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Education

Today on Stateside, we sit down with three teachers to learn what it's really like to be a new educator in Michigan. The author of a new book explains why teams that lack diversity do worse when it comes to solving big business problems. Also today, we hear what's in the state's new "plain English" draft fixes to the "dumb and dangerous" lead rule.

Will Folsom / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Legislature is looking to create five new “Promise Zones.” Those are special cities and communities that provide free college tuition for high school graduates.

The bill was originally intended to make Flint a Promise Zone, but a committee decided to bring the state’s total of Promise Zones up from 10 to 15.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich is from Flint, which will likely apply for Promise Zone status. He said this would give the people of his city hope and a reason to stay after the water crisis.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) has been through its first count day of the school year. It’s an important day, because the number of kids in attendance helps determine the amount of money the district receives from the state.

Nikolai Vitti, DPSCD’s new superintendent, joined Stateside to report how the day went in Detroit and to explain what the district is doing amidst teacher shortages and other challenges.

bathroom sign with man and woman symbol
AMBOO / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

People in Grass Lake, in Jackson County, are arguing about their school district’s decision to allow a transgender boy in elementary school to use the boys’ restroom.

The district has plans to build privacy stalls around urinals in school buildings.

Supporters and opponents of the policy, including people who don’t live in Grass Lake, have been showing up at school board meetings even when the issue isn’t on the agenda. 

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

Some lawmakers in Lansing are debating whether the State Board of Education is necessary.

The resolution discussed at Thursday’s House education committee would do away with the state board, the board-appointed state superintendent, and the State Board for Public Community and Junior Colleges.

Instead, the governor would appoint a director for Michigan’s Department of Education.

battlecreekcvb / flickr

Battle Creek Public Schools has balanced its budget for the first time in ten years.

Superintendent Kim Carter says the district sold two under-capacity school buildings, outsourced bussing, and sold its buses.  

Selling the schools also meant the district could reduce some administrative and support staff who worked in those buildings.  Carter says they avoided direct cuts to classes and teaching staff.

Morgan Brenner / Flickr

A bill in the state Legislature would change how schools teach sex education. The new curriculum would focus on “changing the culture” around sexual assault.

“Under the current system, my daughter will be taught where not to walk, what not to wear, where not to leave her drink, while my sons will never be taught not to be perpetrators,” said bill sponsor, state Senator Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing.

Protest banner in "funeral march" for public education
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Critics of U.S. Secretary of education Betsy DeVos held what they called a funeral march for public education today in Grand Rapids.

DeVos, a Grand Rapids native, has been criticized for supporting school choice, and most recently for rescinding Obama-era sexual assault guidelines for college campuses.

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

The Grand Rapids Public School District could lose more than a million dollars due to a drop in enrollment.

Michigan schools are funded based on the number of students – or per pupil funded. So, fewer students mean less money for the district.

Tobias Leeger / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Today (10/4)  is Count Day. For school districts in Michigan, it’s crucially important to have as many enrolled kids sitting in their seats as possible. That’s because this is one of the two days during the school year when attendance determines how much state aid schools will get.

There’s much work to do in boosting attendance, not just on Count Day.  A recent report from Johns Hopkins University finds Michigan's chronic student absence rate of 18-percent is well above the national average of 13-percent.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new Michigan State University study finds pre-school teachers need better training in science and math.

Researchers studied 67 Head Start classrooms for children between three and five years old. They found pre-school teachers focused primarily on literacy.

The MSU researchers say 99% of preschool teachers engaged in literacy instruction three to four times a week. However, they found teachers spent less time on math (75%) and far less on science (42%). 

creative commons

Enrollment in Michigan K -12 schools will likely fall more than 9 percent by the year 2025, compared to the year 2013, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, a division of  U.S. Department of Education.

Tony Brown / Michigan Radio

As the sun began to set at Kalamazoo’s Arcadia Brewing on Wednesday night, Michigan Radio’s Doug Tribou started a conversation with pub-goers about the future of public education in our state.

U.S. Department of Education / Flickr Creative Commons HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Some of the country's largest companies today announced a commitment of more than $300 million to K-12 computer science education nationwide. The money will be disbursed over a five-year period.

First daughter and presidential advisor Ivanka Trump joined senior officials of donor companies in Detroit for the announcement.

Courtesy of Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are 100,000 unfilled jobs right now in Michigan.

Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, said this is due to a career awareness gap rather than a talent gap in the state.

Tracy Samilton

Just like last year, racist messages have been found scrawled on campus at the University of Michigan.

And just like last year, angry students confronted UM President Mark Schlissel at a meeting in the Michigan Union, with a frustrated Schlissel assuring them he was on their side, and everything possible was being done to find the perpetrators.

Police are "looking at video, they're interviewing people," he said.

But so far, just like last year, no one's been caught spreading the hate.  Schlissel asked the students for ideas on how to do more and how to actually prevent the incidents, as many of the students are demanding.

Some students, like senior Stephen Wallace, think video cameras should be installed in the residence halls and other places on campus to catch the perpetrators.

Anishinaabemowin teacher Chris Gordon with his students at the Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe School in Sault Ste. Marie.
Credit Rick Smith / Win Awenen Nisitotung

Language is an essential part of preserving the ancient ties to heritage and culture. And with the native language of the Ojibwe people starting to fade, Chris Gordon has made the preservation of his family's language part of his life's mission. 

Gordon is the first teacher in the state of Michigan to get a K-12 Foreign Language-Native teaching endorsement. He teaches Anishinaabemowin (pronounced a-NISH NAH-BEM-when), the native language of the Ojibwe people, at the Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe School in Sault Ste. Marie.

drinking fountain
jasongillman / pixabay

There’s still a lot of money on the table for Michigan schools that wish to test their drinking water for lead. Far fewer school districts have taken advantage of the grant program than the state expected. So the state is trying to tweak the lead testing program so more schools could or would apply for the money.

The Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University will soon have an even bigger presence in West Michigan.

The MSU Grand Rapids Research Center is opening on Wednesday after two years of construction and more than a decade of planning.

MSU already has its College of Human Medicine’s Secchia Center medical education building in the city.

Defer Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Park.
Appraiser / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Grosse Pointe Public Schools has some of the strictest residency rules in the state. The district has never participated in schools of choice, and aggressively pursues and expels students who are improperly enrolled from outside of the district.

Students' families must bring five original documents, in person, to the school office during business hours. Those documents include identification, proof of home ownership or rental, utility bills, and proof of car insurance. 

school zone ahead sign
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan ranks near the bottom of a new report on distracted drivers in school zones.

Jonathan Matus is CEO of Zendrive, a company that uses cell phone data to analyze driver behavior.

He says Michigan ranks 47th among the 50 states when it comes to distracted driving in school zones.

Tracy Samilton

Nikolai Vitt, the new superintendent of Detroit's public school system, says he expects the district to be fully staffed with teachers at the beginning of the school year in 2018.

This year, the district had to begin classes despite being 250 teachers short. 

Vitti spoke to a capacity crowd at an event in Detroit sponsored by the Citizen's Research Council. 

He says he's starting with a base of loyal long-term teachers who've stuck with DPS even when they had other choices.

Inside Nikolai Vitti's early effort to transform Detroit's battered public school image

Sep 13, 2017
Erin Einhorn

Three months after taking on one of the most daunting tasks in American education, Nikolai Vitti was having a fit over pizza — $340,000 worth of pizza.

Vitti, Detroit’s new school superintendent, had just discovered that the district had set aside that eye-popping sum of money last year to pay Domino’s Pizza for what he assumed were hundreds of thousands of slices for parties in schools.

scot graden in front of michigan radio sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

We wanted to hear from a school district that is working to find new and innovative ways to educate students.

For the past four years, the Saline Area Schools have been ramping up toward a program that worries more about producing students who can think, reason, and communicate than producing students who simply do well on standardized tests.

Association for Advancing Automation

 

The economy that today’s students will soon enter is rapidly changing. That’s the reality that fueled the creation of a recent report from Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan think tank. The report outlines major issues and suggestions for how to help graduates thrive in a new economy that requires adapting to changing technology throughout their careers.

Patrick Cooney, a policy associate at Michigan Future, Inc., joined Stateside to discuss the report’s contents.

Sparty
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

"Go Green" has some added meaning in East Lansing today.

Michigan State University officials say the university has reached an important fundraising goal.

Six years ago, MSU officials quietly launched the “Empower Extraordinary” campaign.

The campaign to raise $1.5 billion dollars to fund expansion of the East Lansing university’s business, medicine and music programs became public three years ago.

As of today, university officials say the campaign has met its goal, a full year ahead of schedule.

University of Michigan MSIS / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

College and university campuses are kicking into high gear for the fall semester.

Students are moving in, figuring out their way around campus, and, it they haven’t already, declaring a major.

Parents tend to be pleased with a major that leads the student along a well-marked career path – a major like business, engineering, or nursing.

Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal speaking at the podium
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids School Board voted today to take a formal stand against President Trump's plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – or DACA.

DACA protects many young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Boy in classroom with his hand raised
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

There are fewer charter schools in session this year – a first since Michigan’s first charter school opened its doors in 1994.

Five new charter schools did open, but 11 charter schools that were operating last school year closed their doors, mostly for poor academic achievement or financial problems, according to a press release from the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA). One caveat is Detroit Prep, a successful first-year school that merged its administrative oversight with another charter school, but remains open.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti
Detroit Public Schools Community District

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is starting the new school year with an old problem: teacher vacancies.

But new DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the district has “momentum” on fixing the problem.

The district still has about 200 classroom spots to fill before school starts Tuesday.

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