Education

via Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Public Schools is suing many of its own teachers over repeated sickout protests, and there’s an important court hearing in that fight Monday.

DPS maintains these repeated sickouts, which teachers have sporadically held to highlight serious problems in the district, amount to illegal strikes.

DPS officials are asking a Michigan Court of Claims judge to issue a preliminary injunction and order the teachers back to work.

Judge Cynthia Stephens denied the district’s request for a temporary restraining order last week.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some parents and community members in southwest Detroit plan to file a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.

That’s after the Detroit Public Schools removed bilingual office staff from several schools with predominantly Spanish-speaking parents last month.

“It’s a safety issue. It’s a civil rights issue,” said Maria Salinas, head of the group Congress of Communities. “This is the beginning of many people who will come out and fight. We shouldn’t have to fight.”

Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Public Schools wants to force teachers to stop ongoing “sickout” protests.

The district has asked the Michigan Court of Claims to stop the rolling protests that closed 88 Detroit schools Wednesday.

"DPS has requested the court's intervention in addressing the ongoing teacher sick outs that are plaguing the district,” spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said in a statement, adding: “There will be no further comment until we receive direction from the court."

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

For weeks, Detroit teachers have been using rolling sickouts to help focus attention on the crushing challenges they face in the classroom, from dilapidated, dirty conditions to huge class sizes.

Today the sickout tactic ballooned to new heights: 88 out of the 100 Detroit public schools had to close. 

Detroit Federation of Teachers

For three straight days this week, some Detroit Public Schools buildings were closed because too many teachers called in sick.

These rolling “sickout” protests have picked up steam in recent weeks.

They’ve drawn some major backlash — and attention to a district in free fall.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents say they’re angry about conditions in the city’s schools — and ready to do something about it.

Dozens of them packed a meeting led by the Detroit Parent Network Thursday night.

Bills to restructure Detroit K-12 finally proposed

Jan 14, 2016
flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Legislation to overhaul Detroit's troubled school district has finally been introduced, more than eight months after Gov. Rick Snyder first proposed the restructuring.

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A coalition of business and community leaders continues to push for reform and repair of Detroit's education system.

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit School Children's co-chairs held a press conference today to discuss the current state of the Detroit education landscape, and to renew a call for action to lawmakers.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

 

State schools superintendent Brian Whiston says he has set up a meeting for this Friday in Detroit with Darnell Earley, the state-appointed emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools.

Whiston said the point of the meeting is to discuss concerns he's heard from the Detroit teachers' union about health and safety conditions in school buildings.

Kalamazoo College names new president

Jan 12, 2016
Kalamazoo College

Kalamazoo College has announced who will become the institution's 18th president.

Jorge Gonzalez will take over the role after current president Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran retires this summer.

Gonzalez is currently vice president of academic affairs and dean at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

He grew up in Mexico, where he earned an economics degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology.

Gonzalez said a year spent studying abroad at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire was a "life-changing experience" that helped shape his educational values.

Detroit Federation of Teachers

The Detroit Federation of Teachers spoke out Monday about what union officials called “third world” conditions in some Detroit Public Schools buildings.

The DFT has largely stood on the sidelines while its members have staged escalating “sickout” protests in recent weeks. More than 60 Detroit schools were closed Monday.

But the DFT is now denouncing what it calls “toxic” conditions in many Detroit schools.

Those range from health hazards—including black mold and rodent problems--to oversized classes and a lack of supplies.

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

At least 50 Detroit schools are closed because teachers are absent, a protest that began last week over pay and general turmoil in the district.

The district posted the schools on its Facebook page Monday.

Former union president Steve Conn calls it a "continuation of the rolling strikes."

School officials warned families Sunday that "ongoing sick-outs" by teachers could keep kids at home.

NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

New legislation would require students in Michigan to be equipped with save life-saving skills before they graduate high school.

Senate Bill 647, introduced by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, would require schools to add 30 minutes of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training to their curricula for students between 7th and 12th grades.

The legislation is based on the American Heart Association guidelines.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Flint museum is opening a new exhibit later this month that will take a close look at the city’s drinking water crisis.

When Sloan Museum executive director Todd Slisher booked the national traveling exhibit “Water’s Extreme Journey” nearly two years ago, he had no idea of the crisis that would soon grip Flint.

The city’s disastrous switch to the Flint River ended up damaging the city’s water system and led to health concerns.

DPS

Michigan’s education chief is urging teachers in the state’s largest district to end a recent series of “sickout” protests.

A number of Detroit Public School buildings have been forced to close in recent weeks due to the protests.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston says the sickouts are unfair to students.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Two more Detroit Public Schools were closed for teacher “sickouts” on Thursday.

This time, it was Detroit’s Renaissance and Martin Luther King high schools.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A new report lays out the stark reality of how the Detroit Public Schools is rapidly sinking under its debt burden.

The report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan also details how the district accumulated its $3.5 billion debt load by mid-2015.

Almost $1.9 billion of that is “operational” debt – meaning it’s paid off by money that could otherwise be used in the classroom and for other day-to-day district expenses.

On April 25, 2014, Flint officials toasted each other as they flipped the switch to the Flint River.
WNEM-TV

Flint's water crisis will be the subject of a new course at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Students will get one credit for taking the course (and doing assignments); people from the community can take the class for free.

Suzanne Selig directs U of M Flint's Department of Public Health and Health Sciences.

She says the class is a natural fit with the university's mission to be a bridge between academics and the community.

Detroit Public Schools

One of Detroit’s top public schools was closed Tuesday, after too many teachers called in sick.

It’s just the latest in a string of “sickout” protests at Detroit Public Schools.

Teachers at Cass Technical High School say they staged the sickout because it’s the only form of protest they have in the district, which is run by a state-appointed emergency manager.

Cass Tech English teacher Dorothea Williams-Arnold says they’re protesting huge class sizes, stagnant pay, and skyrocketing health insurance costs, among other things.

Gabrielle Emanuel / Michigan Radio

On a quiet street in Detroit, light pours in the back windows of the Kirksey home. It falls on a wall of textbooks, puzzles and multi-cultural children's books.

Brandon, who is 7 years old, is sprawled out on the wood floor examining a laminated world map.

“Michigan,” Brandon says, pointing enthusiastically to his home state. His 3-year-old brother, Zachary, tries to echo him. Their mother, Camille Kirksey, coaches Zachary on the correct pronunciation.

This might seem like a classic weekend scene, but it’s a weekday scene. That’s because this isn’t just a family home, it’s also a tiny school. A school for one. For Brandon.

CROSWELL, Mich. (AP) - One class at a Michigan high school is so popular even animals are dying to get into it.

  The Times Herald reports  that Kyle Tubbs' taxidermy class at Croswell-Lexington High School has 60 students in two sections, and some students had to be turned away.

  Students must bring in their own animal that they either hunted or found dead. In a recent class, they skinned three deer heads, a squirrel and a mink that was found as roadkill.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is offering grants for projects designed to prevent food waste.

  It's part of an initiative Gov. Rick Snyder announced in 2014 to double the state's residential recycling rate. Wasted food accounts for more than 20 percent of household trash - more than any other material.

  The DEQ says $250,000 will be distributed. Individual grants could be as much as $100,000, but recipients must match at least 25 percent of the amount they get from the state.

Wikipedia

Michigan now has a nationally-accredited training program for sign language interpreters.

Oakland Community College’s program received accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education this month.

OCC offers a three-year associate degree in American Sign Language interpretation. The program graduates around 20 interpreters each year.

It’s the first program in Michigan to receive that accreditation.

Dan Varner
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

Many of Detroit’s potential workers are leaving school without the math or reading skills required to enter training programs.

There doesn’t seems to be a clear plan for educating Detroit’s children. There doesn’t seem to be a clear plan for training a future workforce.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s slowing down his plans to fix Detroit’s schools in order to get the process moving. In the face of resistance from Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, the governor says he wants to break up the work, focusing first on retiring the district’s massive debt.

flickr user DryHundredFear / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The recent student protests at the University of Missouri drew the nation’s attention to the problems of racism and lack of diversity on college campuses.

Faculty diversity – or, more accurately, the lack thereof – is certainly a concern on campuses in Michigan, both public and private.

For example, at Michigan State University, 4.4% of faculty members are black. The University of Michigan’s main campus trails with only 3.3%.

Debate delays new social studies standards

Dec 11, 2015
Scott Durham's class at Lakeview High School in Battle Creek explores inequality and empowerment
Gabrielle Emanuel / Michigan Radio

There's a civil rights debate brewing in Michigan. It's about whether schools have too much civil rights education or too little.

This controversy has prompted the State Board of Education to delay voting on new social studies standards.

Back in 2014, The Southern Poverty Law Center gave each state a grade based on how good it is at civil rights education.

South Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia all got As.

Michigan did not.

“So, Michigan got an F,” admits Gregg Dionne of Michigan’s Department of Education.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Seven Detroit Public Schools closed Thursday when too many teachers called in sick.

The “sick-out” is mostly a protest against Governor Snyder’s plans for the troubled district, which he wants to split in two and put through a bankruptcy-like overhaul.

Broken piggy bank
Images Money / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ranks Michigan 12th worst in the country when it comes to education funding cuts.

The report says Michigan has cut per-pupil K-12 funding by 7.5 percent since 2008.

Eastern Michigan University
krossbow / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Eastern Michigan University regents have decided not to decide on the Education Achievement Authority right now.

EMU is a partner with Detroit Public Schools in the interlocal agreement that created the state-run district for low-performing schools. Gov. Snyder’s education initiative was supposed to go statewide, but never expanded beyond an initial 15 former Detroit public schools.

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