WUOMFM

Education

A child at a desk raising his hand.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio


We entrust our kids with Michigan's teachers five days a week. Yet most us of probably don't know much  about the way our teachers are paid. The truth might be surprising.

This week, Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra is exploring teacher pay in Michigan, and what it means for keeping the best teachers in their classrooms instead of seeing them flee for more lucrative and less stressful jobs elsewhere.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan's average teacher salary has dropped for the fifth year in a row, and many districts say they have trouble retaining high quality teachers because of low pay.

So we wanted to know: what's going on with teacher pay in the state?

As a starting point, we have the average teacher salary in Michigan. The state Department of Education puts it at $61,978.

OK, so what does that number really tell us?

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Almost everyone agrees that good teachers are important for our children. However, how those teachers should be compensated can lead to heated debates. Take, for example, the one that just happened over the new teacher retirement system approved in the latest state budget.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra is taking an in-depth look at how we go about paying teachers in Michigan and what it means for teacher performance and retention in the state. 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan will no longer rank schools based on test scores. The state is working on a new accountability system as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new federal education law that goes into effect this coming school year.

ESSA replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind education law, which evaluated schools solely on proficiency (i.e. test scores) and went into effect in 2002. 

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Detroit students will have a new high school option this fall, but they'll have to pass a test to get in.

There are currently three high schools in Detroit with entrance exams -- Cass Technical, Renaissance, and Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School -- but space is limited at those schools.

The Washington Writer's Academy in Kalamazoo
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Lawyers say they’ve agreed to a broad framework to settle lawsuits against the state’s School Reform Office. The office caused controversy when it mailed letters to thousands of parents earlier this year, saying their child’s school was at risk of closing because of “academic failure for many years.”

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan is one of 23 states that did not meet all the federal requirements for educating its students with disabilities.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, attorneys representing four Michigan school districts will argue that the state overstepped its bounds when it threatened to close three dozen low-performing schools earlier this year.

Chalkboard
user alkruse24 / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan’s education chief forecasts some contentious negotiations with federal officials on the state’s plans for identifying and helping struggling schools.

Detroit Public Schools Community District sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Federation of Teachers members are set to start voting on a new contract agreement this week.

Flickr user Frank Juarez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Just before the holiday weekend, Central Michigan University’s Board of Trustees made official what parents have known for a while now: Michigan Technical Academy is closing. The pre-k through 8th grade charter school in Detroit has been open for more than a decade.

The state had threatened to close the school in the spring, over persistently low performance on standardized tests.

Keeria Myles says her 8-year-old daughter, Sonja, had only been at the school one year, but loved it.

“She’s upset about it and she feels like it’s her fault,” Myles said.

kids at computers
U.S. Department of Education / Creative Commons

The number of Michigan kids who attend virtual schools has exploded in the past eight years. But a new study suggests those students aren’t keeping pace with their peers.

In the 2009-2010 school year, there were just two virtual schools in Michigan that enrolled fewer than 1,000 students. Today, there are 66 online schools with enrollment just shy of 14,000 kids.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A judge has extended a freeze on $2.5 million in state aid for Michigan private schools at least until a court hearing Wednesday.

  Opponents are challenging the appropriation to private schools for fire drills, inspections and other state requirements. They say it violates the Michigan Constitution's ban on aid for non-public schools.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A college education is getting more expensive in the state of Michigan.

Last month, many Michigan colleges and universities approved tuition increases for this fall.  And starting today, interest rates on federally backed student loans are rising too.  

Interest rates on loans for undergrads are rising from 3.76% to 4.45%.   Overtime, that increase will add hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, to the cost of getting a degree.

Durfee Elementary-Middle School in Northwest Detroit
Jenna Belevender

Gov. Rick Snyder has reversed course and moved Michigan's school turnaround office back to a state department over which he has no direct control.

The move Friday comes two years after Snyder transferred the School Reform Office from the Department of Education - whose leader is hired by elected members of the state Board of Education - to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

EAA
Sarah Cwiek/Michigan Radio

The state's experiment in running a school district ends this week: the Education Achievement Authority will cease to exist as of Friday.

Its 15 schools will be absorbed back into the Detroit Public Schools Community District. So, did anything actually work under the EAA?

Nir Saar is the principal of the Mumford Academy in Northwest Detroit.
Courtesy of Nir Saar

Michigan's experiment in running a school district ends this week.

The Education Achievement Authority (EAA) will cease to exist as of Friday. Its 15 schools will be absorbed back into the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Nir Saar, the principal of the Mumford Academy in Northwest Detroit, joined Stateside to look back at the EAA's legacy and what we can learn from it.

white building with columns and yellow tree in front
VasenkaPhotography / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Leaders from some of the world’s most prestigious universities gathered for a meeting of the minds today at the University of Michigan.

They are taking part in the UM President's Bicentennial Colloquium, which includes a session titled “The Evolving Bargain between Research Universities and Society.”

Out of the 38 under-performing schools that could be closed in Michigan, 25 of them are located in Metro Detroit.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Friday marks the last day of the Education Achievement Authority, Michigan's controversial state-run turnaround district. 

The EAA's 15 schools will stay open, but they'll be absorbed back into the Detroit Public Schools Community District. Sonya Mays, treasurer for the DPSCD school board, says the district is working with the EAA to make it a smooth transition for students. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University plans to press incoming freshmen to sign up for more courses.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon says studies show first-year college students who take 30 credits their freshman year are more likely to graduate in four years.

“If you take more credits, no matter your preparation the first year, you’re going to be able to graduate higher,” says Simon, “Student success is really important because you’re investing a lot of money and the value of your degree is when you finish.”

USER: RICHEVENHOUSE / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A $2.5 million budget item has triggered a growing battle over whether Michigan can funnel state money to private and parochial schools.

It began when Michigan's Republican-controlled Legislature added that $2.5 million to the state's $16.1 billion education budget. The money was to reimburse private and parochial schools for the cost of complying with state-mandated safety measures.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The latest version of changes to the state’s teacher retirement plan passed through committees Wednesday. The changes were announced late Tuesday and received committee hearings early Wednesday morning.  

The House and Senate adopted identical amendments to bills their respective chambers had already introduced.

Democrats have largely been left out of behind the scenes negotiations between the governor and leaders of the House and Senate. Democratic Representative Winne Brinks voiced her frustration with the speed the bills were moving during a committee hearing.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A deal for the state’s budget and teacher retirement has been made.

Top Republican lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder have been in a stalemate over what to do with the teacher’s retirement plan.

But now a deal is in place.

The current teacher retirement plan gives teachers the option between a straight 401K and a hybrid 401K and pension-type plan.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan's zero tolerance policies were part of a 'tough on discipline' trend that was big in the 1990s, but countless studies since then have shown that zero tolerance doesn't work and many states have amended their school discipline laws to reflect that.

Brian Hart / Flickr

The 2017 Kids Count Data Book reveals that Michigan lags behind in nearly every aspect of child well-being. The report lists Michigan at 32nd among states for overall child well-being.

The report looks at health, education, economic well-being and family and community as part of a national effort to improve conditions for children and their families.

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. 

Tracy Samilton

For most Michigan kids, the school year is over next week. 

But for the 300-some kids at Taylor International Academy in Southfield, it ended twelve days early, after the charter's management company suddenly pulled its staff, including the principal.

Aaron Katchen / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Back in March of 2010, I did a commentary on Michigan Radio about the animus being directed at teachers.  I expressed a common sentiment among educators at the time that we were bewildered by this development. 

A year later, I followed up with another one, an update if you will, where I expressed surprise that the situation had actually worsened.

kids walking in a school hallway
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A school reform plan implemented in Michigan in 2012 didn't actually improve schools.

That’s according to a new working paper published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study looked at reforms implemented as part of the state's waiver from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

kids at computers
U.S. Department of Education / Creative Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed state budget includes a 20% cut to per pupil spending for virtual charter schools, but lawmakers in both the state House and Senate want to continue funding online schools at the same rate as traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

Pages