyons said the legislation can’t wait.

“We need to allow these schools and parents and students all the time, as much as possible, to transition and to plan for the education that they are going to receive next fall,” Lyons said.

A coalition of Michigan public school officials says the legislation would strip local control of schools.

Supporters say too many schools are failing to provide quality education. They say the measures are the best way to turn that around.

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.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Over the summer Muskegon Heights schools’ then emergency manager laid off everybody who worked at the district and hired Mosaica Education to run operations for 5 years.

Muskegon Heights has some of the lowest performing schools in Michigan and is dealing with a multi-million dollar deficit. The state appointed manager says he had no other option but to privatize operations.

Three months in, one in four (20 of 80 total) of the newly hired teachers has quit.

“It’s confusing because I go from this learning process to this learning process to that learning process and it’s just ridiculous how some teachers leave and we have to start all over and learn something new,” Muskegon Heights High School senior Tony Harris said, “It’s just, it’s crazy.”

Merriam Websters’s definition of retronym is a term consisting of a noun and a modifier which specifies the original meaning of the noun. “Film camera” is a retronym.

Every Sunday, Michigan Radio’s Rina Miller talks with Anne Curzan a professor of English at the University of Michigan, specializing in linguistics.

In many cases the retronym is formed in response to technological advances.

“We now specify a land line because when you say phone people may assume it’s a cell phone and we need to now, talking about a phone, say a land line,” said Curzan.

Baker College of Flint / Facebook.com

When a child grows up in the foster care system, they face some unique challenges as college students.  They may lack the financial and emotional support their classmates get from families.

The Michigan Department of Human Services is trying help them out.

They awarded seven universities in Michigan shares of an $800,000 grant.

The money will pay on-campus coaches at Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Baker College of Flint, Ferris State University, Saginaw Valley University, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan-Flint who will work with former foster youth.

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