Education

Michigan PTSA / Youtube.com

For the first time, Michigan could get a piece of President Obama’s Race to the Top prize money for education.

But not everyone’s celebrating.

The Education Achievement Authority was the only Michigan district to qualify as a Race to the Top finalist.

The new authority runs 15 of Michigan’s lowest performing schools in Detroit, but legislation at the state Capitol would expand the district statewide and cement it into law.

More than 100 Parent Teacher Association administrators, teachers and parents signed a letter this week asking Mr. Obama to reconsider his choice.

Dartmouth College

It was announced yesterday that University of Michigan provost Phil Hanlon will become the next president of Dartmouth College starting July 1, 2013.

Hanlon, 57, is a graduate of Dartmouth and will become the college's 18th president.

In a New York Times piece, Hanlon indicated that university funding, in its current form, is reaching a breaking point:

Dr. Hanlon, who will be the 10th Dartmouth graduate to become its president, said he expected to focus closely on the college’s cost structure and finances. “The historic funding model for higher ed is close to unsustainable,” he said. “We can’t continue superinflationary tuition increases.”

Stateside: Kalamazoo's Promise of lifelong learning

Nov 29, 2012
Kalamazoo Public Schools

Graduate from public high school in Kalamazoo and go to college for free.

It’s a rare offer- one that strives to show students that college is something crucial and attainable.  

In a recent New York Times feature, Ted C. Fishman examined the Kalamazoo Promise and its effect on both the city and the state of Michigan.

Seven years ago, anonymous donors started The Promise, hoping to encourage more Kalamazoo students to attend college.

During his time writing the piece, Fishman was personally impacted by the stories of the students with whom he spoke.

MI Teachers Get First Report Card

Nov 29, 2012
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan just completed a review of its 96,000 teachers.

Even at the state's lowest performing schools, almost no teachers received poor ratings.

Teachers can be rated highly effective, effective, marginally effective and ineffective.

Statewide, only three percent of teachers got "ineffective" ratings.

And at the lowest-performing schools, not one teacher was rated in the lowest two categories.

Jan Ellis is with Michigan’s Department of Education.  She says “I think this is pretty much what we expected for the first year…and given that the evaluation components and the weight on what districts use to determine teacher effectiveness are very different.”

Ellis says next steps are developing common standards, and how to best observe teachers in action.

- Chris Zollars, Michigan Radio Newsroom

University of Michigan Provost Philip Hanlon will be the new president of Dartmouth College. Hanlon has served as provost since 2010.

"(Hanlon) has steered the University through some of its most fiscally challenging years, all the while advancing our academic excellence and impact," U of M President Mary Sue Coleman said in a statement.

Hanlon started with the university in the mathematics department in 1986. He's a graduate of Dartmouth.

(courtesy of KQED)

A Southeast Michigan teacher is back at work today  after the school suspended her for showing a pro-gay video in class.

The trouble started when Susan Johnson allowed a student to play the song “Same Love,” by the artist Mackelmore, in her South Lyon middle school class.

The student asked Johnson if he could play it, and Johnson says she inquired if there was any violence or profanity in the song. She gave him the okay when he told her it was clean. The song’s about supporting same-sex marriage, and includes the following lyrics:

Stateside: Improving students' access to higher education

Nov 28, 2012
user BES Photos / Flickr

Students’ transitions to college are often determined by the rigor of their high school education.

How a student views attending college is often shaped by the adult voices around them.

Today, we spoke with Brandy Johnson and Nathan Daun-Barnett.

Johnson, the Executive Director of the Michigan College Access Network and Barnett, a professor of Higher Education Administration at the University of Buffalo both stressed the importance of an informed body of high school students to better ensure their college attendance.

The Michigan College Access Network’s goal  is to boost the percentage of Michigan residents with post-secondary degrees or credentials to 60% by 2025. According to Johnson, Michigan still has further to go.

Twitter was abuzz this morning on the University of Michigan campus.

That's how 50 teams of U-M faculty members learned they had been awarded grants worth $60,000 dollars each to participate in a pilot program called MCubed.

The program  encourages campus-wide research collaboration by teaming faculty members from different schools to share ideas.

The money will be used to hire students for a wide scope of  projects. Engineers might work with nurses and architects , while physicists could work with musicians and ophthalmologists.

How a Nobel Prize-winning economist became an advocate for preschool

Nov 28, 2012
heckmanequation.org

There's a growing consensus that more needs to be done to prepare children for kindergarten. 

But does preschool really have a significant impact on the lives of children? State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer recently sat down with economist James Heckman to find out.

Stateside: Paying off a degree of debt

Nov 27, 2012
Western Michigan University's Main Campus
user TheKuLeR / Wikimedia Commons

Graduating from college brings with it many things -  four years of academic achievement, a degree, and for some... substantial financial debt.

Continuing our student debt conversation we spoke today with Detroit Free Press financial columnist Susan Tompor. Pam Fowler, Executive Director of Financial Aid at the University of Michigan, also joing us.

According to Tompor, one of the primary reasons students fall so deeply into debt is their failure to record the money they borrow.

(courtesy of KQED)

The Education Achievement Authority (EAA), Michigan’s new reform school district, has been selected as the state’s only finalist in the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top-District competition.

The EAA is one of 61 finalists nationwide, competing for close to $400 million in federal funds.

Tyrone Winfrey is the Chief of Staff for the EAA. He says he's optimistic about snagging the funds.

"I think we were chosen because it's not a one-size-fits-all model," he said, "and it's basically educating students where they are, individually, within those classrooms."

If awarded the top prize, $40 million, Winfrey says his district would fund professional development and leadership training for the schools' staff members in order to better prepare students for jobs and college.

The awards are meant to support locally developed plans to personalize student learning, prepare college-ready students, and close achievement gaps.

From the Department of Education:

“These finalists are setting the curve for the rest of the country with innovative plans to drive education reform in the classroom,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.

“This competition was designed to support local efforts to close the achievement gap and transform the learning environment in a diverse set of districts, but no matter who wins, children across the country will benefit from the clear vision and track records of success demonstrated by these finalists.”

The EAA was instituted in 2011 to operate the lowest performing five percent of schools in the state.

It began this school year with 15 Detroit schools and is expected to expand statewide. New legislation would cement the reform district into state law.

It's part of an education overhaul being promoted by Governor Snyder.

Opponents call the new district “impersonal,” saying it would erode local control of schools districts.

The Department of Education will select 15 to 25 districts for four-year awards ranging from $5 million to $40 million.

Award winners are expected to be announced by the end of the year.

- Jordan Wyant and Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

user: jdurham / morguefile

Though expensive, the lifetime return of a college education continues to be unequivocal.

On today's show, University of Michigan Vice Provost Martha Pollack and Michigan State University College of Education Dean Don Heller address the long-term value of a college education.

They both say state funding cuts continue to propel tuition increases.

“Our state funding at University of Michigan on a per student basis has declined by 50%,” said Pollack.

Why do some people say, “I could care less” to mean they don’t care? It doesn't make sense. The expression is, "I couldn't care less," right?

“What has happened here, as far as I can tell, is that speakers are no longer parsing this phrase for every word. And this is what happens with idioms. Idioms take on a meaning that surpasses their parts,” says Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan.

“I think the ‘less’ there feels negative to speakers. It already says, ‘I don’t care,’ so for them, ‘I could care less -- I couldn’t care less,’ they mean the same thing,” she says.

Michigan Radio’s Rina Miller asks Curzan to explain this idiom, “Butter would not melt in her mouth.”

Arundo / MorgueFile

Is infancy too early to start preparing your child for a career or college?

Not according to the Michigan Department of Education.

Lindy Buch is with the MDE's Office of Great Start.

She says suggested new learning standards will soon be posted on its Web site  for the state's infant, toddler and pre-kindergarten programs.

New research from Michigan State University shows novice teachers need a good working relationship with their school’s principal.

MSU researchers interviewed new elementary and middle school teachers in Michigan and Indiana.   The study found novice teachers don't seem to mind heavy workloads or a lack of resources.

But the researcher did find many teachers who said they were ready to look for another job or quit the profession entirely, if they felt they weren’t getting the support they needed from their school’s principal.

Darnok / MorgueFile

A new study finds the number of state financial aid grants distributed in Michigan is falling, and that's making it harder for college students to come up with tuition. 

That's especially true for poorer students in Michigan.

Karen Holcomb-Merrill is with the Michigan League for Public Policy, which looked at the pattern of grants over the past decade.

Sorting out Michigan's proposed education overhaul

Nov 21, 2012
James F Clay / flickr

In recent days there has been much made of a proposed overhaul to Michigan’s education system.

The overhaul consists of three parts:

  • two bills currently working their way through the state House and Senate,
  • and one draft of a bill that has yet to be introduced.

The bills are part of a package devised in part by Governor Rick Snyder’s education advisor Richard McLellan in an attempt to achieve the Governor’s goal of providing an “Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace” learning model.

larrysphatpage / flickr

An increasing amount of Chinese students are enrolling in American universities.

Because more Chinese students are now graduating from high school than ever before, there exists the demand for collegiate opportunities.

“It’s a strong reflection of the Chinese middle class. There is also a liberalization of U.S. visas to allow Chinese students to come here,” said Peter Briggs.

Briggs directs Michigan State University’s Office of International Students and Scholars.

Sharing her story was study abroad was Jing Cui. An undergrad student at MSU, Jing Cui considered America upon attending a Chinese university for a year.

There’s a lot more than usual going on in this lame duck session of the legislature. The governor is pushing for personal property tax relief for businesses, and for completing the task of converting Blue Cross Blue Shield from a state-regulated charity to a nonprofit mutual insurance company.

There also may be a drive to get some form of legislation to replace the rejected emergency manager law.

But there is a vast amount of buzz going on about something that won’t be taken up in this session, but which could provoke the mother of all battles in the legislature next year.

And that’s a proposal that has the potential of radically altering how Michigan elementary and high school education is funded, and how millions of Michigan kids receive their education.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State Board of Education President John Austin published a commentary in MLive yesterday.

He's raises big concerns over a series of education overhaul bills working their way through Michigan's lame duck legislative session.

Austin writes these bills have the potential to upend Michigan's public school system.

These would allow a host of new schools and learning venues to be created. Working together, these proposals would replace a coherent education reform strategy—that has enjoyed bipartisan support, with a “Wild West” of unfettered, unregulated new school creation, decoupled from the goal of improving learning and student outcomes.

If implemented, it could erode or destroy completely our current public schools and education system in favor of a chaotic, often for-profit-provided education marketplace.

This legislation creates an unlimited and largely unregulated marketplace of new online schools, for-profit-run schools, schools run by businesses, universities, community organizations, and municipal governments. It would allow new authorizers to create schools in any location, for any reason, with little oversight.

If the bills aim to create a robust school choice marketplace, Austin writes, then the bills should explicitly say this.

He says debate should then occur as to whether all families in Michigan would truly have access to all the options.

The bills he's questioning are HB 6004, SB 1358, and a "yet to be introduced financing bill."

A school board will be appointed Monday for the merging Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A proposal that Gov. Rick Snyder commissioned to overhaul Michigan's education system would let students take their public funding to any district that will accept them, enroll in state-funded online learning courses and get $2,500 in scholarship money for each semester they graduate early from high school.

The Detroit Free Press says a group that Michigan's Republican governor asked to propose revisions to the state's K-12 school finance system will release a draft of its bill Monday.

“People tell me that the pronoun ‘they’ cannot be singular. But here’s the thing - it already is,” says Anne Curzan. She’s a professor of English at the University of Michigan who specializes in linguistics.

Most speakers already use “they” as a singular pronoun in speech.

“In writing, we are told to use ‘he’ or ‘she,’ or change the whole sentence,” Curzan says.

English teachers have been telling us for years that “they” is not a singular pronoun. But, Curzan offers a few examples of indefinite pronouns that speakers make singular.

Will minority enrollment increase after federal court ruling?

Nov 16, 2012
BAMN

On Thursday, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Michigan’s 2006 constitutional ban on affirmative action unconstitutional.

Some argue that the ruling will have a major impact on minority enrollment at the state’s public universities.

Monica Smith, a lawyer opposed to the affirmative action ban, began attending Wayne State Law School a year before it took effect, MLive reports.

The following year, the number of incoming black students was cut in half, Smith says.

She thinks this recent court ruling should transform the admissions process:

"This means a lot to me," said Smith. "This means that my brother, my cousins, other people in Detroit, the Latino and black students can go to Wayne State Law School and Medical School."

"I graduated from the University of Michigan. I graduated from Wayne State Law School. My brother graduated from Michigan State University. All because of affirmative action," she said. "I am 100 percent a product of affirmative action. Not because I'm not 100 percent qualified to be there. But because all three of those universities couldn't discriminate against me or my brother or other similarly situated people."

Despite yesterday’s victory, Smith and other opponents of the ban will have to wait before they see any significant changes.

kakisky / MorgueFile

The number of Michigan students who attend charter schools is rising. 

There are 277 charter schools in Michigan, and that number could grow.

Dan Quisenberry is president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

He says five Michigan cities now rank in the top 20 for the percentage of students enrolled in charter schools.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The superintendent of Flint Public Schools is stepping down. 

Linda Thompson took the helm of the troubled Flint school district in 2008.

The district was hemorrhaging red ink, had a shrinking school population  and poor academic performance.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan college graduates are entering a sluggish job market.

Michigan State University’s annual Recruiting Trends report finds employers are not confident about the nation’s economic direction in 2013.    Many are worried about problems with Europe’s economy.   There’s also concern about the nation's deeply divided political leadership.   That's all putting a damper on employers’ hiring plans.

Phil Gardner is the director of MSU’s College Employment Research Institute.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers is suing the city's public school system on behalf of more than 400 teachers the union says were laid off improperly.

Detroit Public Schools used a new evaluation system this year, following changes to Michigan's teacher tenure law that allow districts to call back laid-off teachers without using seniority as the first factor.

The union says the system the district came up with is not fair or transparent. And Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson says on top of that, the school system didn't even follow its own rules when it came time to decide who would be called back to work.

Johnson says the lawsuit seeks any remedy available under the law.

"That would include reinstatement, it could include punitive damages, because there are some teachers who have had their lives literally turned upside down."

The school district did not comment directly on the lawsuit. But in a statement, it says the evaluation system ensured the most highly effective teachers would be placed in every classroom.

MSU creating Global Center for Food Systems Innovation

Nov 14, 2012

Michigan State University is creating a Global Center for Food Systems Innovation thanks to a 25 million dollar award.

The award comes from US AID, the federal agency overseeing foreign assistance to developing countries.

MSU will fund research targeting improved agriculture production and cost effective, sustainable solutions for developing areas of the world. 

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Last night, the Detroit Board of Education voted to break their contract and pull out of the Education Achievement Authority.

The Board’s decision will greatly affect the EAA, whose initial goal was to provide educational care to struggling schools throughout Michigan.

Don Heller, Dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University, insists the Detroit Schools’ exit will greatly disrupt the EAA.

“If the Detroit Public Schools pull out of the EAA it will be a major blow,” said Heller.

Michelle Richard, who specializes in Educational Policy at Public Sector Consultants, echoed Heller’s remarks.

“My biggest concern is in the short-term and in lending legitimacy to the EAA’s effort, this just causes more confusion. The legislature is currently looking at codifying the EAA and are looking at how they could continue to expand this effort state-wide,” said Richard.

Listen to the audio above or to our podcast to hear more about the state of the EAA.

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

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