common core

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What might the lame-duck legislative session hold for Michigan schools?

This is the time lawmakers often make a big push to pass pet bills and there are several in play right now that could mean big changes for students and teachers.

Chastity Pratt Dawsey, reporter for Bridge Magazine, and Michelle Richard, senior consultant for Public Sector Consultants, joined us today.

You can listen to our conversation with them below:


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Testing students to assess their progress in school could get a lot more political before the year is out.

Legislators and the Michigan Department of Education clashed this year over a test to assess Common Core state standards. If the past is any clue, lawmakers with the help of the governor could simply take away the Department of Education’s authority and give it to a state agency more friendly to their point of view, such as Treasury. Gov. John Engler made exactly that kind of move several times during his time in office.

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Michigan students have been taking the same standardized test for decades. It’s known as the MEAP.

But this year the MEAP test will be completely re-done and students will take it in the spring instead of the fall. After next year, it’s not clear what test students will take.

The state was all set to switch over from the MEAP to a test called “Smarter Balanced.” But state lawmakers balked at the idea, because the test aligned to the controversial common core standards.

Lawmakers wanted the state to stick with the MEAP.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

One of the many decisions made by state lawmakers during their budget actions last week was to keep the MEAP in place for another year.

The more than 40-year-old MEAP exam stays put even though Michigan adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. And the state's education department has been working for the past three years to bring in the new testing that is aligned to the Common Core. That new test is called the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

The state lawmakers' recent decision could mean that educators and students have to hit the reverse button and go back to MEAP. But State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in April that the MEAP was simply “not an option."

Brian Smith has been reporting on the Common Core and Smarter Balanced vs. MEAP tussle. He said that as the issue moved forward, the Department of Education started to talk to testing vendors and see what could possibly be done.

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.

Just last year, when I brought up the Common Core to my non-educator friends, I would usually see a furrowed brow and a tilted head.

They’d never heard of it.

That’s certainly changed. Most people have at least heard of Common Core by now. 

Still, I find very few folks have anything more than the vaguest notions about the Common Core. They seem to know that most states are a part of it, but not much more.

The Great recession and the accompanying housing meltdown changed the way many of us think about home-ownership. For decades, owning a home seemed to be part of the American Dream, but that dream has changed. On today’s show -- the rise of renters and what it means for the state’s housing market.Then, this month marks the 100 year anniversary of one of the most painful chapters in Michigan’s labor history. We explored the Copper Country Strike of 1913 later in the hour.

And, the U.S. birth rate is at a record low as more and more married couples choose to remain child free. We spoke with the director of the Childless by Choice Project about what goes behind this choice and what are the future consequences.

First on the show, Back in 2010, the State Board of Education approved the Common Core State Standards for Michigan — a set of math and English goals for K-12 students.

School districts across the state have spent the past three years integrating the standards into their curriculums. At the same time, we've heard a lot of political debate about Common Core, mostly about the involvement of the federal government in our classrooms.

But in October of this year, state lawmakers OK'd funding for Common Core, and now it is becoming a reality in Michigan classrooms.

We wanted to find out: What does this mean — day-in, day-out — for Michigan's students?

What does a school year under Common Core really look like?

Joining us is Naomi Norman, the executive director of Achievement Initiatives at Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Livingston Educational Service Agency.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Back in 2010, the State Board of Education approved the Common Core State Standards for Michigan — a set of math and English goals for K-12 students.

School districts across the state have spent the past three years integrating the standards into their curricula. At the same time, we've heard a lot of political debate about Common Core, mostly about the involvement of the federal government in our classrooms.

But in October of this year, state lawmakers OK'd funding for Common Core, and now it is becoming a reality in Michigan classrooms.

We wanted to find out: What does this mean — day-in, day-out — for Michigan's students?

What does a school year under Common Core really look like?

Joining us is Naomi Norman, the executive director of Achievement Initiatives at Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Livingston Educational Service Agency.

Listen to the full interview above.

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Lawmakers in the state Senate hope to move forward this week on a plan to fund the implementation of new school standards.

Republican leaders in the Senate had hoped to introduce a resolution last week to fund the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. But Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) says it was a good idea to wait because there were so many concerns that had to be addressed.

“I want people to have a good look at it and hear from some other experts before we do anything,” said Richardville. “It’s always on our radar screen because it’s an important issue. We’re not going to let that one drag out forever.

GOP / gophouse.org

A state lawmaker wants to ban school exams that require students’ personal information other than their name and student identification number.

Republican state Representative Tim Kelly’s bill would also ban collecting biometric data — like students’ heart rates and eye movements.

“There’s kind of some creepy aspects to some of the technology that’s being introduced today,” Kelly said. “And this is kind of an effort to ward against some of the things that may or may not be the best thing for students.”

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Michigan and the shutdown

"As the federal government shutdown heads into day three, half a dozen national nature preserves in Michigan are now closed. Michigan is in the process of identifying thousands of state employees whose jobs are paid for with federal funds. State budget officials say they will have to be laid off if the federal shutdown lasts for more than two weeks. Food and cash assistance programs could also run out of money," Rick Pluta reports.

College grads that stay in Michigan could get a tax break

"College graduates who choose to stay in Michigan would get a tax break under a bill in the state Senate. The plan would affect students who earn a four-year degree from a Michigan college or university. They could get up to half of what they pay in student loans back when they file their yearly income taxes," Jake Neher reports.

Federal money at risk if Common Core is not funded in Michigan

"State education officials say more than a billion dollars of federal school funding is at risk as the state Senate debates a set of nationwide school standards. The state budget that took effect this week bars the Michigan Department of Education from spending any money to implement the Common Core standards," Jake Neher reports.

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Each week, I review the news with political analyst Jack Lessenberry.

Today we discussed Common Core education standards, new details about some practices that led to Detroit's financial crisis, and legislation to refuse adoptions based on religious reasons.

My guess is that 30 years ago, the so-called Common Core education standards wouldn’t have been controversial at all.

As State Board of Education President John Austin told me yesterday, Common Core is not a curriculum. It doesn’t dictate what classes are to be taught. It doesn’t come from the federal government, and it is not being imposed by the federal government. Nor does it allow Washington or the United Nations to track students, or give outsiders any say in their education. 

Common Core is merely a set of standards designed to try to make sure that students in Michigan get both an adequate education, and approximately the same education as students in Florida or Indiana or Oregon.

The Common Core standards actually grew out of conservative, standards-based ideas. They came about because of widespread realization that many schools were just not doing the job, and were graduating students who weren’t adequately prepared for modern jobs or any kind of higher education.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Obama administration in Detroit, to announce $300 million for the city

White House officials will be in Detroit today. As Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports,

"White House officials are expected to announce about 300 million in public and private dollars for Detroit. It will be a combination of new money, and federal dollars the city had been granted but couldn't access," Cwiek reports.

Fail a drug test, lose unemployment benefits bill moves forward

"Job seekers who refuse or fail an employer drug test could lose their unemployment benefits under a bill adopted by the state House," Rick Pluta reports.

State House votes to restore funding to Common Core

"Michigan would continue to implement a set of state school standards under a resolution that cleared the state House. State lawmakers stopped funding for the implementation of the Common Core standards earlier this year," Jake Neher reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state House has voted to reinstate funding for the Common Core state school standards.

More than 40 other states have chosen to adopt the standards, which set yearly expectations for what students should learn at every grade level in math and language arts.

But earlier this year, Michigan lawmakers temporarily barred the state from spending money to implement Common Core. A legislative panel was formed to study the issue over the summer, and its chair, Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp.) crafted a resolution based on more than 17 hours of public testimony.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

You might have heard about the Common Core education standards and maybe a bit about the fuss over these new standards. We wanted to get a little more information about what’s going on.

We talked to Michael Brickman, the national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education policy think tank. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

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Lawmakers to vote on Common Core

"After months of debate, lawmakers are poised to vote on whether Michigan should continue implementing more rigorous education standards known as Common Core. The House Education Committee today plans to consider a resolution letting the state put in place new uniform math and reading standards," the Associated Press reports.

 Bills move forward to allow faith-based agencies to refuse to process adoptions

"A state House panel has approved legislation to allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children with a family based on a religious objection. Instead, an agency would have to refer a qualified family to an adoption office that would handle the placement," Rick Pluta reports.

Wolf hunt licenses on sale Saturday

Wolf hunting licenses go on sale Saturday. The wolf hunt season will span from Nov. 15- Dec. 31, or until 43 wolves are killed.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State lawmakers have been debating the Common Core State Standards for months. The nationwide school standards lay out specific things that students should know after each grade level. The goal is to set expectations for students no matter where they live in the United States.

But opponents say Common Core would strip local control of school curriculum and could compromise the security of students’ personal information through data collection.

Now, the state House Education Committee is set to take up House Concurrent Resolution 11 Thursday morning.

jdurham / mourgeFile

When was the last time you got a hand-written note in the mail?

When was the last time you wrote a note in cursive?

The recently approved Common Core standards don't include a requirement to teach children cursive. That’s prompted a question. Do we need cursive or is it merely an antiquated writing style that’s not all that useful anymore?

Gerry Conti is a neuroscientist and occupational therapist and an Assistant Professor at Wayne State University, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

So, whatever happened to moderates in politics? It seems everyone is an ideologue and "compromise" is a dirty word. On today's show, we talked to a former Republican leader who says the disappearance of the moderate is becoming a real problem in his party.

And, we talked with a "genius."

The MacArther Foundation has announced this year's "genius grants," and one of the 24 who has been recognized as an exceptionally creative individual is from the University of Michigan.

And, the new Common Core Curriculum does not require that kids learn cursive, but is that really what is best?

Also, shoplifting is now a felony in Michigan. What does this mean for consumers and shop owners?

And, a music student at the University of Michigan will have his work performed by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. We talked to him about his piece.

First on the show, the Michigan Legislature is considering bills that would overhaul auto insurance in the state.

There are several aspects to this. Jake Neher with Michigan Public Radio Network joined us today to help us wade through what has been proposed. 

Frankie Rau and Emily Riley can tell you all about their own school's educational philosophy, but don't know much about the common core. Their school has has little trouble implementing the standards thus far.
Sarah Alvarez

As early as today state lawmakers may revisit the Common Core State Standards. In the spring, Michigan’s Board of Education adopted the standards, but until now the legislature, concerned primarily, although not exclusively about local control, made it impossible for the state to spend any money implementing the Common Core.

Schools all over Michigan have already begun implementing the standards, and state funds for implementation are unlikely to help struggling districts buy the materials they need to align their curriculums and prepare students to be tested on the Common Core.

State of Opportunity has the full story of two rural schools implementing the Common Core and having different experiences with the new standards.

 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the upcoming hearings on Common Core, the suburban reaction to the possible sale of DIA art, and Flint's new Master Plan.

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National education activist Diane Ravitch is expected tomorrow to urge state lawmakers not to adopt a set of nation-wide school standards. A state House panel is holding several hearings over the summer on the Common Core State Standards.

The committee will also hear testimony from supporters, including business leaders and state education officials.

Democratic state Representative Adam Zemke sits on the panel.

“If you look at the list of presenters that we have coming to talk, it’s really a wide range of positions on the Common Core. And they all have significant credibility to their standing.”

Ravitch and other opponents say the Common Core standards take away local control and are not proven to improve student performance.

Supporters say the standards are necessary to make sure Michigan students are ready for college and careers.

A state House panel in Lansing has kicked off a series of hearings on Common Core. You may have been hearing about the Common Core lately. They're a set of nationwide school standards put together by the National Governors' Association and they're being debated around the nation. We spoke with Michigan School Board President John Austin, a supporter of Common Core, and state Representive Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills), an opponent of the standards.

And, Michigan is seeing a lot of growth in its craft beer industry. We took a look at what’s behind this growth and what some Michigan brewers are doing to protect our waters.

Also, photographer Susan Webb joined us today to talk about her exhibit in the Kelsey Museum of Archeology, which links 20th century Detroit to the ancient city of Petra.

First on the show, the latest word on new car sales in Europe is not anything that's bringing cheer at GM, Ford and Chrysler headquarters.

New car sales in Europe have just suffered their worst June in seventeen years, and the six-month number is the worst in 20 years.

Let's look at what's behind this protracted free fall in European car sales.

Reporter Russell Padmore from the BBC in London joined us today.

And, what do these European car sales numbers mean to folks at the Ren Cen in Detroit, Glass House in Dearborn, or the Tech Center in Auburn Hills? In other words, how are the poor sales in Europe affecting GM, Ford and Chrysler?

For that we turn to auto analyst Michele Krebs who’s with Edmunds.com.

Michigan House Republicans

This week, a state House panel in Lansing kicked off a series of hearings on Common Core. You might have been hearing about the Common Core lately. It's a set of nationwide school standards put together by the National Governors Association and being debated around the nation.

State lawmakers recently passed a budget that bars the Michigan Department of Education from implementing the standards.

Supporters of the standards - including Governor Rick Snyder and State Superintendent Michael Flanagan - say Common Core is essential to making sure students in Michigan are ready for college and careers.

Opponents say the standards strip local control and were developed without transparency.

We sat down with Michigan School Board President John Austin, a supporter of Common Core, and State Representative Tom McMillin, an opponent of the standards.

But first, let's get a better understanding of just what these standards are.

Michelle Richard, Senior Consultant at Public Sector Consultants, specializing in education policy and research, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan.gov

Debate is underway in Lansing about whether to implement a set of state school standards.

A state House panel held its first meeting on Common Core State Standards Tuesday.

Republican Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) grilled state Department of Education officials about Common Core. He says the standards take away local control and were developed and adopted without public input.

Meanwhile, state Superintendent State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is urging lawmakers to go forward with a set of nationwide school standards. Flanagan argues that districts would have final say over standards and curriculum.

“Technically, [districts] don’t even have to follow the Common Core,” Flanagan said. “Now, I think they will. It’s a smart...well thought out set of standards.”

Gov. Rick Snyder also supports adopting the Common Core standards.

America always has had strange outliers on the margins of our politics, from half-secret movements like the Know-Nothings to the left-wing crazies of the late 1960s. My eighth grade teacher referred to those on the farther shores of our politics as the “lunatic fringe.”

In more recent times, most of the nuts have been right-wing nuts. When I was young they opposed putting fluoride in the water, seeing that as a Communist plot. Indeed, they saw Communist plots everywhere. The head of the John Birch Society wrote a book claiming that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was an active agent of the Communist conspiracy. Asked about this once in Hillsdale, William F. Buckley Jr., said Eisenhower wasn’t a commie, but a golfer.

Well, classic communism is gone. Nobody talks about fluoride any more. But we still have a conspiracy-haunted fringe, and in Michigan today their latest cause is fighting what are called the Common Core Curriculum learning standards.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the controversy over the Common Core State Standards, the University of Michigan’s vote on whether to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students, and the debate over food stamps and the U.S. farm bill.

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Common Core hearings

A state House panel began a series of hearings about the Common Core State Standards yesterday. Republican Representative Tom McMillin says the standards take away local control and were developed and adopted without public input. Committee Chair Tim Kelly says the panel should make its recommendation on Common Core in September, Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher reports.

Legislation to limit public employee benefits

There’s legislation in Lansing that would allow local ballot drives to cap public employee benefits. Leon Drolet, head of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, says the ballot campaigns would act as a safeguard against cozy relationships between public employee unions and local elected officials who bargain with them. Unions say the bill is not necessary because local officials are already accountable to voters, Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

Reviving Battle Creek's Heritage Tower

Battle Creek city commissioners voted last night to create a special tax district in hopes of reviving an iconic downtown building. The Heritage Tower is an 82-year-old art deco building and the upper floors of the former bank building have been condemned. Ken Tsuchiyama, Battle Creek’s city manager, fears the building may have to be demolished unless the new owner can revitalize it.

State lawmakers have formed a special bipartisan subcommittee to debate the merits of the Common Core Standards Initiative.  

Last month, the State Legislature blocked the state from implementing the school standards. Lawmakers said they needed more time to review Common Core before letting it take full effect in Michigan. The subcommittee met for the first time today in Lansing. 

Republican State Rep. Amanda Price from Park Township is the vice-chair of the subcommittee and she spoke with All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White. 

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