Education

Jake Neher / MPRN

The state Legislature could soon give Gov. Snyder something he’s wanted for a long time: a bill that would clear the way for the controversial Education Achievement Authority to expand.

The Senate is now considering a bill passed by the House that would, among other things, allow the EAA to expand beyond Detroit. The state-run district for the lowest-performing schools is the governor’s signature education initiative.

kconnors / morguefile

  A vote is expected on a final version of a bill that would expand the Education Achievement Authority into a statewide district. 

The EAA was created by the Snyder administration to initially oversee the lowest performing schools in the Detroit Public School system where it currently oversees 15 schools. Supporters say the EAA will give troubled schools the opportunity to turn things around, but critics say the EAA hasn’t proved that its model for education is a successful one. 

Brian Smith, the statewide education reporter for MLIVE.com joined us today. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

You don't have to hunt too far to find critics of our schools, of the way our children are learning, what they're learning and the achievement gap within our classrooms.

There are countless ways, countless statistics that try to measure the problems. Here's just one, centered on the achievement gap. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, on 2007 standardized math exams, white fourth-graders performed better than black fourth-graders in all 46 states where results are available.

And we hear a steady drumbeat of criticism that students here in the U.S. are lagging behind their peers in other countries. When you look at standardized tests, American students rank 17th in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math, which puts them behind students in Poland and Slovenia.

How much pressure should we put on individual teachers to fix these problems?

Natalie Davis, Alistair Bomphray, and Martha Curren-Preis are teachers who are all earning their Ph.D.s in education at the University of Michigan. They joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

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When you think of inequality in higher education, things like tuition, price of textbooks and food probably come up.

But what about inequality when it comes to the party scene in college?

A new five-year study found that if a young woman chooses the so-called "party path" rather than rigorous studying, and if she's from a working class or low-income family, the party path might not lead to a great college experience, or a promising career. 

The research was done by sociologists Elizabeth Armstrong of the University of Michigan and Laura Hamilton of the University of California.

They've turned this research into a book, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality

Thetoad / Flickr

The state House has approved a measure to expand the controversial Education Achievement Authority. The EAA is the agency that is supposed to turn around some of the state’s most struggling school districts.

A final version of the bill could be voted on as early as this week by the state Senate and sent to Gov. Snyder for his signature.

The legislation passed the House last week by just one more vote than was needed.

Critics of the EAA, mostly Democrats, say student test results don’t support putting more schools into the authority.

Supporters, mainly Republican, say the legislation allows for more tools to be used to turn around failing schools.

Kathy Gray has been covering the EAA for the Detroit Free Press, and she joined us today.

Listen to the interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some at-risk schools in Michigan could soon get more state funding if they agree to go year-round.

In his budget address in February, Gov. Snyder called for a state pilot program to encourage year-round schooling. School districts could get money to add air conditioning and other upgrades to old buildings so they could operate during the summer.

Supporters of the measure say students lose a lot of what they learn during the school year after long summer breaks.

State Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, is sponsoring year-round education legislation. He says teachers have to reeducate students in September and October.

“You could have 30 and even up to 60 of the 180 days of kids relearning what they should already know,” said Schor.

But do these measures actually work?

Harris Cooper is professor and the chair of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He joined us today to share his thoughts.

Listen to the interview above.

ANN ARBOR – The man credited with saving more than 1,200 people during the Rwandan genocide will speak this week at the University of Michigan as part of a 20th anniversary commemoration of the slaughter.

Paul Rusesabagina's talk is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Rackham Graduate School.

Rusesabagina gave refuge to Tutsis and moderate Hutus at the hotel he managed during the 100-day massacre that killed more than 500,000 in 1994. Those sheltered by Rusesabagina – a Hutu – included his Tutsi wife and children.

Jeff Wilcox / Flickr

A pair of bills in the Michigan House and Senate are setting their sights on getting rid of tuition bills.  

Rather than paying off installments on a loan package, the proposed legislation would allow students to pay off school with a fixed percent of their future incomes — as long as their income is above the federal poverty line.

A $2 million pilot program would be established to fund 200 students at community colleges and public four-year universities.

From David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press:

So a student who went to the University of Michigan and graduated in four years would have to pay 4 percent of his or her income back every year for 20 years.

The so-called “pay-it-forward” bills have gained some legislative popularity after Oregon launched a study last July to examine the feasibility of such a proposal.

Michigan joins Oregon, Florida, Washington, and some 20 other states considering the "go now, pay later" plan.

From the mouths of babes – or more like from the imagination of kids dreaming up the next big software application: Dustin Dwyer and State of Opportunity spent the afternoon listening to teens from the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology's after-school program. They presented their ideas to software industry and community professionals in Grand Rapids.

HOWELL – High school officials in Howell say they've reprimanded students involved in posting racist messages on Twitter after the school's nearly all-white basketball team defeated a team with black and white players.

The Flint Journal reports messages were posted after Howell beat Grand Blanc on Thursday 54-49 in a Class A regional final at Linden High School. The messages made reference to Howell's team being white and included a Ku Klux Klan reference.

user John Phelan / wikimedia commons

The money comes from the Department's School Improvement Grants program. 

Ten states received grants, and Michigan was second to Texas in the amount given. Texas will get $46.7 million through the SIG program.

More from the Department of Education's press release:

Ok, first, the stats. 

The bad news: the problem is rampant

For every 10,000 women on a college campus, as many as 350 could experience attempted to completed rape every school year. 

Those numbers come from the U.S. Department of Justice, in a 2005 report on what schools are doing about sexual assault on campus. 

If those stats bear out, then at a school the size of the University of Michigan, as many as 490 women will experience attempted or completed rape every school year.

Our wintery weather continues, but that shouldn't stop you from coming out to our Issues & Ale event in Grand Rapids this evening. We'll be asking you and our panelists, "What can we do to close the digital divide in education?" State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer will moderate this conversation with educational technologists Kim Dabbs of the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology, Hilary Goldmann of the International Society for Technology in Education, and Anne Thorp of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District. This event kicks off the Michigan Association of Computers in Learning conference, so there will be plenty of knowledgeable and concerned educators in the audience. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. at Founders Brewery in the Centennial Room (2nd floor). Come warm up with challenging conversation about creating equitable access to the tools our kids need to succeed in the 21st century.

user frank juarez / Flickr

Proposed changes to special education rules in Michigan are causing alarm and concern for some parents.

You can read about the proposed changes here.

Marcie Lipsitt is the founder of the Michigan Alliance for Special Education, a grassroots organization that advocates for special education students. 

The proposed rule revisions would be "catastrophic," according to Lipsitt.

*You can listen to her thoughts above.

Wikipedia

More Michigan kids are making college dreams come true while still in high school. That's according to a new report that finds the number of low-income Michigan pupils taking Advanced Placement coursework has increased eight-fold over the past ten years.

Amber Peters

A  third-grader from Howell is making a big difference.

Eight-year-old Cayden Taipalus was upset when he saw a child refused a hot  lunch at his elementary school cafeteria because his lunch account was in arrears.

Instead, the child was served a sandwich with fruit and milk, the alternative provided free by Howell school policy when a student's overdue lunch balance reaches $5.

Amber Peters is Cayden's mother. She said he came home asking how he could help.

NIH

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Animal Welfare Act, says it is "looking into" four incidents at the University of Michigan involving research animals.

The agency says that's not the same as a formal investigation.

The USDA is acting on a complaint by an animal rights group, SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation NOW) which demands the maximum fine against the University for the deaths of several research animals, including the death of a baboon.

user alkruse24 / Flickr

Lawmakers in the state House have approved a $2 million pilot program to encourage schools to go year-round.

Schools in mostly low-income areas could get money from the state to add air-conditioning and other things allowing them to operate in the summer. The measure was introduced by Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, and Gov. Rick Snyder called on lawmaker to pass it in his budget address last month.

Supporters say students lose too much of what they learn after long summer breaks.

user jdurham / morguefile

It's no secret that Detroit schools have been failing their students for a long time.

In 2009 Detroit's public schools racked up the worst scores in the history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, and the scores haven't really improved since then.

Charter schools were launched to offer Detroit parents a choice. But my next guest believes the unregulated environment for charter schools has wound up hurting the kids who most need help and a sound education.

Robin Lake is director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington in Seattle.  She recently visited Detroit and came away with some unsettling views of the condition of Detroit's charter schools.

Education Trust-Midwest

In 2000, all but three of the 50 states contributed more per student than each student paid for their college education. That came to a screeching halt in Michigan, starting with deep cuts to higher education funding by the Granholm administration and picking up steam as the economy worsened.

Today, Michigan is among the many states to shift the burden of paying for that college education onto students.

We now rank 40th in per-student higher education spending. Michigan's per-student spending works out to just over $4,600 per student, compared to the nearly $9,900 per-student cost to enrollees.

MLive's Brian Smith wrote about this, and joined us today.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Head Start Early Childhood Innovation Fund announced Tuesday will award grants in part to support improved services and better outcomes for young children and families.

The announcement was made by the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, funders working to support early childhood education. The group includes the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Skillman Foundation and others.

The fund will be managed by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

The fund was created in response to a federal competition for $48 million in Head Start funding in Detroit. The Office of Head Start recently announced Detroit organizations with winning proposals that are in negotiations to get federal funding.

Sharon Drummond / Flickr

There are fewer Michigan school districts running into the red this year, and even more are projected to work their way out of budget deficits by the end of the school year.

Politicians in Lansing say they're encouraged by the trend, but peel away the top layer and it's not all good news. MLive Capitol reporter Jonathon Oosting joined us to explain why.

*Listen to the interview above.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

The list of Michigan school districts that have budget deficits is shrinking, and more districts are digging out of debt. That was the report today from the state Department of Education to lawmakers.

There are 46 districts on the deficit list today, compared to 50 at the end of last year.

“I’m encouraged that we’re trending in the right direction as far as the number of schools heading into deficit and the number of schools heading out of deficit,” said State Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, who chairs the Senate K-12 budget subcommittee.      

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This is the time of year when many high school juniors are taking their ACTs and scheduling campus tours. And high school seniors are looking in the mailbox for college acceptance letters and – hopefully –financial aid packages.

There are many in Michigan who believe that heading to college is the key to a successful life for these kids. There's plenty of evidence that young adults with that four-year degree will do better in terms of employment and wages than their peers with some college, or a two-year degree, or only a high school diploma.

But there is another side to the discussion – the one that raises the question: Is college truly the right choice for all high school grads? Are we overlooking the opportunities offered by skilled trades and other careers that do not require a degree?

Glenda Price is the former president of Marygrove College in Detroit and is now the president of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. And Lou Glazer is the president of Michigan Future, Inc. They both joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

user Cbl62 / Wikimedia Commons

If school administrators know, or should know, about a sexual assault involving students, they have to act fast – and they have to "address" the "effects" of the assault. 

That's according to federal law, under Title IX.

But neither the University of Michigan, nor Michigan State University, handled sexual assaults the right way, according to complaints sent to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.

drtel / Creative Commons

Grand Rapids-based furniture maker Steelcase plans to donate its iconic pyramid-shaped building to a nonprofit group.

Steelcase spent more than $100 million to build the more than 600,000 square-foot building in 1989. It’s been for sale for a lot less, around $20 million, for a couple of years. But it hasn't sold.

Steelcase spokeswoman Laura VanSlyke says the company talked to a few potential buyers, but the size and unique shape “does make it difficult for certain companies to take it over.”

What's the point of evaluating teachers and then not providing constructive feedback for improvements? That's the challenge legislators are tackling with changes to Michigan's teacher evaluation law. State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer sat in on a teacher development session in Grand Rapids to find out which new techniques are being used to coach educators more effectively.

Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law today legislation that will require Michigan public schools to tighten fire, tornado and lockdown safety drills.

State Rep. Joseph Graves, R-Argentine Township, sponsored the legislation in response to media reports of widespread disregard by schools of safety drill requirements.

The new law requires schools to file by Sept. 15  a schedule of drills for the whole year with their county emergency manager. Schools must also post on their websites notice of a completed safety drill within five days.

Biologycorner / Creative Commons

Scores from this year’s standardized test at one southwest Michigan elementary school won’t count at all.

According to Michigan's Department of Education, individual administrative errors on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test happen every year. But this kind of mistake, affecting hundreds of student tests, is rare.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - There is no direct deposit this week for teachers and other employees in the Flint school district.

They were required to pick up their check in person Friday as the struggling district confirms that it's paying people who actually work. Spokesman Brian Smith tells The Flint Journal it's too early to know if any problems were uncovered.

He says there might be legitimate reasons for someone who didn't pick up a check.

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