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education funding

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

Michigan: We are failing black college students. We can do better.

That's the warning from Kim Trent, a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors. She laid out her concerns in a piece for MichiganFuture.org where she's a policy associate. It's titled "How Michigan fails black college students."

Empty classroom
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Are Michigan’s schools improving? According to a new analysis of national testing data, the answer is a clear “no.”

The report, authored by University of Michigan professor Brian A. Jacob, looked at the scores of 4th- and 8th-grade students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The nationally administered test measures for proficiency in reading and math.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

Some Flint residents have said they're worried that Flint's water will meet federal standards and get the "all-clear."

For This Week in Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and Michiga Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what government leaders need to do to ensure that people don't feel the process in Flint isn't being rushed. 

They also talk about whether we'll see a political shift from Gov. Rick Snyder during his final two years in office, a bill that would repeal Michigan's school turnaround law, and the odd mix of electric vehicles and SUVs at the North American International Auto Show


Looking up into the rotunda of the Michigan Capitol.
user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lawmakers, business experts, and school superintendents are tackling Michigan’s schools from multiple angles in the first weeks of the New Year.

On the first day of session, Senator Phil Pavlov plans to introduce a bill to get rid of Michigan’s so-called “failing schools” law. The law determines Michigan’s worst-performing schools and puts them under the supervision of a state school reform officer.   

Sen Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Twp., is the bill’s sponsor. He says the current law was passed with good intentions, but has not worked.

 

Michigan's lame duck session ends on Thursday.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The lame duck session for the Michigan Legislature is a time when politicians in Lansing often push through unpopular or controversial bills. Remember the right-to-work law in 2012

This year has been no different as there have been a number of proposals that have been floated through the lame duck session. However, in an unexpected turn, four big ones have been pulled back, which surprised many observers, including Susan Demas and Ken Sikkema who joined Stateside for their weekly political roundup.

Empty classroom.
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

This week, the Snyder administration’s School Reform Office suggested that it could eventually close schools where students have low rankings on state tests.

Schools that rank in the bottom 5% -- with some exceptions -- would be closed under this plan, which would shutter more than 100 schools from across the state.

In an opinion piece this week in the Lansing State Journal, John P. Smith III criticized the state’s plans.

Smith is a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University and he joined Stateside to talk about why he thinks the closing of the schools, and the methodology that led to that decision is flawed.

Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A long-awaited, state-sponsored study has put a minimum price tag on what it takes to educate the average Michigan public school student.

The Michigan Education Finance Study set out to answer a simple question: How much money does it take to educate a student that’s proficient by state standards, every year?

Finding the answer, it turns out, is complicated.

Broken piggy bank
Images Money / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ranks Michigan 12th worst in the country when it comes to education funding cuts.

The report says Michigan has cut per-pupil K-12 funding by 7.5 percent since 2008.

Michigan Radio

We're going to go out on a limb here and say most parents want to know how their child's school measures up in terms of standardized test scores, graduation rates, demographics and so on. 

Another big question parents ask when looking at a school: 

“How many kids are in a typical classroom?”

When you hear people talk about ineffective school systems, you’ll often hear something like, “there aren’t enough desks or books,” or “there are more than 30 kids in that classroom.”

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

Fifty-six Michigan school districts and charter schools started this school year in deficit. The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, made up of community leaders in Detroit, is asking the state to assume $350 million in school debt. State lawmakers are being asked for $725,000 dollars to cover unpaid debts of the former Buena Vista school district, the one they dissolved two years ago.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The state of Michigan will pay for a study within a year to determine what it costs to sufficiently educate a student.

The law signed this week by Governor Rick Snyder requires the state to then report the study's finding to the Legislature, governor and state auditor.

The Detroit Public Schools has laid out new plans to erase its red ink.

The district’s revised deficit elimination plan still awaits state approval. But if approved, it would result in a small surplus by 2023, says district spokesman Steve Wasko.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (left), and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer (right).
Gov. Snyder's office, and Schauer campaign.

Update 11:20 a.m.

As predicted, the debate rages on.

Tons of people have written about this issue over the last year, and today the Citizens Research Council released some more analysis on this question, so we thought we'd add their findings to this post we published last May. (Our investigative reporter, Lester Graham, is also looking into this question and will have more for us in the coming weeks.)

What did the Citizens Research Council find?

You can read the full-report here, but in short they tackled these three questions:

There's a state law that gives a special board up to $50 million that can be loaned to struggling school districts.

The long-term, low-interest loans are supposed to help these districts restructure and pay down their debt.

But this emergency loan board has already given out $48 million. That’s 97% of the money that was supposed to last until 2018.

How did this happen? And is there a way for struggling school districts to get back on their feet without needing an emergency manager or having to ask for another loan?

Jeff Guilfoyle with Public Sector Consultants joined us today to talk about this problem.

*Listen to the interview below.

Yesterday, I talked about the challenges the University of Michigan’s new president faces. One of those is, of course, the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to afford an education.

That provoked a lot of reaction, and I was surprised by the tone of a lot of it.

Specifically, many people feel that especially with the lagging economy, it makes no sense for students to study things that won’t clearly pay off in a job.

"There's nothing wrong with art appreciation. There are plenty of books, DVDs and YouTube clips out there," one man said. But he thought it was outrageous that someone would spend a vast amount of money on something "that will turn out to be a nice hobby," and then "complain about the lack of job opportunities."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder is taking on "misinformation" over his record of funding public schools before putting forward his next budget.

Since the Republican governor took office, he says, state aid to K-12 districts is up an average of $660 per student. But House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel says the figure is "simply untrue."

Until a few years ago, the primary marker of school funding was Michigan's per-pupil grant. Now Michigan is picking up some of the ballooning retirement costs instead of including the money in districts' traditional aid.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Buena Vista schools will become the second district to be permanently dissolved under a new state law this week.

After Buena Vista shut down without warning in May, state legislators decided they needed an additional tool to deal with fiscal emergencies besides the emergency manager law.

The new law requires financially troubled districts to prove they have enough money to make it through an entire school year. If not, they can be dissolved. That happened to Inkster's school district last week.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

About 250 Albion and Marshall high school students will spend the weekend getting to know one another.

The students are attending a weekend long ‘symposium’ at Albion college.

More than a hundred Albion students will be attending Marshall High School this fall.

Albion school officials decided to close their high school in a budget cutting move.

Jerri-Lynn Williams-Harper is Albion’s school superintendent. She says this weekend will help build relationships between the two student bodies.

Marshall High School
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Albion students are a step closer to knowing where they’ll be going to high school this fall.

Albion High School is closing for budget reasons.    The district will continue to provide K through 8 education. 

The Marshall school board voted last night to open its high school to Albion’s students.  Albion’s school board will vote on the cooperative agreement next week.    

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss the sentencing of former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway, former Congressman’s Mark Schauer’s run for governor, and a proposed funding increase for education in the state budget this year.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice sentenced to jail time

“Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway was sentenced to one year and one day in federal custody, for the crime of bank fraud. Federal prosecutors say Diane Hathaway illegally concealed a million dollars in assets, so she could qualify for favorable terms on a short sale of one of her homes in Michigan. The defendant had hoped to avoid prison time,” Michigan Radio's Vincent Duffy reports.

Michigan schools could see increase in state funding

“Michigan public schools would see more state funding under a budget plan approved by the state House. Every school would see at least a five-dollar per-pupil boost. Schools getting the minimum amount from the state could receive up to 60 dollars more per student. The state Senate is expected to take up the education budget today,” Michigan Radio’s Jake Neher reports.

Strong winds and funnel clouds cause damage in Michigan

"The National Weather Service reported several funnel cloud sightings in Michigan last night, including a tornado that landed near Goodrich High School southeast of Flint. No injuries were immediately reported. The weather service says high winds in the same severe thunderstorm system heavily damaged several homes, toppling numerous trees and power lines," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan public schools could get a funding boost

May 24, 2013
Notebook and pencil laid across the pages of an open book
Jane M Sawyer / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan public schools would get a three-percent overall funding boost under a plan in the state Legislature.

It comes up for final votes next week.

No school would get less money per student than it did last year under a plan approved by a state budget panel.

Lawmakers added language that would guarantee every school gets at least five dollars more per student than last year. Without that provision, some schools could have seen cuts because of reduced payments to cover teacher retirement costs. 

Schools that get the minimum amount of state funding right now could see up to $60 more per student next fiscal year. That total amount is right around $7,000 per student.

The bill now goes to the floors of the state House and Senate.

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

Michigan schools have been in headlines for a while now: For many, the mention of Buena Vista schools instantly calls up an image of a closed public school.

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Eric Scoresone, an economist at Michigan State University, and Michelle Richard, a senior consultant at Public Sector Consultants in Lansing.

One of the biggest problems for schools is receiving funding based on a per student basis, Richard said.

"There were 1,000 students at Buena Vista in 2009-2010, and now there are only 400. You can only cut so quickly and if you don't have kids in seats then you are forced to make challenging decisions."

Business leaders and others share their thoughts on the future of Michigan’s education system Monday.

The Governor’s Education Summit comes just on the heels of revelations about a secret education reform work group in Lansing—and questions about how much the Governor’s vision for public education jibes with theirs.

If there’s agreement on anything having to do with education policy in Michigan, it is that we aren’t getting the results we need.

Too many students are emerging from school with too few skills to make them competitive for jobs, not to mention the intellectual resources to live fulfilled and happy lives.

And our leaders are locked in increasingly bitter debates over what to do about this. Democrats blame conservatives for cutting education budgets and demonizing teachers and their unions. Republicans want to divert funding from traditional public schools and encourage parents to let free enterprise charter schools do the job.

But now there is significant evidence that both sets of arguments miss the real reason many Susies and Johnnies can’t read. The problem is that we are focusing on the wrong age group.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Majority Republicans in the Michigan Legislature are split over spending plans for K-12 schools, public universities and community colleges.

Budgets that moved forward Wednesday include a difference over punishing public employers for signing long contracts before the right-to-work law took effect.

Other rifts include how much to boost preschool funding for at-risk 4-year-olds and whether to give K-12 schools a bigger boost in their per-pupil funding or more for employee retirement costs.

The House Appropriations Committee approved a $15 billion education budget that restricts or cuts funding for the University of Michigan and other publicly funded entities that agreed to new contracts with employee unions before March 28. Workers must continue paying union dues or fees until the contracts end.

Senate budget subcommittees are passing budgets without right-to-work penalties.

University of Michigan

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

As funding for higher education experiences drastic cuts, tuition continues to increase nationwide. 

Now, colleges and universities are looking at how they have contributed to the economic situation facing institutions of higher education. 

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with James Duderstadt concerning the economic climate among institutions of higher education.

James Duderstadt,a former president of the University of Michigan, is an important voice in the national conversation among higher education institutions. Mr. Duderstadt currently serves on the National Academies Commission on the Future of the American Research University.

Stateside: Study surveys the state of education in Michigan

Jan 22, 2013
http://thecenterformichigan.net/

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio file.

A recent study called “The Public’s Agenda for Public Education” surveyed more than 5,000 Michigan residents to learn how to best improve public education.

John Bebow, president and chief executive of the Center for Michigan and Amber Toth, outreach director for the Center for Michigan, were both involved in the study.

They spoke today with Cyndy about the survey and the state’s future goals for education reform.

“Those who most need that economic ladder that a great education provides, are feeling least well served by today’s system,” said Bebow.

One student with whom Bebow spoke was using dated textbooks.

“We had a student in a community conversation say, ‘my government textbook says Ronald Reagan was the last president.’ We had other people at the opposite end of the spectrum concerned about how we spend money. There are so many concerns expressed. This survey is by no means a lambasting of the education service industry. People are concerned…” said Bebow.

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