Education

Stateside
5:25 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Brighton High School students don hijabs to explore literature, religion and identity

Students at Brighton High School chose to wear hijabs for a full school day
Mark Halonen Brighton High School

An interview with teacher Diana Mason and students from Brighton High

Maybe more than any other, high school can be a time when what you choose to wear has a huge impact on your sense of identity.

As students take their first steps into adulthood, they walk a fine line between fitting in with their peers and developing a unique sense of self.

Earlier this fall, a group of AP language students at Brighton High School were asked to read a memoir by Iranian author Azar Nafisi. The book detailed the experiences of women during that country's religious revolution, including dealing with new standards of modesty in the way they dressed.

To experience the material first-hand, several girls in the class in Brighton chose to spend a full school day wearing hijabs, the head-scarves worn by Muslim women in many parts of the world.

The exercise gave students a chance to learn about an unfamiliar culture and religion. But in a school community where no students and only one teacher outwardly practice Islam, wearing the scarves was a good way to draw curious looks, questions and a few unfriendly comments.

Teacher Diana Mason and three students at Brighton who took part recently told Stateside about the experience.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Stateside
1:46 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

How are 'Common Core' standards playing out in Michigan classrooms today?

A classroom.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

An interview with Naomi Norman.

Back in 2010, the State Board of Education approved the Common Core State Standards for Michigan — a set of math and English goals for K-12 students.

School districts across the state have spent the past three years integrating the standards into their curricula. At the same time, we've heard a lot of political debate about Common Core, mostly about the involvement of the federal government in our classrooms.

But in October of this year, state lawmakers OK'd funding for Common Core, and now it is becoming a reality in Michigan classrooms.

We wanted to find out: What does this mean — day-in, day-out — for Michigan's students?

What does a school year under Common Core really look like?

Joining us is Naomi Norman, the executive director of Achievement Initiatives at Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Livingston Educational Service Agency.

Listen to the full interview above.

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Education
3:51 pm
Sat December 14, 2013

Michigan to have tip line to prevent school violence

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan is creating a confidential tip line for students designed to prevent school violence.

A law signed Friday by Gov. Rick Snyder authorizes the creation of a hotline accepting tips by phone, text message, email or through a website or mobile app. The state attorney general's office and other agencies will cooperate to establish the OK-2-SAY program being modeled after one Colorado created after the Columbine shootings.

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Education
12:27 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Michigan's student homelessness problem is growing

More than 43,000 Michigan students are homeless. According to the Detroit Free Press, many live in tents like these.
Nicole Salow Flickr

The number of K-12 students in the U.S. without a home is on the rise.

More than 1.1 million children in the U.S. were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Department of Education.

Suzi Parker at takepart.com looked at the numbers and found that Michigan has one of the fastest-growing homeless student populations in the country.

In Michigan, 43,418 students were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, compared to 30,671 in the 2010-2011 school year:

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Education
2:19 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Study finds Michigan public universities generate nearly $24 billion in spending

A good day to be inside studying. A student biking across the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s public universities are “building the case” for more state aid.

The group representing the state’s 15 public universities released a report today showing the economic impact they have on Michigan. The study, by the Anderson Economic Group, claims the universities generated nearly $24 billion in direct and indirect spending in Michigan in 2012. 

The researchers say the money is spent across Michigan and not just in the towns where the universities are based.

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Stateside
4:17 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

The 'read-or-flunk' law proposes holding back students not reading at grade level

What happens when a child is struggling to read at his or her grade level?

In too many cases, the student moves up a grade anyway and the struggle continues, resulting in high school graduates who are poor, ineffective readers. And that can impact that student's chances of going to college and then getting a job that provides a good level of pay over a lifetime.

There's a package of bills sponsored by Holland Republican Representative Amanda Price now working through the State that tries to tackle this problem. It's called the "read-or-flunk law."

In a nutshell, if third-grade kids aren't reading, hold them back.

Ron French reported on the pros and cons of these bills for Bridge Magazine, and he joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Education
8:58 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Michigan college grads facing increasing student loan debt

Grand Valley State University, Allendale campus (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new report shows Michigan college students are carrying a lot of student loan debt.

The Institute for College Access and Success says Michigan college graduates who earned bachelor’s degrees in 2012 owed nearly $29,000 in student loans.

Debbie Cochran is with the institute. She blames the recession and declining government support for forcing students to borrow more to pay for college.

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Education
8:07 am
Wed December 4, 2013

It's 3:40...do you know where your kids are?

Navy Hill School
Credit Adolph B. Rice Studio Collection / The Library of Virginia

What happens in impoverished neighborhoods after the bell rings at 3:40 pm? Afterschool activities are making a comeback in poor communities thanks to federal investment in community schools. On State of Opportunity this week, Jennifer Guerra spent time with kids and staff at Mackenzie Elementary and Middle School to learn about the "community school model." 

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Stateside
4:53 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Are schools in America flunking lunch?

A school lunch.
Beau Wade wikimedia commons

A 2007 School Nutrition Dietary Assessment concluded that most schools in America exceed USDA guidelines for the quantities of saturated fat, total fat and sodium in our school lunches.

And the surplus beef and poultry that the USDA offers as free commodity items to our schools are held to a lower standard than fast-food chains like McDonald's. In the past ten years, the USDA paid $145 million for pet-food grade "spent hen meat" that went into the school meals program.

The average dollar amount spent per school lunch nationwide is just $1. Twenty-five cents of that is spent on milk.

What can school lunches tell us about the politics of welfare, food science and agriculture companies? And what can they tell us about inequality in Michigan and throughout America?

Susan Levine, a professor in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of the book, "School Lunch Politics: The surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program,” joined us today.

And Jean DuRussel Weston, the Director of Patient Education and program manager for Project Healthy Schools at the University of Michigan, also joined in on the conversation.

Listen to the interview above.

Education
12:35 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Study: Michigan is national leader when it comes to for-profit charter schools

Nearly 80% of Michigan’s charter schools are managed by private, for-profit companies, according to a new report from the National Education Policy Center.

The report shows that when it comes to privately-managed public charter schools—those run by Education Management Organizations (EMOs)—Michigan is a stark anomaly.

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Education
9:42 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Auditors paint a 'Bleak Picture' of Flint school district finances

Students walk to class in a Flint school hallway (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Last night, Flint school board members listened as auditors painted a bleak picture of the school district’s finances. The auditors blamed years of "poor internal controls" for the district’s big budget deficit.  Auditors say they did not find any "financial misconduct."

The Flint school district’s deficit is more than ten million dollars. The district also owes the Genesee Intermediate School District nearly nine million dollars.

Larry Watkins is Flint’s interim school superintendent.  He says the Flint school district will have to address its own budget deficit first.

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Education
6:17 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Flint school board members to review audit, with state aid payment on the line

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Flint School Board will hear the findings of the district’s most recent audit this evening.

The audit is expected to show continued problems with misspent funds, lax oversight and other issues.

“Our students deserve the very best and we’re definitely going to do that. In order for us to do that, we’re going to have to turn this district around,” says Larry Watkins, Flint’s interim school superintendent.

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Education
5:53 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Enrollment plummets in state-run Education Achievement Authority schools

Michigan’s attempt at a state-run “turnaround district” for the lowest-performing schools is bleeding students.

The Educational Achievement Authority is one of Governor Snyder’s signature policy initiatives. It launched in the last school year, with 15 former Detroit Public Schools.

State data now show the EAA lost more than 2,000 students since last school year. That’s nearly a 25% decline.

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Stateside
4:31 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Is there a link between arts education and entrepreneurship? This study says yes.

Students in a classroom.
Navy Hale Keiki School Flickr

A recent study coming out of Michigan State University reaffirms the need for one educational discipline that’s been continuously cut over the past decade — the arts.

Researchers found a startling link between taking part in arts and crafts activities as a child and patents received or businesses launched as an adult.

According to that study, which examined MSU Honors STEM students between 1990-1995, 94% of STEM graduates had musical training in their lives, compared to 34% of all adults.

Joining us is one of the authors of the study, Rex LaMore, the director of the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development. Cynthia Taggart, a professor of Music Education at Michigan State also talked to us.

Listen to the full interview above.

Education
8:17 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Here's what your name says about your future prospects

Credit Alan O'Rourke / Flickr

Researchers have done all kinds of experiments to learn how our names can impact perceptions. If the research is to be believed, for some people creating a new identity other than the one given at birth might be a good idea.

The University of Chicago Business School and the National Bureau of Economic Research, for example, conducted a study that compared responses to identical resumes. The only difference was that some resumes were from applicants with African American sounding names and others had White sounding names.

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Education
10:58 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Detroit Public Schools leave federal oversight, gain 'incremental independence'

Jack Martin

After five years, the Detroit Public Schools has been removed from “high-risk status.”

The Michigan Department of Education gave Detroit federal high-risk status in 2008, after a federal audit revealed some serious financial discrepancies amounting to about $53 million.

But the state says the district has put enough safeguards in place now to relax its monitoring.

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Education
2:15 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

How one Detroit charter school captured national attention — and what educators have to say about it

Teacher Danielle Johnson and Detroit Achievement Academy founder Kyle Smitley on the Ellen Degeneres show.
YouTube YouTube

This week on State of Opportunity, Sarah Alvarez is taking a look at some radical decisions that have shaped the educational landscape of Detroit schools.

Today, families in the city are taking a gamble on brand-new charter schools, like the Detroit Achievement Academy.

The academy opened earlier this year, by 28-year-old Kyle Smitley. Smitley is the first to admit she lacks formal educational experience. "I’ve been laughed out of so many rooms coming into the education world," she says.

But that hasn’t stopped the unconventional school from getting national buzz. Earlier this year, Smitley and the academy were featured on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

Still, the odds are stacked up against the academy and other charter schools that pop up in Detroit. There are more seats in Detroit schools than students. Many students in the city haven’t met benchmark requirements in their grade levels.

So what do educational experts think about these experimental schools? Check out Sarah’s piece for more. 

Education
10:49 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Does diversity make for better schools?

Coverage of desegregation in Detroit's public schools in the Detroit Free Press.
Credit clipping courtesy of Ray Litt / via Detroit Free Press

In short, the answer is 'we don't really know.'

Stanford University's Sean Reardon studies achievement gaps - the difference between how one group of students performs compared to another group.

When comparing black, white, and Latino students, Reardon says you see the importance not so much of race, but of class.

"Over the last 40 or so years, the black-white achievement gap and the Hispanic-white achievement gap have narrowed a lot," Reardon said. "On the other hand, the gap between high and low income students has increased quite dramatically."

Reardon said that particular gap has grown about 40% since the 1980s. 

But while economic diversity might matter more in ensuring a quality education, that doesn't mean people want to give up on racial and ethnic diversity.

Ray Litt, a community activist involved in Detroit's Milliken v. Bradley case, reflected, "The desegregation action was to provide a quality integrated venue in which students and staff are exposed to and can interact with kids of different races religions and economic status," he said. "We all need to be able to be comfortable, not tolerating, a society that is the melting pot."

Racial diversity is not something you are likely to find in a majority of Detroit's schools, even after a hard fought desegregation plan.

Read more and listen to the whole story at State of Opportunity.

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Education
11:55 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Detroit schools issue 'child safety ID cards' to some students

A child is fingerprinted for an ID card at Detroit's Chrysler Elementary School.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools will start issuing “child safety ID cards” in some elementary schools.

The ID card will contain a child’s picture, fingerprint, and other identifying information. Participation is voluntary.

District officials say the cards could help find and identify missing children more quickly.

The district will give one card to parents, and keep the information on file. They say the district will only share the card’s information with law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

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Stateside
5:20 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Do Michigan's colleges need to focus more on the state than the 'global community'?

The Beaumont Tower on Michigan State University's campus.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Are Michigan colleges and universities so focused outward that they have become "placeless"? Are families being needlessly fractured by a growing emphasis on global engagement, and a move away from local involvement and commitment?

Jeffrey Polet, a professor of political science at Hope College in Holland thinks so. In a column for Bridge Magazine Polet argues that Michigan’s “hallowed halls may lead to the world, but they also contribute to the fracturing of communities.”

Polet talks to us about what he’s seen that caused him to write his piece, and where his criticism lies.

Listen to the full interview above.

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