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Education

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More details have emerged about Eastern Michigan University's contract with Academic Partnerships, a company that helps universities offer degrees online.

On December 21, 2016, Eastern Michigan University disclosed that it had entered into a five-year contract with Academic Partnerships, an outside group that will help the university launch four online degrees.

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
Screenshot / C-SPAN

Betsy DeVos is facing stiff opposition from teacher's unions in her nomination fight to head up the US Departent of Education.  

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow announced that she would not support DeVos nearly three weeks in advance of the vote by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. (On Tuesday, the committee voted 12-11 along party lines on Tuesday to move DeVos’s nomination to the Senate floor.) And, in DeVos’ hometown of Holland, about a thousand people recently gathered to protest the nomination.

But DeVos also had some devoted supporters in her corner. 

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
Screenshot / C-SPAN

The full U.S. Senate is the next stop for Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as U.S. Education Secretary. That’s after a Senate committee on Tuesday voted 12 to 11 along party lines in favor of DeVos, a billionaire from West Michigan who’s long supported school choice, charter schools, and vouchers.

But two prominent Republican senators on the committee expressed reservations, particularly about DeVos’ lack of experience.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Schools would have to give parents at least a month's notice before closing, under a bill (HB 4090) re-introduced by State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit).

Schools that are slated for closure for financial reasons would also have to shut down in the summer in most cases.

"It's irresponsible to close schools in the fall or winter or spring if isn't an emergency situation," says Chang.  "If school's closing in October, and the school year basically just started, then it really is disruptive to a child's education."

Courtesy of the Michigan History Center/Archives of Michigan

Happy birthday, Michigan!

On Jan. 26, 1837, 180 years ago today, Michigan became the 26th state to join the union.

Before that could happen, there was some housekeeping to do, namely: to settle the fight between Michigan and Ohio over a narrow strip of land known as the Toledo Strip. The conflict is otherwise known as the "Toledo War."

State Archivist Mark Harvey from the Michigan History Center joined Stateside to look back at how the state of Michigan got started.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

A neighborhood school used to be the center of a everything. You sent your kids there, you had community meetings there, you went there to vote.

So, what happens to a neighborhood—and the kids who live there—when a school closes? 

We Live Here is a new documentary from State of Opportunity that investigates how massive schools closures in Detroit have affected students and neighborhoods.

Mapping the options for kids in failing Detroit schools

Jan 25, 2017
map of Detroit with possible closures marked
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

There are 25 schools in Detroit waiting to hear whether they’ll be closing their doors at the end of the school year.

So, where would all those students end up if those schools did close?

Click on the map to see the nearby options for each possible closure and how they stack up academically.

Matt Katzenberger / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It wasn’t one thing that put Litchfield Community Schools’ elementary school on a path to becoming a “priority” school.

When Mary Sitkiewicz started teaching at Litchfield in the mid 1990s, she remembers there being more than 800 students. According to state data from last school year, the student count was down to 248.

There are so many people, places and things in Michigan that are mispronounced, like Mackinac Island.
Josh Grenier / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Do you know the proper way to pronounce the community of Presque Isle and the county of Presque Isle? (Hint: they are different). Or how about the cities of Charlotte or Milan? How many non-Michiganders have you heard mispronounce Mackinac Island?

There's no shortage of Michigan towns, locations and personalities with, let's say, challenging pronunciations. If you're a Michigander, a visitor, or anything in between, there is now a definitive guide for these tricky words or names. 

The Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library now gives people audio and phonetic pronunciations for more than 2,200 places, people and things in or connected to Michigan.

Detroit school leaders point to Coleman A. Young Elementary School as a successful turnarond effort led from within the district.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit school leaders say they’re ready to take on the task of transforming some of the state’s lowest-performing schools.

But first, they’re inviting counterparts from around the country to a “learning summit” next week, to discuss and formulate a broader school turnaround strategy.

Courtesy of Aaron Robertson

President Bill Clinton, astronomer Edwin Hubble, singer and actor Kris Kristofferson, ABC journalist and former White House spokesman George Stephanopoulos, Senator Cory Booker and former Senator and basketball Hall-of-Famer Bill Bradley.

That's just a shortlist of people who've won the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships. 

Now, you can add Aaron Robertson to that list. 

Robertson was born in Detroit and currently calls Redford Township home. The Princeton undergrad is one of just 32 Americans awarded a 2017 Rhodes scholarship, and he joined Stateside to talk about it.

MOTOWN31 / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

On Friday, Michiganders learned that state officials are preparing to shut down as many as 38 under-performing schools in Michigan. Twenty-five of those schools are in Detroit.

What, if anything, could keep the School Reform Office from closing the schools? And how should we, as a state, deal with schools that are turning out unprepared students?

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
user alkruse24 / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Education released the state’s School Score Cards and the “Top to Bottom” list today. The Top to Bottom list is used by the School Reform Office to identify low-performing schools.

The “Priority List” is made up of the lowest-performing five percent of schools in the state, and schools that were previously in the five percent and haven’t improved enough to get off the list.  Schools on the list for three years could be subject to closure.

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
Screenshot / C-SPAN

About a week ago, as attorneys and staffers helped Betsy DeVos prepare and file paperwork required as part of her confirmation process to become the next U.S. education secretary, somebody asked her about her ties to her mother’s foundation.

“She said, ‘Well wait a minute. I’ve never been on that board or never been involved with that foundation.’ Nor did she ever give consent for her name to be used,” DeVos family spokesman John Truscott said. “Best we can figure it was an error on behalf of the foundation staff and was never run by her.”

Besty DeVos during her hearing.
SCREENSHOT / C-SPAN

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S Department of Education went before the Senate education committee yesterday for her confirmation hearing.

Senators asked many questions of Betsy DeVos – some about her Michigan family’s donations of millions of dollars to Republican candidates, others about whether she would mandate that public schools become charter or private schools.

Yet, it was an exchange between Minnesota Senator Al Franken and DeVos that caught our attention.

Take a listen:

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
Screenshot / C-SPAN

School choice advocate Betsy DeVos answered a wide range of questions during a three-hour confirmation hearing in Washington D.C. Tuesday night. The billionaire from West Michigan could head the U.S. Department of Education soon.

You can watch the hearing here or below:

Courtesy of Tashaune Harden

 

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is a long-time Republican donor. DeVos is an advocate of charter schools, school voucher programs, and tax credits for businesses that give private scholarships.

Her likely appointment excites many in Michigan’s charter schools.

But not everyone.

There hasn't been a more controversial pick for secretary of education, arguably, in recent memory than Donald Trump's choice of Betsy DeVos. The Senate confirmation hearings for the billionaire Republican fundraiser and activist from Michigan start today.

A ceiling hole at Noble Elementary Middle-School in early 2016
Detroit Federation of Teachers

There was movement Thursday on two federal lawsuits filed over poor learning conditions in Detroit schools.

The American Federation of Teachers announced a settlement with the Detroit Public Schools over decrepit building conditions in some schools.

The settlement lays out a process for reporting, logging and prioritizing requests for building repairs, as well as timelines for following through.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

New Detroit school board members officially took office Wednesday night.

It’s the first time the district has had a true school board since a series of emergency managers took over in 2009.

The district is in much better financial shape after a state-sponsored aid package passed in June. In fact, it currently has a budget surplus.

But it faces a number of chronic problems, including 264 vacant teaching positions. 163 are now being staffed by substitutes, interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather told board members.

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.

 

Write Michigan authors take part in a book signing
Kent District Library

The Write Michigan short story contest is the only fiction contest exclusive to Michigan writers.

It's a joint effort of the Kent District Library and Schuler Books in Grand Rapids. The contest is embarking on its fifth year and submissions are up by 200% from last year.

Heidi Nagel from the Kent District Library joined Stateside to talk about the contest.

Matt Katzenberger / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

This is an important week for Detroit schools. For the first time in seven years, an elected school board is in place. The board takes control of the schools that have been run for nearly 20 years by state-appointed managers. 63 candidates were on the ballot. The voters chose seven of them to make up the new school board.

One of those is Sonya Mays. She graduated from Detroit Renaissance High School and then went on to the University of Michigan, where she worked her way to a bachelor's degree, an MBA and then her law degree.

Michigan is one of only a couple of states that don’t already require all lawmakers to be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
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A new state law bans the use of restraint or isolation to discipline students.

  

The law was recommended by a task force looking at reforms in special education. Students with physical or developmental disabilities are more likely to face the use of restraint or seclusion.

  

Advocates for special education students say harsh disciplinary measures have been used by teachers and administrators who did not know how to handle students with disabilities. Calley says the new law shows times are changing.

Andy / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Need for scholarships for former foster kids is running higher than funds available.

Michigan's Fostering Futures Scholarship Fund helps people who've aged out of foster care pay for college. It supplements other financial support students receive.

To be eligible for a grant, a student must have been in Michigan foster care after their 13th birthday because of child abuse or neglect.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Many students received digital devices for Christmas and Hanukah presents this year. 

But a new Michigan State University study suggests the students should not go online when they return to class.

EMU is expanding online degree programs

Dec 21, 2016
Eastern Michigan University
F. Delventhal / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Eastern Michigan University has entered into a 5 year agreement with Academic Partnerships, a private company, to offer four fully online degree programs.  

According to Kevin Kucera, EMU's Vice President for Enrollment Management, the programs will increase educational opportunities for non-traditional students while generating revenue for the University.

"This on-line marketplace is really one where we can assist primarily working individuals who would have a difficult time accessing ground-based courses because of their work and family commitments," said Kucera.

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

State officials are crediting a new "early warning" law for reducing the number of school districts in fiscal crisis.

In 2015, 41 districts had budget deficits; this year, only 27 have deficits.

State Treasurer Nick Khouri says the state can now intervene before a district is in a serious financial situation.

"The easiest thing to do is to deny a problem for years and years until it's too late to solve," says Khouri, "so part of this process is to make sure that these issues are brought up early."

CPR training
Rama / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan students would be required to learn CPR before they graduate from high school under a bill that's on its way to Gov. Snyder's desk.

This week, the state House voted in favor of legislation that would require students that students receive CPR instruction at least once between 7th and 12th grade. It would be up to school districts to decide when and how to incorporate the training into their curriculum.  

BRYCE HUFFMAN

On Monday, December 14th, Eastern Michigan University (EMU) President James Smith announced the President's Commission on Diversity and Inclusion's inaugural members. 

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