The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Three Detroit charter schools are closing and two are merging this year, adding to the school turnover and churn families in that city are seeing.

One of the larger charters, Allen Academy, is being shut down because of poor academic performance.

“The test scores over the last several years, they’ve been outperformed by the resident district, Detroit Public Schools,” says Ron Rizzo, director of the Charter Schools Office at Ferris State University, which authorized Allen Academy.

Today's the day that will largely determine you school district's funding for the next year.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Members of the Detroit Board of Education have voted to reject a set of state-proposed loans to help bail-out the struggling district.

Last week, Governor Snyder signed off on a $617 million package to create a new, debt-free Detroit school system. The two rejected loans are part of the state's bail-out plan and total $385 million.

Board president LaMar Lemmons says the interest rates on the loans are too high.

Kids at a public school in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder traveled to a middle school in Oakland County to sign a $16 billion education budget for the coming fiscal year. He approved it despite questions over a provision that sends money to private and religious schools.



It was not long ago that serious questions were raised about how well Michigan's education schools were preparing their students to be teachers.


Critics pointed to the teacher certification test, which had a pass rate of 82 percent statewide. Prospective teachers were passing their exams at the same level as those seeking a cosmetology license.


A workshop of Mayan women learning about solar power.
Courtesy of Appropriate Technology Collaborative


The Mayan population in Guatemala is one of the largest indigenous population in the Americas. Yet many of the Mayan families don’t even have basic electricity.

The Appropriate Technology Collaborative is trying to bring light to rural Guatemala. Their Mayan Power and Light Project hopes to empower Mayan women to develop sustainable energy solutions and help them create small businesses. The program teaches Mayan women about solar energy and how to install solar energy panels, along with assistance in business development.

Does an oxford comma clutter up a sentence? The debate rages on.
Rasmus Olsen / Flickr -

Whether you love it or hate it, the oxford comma evokes some pretty strong feelings – both among people who study language and the rest of us. 


Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Around 90% of a child's brain is already developed by the time they are five years old.

And that means the learning that takes place before a kid even reaches kindergarten can have a lifelong impact.

DPS emergency manager Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

At a public meeting Thursday, Detroit Public Schools leaders tried to reassure still-nervous teachers and parents there should be a “seamless” transition to a new school district in the city.

Governor Snyder signed bills splitting the old Detroit school district in two this week.

Those bills create an “old” district, which will remain a legal entity solely to pay off existing debts; and a new, yet-to-be-named entity that will take over running schools and educating children.

DPS website

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a $617 million bailout of the Detroit Public Schools – which he says represents a fresh start for the financially and academically struggling district.

The plan creates a new debt-free Detroit school district, which will focus on educating the district’s 46,000 students while the old district pays down the old debt. 

The bills signed by the governor also return control of the district to a locally elected school board following seven years of state control that saw it sink deeper into debt.

Stateside 6.21.2016

Jun 21, 2016

On our show today, school board veterans reflect on changes to Michigan education. And, we hear how the EA Sports FIFA video game has helped make soccer more popular in the United States.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons

Most Michigan school districts operating at a deficit are making progress in balancing their budgets, according to the latest quarterly deficit report submitted to the state legislature by the Michigan Department of Education. 

Of the 40 schools that began the 2016 fiscal year with operating deficits, 18 project they'll be deficit-free by the end of June, and another 15 are planning on reducing their deficits by the end of the fiscal year.

Gary Jensen
State of Michigan

For the first time, Michigan’s State School Reform/Redesign office has appointed a CEO to take over some low-performing schools in one district.

That’s despite an ongoing lawsuit by district officials to stop the state intervention.

Gary Jensen will take control of four “chronically underperforming” East Detroit Public Schools. The district has seven schools altogether.

Jensen was named Michigan’s Principal of the Year in 2014. He’s credited with leading an academic turnaround at Lakeview High School in Montcalm County.

Yahad-In Unum

This week Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill adding genocide instruction to social studies curriculum in eighth grade through high school.

Most people are aware of the Holocaust, in which Germans murdered millions of people during World War II.

A lot of instruction around that event concentrates on the death camps, some of which had gas chambers where Jews and others were killed.

In their report, Mike Wilkinson and Chastity Pratt Dawsey call school choice Detroit's new white flight
flickr user frank juarez /

The bailout of the Detroit Public Schools passed by the legislature and awaiting Gov. Rick Snyder's signature includes a provision to allow uncertified teachers.

Those who support the move say that it would help address a growing teacher shortage and allow more professionals who have a passion for teaching to enter the classroom. Detractors say that it discredits the skill and craft of teaching and is just a political move to weaken teachers' unions. 

Flickr user Michigan Municipal League (MML)/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Detroit Public Schools could soon return under the control of an elected school board and become debt-free if Gov. Snyder signs the bailout package approved by Michigan senators last week. Reaction to the legislation has been mixed, and one of the district's veteran teachers is speaking up.

Asenath Jones is a world history teacher at Cass Technical High School. She told Stateside that DPS teachers watched the district’s debt accumulate firsthand.

Flickr user phxwebguy/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Detroit Public Schools could soon be debt-free as a result of last week’s bailout package approved by Michigan senators. But how did the district get into $617 million in debt in the first place? A new study suggests that Michigan state laws are to blame for crippling districts like DPS.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation requiring the history of genocide to be taught in the state's public schools.

The social studies curriculum at Michigan public schools must teach students about genocide, including the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide, as a result of legislation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The legislation amends the state school code to recommend a combined six hours of instruction regarding genocide between eighth and 12th grades. 

Detroit Public Schools

Wytrice Harris is disheartened.

The mother of twins, sophomores at Detroit's Renaissance High, has been working to improve conditions in the district for two years. She hoped for much more from legislation designed to save and reform the city's nearly-bankrupt school system.

"They're just going to prolong the death of DPS," she says flatly.

The legislation includes $617 million in funding to split the district in two. One district will deal with paying off debt, and the other will handle day-to-day operations. 

Michigan Senate OKs bailout for Detroit schools

Jun 8, 2016
flickr user Motown31 /

Michigan senators have approved a $617 million bailout of Detroit's debt-ridden school district.

The Republican-controlled Senate narrowly passed the restructuring package late Wednesday, nearly a week after House passage. The bills soon will reach Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature as long as the House OKs some changes, likely later in the night.

The rescue comes two years after the state helped bail out Detroit's municipal government as part of its bankruptcy case.

Of the 662 Michigan schools that qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision, 167 would no longer be eligible under HR 5003, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Tim Lauer / Creative Commons

For many children living in poverty, hunger is an everyday reality, and going to school hungry can have a big impact on a kid’s ability to learn.

That’s one of the reasons why the federal government offers free lunches to low-income students.

Detroit Public Schools students participated in a mock election on May 19 to decide on two DPS-specific ballot measures and vote in presidential primaries.
pinehurst19475 / Flickr -

The results are in, and Bernie Sanders is the winner -- of a mock election that 5,139 Detroit Public Schools students on 22 high-school campuses participated in on May 19. 

The Vermont senator took 58.12% of the Democratic vote and received 2,844 votes overall, according to a DPS release, beating out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the next-highest vote-getter, by a comfortable margin. Clinton received 1,857 votes.

From left to right: Patrick Harris, Reginald Franklyn, Slytazion Sanders, and Dominick Williams.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to “fix” Detroit schools.

State lawmakers are trying to save the Detroit Public Schools from fast-approaching bankruptcy.

But little of that discussion has included the voices of DPS students.

Here, four students from Detroit’s Cody High School share their thoughts about just how bad things are right now.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons

The state Senate could vote this week on a Detroit Public Schools bailout plan, even though it’s a departure from the bipartisan compromise already adopted by the chamber.        

This new plan is a Republican-only proposal that cleared the state House last week with no support from Democrats. Their main complaint is there’s no control over the location of new charter schools in the city.

The earlier Senate version had the backing of Democrats, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Governor Rick Snyder.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons

Leaders of the charter school system in Highland Park are more confident as they wrap up this school year.

Highland Park's charter system was created by an emergency manager in 2012 to save money. But soon the charter district ran into its own money problems, and began running a deficit.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Aggregate funding for Michigan's public universities in the next state budget will still be less than it was before a major cut five years ago, despite Gov. Rick Snyder's initial proposal to bring them back to levels in place when he took office in 2011.

  Spending will rise roughly $40 million to $1.4 billion, a 2.9 percent increase, under a spending plan up for final legislative votes this week. The Republican governor and lawmakers had hoped for a $60 million, or 4.4 percent, boost.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Emails obtained by a newspaper show the University of Michigan has repeatedly requested delays in turning over thousands of documents sought by federal investigators looking into sexual assault complaints on campus.

  The documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press  through a Freedom of Information Act request also indicated the university has sought to limit the scope of the ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Education by asking investigators to review fewer incidents than requested.

Stateside 6.2.2016

Jun 2, 2016


On Stateside today, we find out how Girls Group empowers young women to "ignore the noise" and be the first college graduates in their families.

To find individual interviews, click here or see below:

nearly one in every five DPS students  qualifies for some special education services
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The fight continues over a bailout package for Detroit Public Schools.

Today, the state House is attempting to hash out the differences between its rescue plan and the bipartisan plan passed by the state Senate.

At the heart of the fight is an amended Senate proposal for a Detroit Education Commission, a body that would set the same standards for closing down both failing public schools and charter schools in Detroit.

Clark Durant is co-founder of Cornerstone Schools, which runs charter schools in Detroit.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Sue Schooner has never taken a social work class, nor has she ever had children. But that didn’t stop her from creating and leading Girls Group, an organization that empowers young women to complete high school and be the first college graduate in their families.

The creation of Girls Group led to a change of heart for Schnooner.

Flickr user Newman University/Flickr

The Next Idea

Hundreds of leaders have descended upon Mackinac Island for the Mackinac Policy Conference this week. Their aim is to explore solutions to Michigan’s problems, and education across the state has been a big talking point.

One of those leaders is Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.