3:22 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Michigan AG loses a bid to remove Detroit school board members

Bill Schuette

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.

9:30 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Snyder wants 2 percent bump in education funding

Gov. Rick Snyder tours the Detroit auto show.
Rick Pluta Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will propose giving
public schools, universities and community colleges 2 percent more
funding in the next school year.

State budget director John Nixon tells The Associated Press that
the governor's budget being released later Thursday requires
universities to hold tuition increases to under 4 percent or lose part
of their state aid.

The Republican governor also will ask lawmakers to double
enrollment in a preschool program for kids at risk of failing.

Democrats will complain that education spending isn't going up enough.

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7:23 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Muskegon Heights has high hopes for 3rd high school principal in 6 months

Incoming Muskegon Heights High School 'Head of School' Carla Turner-Laws poses for a photo.
Courtesy photo Mosaica Education

The new Muskegon Heights charter school district is welcoming yet another principal at its high school. Carla Turner-Laws is the third principal so far this school year. Technically, her title is Interim Head of School/Instructional Specialist.

A couple dozen people sharing cookies and pink fruit punch welcomed Turner-Laws at a reception Wednesday night. Most were fellow co-workers, friends and family members.

The MHPS district’s state-appointed emergency manager turned the entire district over to a charter school company last June.

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5:07 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Stateside: Not enough STEM graduates in the U.S.

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

Are there important jobs going begging in Michigan?

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12:50 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Grand Rapids schools sends out first round of pink slips in “transformation plan”

The Grand Rapids school board voted to send out the notices Monday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

About 200 administrators at Grand Rapids Public Schools are getting notice that they could potentially be laid off this summer. The school board voted Monday night to send out the notices, as part of a “transformation plan” it adopted in December.

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1:01 pm
Sat February 2, 2013

Michigan court rejects appeal in mosque controversy

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.

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12:26 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

"Issues & Ale" event to discuss early childhood education in Michigan

In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder called for a "major budget commitment" to fund Michigan's free pre-school program for at risk children. Michigan Radio’s next Issues & Ale event will examine the benefits of early childhood education, not only for the poor, but for society as a whole. How valuable is early education to children in Michigan, and how does our cash strapped state pay for it?

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5:04 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Sterling Heights police patrolling utica schools

Sterling Heights Police are now randomly visiting 27 Utica district schools twice a day.

It’s part of a collaboration with the school district to increase security in the wake of school shootings around the country.

Police Chief Michael Reese says officers will fit the visits in around their other patrol duties.  “We have to do something to address the issue with the resources that we have available," he adds.  “And if it makes these kids and their parents feel somewhat protected – or a sense of security while they’re in school – then, you know, it’s worth that.”

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1:33 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Detroit students say education policies violate their civil rights

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.

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6:35 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Snow and ice lead to school closings this morning

Digging out in a 2011 snowstorm.
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.

10:21 am
Sat January 26, 2013

Officer who left gun in Michigan school restroom will keep job

LAPEER, Mich. (AP) -- Officials say a security officer who left his gun unattended in a Lapeer charter school's restroom will keep his job.

According to Chatfield School Director Matt Young, the school reviewed the incident and has decided the unnamed officer "is a good fit for the position."

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1:43 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

The 5 most important things I've learned about early childhood education

In Battle Creek, Early Childhood Connections has playgroups for children who don't attend preschool. The playgroup is a way to prepare kids for the school environment.
Credit Dustin Dwyer

Yesterday, we aired an hour-long special on State of Opportunity about the importance of early childhood education. If you missed it, you can hear the full audio here. You can also download the audio on iTunes. Just search for the State of Opportunity podcast. 

This report is the result of months of work, and thousands of hours of research by Jennifer Guerra, Sarah Alvarez and me. We interviewed neuroscientists and psychologists for the latest findings on how children's brains develop. We talked to economists and policymakers about the financial payoff for investing in children before they go to kindergarten. We packed a lot of information in our special, and I hope it helps give you a sense of why preschool is so important for disadvantaged kids.

But, knowing that life is busy and your time is limited, I also wanted to share some of my main takeaways. So, after months and months of reporting on early childhood education, here are the five most important things I've learned: 

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9:09 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Detroit schools face more deep cuts in deficit-elimination plan

DPS emergency financial manager Roy Roberts

The Detroit Public Schools plans to shrink even more to wipe out its deficit by 2016.

The district’s latest deficit elimination plan projects that enrollment will dip below 40,000 by then.
And in order to “stay ahead of the cost curve,” emergency financial manager Roy Roberts proposes some drastic cuts—including closing as many as 28 more schools, and cutting more than 1000 employees.

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5:08 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

State calls for more social workers in urban school districts

Former Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager Robert Bobb with a student.

The Department of Human Services has begun the second phase of their program to increase the number of social workers in urban public schools.

The "Pathways to Potential" program launched in September putting social workers in 21 schools throughout Detroit, Saginaw, Flint, and Pontiac

Sheryl Thompson is the deputy director of field operations for the Department of Human Services. She says the program will continue to help students and their families in areas of the state where crime rates are high.

"The primary goal for being there is to battle truancy - but also looking at: safety, health, education, and self-sufficiency."

Thompson says the program also aims to become more mobile.  "We are going to where our clients are as opposed to them always coming to us," she says. 

By March, the program is expected to have social workers in more than 120 schools.

- Lindsay Hall, Michigan Radio Newsroom

4:43 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Stateside: The possible return on investment for early childhood education

Jane M Sawyer morgue file

Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra and Dustin Dwyer discussed early childhood education.

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.

Read more
7:00 am
Wed January 23, 2013

'We want the whole $140 million': The push for more early education funding

Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Clarification: We've updated the story to make the funding comparisons more clear.

In his State of the State address last week, Governor Snyder called for $1.2 billion a year over the next ten years to address the “toughest single issue” of 2013: roads.

At the same time, Snyder called for an increase in funding to early childhood education.

The governor mentioned the 29,000 four-year-olds eligible for a spot in the state’s Great Start Readiness preschool program (GSRP).

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4:27 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Seita Scholars Program Helps Foster Care Alumni

Chris Harris, Director of the Seita Scholars Program
Seita Scholars Program Western Michigan University

There are lots of scholarship programs that help pay for school.  One scholarship at Western Michigan University goes farther to help students tackling college on their own. 

John Seita's an alumni of WMU.  Against long odds he earned three degrees from the school, after he aged out of the foster care system.  His story inspired a program bearing his name.

Now the Seita Scholars Program helps students facing similar challenges.  It’s a full tuition scholarship for people who've aged out of the foster care system.

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1:58 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Stateside: Study surveys the state of education in Michigan

The Center for Michigan's latest report

John Bebow and Amber Toth discussed education in Michigan.

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.

Read more
7:37 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Detroit schools draw alumni back for National Day of Service

Detroit Public Schools worked to draw district alumni back to their
old schools for this Martin Luther King Day.

Thirty schools across the city are participating in the national day
of service, and former students are invited to join in.

Spokesman Steve Wasko said the district was searching for a way to
draw DPS alumni back to their former schools.

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3:59 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court upholds law empowering DPS emergency financial manager

Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager Roy Roberts

Roy Roberts, the state-appointed emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, will keep his job after the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit attempting to remove him.

The Supreme Court refused to overturn an earlier decision by the Court of Appeals ruling that Roberts’ office remains in effect under Public Act 72—the state’s emergency financial manager law of 1990.

The lawsuit was brought by Robert Davis, a union activist and school board member in Highland Park.

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