education

Politics & Government
8:41 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Pledge of Allegiance requirement headed to Gov. Snyder's desk

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A bill requiring public schools  in Michigan to make time for students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.

The state Senate just approved a final version of the measure.

Another bill in the package mandates all public school classrooms have an American flag on display.

State Senator Roger Kahn sponsored the legislation. He said he wished it could have taken higher priority for the Legislature this year.

"It took longer than I wanted it to take. It ran into summer recesses. I didn’t want it to take a back-burner, but it ended up taking a back-burner," said Kahn.

But a few Democrats said the bills should have never moved at all. They said the measures are a distraction from more important things. They also said it could be a burden for some schools. The VFW of Michigan said it will encourage local posts to donate flags to schools.

Education
1:23 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Grading how school districts rate their teachers

(courtesy of KQED)

A new report suggests school districts in Michigan are not doing a good job of evaluating their teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom. A state law passed in 2011 requires districts to evaluate teachers, and rate them as highly effective, effective, minimally effective, or ineffective.

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Arts & Culture
4:57 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

This week in Art Pod: grandmas, Grand Rapids and graffiti, oh my!

Grand Rapids teacher Jackie Ladwein and her Liberian friend of 50 years, Joseph Kpukuyou
Kate Wells

Whether it's your show tunes-belting grandma, your Grand Rapids teacher getting Liberian schools named in her honor, or busted graffiti artists using their talents for good, this week Art Pod is a leeetle obsessed with the stories YOU tell us. So check it out, and keep those stories coming. 

Arts & Culture
2:13 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

50 years of friendship across continents, poverty, and war

Jackie Ladwein, age 25, on her Peace Corps assignment to Liberia
Photo courtesy of Jackie Ladwein

This next story is about an epic friendship between a white, 76-year-old Grand Rapids teacher, and the driven Liberian boy she inspired 50 years ago when she was a young Peace Corps volunteer.

Their bond has survived hunger, poverty, and a brutal civil war. And it’s created ripples across Liberia, leading to the country’s first school for social workers . Now, it’s reuniting both friends back here in Michigan.

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Education
1:34 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Does everyone need a four-year college degree?

In a speech yesterday, Governor Snyder highlighted the importance of vocational and career training. Do you agree with him?
American Panel

Yesterday, Rick Pluta reported on a speech by Gov. Rick Snyder that called for a reemphasis on vocational and community college education over more  traditional four-degrees.

We posted his story on Facebook, and many of our fans responded with their thoughts. We decided to continue the discussion by sharing some of their comments here.

Facebook fan Karen Hupp Taylor was surprised to find herself agreeing with Gov. Snyder:

I never thought I would see the day I would agree with Governor Snyder, but this is one place that I do. Not everyone should go to college. A lot of young people do because they have been told they will never amount to anything if they don't. Lots of them would like to be carpenters, electricians, and other trades people.

Nothing wrong with a women getting into many of these professions.

So how many women seek this kind of education?

A report by the National Center for Education Statistics notes that participation in vocational education, also known as career and technical education (CTE), is higher for women than men.

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Politics & Government
5:27 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Too much emphasis on a four-year degree, says Michigan Governor

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Governor Snyder's office State of Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder said Michigan and the rest of the country lost sight of the value of vocational training as young people were encouraged to get four-year college degrees. The governor spoke today at a business conference in Grand Rapids, the West Michigan Policy Forum.

He said too many students have been pushed toward getting four-year college degrees when vocational education or community college might have made more sense.

“And so we sorta messed up over the past 20 or 30 years, 40 years. We’ve lost the focus on how important those roles are,” said Snyder.

The governor said the result is thousands of jobs in skilled trades go unfilled while people are looking for work.

“How dumb was that? I mean, if you stop and think about it. So we did supply on one chart, demand on another chart, and when everyone knows we need to have one chart where we bring supply and demand together, and create talent, and connect it,” said Snyder.

Snyder says he intends to convene a summit of educators and employers early next year to get a better sense of where the demand for jobs is strongest – and use that information to help re-design Michigan’s education system.

The governor has also called for stronger integration of pre-school through post-high school education.

Law
1:08 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Four ideas for dealing with poverty, from the man who inspired the welfare reform movement

American Enterprise Institute

Libertarian author and commentator Charles Murray sat down with State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer yesterday to discuss his new book, Coming Apart, which highlights the growing stratification of wealth in America. 

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State of Opportunity
11:18 am
Wed September 5, 2012

9-year-old Leah Rice is "Live from the kitchen!"

Leah Rice.
courtesy Melissa and Jeffrey Rice

Today, the State of Opportunity team turned their microphone over to 9-year-old Leah Rice.

She reflects on her family, highlights of her summer and her thoughts on going back to school.

(She was placed in an advanced class, to which she says "uh, Boo-yah!".)

You can hear Leah's story here.

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Politics & Government
5:11 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

First day of classes in Michigan marked by new teacher retirement law

user kconnors morgueFile

The first day of classes was also the day Governor Rick Snyder made some big changes to how teachers and other public school employees will save for retirement.

The new law will require teachers to pay more for retirement benefits. New employees will no longer get retirement health care coverage, but a savings account to help them buy insurance.
    
Teachers unions are already in court to challenge the law, but Governor Snyder said he's not worried about the lawsuit. He said he expects to be sued when his administration makes big changes.

"So I sort of take that as part of the course of action, but we feel good about our litigation position in these matters. These are good things to do. We are doing them in good faith in partnership with the Legislature passing good statute," said Snyder.

The governor and many school administrators say the teacher pension system is over-burdened with debt, and the changes will ensure teachers' benefits will be there when they retire.

Environment & Science
10:57 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Students ask, 'Could alien superbugs cure disease on Earth?'

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma from Troy High School.
YouTube

Science experiments from two Michigan high school students and a young man from Egypt are expected to be performed next month aboard the International Space Station.

Organizers of the competition to have experiments done by astronauts 250 miles above Earth announced Wednesday that TV personality Bill Nye will host a live online video stream of the experiments Sept. 13.

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma were named winners in March in the 14- to 16-year-old age group.

The Troy High School students' experiment asks the question: "Could alien superbugs cure disease on Earth?" Amr Mohamed from Egypt won the 17- to 18-year-old age group for an experiment about spiders.

They're expected to watch the online stream.

YouTube, Lenovo, and private space exploration company Space Adventures organized the competition.

Education
10:23 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Teacher evaluation models to be tested in Michigan

(courtesy of KQED)

In 2011, a new teacher tenure law was put in place by the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Snyder. It called for teacher evaluations, but it didn't specify how these evaluations should be done.

Now the panel put in charge of figuring that out will test 4 national teacher evaluation models in 14 Michigan school districts.

More from Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press:

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Education
1:43 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

Flint's Kettering University gets $15.5 million pledge

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Kettering University is getting a $15.5 million pledge from the C.S. Mott Foundation, the largest such gift in the school's history.

C.S. Mott Foundation's pledge of support announced Monday is aimed at strengthening the school's leadership in higher education and expanding its role as a strategic partner in the Flint area's revitalization efforts.

The C.S. Mott Foundation intends to provide a series of grants to Kettering over three or more years. The first, of $2 million, was made in May.

The grants aim to increase enrollment, nurture the school's economic impact on the Flint area, communicate the university's identity to a broad audience and build alumni relationships.

Education
7:49 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Changeup underway in the way state grades schools

Woodley Wonder Works Flickr

Michigan will change how it measures success and what it calls under-performing schools. In the future, schools that fall short will be called “priority schools,” and receive some coaching, and other help developing improvement plans.

The state recently won a waiver from the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act  to give it more flexibility in its school improvement plans.

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Economy
6:19 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

For kids in poverty, Michigan ranks among the worst

Michigan is 32nd for child well-being.
http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bystate/StateLanding.aspx?state=MI

A new report on child well-being ranks Michigan in the bottom half of all states: 32nd overall, down two spots from last year. 

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10:42 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Making luck: Five ways to increase opportunity for disadvantaged kids

Lead in text: 
Last week, Dustin Dwyer from our State of Opportunity team showed us how upward mobility isn't so easy in the U.S., especially for disadvantaged kids. This week, Dustin shows us how some might break that pattern.
We've been taking a look at what research can tell us about getting ahead in America. Last week, we brought you "Five facts about achieving the
Education
5:15 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Ypsilanti schools could be headed for state takeover

Superintendent Dedric Martin say an emergency manager may be needed.
http://www.ypsd.org/district/superintendentsmessage/

Superintendent Dedric Martin says the school system could need an emergency manager, unless staff agree to deeper cuts. 

Martin acknowledges staff already took a 10 percent salary cut. 

“That comes on the heels of additional concessions that they've made. And we've had reductions at all levels. Unfortunately it's not enough to carry a balanced budget and pay back money that has already been borrowed and spent," he said.

Martin says he knows the "emergency manager" card could be perceived as a ploy to get further concessions from unions.

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Education
11:07 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Lansing Board of Education approves 'improvement plan'

Children entering Lansing STEM Academy (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing school district will launch a multi-faceted plan this fall to improve student academic performance.  The plan is about more than just teaching.

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Education
4:19 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

School funding overhaul could be on the way

Richard D. McLellan
Richard D. McLellan Wikimedia Commons

An overhaul of how Michigan pays for public schools could be on the way. Gov. Rick Snyder wants that to be a big part of his budget proposal in early 2013.  The governor has named Lansing attorney Richard McLellan to lead the process.
    
McLellan says the state’s funding system is overdue for a shakeup.

“This is a 1979 law. It’s quite out of date," he said. "It’s a school district-centric model that doesn’t necessarily provide the flexibility for parents and for students that people are now demanding."

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Commentary
10:20 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Commentary: Snyder and Richard Nixon

The other day, I was thinking that if Governor Snyder wants to leave a lasting mark on this state, he might want to try to be more like Richard Nixon. Now, before you are offended, let me explain.

There were actually two Nixons. The one we tend to remember today is the scheming architect of dirty tricks, the foul-mouthed paranoid who bugged himself, and whose worst utterances were captured forever on the famous White House tapes.

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Politics & Government
12:38 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Grand Rapids Democrats rally around new face to take on party-switcher Roy Schmidt

Winnie Brinks announced she'll run as a write-in candidate in the 76th district after filing her paperwork Friday morning.
Courtesy photo Michigan Democratic Party

A Michigan house representative, who made a controversial switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party last month, will face a political novice in the fall.

Winnie Brinks filed paperwork today to run as a Democrat. She’s a case worker at a non-profit organization, and she’s never run for political office before.

“I think it’s time for some new eyes. It seems that the direction we’re heading in Lansing is not what our middle class needs; it’s not what our schools need. And not being part of that negative history, sure, I think that’s a good thing,” Brinks said.

Brinks has lived in Grand Rapids for 22 years. The 44-year-old has three daughters, aged 11, 14, and 16. She’s active in her public schools’ legislative committee and once worked for Godfrey Lee Public Schools. She says restoring education funding would be one of her top priorities.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in a short period of time, but I am confident we can do it. We’ve got a lot of good energy. We’ve got a lot of support behind me,” Brinks said.

Several hundred people will need to write in Brinks name on the August primary ballot in order for her name to appear on the ballot in the general election in November.

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