Education

Stateside
5:05 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Michigan is running out of money to loan to struggling schools

The Muskegon Heights school district is one system that has experienced "severe financial stress." They received more than $12 million from this loan board.

There's a state law that gives a special board up to $50 million that can be loaned to struggling school districts.

The long-term, low-interest loans are supposed to help these districts restructure and pay down their debt.

But this emergency loan board has already given out $48 million. That’s 97% of the money that was supposed to last until 2018.

How did this happen? And is there a way for struggling school districts to get back on their feet without needing an emergency manager or having to ask for another loan?

Jeff Guilfoyle with Public Sector Consultants joined us today to talk about this problem.

*Listen to the interview below.

Education
2:15 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

In light of federal ruling, Grand Rapids looks to restrict “aggressive” panhandling

Proposed changes to Grand Rapids ordinance would ban people from asking for money from people driving cars.
Credit Brian D. Hawkins / Creative Commons

Grand Rapids police used to use a state law outlawing panhandling to arrest hundreds of people over the years. But a federal judge struck down that law as too broad, saying it impinged on free speech rights.

So now the city is trying to narrow when, where, and how people can ask for money.

Panhandling from drivers on the side of the road, for example, would be illegal.

Grand Rapids’ attorney Catherine Mish says it can cause accidents and be dangerous for the person asking for money. Mish says a person panhandling was hit by a car just this week.

Read more
Newsmaker Interviews
5:39 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons explains latest on statewide teacher evaluation bills

State Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons.

A state wide teacher evaluation system is finally seeing some movement in the legislature. The plan would rate teachers and administrators based on student growth on standardized tests and in-class observations. If teachers and administrators are found to be ineffective for three year in a row, they would be fired.

Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons is the Chair of the House Education Committee. She joined us today.

Education
7:32 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Lawsuit alleges U of M suspended innocent student for sexual assault

Now the school is being accused of going after alleged assailants without due process.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A University of Michigan student is suing the school over a sexual assault case, but this time, the student says the school took its investigation too far.

Drew Sterrett was a rising sophomore the summer of 2012, when he was accused of sexual assault.

He says the school suspended him until 2016, at least, without ever giving him a fair shot at defending himself.

There's no indication that there was ever a criminal complaint or investigation.

Read more
Education
8:07 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

It's not quite the Kalamazoo Promise, but Grand Rapids just got a major new scholarship program

Credit flickr/Schlüsselbein2007

As many as 200 kids per year from the west side of Grand Rapids will get a chance at a free college education, thanks to a new scholarship program announced today. 

The scholarships come out of a program that started a few years ago at Harrison Park Elementary in Grand Rapids. The Challenge Scholars program, a project of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, started with a single class of fourth-grade students, with the goal of doing whatever it would take to prepare those kids for college. 

"From about 2008 to 2011, we just did a deep dive into 'what are we going to do?'" says Diana Sieger, president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. "We started with the fourth grade, but really what we're trying to do is influence that whole school."

So the school got what Sieger calls a "college pathways coordinator," a person who basically prepares kids and their families for what it will take to be ready for college. The school also got added support in math and literacy. 

But 97 percent of kids at Harrison Park Elementary are eligible for free or reduced lunch, which means many of them are living in poverty. Just getting them prepared for college wasn't going to be enough. 

Read more
Education
2:33 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Has public education funding gone up or down under Gov. Snyder's watch?

Gov. Rick Snyder (l), and Mark Schauer (r). Both claim the "education" mantle.
Facebook

Funding for public schools in Michigan is becoming a centerpiece in the race for Michigan's next governor.

In this corner, you have current Gov. Rick Snyder:

"I'm proud to say, in the last three years we've increased educational spending at the state level for K-12 each and every year to the point where we've invested $660 more per student than there was previously before I took office. That's a huge investment in K-12 education."

And in the other corner you have the guy who wants his job, Democratic hopeful Mark Schauer:

"[Snyder] cut over $1 billion from education to pay for his $1.8 billion corporate tax break."

There have been a lot of "so-who's-right-here?" analysis pieces written. You can find them herehere, and here.

As always, with budget numbers – especially with school funding budget numbers – it can be quite confusing. And politicians cherry pick their favorite numbers to make a point.

This much is true: Schools all over the state are feeling the pinch.

Forty-six school systems across Michigan are running in the red. And if they're not running in the red, many are making big cuts to stay in the black.

School funding is a hot-button political issue – especially now that some parents are noticing more kids packed into the classroom, half-day kindergarten is gone, some art teacher positions have been cut, and some schools have closed.

So can we blame those at the top?

Read more
Education
4:48 pm
Sat May 3, 2014

Graduation caps campus career of Mary Sue Coleman at U of M

Pres. Mary Sue Coleman leaves the Ann Arbor campus this summer after 12 years. She mentioned students who have inspired her, including football player Denard Robinson and Chris Armstrong, an openly gay student government president.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Mary Sue Coleman has spoken to graduates for the last time as president at the University of Michigan.

Coleman got a standing ovation from graduates Saturday at Michigan Stadium. She says they're off to pursue their first job or an advanced degree while she is ending 45 years in higher education.

Coleman leaves the Ann Arbor campus this summer after 12 years. She mentioned students who have inspired her, including football player Denard Robinson and Chris Armstrong, an openly gay student government president.

Read more
Education
2:22 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

U of M's endowment is bigger than the GDP of the Bahamas

Editors of the New Republic saw this tweet from NYU professor and Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer:

Read more
Stateside
4:47 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

A look at how we fund schools in Michigan

In the classroom.
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The way Michigan schools are funded is complex and emotionally charged.

Proposal A was passed in 1994. It was a new system for funding schools. It stopped the use of local property taxes as a source of school funding. Instead, it created a new state education tax, and it boosted the state sales tax from four to six cents on the dollar. The extra two cents goes to the school aid fund.

Twenty years after the changes, one thing many Michiganders agree on is that it's time to overhaul Proposal A, but there are many views on how to do that.

This week, Bridge Magazine is featuring a series of reports by Chastity Pratt Dawsey looking at how we fund schools in Michigan.

Dawsey joined us today.

*Listen to our conversation with her above.

Education
7:00 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Detroit Public Schools looking for new teachers

The Detroit Public Schools is hiring new teachers for the upcoming school year.

The district is hosting a teacher recruitment fair Wednesday at Renaissance High School.

The district is looking to fill 300 to 400 positions, says DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski.

In its ongoing effort to cut costs, the district is offering more generous buyouts to some of its more highly-paid teachers.

Read more
Education
5:37 am
Tue April 29, 2014

White House task force to release proposals for dealing with sexual assault on college campuses

President Obama formed the ‘White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault’ back in January and gave the panel 90 days to return a list of recommendations for dealing with the problem.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A White House task force will release recommendations today for dealing with sexual assaults on college campuses. It’s an issue that has attracted a lot of attention at some Michigan colleges.

President Obama formed the ‘White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault’ back in January and gave the panel 90 days to return a list of recommendations for dealing with the problem.

Read more
Education
6:17 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Michigan is running out of money to lend to schools in financial distress

Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Leonard Seawood discusses the district's finances in front of the Emergency Loan Board on Monday afternoon.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State law gives a special board up to $50 million to loan to schools in financial distress. The long-term, low-interest loans are supposed to help school districts restructure and pay down their debt.

But it appears $50 million isn’t going to be enough.

With the loans the Emergency Loan Board issued Monday, it's nearly reached that cap, four years ahead of schedule. Treasury Spokesman Terry Stanton says the board has issued $48.5 million to schools so far.

Read more
Stateside
3:52 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

An update on the future of standardized tests in Michigan

Credit Alberto G. / Creative Commons

In 2011, state lawmakers passed a measure that was designed to toughen up Michigan's teacher evaluation system. The idea was that a teacher who repeatedly got poor evaluations could be fired.

How do you measure a teacher's effectiveness? 

One big way is to determine how much students learned and grew during the school year, and that is done through academic testing. 

But, three years out, the Legislature hasn't managed to agree on how those evaluations should be conducted, or even which test should be used to measure student growth.

And, left twisting in the wind, are school administrators, principals, and teachers who are wondering which standardized test they're supposed to start giving this fall. 

Brian Smith joined us to give an update on where things stand as this school year winds down. He's the statewide education and courts reporter for MLive.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Education
5:49 pm
Sat April 26, 2014

A push for more pre-school funding in Michigan is getting some added muscle

A group of athletes and coaches is calling for Michigan legislators to approve a $65 million increase in funding for the Great Start Readiness Program.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group of Michigan athletes and coaches is calling on state lawmakers to spend more money on early childhood education.

Governor Snyder is asking for an additional $65 million for the Great Start Readiness Program.

Jeff Kirsch is with Champions For America’s Future. He says children learn important skills in pre-K, like teamwork, getting along with people, and sticking to tasks.

Read more
Education
12:04 pm
Sat April 26, 2014

Muskegon Heights ends contract with charter school company

Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Updated 5:10 p.m.

Mosaica Education and Muskegon Heights Public School Academy have come to a mutual agreement to end their working relationship.

“This was a difficult decision for us and our board,” Mosaica Chief Executive Officer Michael Connelly said in a written statement.

“We are very proud of the academic turnaround we were able to achieve under the leadership of Alena Zachery-Ross, our regional vice president and the superintendent for the system,” he said.

Read more
Education
9:52 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Flanagan: "The MEAP’s not an option" for next year

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says the MEAP test is not an option at this point. He says changing now would cost the state.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is warning Michigan lawmakers against trying to take a step back on school testing.

An amendment to next year’s school aid budget would require schools to give the MEAP exam next year. Some lawmakers are upset the state has contracted with a new company using a test tied to Common Core standards.

Flanagan says the MEAP test is not an option at this point. He says changing now would cost the state.

Read more
Stateside
5:34 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

State legislators debate expanding state's controversial Education Achievement Authority

Credit David Schott / Flickr

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he hopes there will be a final vote this week on a bill to expand the state’s controversial Education Achievement Authority.

That’s the state-run authority meant to turn around some of Michigan’s lowest-performing schools. Right now, the EAA runs 15 schools in Detroit. The bill would pave the way for it to expand up to 50 schools statewide.

Michigan Public Radio Network’s Lansing reporter Jake Neher joined us to talk about the EAA.

Listen to the full interview above.

Education
5:04 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Benton Harbor schools in danger of not making payroll, state reopens financial review

Benton Harbor High School (file photo)
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor Area Schools has been running a deficit since 2007. A review in 2011 found financial stress, but the district was in the middle of making changes to save money. No emergency manager was appointed under a previous version of the law.

But State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says BHAS isn’t making enough progress on the deficit.

The deficit is $14.7 million. For perspective, its revenues this year were $31.8 million.

Read more
Education
1:19 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Student demand change to Michigan school 'zero tolerance' policies

Dozens of high school students have completed a trek from Detroit to Lansing to highlight their concern about ‘zero tolerance’ policies in Michigan schools.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Dozens of high school students have completed a trek from Detroit to Lansing to highlight their concern about ‘zero tolerance’ policies in Michigan schools.

The students say violating even minor ‘zero tolerance’ policies may land them on suspension.

Read more
Education
10:35 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Michigan girls encouraged to become "digital divas"

Studies show that many girls lose interest in technology by the time they reach high school, a trend that Eastern Michigan University and its partners in the 4th annual "Digital Divas" conference are working to combat.
Credit gracey/morguefile.com

Hundreds of girls from across Michigan will have the chance to try out some hot technology this week in the hopes they see a fit for themselves in a high-tech career. Eastern Michigan University will host the fourth annual "Digital Divas" conference on Friday.

EMU Program Manager Bia Hamed says the free one-day event for middle and high school girls aims to help close the gender gap when it comes to careers in science, math, engineering and technology-related fields, often referred to as "STEM."

Read more

Pages