Education

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some Detroit high school students are learning about food, nutrition, and entrepreneurship this summer.

They’re with a group called the Detroit Youth Food Brigade, which pairs high school students with local food-based businesses.

The kids then spread out to different farmers markets around the city to sell those products.

But organizers say the program is about more than just business. They want the kids to learn about nutrition, the bigger food system, and how it works locally in Detroit.

Detroit Public Schools

The state-appointed emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools has imposed a new contract on the district’s teachers.

Roy Roberts is empowered to impose new contract terms on teachers under the state’s emergency manager law.

The district’s previous contract with the Detroit Federation of Teachers expired June 30.

In a written statement, Roberts says the decision to impose a new contract came after “a series of meet and confer sessions” with union leadership prior to June 30.

The Detroit Public Schools budget is taking a huge hit next year. But the district’s emergency manager says it’s part of a painful, but necessary restructuring to get the system back on track.

Roy Roberts presented what he admits is a “draconian” budget at a community meeting Wednesday night.

It shaves about 25%, or $250 million, off the previous year’s budget.

www.theartofed.com

State officials announced the results from the 2012 Michigan Merit Exam today.  They say the results for Michigan high school students are encouraging.

Eleventh and twelfth graders showed small gains in math, reading, writing and science. Half of students met standards in reading and writing. But just a quarter of students were proficient in math and science.

Joseph Martineau is with the Department of Education.  He says Michigan students are making consistent gains even with a more challenging curriculum.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Muskegon Heights Public Schools voted late last year to request a state emergency manager in an effort to sort out chronically troubled finances. Part of the plan emergency manager Don Weatherspoon eventually came up with involved turning schools in the district over to a charter operator.

But as the Detroit Free Press reports today, a study from a non-profit research group says the turnover amounts to little more than a state bailout.

University of Michigan Flint
User acrylicartist / MorgueFile.com

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill today that calls for investment in infrastructure projects at Michigan's colleges and universities.

The bills funnel more than $300 million into 18 projects on college campuses across the state.

Snyder approved the bills at Wayne State University in Detroit. That school will get $30 million for a new bio-medical research facility.

Wayne State President Allan Gilmour says that will involve refurbishing a now-defunct Cadillac dealership, and construction for at least one brand-new building.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign a bill investing more than $300 million in infrastructure projects at Michigan's colleges and universities.

The governor's office says a signing ceremony is scheduled for Monday afternoon at Wayne State University. The Detroit school is planning a biomedical research building. MLive.com reports the legislation authorizes and assists construction for 18 projects at public universities and community colleges across the state. The House Fiscal Agency says the combined long-term costs of the projects are estimated at about $613 million. The state's share is $305 million.

Other projects include a bioscience building at Central Michigan University and an engineering center at Oakland University.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State University has dropped mandatory health insurance for students after opposition from lawmakers.

Officials said Friday that insurance available through the school will be voluntary, but they'll still ask if students have coverage this fall. Only 320 students were automatically signed up last year.

But one of them was the son of a state lawmaker, Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-Utica, who got a bill. It turned out that Farrington's son had insurance.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s going to cost the average Michigan State University student $210 more to attend the fall semester.

The MSU Trustees today approved a 3.5 percent tuition increase for next year.  

The increase will be slightly higher for out-of-state students.

Lou Anna Simon is president of MSU. She says no one wants to raise college tuition.

“There are stories about students who are definitely in debt at a higher level than they should be,” Simon told the MSU Board of Trustees before the vote.

Other Michigan public colleges and universities also approved tuition hikes this week, including the University of Michigan and Michigan Tech.

kconnors / morguefile

Detroit Public Schools officials say they expect to end this fiscal year with a $12 million surplus. Meanwhile, the district's proposed budget for next year projects the loss of about 15,000 students, and about 1,900 jobs.

Detroit Public Schools is preparing to shrink next year as 15 schools become part of the Educational Achievement Authority. That's the new statewide system for failing schools.

Steve Wasko is a spokesman for Detroit Public Schools. He says the job cuts are not as alarming as they might sound.

"It's not necessarily a net loss of education jobs, public education jobs, public teacher jobs in the city of Detroit - in public schools in the city of Detroit, but a shift that we knew was coming for some time," said Wasko.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for next Wednesday.

Barry Manilow
The Barry Manilow Music Project / Facebook

On June 18, the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education approved next year’s budget for their district.  MLive reports that although the 2012-2013 budget includes $9 million in cuts due to decreased enrollment, board members voted to allocate $990,000 to hire 11 more teachers to support increased arts education.

These additional teachers will facilitate full-year—as opposed to semester-long—art and music instruction for the district’s elementary school students.

In addition to the financial boost, students in Grand Rapids schools have also received attention from celebrities this month.

On June 14, students from City and Creston high schools in Grand Rapids accompanied the British-American rock band Foreigner on stage at the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park Amphitheater singing their hit, “I Wanna Know What Love Is.” 

A year after students rallied and, in some cases, got arrested to save their school from closure, the Catherine Ferguson Academy for pregnant and parenting teens recently celebrated the graduation of its senior class, capped off with some national media attention.

Rachel Maddow featured the graduates in her "Best New Thing in the World Today" segment (see below).

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reported last June, the Catherine Ferguson Academy was one of several Detroit public schools slated to close due to budgetary concerns, but it was saved at the eleventh hour when education officials agreed to turn it over to a charter organization.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Davenport University announced plans today to spend $10 million on a new campus in downtown Lansing.

There something I’d like to ask the Emergency Managers of the school districts in Muskegon Heights and Highland Park. Simply, are you sure you know what you are doing?  Have you thought this through, not only from the point of view of your district, but in regards to the future of education and the state of Michigan?

What I am referring to is the decisions by both superintendents to turn their entire districts over to charter school systems. In other words, to essentially privatize education.

Now, there is no doubt that Muskegon Heights is in bad shape financially.

A bill before the Michigan Senate might give recent high school dropouts more flexibility to complete their education. 

The bill would not affect graduation standards; it would change the way schools with alternative education programs are paid by the state.

Alternative education programs can provide flexible hours, child-care, transportation, and on-line education for students.  The new bill would pay programs on a monthly basis rather than yearly.

Another Michigan school district in deep financial trouble will be turned over to a charter operator for the coming school year.

The emergency manager of the Highland Park Public Schools announced the plan Monday.

Joyce Parker says the district  will likely start the next school year with a roughly $15 million deficit, and only about 800 students.

U.S Embassy Manila, Phillipines / flickr

Preschool matters a lot. Particularly for low income kids. In Michigan, low income students with one year of preschool were found to do better in school than other low income kids, and positive effects of that early education were seen all the way through 12th grade.

Those results are from a 14-year study of 500 Michigan children. The study is part of a recent evaluation of the state Great Start Readiness Program.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Seventy-four people have been selected to participate in a program to develop math, science, engineering and technology teachers for several Michigan rural and urban school districts.

The state announced Wednesday the second class of fellows will receive $30,000 to pursue master's degrees at University of Michigan and Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Grand Valley State and Wayne State universities.

The program recruits recent college graduates and those seeking a different career. This year's fellows include a fighter pilot, police chaplain, biologist and kayak instructor.

About two thousand people applied.

They will teach in districts including Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Godfrey-Lee, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Wyoming and Ypsilanti.

The Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation launched the program in 2009. It's administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Infographic on literacy.
Thea Card / Michigan Radio

It’s one of the most fundamental parts of our daily lives. Something you have probably taken for granted.

It's the ability to read.

In the United States, more than 40 percent of adults with very low literacy live in poverty.

One in five Americans read below the level needed to earn a living wage.

And more than 70 percent of the U.S. prison population cannot read above a fourth grade level.

In collaboration with WBEZ's Front & Center project, Michigan Radio peels back the layers of low-literacy.

In our hour-long show, we explore the impacts that illiteracy has on our communities and what literacy, in an every changing digital world, will really mean in our future.

Literacy is a big issue of concern for our educational system. Illiteracy can prevent people from filling out a job application or earning living wage. It also affects your civic participation.

Take a listen to our show using the "listen" button above, and share your thoughts with us!

user OZinOH / flickr

Recent state test results for students in third grade through eighth grade show black students in charter schools perform better than those in traditional public schools.

The largest gaps were found in reading scores which showed a difference of 9 percent.

Dan Quisenberry is president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. He said the improving test scores in charter schools narrow the achievement gap between black and white students.

“That's a problem that's plagued our country for far too many years and I think some of it is really just getting after the solutions because it's not easy,” Quisenberry said. “Most of it is an urban issue where there may not be family neighborhood structures, where there may not be as many opportunities.”

Quisenberry said the higher scores are not a result of charter schools being able to reject troublesome students.

“When kids come into a charter school, many times they are a grade to as many as three grade levels behind where they should be. Those are not kids that you're cherry picking in some way even if you could.  What's happening is you're seeing people focusing on students' needs, and achievement scores are rising as a result of it,” he said.

The higher test scores for black charter school students are consistent across grade levels. It is especially prevalent in urban areas in the state.

-Emily Fox, Michigan Radio Newsroom

John Bennett Elementary
user Notorious4life / Wikipedia commons

Despite last year’s Detroit Public School campaign entitled “Attendance … Every Day, All Day,” the district’s 2010-2011 attendance numbers failed to meet state requirements and will face the loss of $4.2 million in state aid, according to the Detroit News.

Though the lost money will further hurt the state-controlled school district, the Detroit News reports that the damage could have been worse:

In its amended 2011-12 budget, DPS said it expected to pay $21 million to the state for dropping below 75 percent attendance and had budgeted for the expense.

The state informed DPS in March the amount would be closer to $4 million, giving DPS $17 million more money, which was returned to the general fund.

According to its 2011-2012 budget, the district received about $497 million in state funding over the school year, up three percent from the expected amount.

According to the DPS website, each student enrolled above the budgeted number on count days brings $7,550 in state funding.  In order to encourage count day attendance in its 137 schools in the past through ice cream and pizza parties, “dress down” days for schools that require uniforms, and even a 2009 Radio One-sponsored contest in which students attending school could win a plasma TV, laptop computer, iPod nanos, or an American Express gift card.

- Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Michigan Radio has been awarded a major three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to report on the many issues related to childhood poverty. The $995,000 grant, the largest in the station’s history, will allow Michigan Radio to move beyond traditional radio reporting to reach a wide variety of audiences about the plight facing Michigan’s most vulnerable children.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The teachers’ union at Muskegon Heights Public Schools has settled a lawsuit against the district. The union had alleged the district’s emergency manager was engaged in unfair labor practices.

Muskegon Heights schools' emergency manager Don Weatherspoon says allowing a charter school operator to run the public school district is the only way he can afford to keep school open next year. The deficit is more than $12 million. 

State officials say they won't recommend a financial review team for the Pontiac School District.

That's after the District implemented a deficit elimination plan.

A financial review team would have put the district one step closer to a state takeover. 

It could also have meant a longer delay in getting April and May payments from the state. Those were withheld as required by law during the preliminary review of the district's finances. 

(courtesy of KQED)

DETROIT (AP) - A lawyer says a Detroit federal judge plans to block a new state law that stops school districts from deducting union dues from paychecks.

Lake Shore High School in St. Clair Shores, Mich., is pretty typical as American high schools go. Walking the halls, you find the quiet kids, the jocks and the artsy crowd.

But a visitor will also see what sets Lake Shore apart: The school's large number of exchange students from China. This year, more than 70 Chinese students are enrolled at Lake Shore, which has a total student population of 1,200.

The students are from the Beijing Haidian Foreign Language Experimental School, an elite, private K-12 boarding school in China's capital.

User: Working World / Flickr

Every K-12 school in Michigan has to adopt an anti-bullying policy by Wednesday. Michigan was the 48th state to pass a school anti-bullying law.

Martin Ackley is with the Michigan Department of Education. He said the law is very important to help students feel safe.

 "The bottom line is to protect the kids who are being bullied because it is definitely not deserved and it’s not helpful to the kids, to the school, to the families, to the communities and the consequences are dire," Ackley said.

In 2008 Michigan Radio's "Grading Michigan Schools" is a multi-part series that takes an in-depth look at education in Michigan. We hear why one college student feels let down by the public school system in the state. We find out about "unschooling," an education philosophy that abandons textbooks and a curriculum. We also look at how the public school system is serving at-risk students through education for the very young and early intervention for kids with special education needs.

"Grading Michigan Schools" won a 2008 Clarion Award from Women in Communications.

For now, four-year-olds in Michigan can enroll in kindergarten as long as they turn five by December 1, but that may change over the next few years as legislators consider when kids are socially mature enough to enter school.

The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would gradually change the age requirement of kindergarten enrollees over the course of three years.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Muskegon Heights Public Schools Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon heard from parents, alumni, teachers, and taxpayers during and after the meeting. He reassured parents a free neighborhood school will be open this fall.

But most had questions he couldn’t answer yet. Like, will there be band, art or athletics? Busing and special education services? Although he’d prefer it, Don Weatherspoon says he cannot make any guarantees.

Pages