It has been a crazy few days for Ryan Griffin, the guy behind the Read-to-a-Barber program we wrote about on the NPR Ed blog last week. He says the phone at The Fuller Cut in Ypsilanti, Mich., has been ringing nonstop since the story ran.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan will spend nearly $100 million to support non-public school students, according to a report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The report says the state will spend over $40 million more this year on non-public school students than it did just four years ago.

Click here to read the full report. 

Craig Thiel, a senior research associate with the Citizens Research Council, says the money is largely going to the "shared time" program.

After becoming Lansing's first African-American teacher, Dr. Olivia Letts later became the school district's first African-American principal.
Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

This week, the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame welcomes its latest group of honorees.

One of the five contemporary honorees who will be inducted on Wednesday night is Dr. Olivia Letts. She was the first African-American teacher hired by the Lansing School District. She started that job in 1951 and from there, Letts spent her life as an advocate for education, community service and civil rights.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal class action lawsuit to force fixes to Flint’s problem-plagued school district.

Flint’s public schools struggled even before the city’s lead-tainted tap water threatened to negatively affect the development of its students.

test with bubble answers
User Alberto G. / Creative Commons /

Michigan may soon be making changes to student testing. 

The state's Department of Education is considering adding  a standardized test that would go beyond what's included on the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (or M-STEP), which was implemented during the 2014-2015 school year. 

sign saying a high quality school
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The new Detroit Public Schools Community district fell just shy of its budgeted enrollment goal for the year.

The district counted 45,265-45,365 students at the state count day last week. That’s about .5% shy of what the district had budgeted for. 

But coming off a tumultuous year that saw the district almost go bankrupt, district leaders see the numbers as a victory of sorts.

john king talking at library
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint public school district is getting money from the federal government to help address critical needs arising from the city’s water crisis.

U.S. Secretary of Education John King, Jr. was in Flint today to discuss the $480,000 grant.

university of michigan campus
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan wants to improve diversity and inclusion on its campus.

The university announced today it will spend $85 million over the next five years in an effort to do so.

Scholarships for high-achieving, low-income students are a large part of the university's plan. 

Simon Blackley/flickr /

The Next Idea

A child's first day of school can be both an exciting and stressful time for a parent, especially for those who are starting out in a new country. The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) has created a program to help immigrants adapt to their new community and prepare their children for school.

Teachers unions and others rallied for more public school funding before classes this morning in Detroit, Kalamazoo and Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Teachers unions held early morning rallies today at schools across Michigan.

Teachers and others took part in so-called ‘walk-in’ events in Detroit, Kalamazoo and Flint. Similar rallies took place in more than 70 cities nationwide. 

Before sunrise, a steady line of buses dropped students off at Flint’s Northwestern High School. As students stepped off buses, they were greeted by people carrying signs calling for more public money for traditional public schools.

grand rapids school administrators at podium
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Leaders of Grand Rapids Public Schools say they’ve gained 160 students this school year, finally reversing a downward trend that’s lasted more than a decade.

The district has lost more than 3,000 students in 10 years. This is the first time since the fall of 2003 that the district gained students over the previous year.

Today we discuss how Count Day, the day when each student in school translates into state dollars for the district, became so important to Michigan schools. And we hear why it's so hard to bike between Windsor and Detroit.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio


Today is Count Day here in Michigan. That's when every student sitting at his or her desk translates into state dollars for that district.

Across the state, schools are using a variety of tactics to ensure maximum attendance, including robocalls to parents, picture days and prizes for kids who turn up to school.

Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court /

Private and parochial schools in Michigan will be allowed apply for grants that reimburse them for some state-ordered health and safety programs.

That’s despite a provision in the state constitution that forbids direct or indirect taxpayer support for private or religious schools.

lieutenant governor brian calley at podium
Courtesy of Governor Rick Snyder's Office

Most rallies these days are focused on the 2016 presidential election. But a different kind of crowd showed up Wednesday on the State Capitol lawn. Parents, lawmakers and advocates gathered there to raise awareness for the needs of students with special needs in Michigan.

The Count from Sesame Street.
World Bank Photo Collection / Flickr -

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.

graduates in a line
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The job market is looking good for this year’s Michigan college graduates.

Michigan State University’s annual Recruiting Trends survey finds hiring of college graduates at all degree levels should be “very strong” in 2016-17.

Michigan school districts get ready for Count Day

Oct 4, 2016
Justine Warrington / Flickr Creative Commons

Michigan school districts want students to be in class tomorrow, October 5, for fall Count Day. 

Some districts have launched campaigns to remind parents of the dates, and have offered incentives like free breakfast and gift card drawings for kids to come to school.

It matters, because 90% of state funding for schools is based on how many students are in class on fall Count Day. 

The rest is determined by attendance on the second Count Day on February 8.

There’s general agreement that education in Michigan is an unholy mess that is getting worse. Test scores confirm it is failing hundreds of thousands of students, which has huge implications for our future and that of our state.

We are spending billions on a system that doesn’t work, and narrowly based ideological remedies aren’t helping.

When I look at a system that is failing to teach far too many Tommys and Tamikas to read, and which is making higher education unaffordable for those who can, what oddly comes to mind is what a young John Kerry said about Vietnam: 

Stateside 9.28.2016

Sep 28, 2016


Today, we hear astronaut Jerry Linenger's tales of fire, free-fall and Mars. And, we learn why its "new district" status may not prevent Detroit schools from being closed.

Flickr user teddy-rised/Flickr /

Professors at college campuses across the state have handed out their semester outlines, reading lists and assignments for the new semester.

A group of Michigan State University students would like to return the favor.

Screenshot of Wolverine Access, the university's website for students and faculty, showing the gender identity tab.
University of Michigan

Let's say you were given a male name at birth, but you don't identify as a male. Well, the University of Michigan will now let you choose your preferred pronoun.

Those pronouns will appear on class rosters beside students' names.

Students can choose the pronoun he, she, or they ... or fill in their own.

"This was a proposal brought forward by a group of students working through our Spectrum office on campus," said university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons

When you think Hillsdale College, maybe you think private, well-respected school that makes a lot of Top 10 lists for “Most Conservative Schools.”

Now, Hillsdale is using its brand to help launch a public charter school in Michigan, but the school’s founders are trying to prove to its critics that this new school is neither biased, nor religious.

“When we defer [capital expenditure] or investment in a school district, we’re knowingly ensuring that our students won’t keep up with their peers across the state or the country or the world,” Saunders said.
wikimedia user motown31 /

One of the state of Michigan’s former emergency managers says the strategy might work for some cities, but an emergency manager just doesn’t work that well for school districts.

Tony Saunders is the former emergency manager of Benton Harbor.


DETROIT (AP) - Wayne State University officials have approved an agreement transferring management of on-campus housing to a private company in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars for construction, renovation and debt payoff.

  The Detroit university's governing board agreed to the deal Friday with Corvias Campus Living. Officials say the 40-year agreement is worth $1.4 billion.

A child reading.

Third graders who fail the state’s reading test might not be able to graduate to 4th grade. That’s if Governor Rick Snyder signs a bill that is headed his way.

The bill stalled a bit over the summer, but Wednesday it quickly jumped from the House to the Senate for a final vote. Wednesday was the last time the Senate and House would meet on the same day before the election.

How many kids are in a typical classroom in Michigan?

That’s a tough question to answer. And believe me, we’ve tried

But a new report from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan gives a clearer picture of class sizes in Michigan’s public schools.

Figuring out all the different pots of money that go into paying for special education is complicated, but you know what’s even more complicated? Figuring out how much special education in Michigan actually costs. And if we don't know that, we don't know whether we're spending too much or too little on special ed. 

Room in an abandoned school in Detroit
user Freaktography / Flickr -

More than 152,000 students in metro Detroit attend class in a district or charter other than the district where they live. As minorities move into some districts, other students use the state schools-of-choice law to move to less-diverse districts.

Families say they use "choice" to move their kids to higher-performing, or safer, schools. Consciously or not, however, this law has left many districts in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb County more racially segregated.

Teacher Anastasia Katapodis with her Montessori students at Maybury Elementary School.
Sarah Cwiek / Michgian Radio

This year marks a fresh start for the newly restructured Detroit Public Schools.

The district is unrolling some new, experimental programs for students. They’re meant to entice parents who might otherwise take their kids elsewhere.

After years of upheaval in Detroit schools, success isn’t guaranteed. But at least one school has high hopes they will.

Montessori: Learning together

Anastasia Katopodis has taught young kids in Detroit for 20 years.