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early childhood education

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There are new guidelines for boosting early childhood development efforts in Detroit, and they come with a $50 million investment.

“Hope Starts Here: Detroit’s Community Framework for Brighter Futures” emerged from a year’s worth of planning efforts.

It has a variety of suggested strategies, some more concrete than others. But one thing is concrete: it comes with a $50 million pledge from the Michigan-based Kresge and Kellogg Foundations.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan has made major strides when it comes to the number of kids enrolled in state-funded preschool.

The state now ranks 15th in the country according to a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

The state’s Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) serves kids whose families make up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line. It enrolled almost 39,000 kids last year, which is a 64 percent increase from 2012. 

According to Nell Duke, developing literacy in children goes beyond just reading to them.
ThomasLife / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's well documented that literacy and reading are essential keys to success in life.

So what are some good ways parents can teach their children to make reading a central part of their lives?

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

State of Opportunity began in 2012.

Since then, the State of Opportunity team has brought us hundreds of stories exploring the barriers to success that low-income kids and families in Michigan face.

Pre-schoolers playing at a table.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the city of Flint will mark the third anniversary of its ill-fated drinking water switch. 

pbs.org

President Trump’s proposed budget threatens the “very existence” of public television, and would “result in tremendous loss for our country,” PBS CEO Paula Kerger told a Detroit Economic Club audience Friday.

Cutting all federal funds for public broadcasting would have devastating consequences, especially in underserved areas, Kerger said.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There’s a big, coordinated push in Detroit for more and better early childhood services.

But first, its boosters need to come up with a plan.

The biggest boosters—and likely funders—of this “civic partnership” dubbed Hope Starts Here are the Kellogg and Kresge Foundations.

They’re rounding up groups and people with a role in Detroit’s early childhood services, from day care providers to pediatricians.

Kellogg Foundation CEO La June Montgomery Tabron says the idea is to come up with an “action plan” that lets everyone can claim ownership.

The Count from Sesame Street.
World Bank Photo Collection / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today marks the first "Count Day" of the school year in Michigan. The second count day will happen on February 8.  

Count days are designated days when Michigan's schools take attendance to determine the number of students they serve. A blend of the attendance numbers will determine the school district's budget.

There are bitter disputes over many aspects of education these days, but there is widespread agreement that how well children are reading by the time they finish the third grade is the best way we have of predicting their future success.

We also know this: In Michigan, things are bad and have been getting worse.

Thirteen years ago, this state ranked 28th in fourth grade reading proficiency. Now, we are 41st, and the Education Trust-Midwest estimates that soon we will be 48th.

Mike Flanagan retired voluntarily a year ago, after ten years as state superintendent of public instruction, a job often referred to as state superintendent of schools.

That he lasted so long and retired of his own accord is more remarkable than it may seem. Most of his immediate predecessors were fired by the state board of education.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Around 90% of a child's brain is already developed by the time they are five years old.

And that means the learning that takes place before a kid even reaches kindergarten can have a lifelong impact.

In parenting, it's OK to go against the grain

Jun 1, 2016
kid walking up stairs flanked by 2 adults
flickr user Kat Grigg / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When you're a parent, you just want to do what's best for your kids.

But with so much parenting advice floating around, it can be tough to figure out what exactly "best" means. 
 

According to Heather Shumaker, sometimes doing right by your kids means taking all that conventional wisdom and flipping it on its head.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint public school district is expanding early childhood education programs. 

The three-, four- and five-year-olds at the Great Expectations Early Childhood Program at Holmes STEM Academy are the lucky ones. The waiting list to get into this program is hundreds of names long.

But Superintendent Bilal Tawwab says the University of Michigan-Flint is working to expand the program, which he says is critical.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Barack Obama will visit Flint tomorrow to get an update on the city’s drinking water crisis.

In Flint, thousands of children under the age of six have been exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, creating problems that could last a lifetime.

But there’s a new effort underway to try to help children most at risk.   

For weeks, teachers and other volunteers have been knocking on doors in Flint.

On Monday, they once again fanned out across a south-side neighborhood.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a push on to get more young kids in the Flint area signed up for early childhood education programs.

The state Legislature approved special funding to expand early childhood education programs in Genesee County, as part of the state’s response to Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Lisa Hagel is the superintendent of the Genesee Intermediate School District. She says many three- and four-year-olds would benefit from the education and nutrition program, but they don’t know where those kids are.

Flint Head Start will get $3.6 million boost

Mar 2, 2016
Barnaby Wasson / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a $3.6 million immediate expansion for Head Start and Early Head Start services in Flint.

Brian Widdis / Bridge Magazine

A one-room schoolhouse. One teacher. Kindergarten through 8 grade. Older students helping the younger ones.

That was how many Americans were educated in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

 

And Bridge writer Mike Wilkinson has discovered, the one-room schoolhouse is not extinct in Michigan.

 

Christina Lumpkin at home with her daughter, Maya and grandson, Jahari.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

Think about most of the news stories you read about kids in Detroit. What comes to mind?

Something about dysfunctional schools? Maybe a crime story?

When’s the last time you felt like a story transported you into the life of a family? Where you really got to know a child? Where you felt what it might be like to be a parent raising kids there?

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When you are a school district where more than 80% of your students live in poverty, every penny that helps those students is critical.

And that's why there has been a collective gasp of disbelief, even anger, with the news that Detroit Public Schools has lost $4 million in Head Start funding.

The reason DPS lost the money is because they missed the application deadline.

A school spokesperson blamed a technical problem in uploading the application.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us on our show.

*Listen to our conversation with Rochelle above.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, Governor Rick Snyder made good on his promise to boost preschool spending.

Today he got a chance to talk to some parents, teachers and school administrators in Grand Rapids about the proposal.

About a dozen four-year-olds sat in a circle around Gov. Snyder. He read them "Snowmen at Work," a children’s tale about what snowmen do for a living.

“Are they in school just like you?” Snyder asked the group. 

"Yeah!” they replied in unison.

“You have fun at school?"

"Yeah!”

toshibatelecom / toshibatelecom

Michigan's economy may be slogging its way up the hill towards recovery, but life is not getting as good as it should for children in our state.

That's the takeaway from the latest Kids Count report.

Here to tell us more is Jane Zehnder-Merrell. She's the project director for Kids Count in Michigan, part of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Listen to the full interview above. 

U-School

What if you could build a pre-school from the ground up?

What if you could take the things that seem to work well -- take out what doesn't -- and build-in new ideas after listening to your community?

That's exactly what my next guest is doing.

Ryan Brown wants to re-imagine what early childhood education looks like and feels like.

He's doing it with the "U School," which is opening next June in Ann Arbor.

And what's happening in these weeks before the U-School opens is worth looking at.

Brown is the co-founder, executive director, and a classroom teacher at the U-School, and he joined us today.

Listen to the interview above.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A group of police chiefs and district attorneys is asking Congress to invest $75 billion over the next ten years on early childhood programs with proven success. The group says the investment will more than pay for itself in terms of reducing crime and prison costs.

The group says it’ll save money on prison costs in the long run.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller says the State of Michigan and the country is at a fork in the road; spend money now on early childhood development, or spend more money later in the corrections department.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

More streetlight and less blight in Detroit in 60 days

Detroit's emergency manager says residents will be able to notice more robust city services within the next two months. As the Detroit News reports,

"After five months on the job, Kevyn Orr says efforts to restore streetlights and reduce the number of abandoned structures will become more visible within 60 days. Meanwhile, dozens of new public safety vehicles are hitting the streets, and police officers and firefighters are being outfitted with new gear and equipment."

More high speed rail in south Michigan

"Michigan is adding more high-speed rail. The federal government will give the state more than $9 million to upgrade train tracks between Dearborn and Kalamazoo. The upgrade allows Amtrak trains to travel as fast as 110 miles an hour," Tracy Samilton reports.

Funding boost will allow more kids in preschool

"As many as 16,000 more 4-year-olds will be able to attend preschool in Michigan this fall, thanks to a big boost in the state's early education budget," the Associated Press reports.

Big jump in preschool slots for Michigan children

Sep 8, 2013
WoodleyWonderWorks / Flickr

As many as 16,000 more 4-year-olds will be able to attend preschool in Michigan this fall, thanks to a big boost in the state's early education budget.

Some of Michigan’s preschoolers are paying the price as federal sequester cuts sink in. On today’s show we take a look at what the cuts mean to families who rely on Head Start in Michigan.

Later in the hour, we speak with Blaine Pardoe, author of the new book Murder in Battle Creek: The Mysterious Death of Daisy Zick.

But first, Congressional leaders met today with President Obama to talk about the situation in Syria. Over the weekend, the President called for the United States to take action against Syria for their alleged chemical weapons use.  But the President said he wanted Congressional support for the action first.

Also, we hear from Congressman Justin Amash of west Michigan about his thoughts on the situation in the Middle East.

Finally, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen has been in continuous operation on Detroit's East side since the Great Depression starting in 1929, and the friars' mission in the city dates back even further to 1883. Brother Jerry Smith, director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen discusses how the face of poverty has changed over 130 years.

WoodleyWonderWorks / Flickr

These are trying times for families who rely on Head Start to give their preschoolers the big boost that can make the difference between success and failure in school.

That's because the federal sequester cuts have made a big hit on the number of slots available to preschoolers. 

Nationwide, 57,000 kids have lost access to Head Start. And the threat of deeper cuts looms when the debt ceiling rears its head again this fall in Washington.

Robin Bozek, the executive director of Michigan Head Start Association and Mary DeLuca, the  Head Start director for the Community Action Agency of Jackson joined us in the studio to talk about how Michigan’s preschool kids are affected by the budget cuts.  

Listen to the story above.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers recently approved a huge expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program. That's the state's preschool program for 4-year olds at risk of being under-prepared for kindergarten.

More money for preschoolers was one of the main initiatives in Governor Snyder's State of the State speech last January. And the Legislature was listening, because that $65 million increase represents a 60% expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program.

We wanted to talk about what this expansion means to preschoolers all over Michigan and what more needs to be done.

Mina Hong is a Senior Policy Associate of Michigan's Children, and Scott Menzel is the superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, and he also chairs the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators' Early Childhood Committee.

Hong and Menzel joined us today to discuss the issue.

Lawmakers in Lansing recently approved a $65 million increase in the state's Great Start Readiness Program. That's Michigan's preschool program for 4-year olds at risk of being under-prepared for kindergarten. But, many childhood advocates say that's not enough. We took a look into whether more needs to be done.

We also heard about space exploration 21st century style. We spoke to a Michigan scientist who is using Kickstarter to make his research a reality.

Also, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will preside over the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. We spoke with Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press about what we can expect from the judge.

First on the show, the Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing by the city of Detroit has some wondering if Detroit is not an isolated incident. Could other financially struggling cities be on the same path?

To help us answer this question, we turned to Michigan Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee. Kildee represents Flint and Saginaw.

tables in a classroom
Frank Juarez / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan schools got about a 3% boost in funding under the state budget passed last month in Lansing, but a new report says that might not be sustainable.

The non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan says the extra money could be wiped out after next year. 

Bob Schneider is the group's state affairs director.

"Unless we find new revenue growth that isn't anticipated yet, or the state draws upon additional general fund resources, or other resources to bring them into the School Aid Budget, the K-12 schools are looking to potentially have to give back a good chunk of the gains that they've made."

The report projects a budget shortfall of about $240 million for the School Aid Budget in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Schneider says that's partly because of additional state spending commitments to things like teacher retirement and early childhood education.

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