Education

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.

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.

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

Gov. Snyder’s controversial Education Achievement Authority faces a key test at an Eastern Michigan University board of regents meeting Tuesday.

The EAA is Snyder’s signature education initiative. It was meant to be a statewide district for the lowest-performing 5% of schools, but has never expanded beyond 15 schools in Detroit.

The EAA never got legislative approval. It only exists because of a 2011 inter-local agreement between EMU, and the state-run Detroit Public Schools.

EMU’s involvement with the EAA has been condemned by many faculty and students.

EMU's interim president is leaving in January

Dec 4, 2015
Eastern Michigan University
krossbow / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Kim Schatzel had already served as Eastern Michigan University's provost for several years, when she stepped in as interim president last summer.

Now, she's getting ready to leave for a new job as president of Towson University in Maryland.

Schatzel, who was raised on the east coast, said Towson is similar to EMU in size, curriculum and history.

However, there's one key difference.

Michigan Radio

We're going to go out on a limb here and say most parents want to know how their child's school measures up in terms of standardized test scores, graduation rates, demographics and so on. 

Another big question parents ask when looking at a school: 

“How many kids are in a typical classroom?”

When you hear people talk about ineffective school systems, you’ll often hear something like, “there aren’t enough desks or books,” or “there are more than 30 kids in that classroom.”

hmm360 / morgueFile

The Michigan Postsecondary Credential Attainment workgroup wants more people in Michigan to obtain some type of post-secondary credential by 2025.

That's according to a report the workgroup released this week.

amsd2dth / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A bill has cleared the Michigan Senate to address a shortage of substitute teachers and of full time teachers in certain subjects. 

A law allowing teachers who retired after the middle of 2010 to teach again without losing their pensions or health benefits expired almost 18 months ago.  The bill would reinstate, until July 1, 2018, the expired provisions. 

University of Michigan Health System

Michigan veterans would be eligible for grants to help them earn a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math under a new bipartisan bill in the state House.

If the bill becomes law, eligible veterans could receive up to $5,000 a year toward a STEM degree at a public university or community college in Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University will release plans later today to show it is trying to address the needs of African-American students. 

But some black Spartans feel the university is not doing enough.

Math flashcards
Ross Belmont / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Wayne State University is getting a $1.4 million grant to prepare elementary and middle school math teachers to teach in Detroit.

The grant from the National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program will help WSU recruit and train 56 new math teachers to teach in Detroit classrooms.

Tim Lauer / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Rockford Public Schools has notified elementary school parents about a short mention of a gay character in a book that will be available at its upcoming Scholastic Book Fair.

According to the district's Nov. 10 letter to parents, the plot of the story has a very brief reference to one of the featured characters traveling 20 years into the future to find he is married to another man. The book is the 12th in the Captain Underpants series and is titled "Captain Underpants and The Sensational Saga of Sir-Stinks-A-Lot." 

Tulane Public Relations / Creative Commons

Michigan school districts will implement new science standards over the next seven years.

The State Board of Education overwhelmingly adopted the new standards on Tuesday.

Wikimedia Commons

Students, faculty and staff talked about their frustrations – from who gets tenure, to recruiting Detroit students, to what it feels like to be one of the few black students on campus – at a "community assembly” on campus diversity today.

The event was moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page, of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board. Community members were invited to share their own experiences and goals for the university.

Detroit schools' budget deficit smaller than expected

Nov 10, 2015
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A recent audit showed the Detroit Public Schools' deficit for the 2014-15  fiscal year is smaller than originally projected.

DPS officials said they had expected the annual deficit to be in the range of $70 million. But the audit puts it at $46.5 million, more than $22 million less.

Michigan kids may soon be required to learn engineering

Nov 9, 2015
Tommy Cohn, a junior at Skyline High School, teaches a few students about motors.
Gabrielle Emanuel/Michigan Radio

Biology, chemistry, physics, these traditional science classes may soon be getting a new bedfellow, engineering.

On Tuesday, Michigan’s State Board of Education is voting on new science standards that would, for the first time, require students to learn engineering. This is prompting both excitement and concern.

stevendepolo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

  A successful program that rewards students with cash for boosting their grades has expanded to a second high school in Westland, Michigan. Bill Gray, a retired school psychologist with Wayne Memorial High School, started the Champions of Wayne program in 2009 with the goal of improving performance of at-risk students.

The program offers mentorship and a $200 reward each semester to each students who successfully increase their grade point averages. 

Bills to protect K-12 student data advance in Lansing

Nov 5, 2015
Kjetil Korslian / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Legislation to safeguard the privacy of student information has passed the Michigan Senate.

One bill would bar the State and school districts from selling personally identifiable information in K-12 student educational records to for-profit businesses.  

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