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early childhood education

Michigan Radio does an interesting occasional series called Issues and Ale, in which those who know something about a particular public policy get together with citizens in a relaxed setting to discuss things that really matter. Last night we held one on “The Future of Public Education” in an improv theatre in the city of Ferndale, which I thought was an excellent choice.

Ferndale is an older, working-class Detroit suburb which has been a distinct community since the 1920s. Times are not what were, and the city has shrunk over the years to about 20,000 people. Ferndale has become somewhat well-known over the last two decades for its welcoming of the gay and LGBT communities, who have done much to revitalize neighborhoods and the city’s downtown.

But Ferndale also has a dedicated group of parents very concerned with education, their kids’ futures, and want to make sure their children are getting what they need to succeed.

Dustin Dwyer

 About 200 Michiganders will benefit from a new scholarship program announced today. 

But if you want to be one of the lucky recipients, there's a catch: you can't be any older than two. 

The state's Early Childhood Investment Corporation announced today that it's partnering with the Women's Caring Program on a new $700,000 program to help low income families afford child care. 

Jane M Sawyer / morgue file

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

Governor Snyder announced his plan to increase funding for early childhood education during last week’s State of the State.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra and Dustin Dwyer are researching education in Michigan through the State of Opportunity project.

They spoke with Cyndy today about the benefits of early childhood education.

According to Guerra, there were waves of both skepticism and excitement after Gov. Snyder talked about early childhood education in his State of the State address.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Survey: It should be tougher to become a teacher

"It should be a lot tougher to become a teacher in this state. At least that's what the Center for Michigan found in a statewide survey of some 7,500 people. Eighty percent of educators polled say Michigan needs better teacher preparation," Kate Wells reports.

Governor Snyder wants state to put more money in early childhood education

Governor Rick Snyder wants the legislature to support more funding for early childhood education. As the Detroit News reports,

"Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday he will ask the Legislature to undertake a "significant phase-in" of 29,000 4-year-olds into public preschool programs over the next few years, an annual investment of $130 million. The state can't afford to add all 29,000 children eligible for the Great Start Readiness Program at once, Snyder said, so he intends to propose ramping up enrollment over a period of years to ease the impact on the budget."

Former Michigan Supreme Court justice Hathaway expected to plead guilty

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway will be in court next week. She resigned from the high court on Monday.  As the Detroit News reports,

"Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway will find herself on the other side of the bench on Tuesday when she's likely to plead guilty to bank fraud charges related to questionable real estate transactions, legal experts say."

child's drawing on chalkboard
iRon leSs / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that nearly 1 in 4 kids in Michigan lives in poverty. For a family of four that means living on $23,000, or less per year.

A new report says Metro Detroit has a serious problem with “disconnected” youth.

The Measure of America study shows 17%, or more than 85,000, of the region’s 16-to-24-year olds aren’t working or in school.

Using that definition of “disconnection,” the study looked at census data from the nation’s 25 biggest metro areas. Metro Detroit had the third-highest rate of youth disconnection.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Canada and US to sign updated pact to protect Great Lakes

"The U.S. and Canada are preparing to approve an updated version of a 40-year-old pact that commits both sides to protecting the Great Lakes. The Environmental Protection Agency chief  and Canada's environment minister will sign the new deal today in Washington, D.C.," according to the AP.

Romney pulling campaign ads out of Michigan

"Conservative groups backing Mitt Romney are pulling their ads from Michigan's airwaves. Most polls show President Obama coming out ahead in the state. But it's a tight race. Now conservatives are focusing their resources on a few key swing states," Kate Wells reports.

Republican backing early childhood education

"Republican State Senator Roger Kahn says the state should spend more on early childhood education. And he plans to urge Governor Snyder to increase spending for it by $ 140 million. Kahn is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  He says investing in the early years has a big payoff later, for the child, and for society. Kahn says early childhood education isn't a liberal issue," Tracy Samilton reports.

Mike Flanagan
Mike Flanagan / Twitter.com

The state’s education chief says money for early childhood education and community colleges needs to be part of fixing Michigan’s school funding system. Mike Flanagan is the Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction and leads the state Department of Education.

He spoke today at the first public hearing held by Governor Rick Snyder’s workgroup that’s devising a school funding proposal. The governor wants a system that rewards proficiency.
    
Flanagan says that won’t happen if the state doesn’t find a way to offer universal early childhood learning.

"We spend a billion dollars per grade and we spend nothing on early childhood, and we wonder why the results are exactly the same, and we blame the teachers, we blame the state superintendent, we blame the parent for not reading to them enough, and the bottom line is, we should blame the system first and foremost," he said.

Flanagan says every student should also be guaranteed a year or two of community college or its equivalent.  
    
The school funding workgroup will spend the summer working on its recommendations.

For now, four-year-olds in Michigan can enroll in kindergarten as long as they turn five by December 1, but that may change over the next few years as legislators consider when kids are socially mature enough to enter school.

The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would gradually change the age requirement of kindergarten enrollees over the course of three years.

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to create a more focused approach to getting young children ready for school.  The Governor says Michigan’s publicly and privately funded early childhood programs are fragmented, segmented; there’s not a coherent effort. 

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