charter schools

Education
6:04 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Stateside: Uncertified teachers at Muskegon Heights charter school system

The Muskegon Heights emergency manager and representatives of Mosaica Education.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Lester Graham is filling in for Cynthia Canty on today's Stateside.

In her recent report, Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith found that teachers in the new charter school system in Muskegon Heights were hired without teacher certification.

The entire public school system in Muskegon Heights was recently turned over to a private company.

While there are teachers who do have certification, there are others who do not.

The question is, what will happen with those teachers that have not been certified?

We sat down with reporter Lindsey Smith, who joined us from Grand Rapids.

She told us how it became evident that there were uncertified teachers working in the school system. She also tells us what it was like speaking to the parents in Muskegon Heights and their reactions.

Politics & Government
7:58 am
Fri February 8, 2013

This morning's news: Snow across the state, Snyder's budget, and charter school unionization

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Snow blankets most of the state

Most of the Lower Peninsula is blanketed in snow as an overnight storm brought up to 9 inches in some areas, creating a potentially treacherous morning commute and causing many school districts to cancel classes. 

Three to 7 inches of snow are expected in parts of mid and West Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press. Areas of Southeast Michigan received up to 5 inches of snow. Parts of the northern Lower Peninsula could get up to 9 inches. 

Snow is expected to continue throughout the morning, and it should taper off by around noon, the paper reported. 

Gov. Snyder releases budget proposal

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder released his annual budget proposal Thursday morning. 

"Sixty-one percent of the total investments we’re recommending are either for savings or education. This is a responsible budget. This is a budget to look to that long term, and learn from our past mistakes," Snyder said in his announcement. 

Among his priorities were increasing taxes to help pay for upkeep of the state's roads. Snyder proposed raising the gas tax to 33 cents a gallon for all types of fuel. He also wants to raise vehicle registration fees. 

Michigan Radio's Mark Brush has a run down of Snyder's other budget priorities, which include increasing funding for all levels of education and expanding medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. 

Detroit charter school teachers vote to unionize

Teachers at Detroit's largest charter school voted overwhelmingly last night to be represented by a union. 

The teachers and staff at Cesar Chavez academy voted by a 2-1 margin to have the American Federation of Teachers represent them, Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports. 

Only a small number of Michigan’s charter schools have unionized employees.

Nate Walker is with the AFT. He expects teachers in some other Michigan charter schools will also unionize this year.

“I think in the future we can certainly expect more collective bargaining campaigns,” says Walker,  “But we can also expect charter school teachers to engage in the policy discussions that impact them.”

- Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Education
10:17 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Detroit charter school teachers vote to unionize

The Cesar Chavez Academy high school campus in Detroit
chavezwaterman.com

Teachers in Detroit's largest charter school district voted last night to be represented by a union.

Cesar Chavez Academy teachers and staff voted two to one to have a unit of the American Federation of Teachers represent them.

Only a small number of Michigan’s charter schools have unionized employees.

Nate Walker is with the AFT. He expects teachers in some other Michigan charter schools will also unionize this year.

Education
7:23 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Muskegon Heights has high hopes for 3rd high school principal in 6 months

Incoming Muskegon Heights High School 'Head of School' Carla Turner-Laws poses for a photo.
Courtesy photo Mosaica Education

The new Muskegon Heights charter school district is welcoming yet another principal at its high school. Carla Turner-Laws is the third principal so far this school year. Technically, her title is Interim Head of School/Instructional Specialist.

A couple dozen people sharing cookies and pink fruit punch welcomed Turner-Laws at a reception Wednesday night. Most were fellow co-workers, friends and family members.

The MHPS district’s state-appointed emergency manager turned the entire district over to a charter school company last June.

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Politics & Government
6:45 am
Tue January 15, 2013

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Referendum campaign will try to block wolf hunts

After Governor Rick Snyder recently signed legislation opening up the doors to a possible wolf hunt in the state, a referendum campaign is trying to block the move. The Detroit News reports,

A petition committee, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, is attempting to gather 225,000 signatures in the next two and a half months for a statewide ballot question that would protect wolves from being hunted as a trophy animal.

Governor Snyder criticizes right to work as Pure Michigan ad

Governor Rick Snyder has criticized a Michigan Economic Development Corporation ad that ran in the Wall Street Journal that touts the new right to work legislation as "Pure Michigan. "Governor Snyder says he would not have singled out right-to-work. Instead, he says he hoped the ad would highlight a broad range of new economic policies," Jake Neher reports.

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Education
5:54 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Independent study shows glowing review of Michigan charter school success

Students in Muskegon Heights learn under a new charter academy school formed this summer.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan students enrolled in charter schools learn more in a school year than those in comparable traditional public schools. That’s according to a study released Monday by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

Researchers at Stanford University looked at the state’s more than 250 charter schools over a five year period ending in 2010.

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Education
4:32 pm
Sun December 23, 2012

In the wake of right-to-work, Detroit charter school teachers press for union

The Cesar Chavez Academy high school campus in Detroit
Credit via www.chavezwaterman.com

Teachers and staff at a Detroit charter school are pressing forward with an effort to unionize.

Teachers at the Cesar Chavez Academy have filed to hold an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. They hope that will happen early next year.

Cesar Chavez serves more than 2000 students on several campuses in southwest Detroit. If a majority of their members votes to unionize, they will be represented by the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan.

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Education
6:30 am
Mon December 3, 2012

1 in 4 teachers at Muskegon Heights schools quit during first 3 months of school year

4th grade students at Edgewood Elementary School learn about philosophy through Mosaica's Paragon curriculum in late November 2012.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Over the summer Muskegon Heights schools’ then emergency manager laid off everybody who worked at the district and hired Mosaica Education to run operations for 5 years.

Muskegon Heights has some of the lowest performing schools in Michigan and is dealing with a multi-million dollar deficit. The state appointed manager says he had no other option but to privatize operations.

Three months in, one in four (20 of 80 total) of the newly hired teachers has quit.

“It’s confusing because I go from this learning process to this learning process to that learning process and it’s just ridiculous how some teachers leave and we have to start all over and learn something new,” Muskegon Heights High School senior Tony Harris said, “It’s just, it’s crazy.”

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Politics & Government
7:56 am
Mon November 19, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Proposed changes to K-12 education

There's a proposed bill being drafted that could make some major changes to K-12 education in Michigan. As the Detroit Free Press reports, highlights of the bill include, "[the ability for] students to choose school districts, make greater use of online learning and earn financial incentives of $2,500 per semester for completing high school early."

Charter school enrollment rises in Michigan

"Charter schools are becoming a more common choice for Michigan students. A new report finds five Michigan cities are now among the top 20 in the nation for the percentage students in charter schools. Detroit is No. 2 -- with 41 percent of its students enrolled in charter schools. Flint ranks fourth and Grand Rapids is ninth. Lansing and Traverse City are 19th and 20th,' Rina Miller reports.

Local government leaders want Michigan's personal property tax changed

"A new poll shows local government leaders in Michigan are leery of proposals to do away with Michigan’s personal property tax. Republican state lawmakers want to repeal or greatly change the tax, possibly before the end of this year. Businesses complain the personal property tax is cumbersome and discourages investment.  Legislation repealing the personal property tax already passed in the state Senate, but the legislation has sat in state House since last Spring," Steve Carmody reports.

Education
3:57 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Despite more school choice, Detroit parents still frustrated

A charter advocacy group gives Michigan's charter law a passing grade
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Eighty percent of Detroit parents say they do not believe the city's public schools are the best choice for their child. But they’re split on the other options as well.

A new survey from the Detroit News and the Thompson Foundation asks Detroit parents how they feel about their school choices.

Only one in five parents picked DPS as the best for their kid. But even with the recent increase in school options - charter, private, public schools outside the city - none was a clear winner.

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Education
11:48 am
Fri October 5, 2012

Former charter school director in Muskegon charged with falsifying count records

Image of the homepage for the WayPoint Academy charter school in Muskegon.
www.4waypoint.com

Student Count Day just took place across Michigan earlier this week. The amount of state aid a school receives is dependent on the number of students attending.

Now we hear news about a charter school director who may have falsified student count records.

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Education
4:55 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Highland Park Public Schools selects Leona Group to manage charter system

Bill Coats, founder and CEO of the Leona Group
The Leona Group, L.L.C.

Highland Park Public Schools contracted the Leona Group to run its charter system next year.

A press release issued by the school system's Emergency Manager, Joyce Parker, said that she met with the newly appointed board of education today who approved the Leona Group, LLC contract as charter operator unanimously.

From the release:

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Education
3:07 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Check out the details of Michigan’s first privatized public school system

From left to right; Mosaica Regional Vice President Alena Zachery Ross, Mosaica founder and President Gene Eidelman, and Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon during a budget hearing Monday afternoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Parents in the Muskegon Heights Public School district are just starting to get an idea of what to expect for their children this fall.

The district is having major financial problems and is under the control of a state appointed emergency manager, Donald Weatherspoon.

Weatherspoon said turning over the entire district to a charter school operator was his only option to keep school open this year.

Last week, the three-member school board (appointed by the Weatherspoon) hired Mosaica Education Inc. to operate the schools in Muskegon Heights.

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Education
8:24 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Muskegon Heights schools handed over to charter school company

"The facilities are amazing," Mosaica Education President Gene Eidelman said of Muskegon Heights High School. He says techonology will be integrated into the curriculum.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The leader of a small, urban school district in western Michigan is completely privatizing the public school system there. The case may become an example for other school districts facing major financial problems.

The problems are academic and financial

The situation at Muskegon Heights Public Schools was dire. It ran $18,000 in the red each day school was open last year.

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Education
5:38 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Private, for-profit charter company to run Muskegon Heights schools

The emergency manager of the Muskegon Heights Public School district has signed a contract with a private company to run the district next year.

Mosaica Education is a for-profit charter operator that already runs six other charter schools in Michigan.

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Education
11:10 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Muskegon Heights charter takeover a 'state bailout,' new report says

Muskegon Heights High School
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Muskegon Heights Public Schools voted late last year to request a state emergency manager in an effort to sort out chronically troubled finances. Part of the plan emergency manager Don Weatherspoon eventually came up with involved turning schools in the district over to a charter operator.

But as the Detroit Free Press reports today, a study from a non-profit research group says the turnover amounts to little more than a state bailout.

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Education
10:01 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Racial achievement gap dwindling in Michigan's charter schools

Henry Ford Academy, a charter school in Dearborn
user OZinOH flickr

Recent state test results for students in third grade through eighth grade show black students in charter schools perform better than those in traditional public schools.

The largest gaps were found in reading scores which showed a difference of 9 percent.

Dan Quisenberry is president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. He said the improving test scores in charter schools narrow the achievement gap between black and white students.

“That's a problem that's plagued our country for far too many years and I think some of it is really just getting after the solutions because it's not easy,” Quisenberry said. “Most of it is an urban issue where there may not be family neighborhood structures, where there may not be as many opportunities.”

Quisenberry said the higher scores are not a result of charter schools being able to reject troublesome students.

“When kids come into a charter school, many times they are a grade to as many as three grade levels behind where they should be. Those are not kids that you're cherry picking in some way even if you could.  What's happening is you're seeing people focusing on students' needs, and achievement scores are rising as a result of it,” he said.

The higher test scores for black charter school students are consistent across grade levels. It is especially prevalent in urban areas in the state.

-Emily Fox, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Education
12:46 am
Thu May 31, 2012

No football? No band? Muskegon Heights parents get few details about charter school plan

Don Weatherspoon is the Emergency Manager of Muskegon Heights Public Schools. He's planning on having a charter company operate the public district begining next school year.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Muskegon Heights Public Schools Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon heard from parents, alumni, teachers, and taxpayers during and after the meeting. He reassured parents a free neighborhood school will be open this fall.

But most had questions he couldn’t answer yet. Like, will there be band, art or athletics? Busing and special education services? Although he’d prefer it, Don Weatherspoon says he cannot make any guarantees.

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Education
11:09 am
Fri May 25, 2012

A Michigan school district may be completely replaced by charter schools

Muskegon Heights High School

The Muskegon Heights School District could be completely turned over to charter schools this fall.   That would be a first in the state of Michigan.   

The district’s emergency manager is submitting his plan to replace the entire school district with charter schools with the state Treasury and Education Departments today.  He says that’s the only way to get the district out of its financial crisis.

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Education
9:58 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Detroit closes, consolidates more schools in ongoing transformation effort

Southwestern High School is one of the Detroit schools that will close for good.

The Detroit Public School system will shrink again next fall, as the district scrambles to revamp itself amidst declining enrollment.

This is just the latest in several waves of restructuring, as the district must constantly re-adjust to a student population that shrinks every year—and has fallen about 60% overall since 2000, from more than 167,000 students to about 69,000.

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