Education

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Last month the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of eight Highland Park students was thrown out by the Michigan Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision.

The suit says the schools didn’t provide students with even basic literacy or math skills, and that therefore the state and the district should be held responsible for that failure.

But the court of appeals tossed the suit, basically because of three points.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint teachers union has agreed to layoffs and a seven year wage freeze to avoid a deep pay cut. 

The Flint Board of Education approved a plan last night that includes cutting around 70 jobs through layoffs and consolidation.  

moare / Morguefile

Federal law guarantees that children with disabilities have equal access to education. But what that actually looks like for Michigan kids very much depends upon where you live.

An investigation by Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project and Bridge Magazine has turned up disparities in the way schools choose which students should be in special education and the actual level of those services. Sarah Alvarez with State of Opportunity joined us, along with Bridge Magazine writer Ron French.

*Listen to Alvarez and French above

School Bus
Nicolae Gerasim / Flickr

The American Academy of Pediatrics says teens need to sleep later. The Academy is challenging America’s schools to not start high school classes until at least 8:30 a.m.

user MoBikeFed / flickr

Criminal incidents are on the decline in the Detroit Public Schools, according to new data from school officials.

“Serious incidents” such as assault and weapons possession dropped from 456 in the first three months of last school year, to 343 during the same time frame this year—a nearly 25% decline.

“It’s a larger ongoing trend,” said DPS police chief Stacy Brackens. “We’ve had a downward trend since 2010.”

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Is everybody at Grand Valley State University just ridiculously friendly and cheery? Is this a thing?

Even in the student club for women who have an extremely high risk of breast cancer, meetings are less Lifetime-movies-about-sadness-and-sisterhood and more like Legally Blonde: a dozen women laughing self-consciously through dance aerobics in leggings and breast-cancer pink tank tops.

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

The Education Achievement Authority has a permanent new leader. Some six months after being appointed interim chancellor, Veronica Conforme has been named to that permanent position. What has she seen in these first months, and what are her goals for the district?

*Listen to our conversation with Conforme below

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING    (AP) - The president of Michigan State University is getting a raise - whether she likes it or not.

  Trustees raised Lou Anna Simon's salary by 44 percent Friday to $750,000 and awarded her a $100,000 bonus. Simon has declined raises since 2007 and donated bonuses back to the university.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING   (AP) - About 200 people gathered outside Michigan State University's commencement ceremonies to protest a speech by columnist George Will over his commentary on sexual assault reporting at colleges.

  The Lansing State Journal reports that Will didn't mention the protests during his speech to undergraduates Saturday on the East Lansing campus.

Skillman Foundation

Locally-generated solutions should drive any effort to fix Detroit schools.

That’s the message coming from the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, a group that formed just this week.

It’s an unusually broad group that includes community, business, union, and education leaders working in the city.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Columnist George Will may get a cool reception when he delivers a commencement speech in East Lansing this weekend. 

A crowd of about three dozen Michigan State University students voiced their displeasure with the choice of Will to talk to graduates on Saturday.

Jake Neher / MPRN

What is the Education Achievement Authority?

Opened in the fall of 2012, the idea was to create a bold new kind of school district that was run by the state and less restricted by administrative red tape, in order to do some radical turn-around work in some of Michigan’s worst schools.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

School officials are worried about the Legislature’s latest plan to help financially troubled school districts.

The state House Financial Liability Reform committee is expected to take up seven bills on Thursday that would create an early warning system to identify financially troubled schools. The bills would require enhanced deficit elimination plans and increase the cap on emergency loans to school districts.

A long board.
user DieselDemon / Flickr

When I took wood shop in high school, the project was a step stool. I know. Not very exciting.

To get high school students more excited about woodworking and to get them more active, an industrial arts teacher and a gym teacher got together and came up with a new kind of class. Kids can make their own longboard skateboard, surfboard, snowboard, or skis.

The class at Forest Hills Eastern High School in Grand Rapids is called Gone Boarding.

user krossbow / Flickr

It's not every EMU Regents meeting that ends with students and community members staging "die-ins" and screaming "Black lives matter! The EAA is killing me!" as the college president leans over them, asking them to calm down and get up off the floor. 

But that's what happened Friday. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Therapy dogs are helping Michigan State University students take a break this week while they study for their final exams. 

The dogs are available to students at two of the libraries on campus where some students practically live during finals week.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Several Michigan colleges and universities took part in a White House conference on math and science education this past week. 

The college initiative summit focused on better preparing students to succeed in college.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

“Black lives matter! The EAA is killing me!”

Dozens of chanting protestors overwhelmed the Eastern Michigan University regents meeting with Friday afternoon, with a handful of people lying down on the carpet in front of the regents table.

Sharon Drummond / flickr

Two reports out this week show Michigan as a stark outlier when it comes to charter schools.

One, from the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, shows that 55% of Detroit public school students are now enrolled in charters—up from 51% just a year ago.

That’s the second-highest percentage of any city after New Orleans. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

DETROIT- Two Michigan school districts have each received nearly $100,000 in federal grants to bring locally grown food to school cafeterias.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the grants to Detroit Public Schools and the Waterford School District on Tuesday. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING - Auditors say the state was moderately effective in monitoring Michigan school districts to ensure they have effective special education programs.

  A state audit released last week says the Office of Special Education didn't flag students' noncompliance with annual goals and didn't ensure there were appropriate caseloads at four of seven audited school districts and charter schools.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More students from Wisconsin might go to college in Sault Ste. Marie next year when out-of-state tuition is dropped.

Inquires at Lake Superior State from Wisconsin students are up more than 20 percent this fall.

LSSU is the only university in Michigan to go to one tuition rate.

President Tom Pleger hopes the change will boost enrollment in some of the school’s more prominent programs like fishery science and geology.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Theresa Ely, a former custodian at Dearborn Heights school district No. 7, is suing her old employer for allegedly covering up asbestos exposure to some staff and students.

According to her lawsuit filed November 25th, Ely and another custodian were instructed in the summer of 2011 to speed up their work by cleaning asbestos-contaminated floor tiles in the schools with abrasive sandpaper, rather than removing the old floor wax with water as originally instructed.

drtel / Creative Commons

Plans for a new school in West Michigan for students in kindergarten through college are moving forward. The school will focus on science, math, technology, arts and engineering.

There was some controversy when news of the school first came out this spring.

Jerry Zandstra represents the non-profit group that’s buying the massive pyramid-shaped building from furniture-maker Steelcase.

Jake Neher / MPRN

The Education Achievement Authority has been the center of controversy since its doors first opened. The idea was to create a statewide school district to take over and turn around failing schools. The EAA is now in its third year, operating schools, all in Detroit, and it remains a polarizing subject in Michigan.

Michigan isn’t the only state where policymakers have created statewide school systems to turn around their worst-performing public schools. Tennessee and Louisiana have “Recovery School Districts,” or RSDs, similar to Michigan’s EAA. Nelson Smith has been studying these state turnaround systems for the Thomas Fordham Institute. His most recent report is called “Redefining the School District in Michigan”. Dan Varner serves on the State Board of Education. He’s also the head of an organization called Excellent Schools Detroit, which is seeking ways to make school choice work better in Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Community Schools Board of Trustees approved a revised deficit elimination plan last night. 

But the district’s unions haven’t signed off on a key part of the plan. 

To make the plan work, district officials factored in a 15% pay cut for employees. District officials suggest without the contract concessions, the Flint school district could potentially start down the road to a state takeover.

Ethel Johnson is president of the United Teachers of Flint. She says they’ve already given up too much. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Three of the five school districts that face more scrutiny from Michigan’s Department of Treasury have reduced their general fund deficits last school year. That’s according to independent audits recently filed to the state. But some still face serious, ongoing problems. Here’s a breakdown of how the districts ended the 2013-14 school year.

Enrollment in the Detroit Public Schools is down slightly from last year—but the district is calling that a victory after years of double-digit enrollment declines.

According to unofficial data released Tuesday, the district counts 47,238 students across its 97 schools.

That’s down 3.4% from the prior year. But district spokesman Steve Wasko said it beat the district’s own budget targets, as well as demographer’s projections.

WCN 24/7 / Flickr

State education officials are preparing to implement new science standards in schools. The state Board of Education could adopt the standards as soon as next month.

The board hopes to avoid another battle with state lawmakers over the standards. The Legislature last year threatened to stop funding new standards for math and English known as the Common Core State Standards.

“This is the role and the authority of the state Board of Education to adopt state standards,” said Martin Ackley, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). “What we plan on doing and will do is inform the Legislature on these proposed standards.”

“We plan on sending a report to the Legislature on these proposed new standards for science in the state of Michigan,” he said.

Critics of both the Common Core and these current standards claim they take away local control of what is taught in schools.

State education officials hope the Next Generation standards will boost achievement in science. Less than 20 percent of Michigan students passed the state science exam last year.

Ed. note: This post has been updated to delete references to “Next Generation” standards. It's not clear if the standards will be presented as Michigan-specific standards that borrow heavily from NG.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

A new twist in the debate about children’s vaccinations: parents really have no idea how many little kids are not fully vaccinated. 

That’s one finding from a new national poll done by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The majority of parents – 74% to be exact– say they would remove their kids from day care if another child was not up-to-date on vaccines.

But in reality, one in four preschoolers aren’t up to date on their vaccinations, according to the CDC.  

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