Education

Education
7:08 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Welfare benefits lost if children miss more than 10 days of school

User: macattck flickr

A new policy goes into effect Monday that takes away welfare benefits from families with children who miss more than 10 days of school without an excuse. Families that apply or re-apply for cash assistance will have to prove their kids don’t have too many unexcused absences.

David Akerly of the state Department of Human Services says that information is easily available from school districts. Akerly says the policy is not about saving money. It’s meant to be a strategic attack on one of the causes of poverty, “which is education, lack of it, not being in class, not finishing school," he said.

Karen Holcomb-Merrell of the Michigan League for Human Services said transportation, homelessness, and other stresses on a family can contribute to truancy.

“It’s not clear to us what they intend to do to help the families that are having trouble getting their kids to school," said Holcomb-Merrell.

David Akerly said it’s easier to connect families to help when their kids are in school.

*correction - An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the quote to David Akerly. It has been corrected in the copy above.

Education
3:17 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Look who's talking -- or not: MSU examines how teams work with other teams

mconnors MorgueFile

Scientists who are helping to build the a nuclear research facility at Michigan State University are the focus of a study that looks at teamwork. 

The construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams -- or F-RIB -- will take thousands of people.

The National Science Foundation kicked in about a million dollars for a study to see how well the teams communicate and work with other teams.

MSU Professor John Hollenbeck is one of the leaders of the study.

He says they'll use electronic badges with GPS to monitor interactions.

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Education
6:22 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Michigan Ranked 8th Worst in funding

Michigan ranks 8th worst in the nation for state support of public research universities.  That’s according to an 8 year study by the National Science Board. 

Funding from states averaged 20-percent lower - and universities’ reliance on tuition for revenue was up to 50 percent higher during the study.  Michigan per pupil funding has dropped almost a third during the study.

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Education
1:39 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Detroit schools find new way to buy school supplies

Detroit Public Schools' officials have found a new way to buy school supplies.
MyTudut flickr

The Detroit Public School district has turned to an online site used mostly by federal contractors to get its school supplies.

Officials credit “FedBid” with helping the district save hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a few months.

Bidders announce their intent to buy a product. Suppliers then compete to offer the best price.

District spokesman Steve Wasko said it has helped fix some problems with getting supplies to classrooms.

“This has been, not only from a supply standpoint but from all standpoints, a very smooth start to the school year—at least by way of comparison with previous years,” said Wasko.

Wasko said it's also a good way to save money without compromising the quality of education.

The district’s current budget calls for cutting five million dollars from its procurement budget.

District officials estimate using FedBid alone could save up to three million.

Education
5:46 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Stateside: U of M President Mary Sue Coleman to visit Brazil

Mary Sue Coleman / Wikipedia

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and several researchers will travel to Brazil this coming Saturday for a very busy week of meetings and working sessions.

The U-M group hopes the visit will strengthen relationships with several leading universities and foundations. Coleman previously led U-M faculty to China, Ghana and South Africa.

Coleman said this trip presents a wonderful opportunity to listen to colleagues in Brazil. She hopes to provide new opportunities for collaboration and attract more Brazilian students to the University of Michigan.

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Education
1:23 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Grading how school districts rate their teachers

(courtesy of KQED)

A new report suggests school districts in Michigan are not doing a good job of evaluating their teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom. A state law passed in 2011 requires districts to evaluate teachers, and rate them as highly effective, effective, minimally effective, or ineffective.

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Call-in show
10:53 am
Tue September 18, 2012

State of Opportunity: Special call-in show today at 2 p.m.

State of Opportunity Michigan Radio

Join us this afternoon at 2 p.m. for a special call-in show. We'll examine the disparities that exist in our society, and how they make it more difficult for children to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Michigan Radio reporters are working on a new three-year initiative to explore the issue of children living in poverty here Michigan. State of Opportunity captures the stories of children and families struggling to make ends meet. We’re going beyond the statistics and exploring what it takes to make Michigan a place where our every kid have a chance to build a positive future.

“Our project kind of has two ways at looking at these issues. We look at statistics, we look at data, and we look at trends. But then when we talk to the individuals, the individual stories don’t always match up with those trends,” reporter Dustin Dwyer said.

Reporter Jennifer Guerra is currently working on a documentary about the infant mortality rate in the state. She says the information she found was staggering. “Infant mortality is still a big problem in Michigan. We’re above the national average for the past twenty years,” she said.

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Education
1:48 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Charter company faces challenges running public school district in first weeks of class

Mosaica was hired in July, 2012 to run the schools. (L toR) Mosaica Regional Vice President Alena Zachery Ross, Mosaica founder and President Gene Eidelman, and Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The first two weeks of class have presented some obstacles for Michigan’s first fully privatized public school district.

Muskegon Heights schools' emergency financial manager hired Mosaica Education, a charter school company, in July to run the K-12 system while he focuses on paying off the district’s debt. Highland Park schools’ EFM took the same option later that month.

Alena Zachery-Ross is the top administrator at the new Muskegon Height Public School Academy System. She’s very positive, but admits the first two weeks didn’t go “as smoothly” as she expected.

“There are all these things that you don’t think of. There are small details that we want to ensure are taken care of immediately but they take time,” Zachery-Ross said. She says these 'day-to-day' details are important but she must stick to a priority list.

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Education
12:30 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Top five Michigan colleges in 'tuition restraint,' all 15 receive the bonus

Central Michigan University will receive the biggest 'tuition restraint' bonus payment in the next fiscal year.
user gomich Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans in the legislature made significant cuts to the state's public university system when they first came into office.

As part of the cuts, they set up bonus payments to schools if they met certain performance measures, and if they kept their tuition increases in check.

Earlier this month, the State House Fiscal Agency  released a breakdown of how much each school will get in bonus payments.

All 15 public universities kept their tuition increases at or below 4 percent, so all 15 schools will receive a 'tuition restraint' bonus payment.

This fiscal year, the pot for 'tuition restraint' bonus money is set at $9.1 million for all 15 universities.

Central Michigan will receive the biggest payment. From the Detroit Free Press:

Central Michigan University's decision to keep its tuition rate increase for this school year lower than that of other state schools is paying off to the tune of almost $1.8 million in extra state aid from a fund set up to reward universities for smaller hikes.

CMU raised its tuition rate by 2%, the lowest in the state. It will get 19.6% of the bonus money.

The top five schools for keeping tuition hikes in check (and their associated bonus payments) are:

  1. Central Michigan University -  $1.8 million
  2. Ferris State University - $1.3 million
  3. UM in Ann Arbor - $1.1 million
  4. Lake Superior State - $1.0 million
  5. Oakland - $930,000

The Detroit Free Press has a breakdown of tuition increases and bonus payments for all 15 public universities.

Education
1:39 pm
Sat September 15, 2012

Michigan schools mull Pledge of Allegiance, US flag bills

file photo
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The time-honored tradition of students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance soon could be enshrined into Michigan law - along with a requirement that every public school classroom have a U.S. flag.

The Michigan Legislature has approved the measures with little resistance, and the flag legislation is heading to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk.

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Education
1:34 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Does everyone need a four-year college degree?

In a speech yesterday, Governor Snyder highlighted the importance of vocational and career training. Do you agree with him?
American Panel

Yesterday, Rick Pluta reported on a speech by Gov. Rick Snyder that called for a reemphasis on vocational and community college education over more  traditional four-degrees.

We posted his story on Facebook, and many of our fans responded with their thoughts. We decided to continue the discussion by sharing some of their comments here.

Facebook fan Karen Hupp Taylor was surprised to find herself agreeing with Gov. Snyder:

I never thought I would see the day I would agree with Governor Snyder, but this is one place that I do. Not everyone should go to college. A lot of young people do because they have been told they will never amount to anything if they don't. Lots of them would like to be carpenters, electricians, and other trades people.

Nothing wrong with a women getting into many of these professions.

So how many women seek this kind of education?

A report by the National Center for Education Statistics notes that participation in vocational education, also known as career and technical education (CTE), is higher for women than men.

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Education
12:34 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Flint teachers accept a deep pay cut in new contract

file photo
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint teachers have agreed to major wage concessions in their new contract.

Flint teachers have been working without a contract for two years.   This week, the teachers approved a new two year contract, under which their pay will be cut by seven percent.

Ethel Johnson is the president of United Teachers of Flint.   She says the union agreed to the concessions, in part because of the Flint district’s financial problems, and partly because of legislation passed in Lansing that could have forced Flint teachers to accept even deeper concessions.

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Education
4:53 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Grosse Pointe schools institute tougher residency policy

alvimann MorgueFile

The Grosse Pointe Public School System will impose penalties of up to $13,000  for parents who violate the district's residency requirements.

Prospective students will have to verify home ownership or provide monthly proof of rental, as well as parental or guardianship verification and other documentation.

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Education
11:42 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Students go back to class as plaintiffs against their school system

As part of the lawsuit, attorneys had the plaintiffs submit writing samples. This plaintiff, I.D., is going into the 5th grade. According to the legal complaint, she has never been assigned to write anything longer than one paragraph.

Eight Highland Park school students returned to classes this week as plaintiffs against a school system they say has failed them. Their families and the ACLU say the school district and the state have  denied them the right to learn to read.

“It’s heartbreaking every day when you get up and people look in your face and say: oh, that’s that lady, her daughter can’t read,” says Michelle Johnson. Her daughter is heading into the 12th grade. But she can only read at about a fourth-grade level.

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Education
9:04 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Detroit schools officials tout start-of-year-attendance numbers

Roy Roberts

Detroit Public Schools officials are happy with the district’s attendance figures so far this year.

Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts says the district averaged 85% attendance Wednesday, the second day of school for Detroit students.

Roberts says that’s much better than the past two years. The district didn’t reach a 75% attendance rate until later weeks, jeopardizing state funds.

“We think this is proof that Detroit Public Schools is making great strides to meet the needs of the students,” Roberts said.

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Stateside
8:56 am
Thu September 6, 2012

New talk show launches today

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio is launching a new talk show called, Stateside today.  It will air Thursdays from 3-4pm. Morning Edition host Christina Shockley sat down with Stateside host Cynthia Canty to talk about the new show.

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

Education
6:46 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Retirement changes signed into law today for Michigan's teachers

Teachers in Michigan will see changes in their retirement packages.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder will sign legislation into law Tuesday that will make some changes to how teachers and other school employees save for their retirement.
    
School employees will have to pay more for their benefits, and those hired after today will no longer get retirement health coverage.

Instead, they will get savings accounts to help them buy insurance once they are done working.
    
Governor Snyder said he understands that many school employees are upset.

“We had to make some reforms to make it fiscally viable and financially sound f or their future, too, in terms of their retirement benefits," said Snyder. "So, it’s a case of us all working together, and sometimes change is tough on people and I appreciate that. We’re just trying to make it something that lasts for the long term for the benefit of all."

Snyder said the new approach will begin to retire a long-term pension liability estimated in the billions of dollars.

He said it will also shore up the state’s credit rating, and ensure taxpayers won’t be saddled with the costs of a bailout years down the road.
    
Teachers unions say the plan breaks promises made to school employees, and went to court on Friday with a legal challenge.

Technology
4:24 pm
Sun September 2, 2012

Wayne State part of study on energy extraction

Gas hydrates, known as “ice that burns,” may provide a clean, sustainable fuel source in the future.
J. Pinkston and L. Stern U.S. Geological Survey

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit university is playing a role in early but promising efforts to find and extract new energy sources.

A research project at Wayne State University is among 14 across 11 states involved in work on methane hydrates. These are structures that look like ice but have natural gas locked inside.

The project builds on what the U.S. government calls a "successful, unprecedented" test on Alaska's North Slope that produced a steady flow of gas from methane hydrates.

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Education
3:18 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Detroit Public Schools employees may get bonuses in December

Frank Juarez Flickr

Detroit Public Schools announced Friday that employees will get a bonus in December if the district meets its budget goal, which looks likely. 

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Education
10:04 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Oakland University, professors reach 3-year deal

Oakland University Campus
Oakland University

ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) - Oakland University in suburban Detroit and its professors have reached a three-year proposed tentative contract agreement.

The agreement was announced early Friday in a posting on the website of the 700-member Oakland University chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Details of the proposed agreement are expected to be made public later. It's expected to include pay increases, merit pay adjustments and changes to benefits.

Classes begin Tuesday at the school. Voting to ratify the contract likely will take place in a few weeks.

In 2009, professors at the school went on strike for a week starting the day classes were expected to begin before a tentative contract agreement was reached.

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