Education

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Five Michigan community colleges are partnering on a pilot program to let students in automotive technology programs transfer among the schools without losing credits or having to repeat course work.

Delta College, Grand Rapids Community College, Lansing Community College, Montcalm Community and Mott Community Colleges have signed the agreement. It was announced Friday by Nigel Francis, the state's senior automotive adviser.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan has a race problem.

“Open it up! Or we’ll shut it down!” chanted half a dozen black students at the Board of Regents meeting yesterday.

Their frustrations are getting national attention. 

The Black Student union has led protests on campus and online.

Their #BBUM Twitter campaign (Being Black at U of M) has gone viral. 

They’re fed up, they say, by a school that boasts about a diverse community, yet where just roughly 5% of some 28,000 undergraduate students are black.

Classroom
User Motown31 / Creative Commons

The state of Michigan is ending its exclusive contract with the Education Achievement Authority to oversee the worst-performing schools in the state.

State School Superintendent Mike Flangan sent a letter to the EAA saying the state will pull out of its exclusivity agreement with the Authority one year from now.

Martin Ackley is with the Michigan Department of Education. He says the state still intends to use the EAA to help turn around struggling schools.

“Now, this is in no way a statement or an indication of a lack of confidence in the EAA or its academic strategies. This is just an action that needed to be taken in order to provide flexibility and to provide options other than the EAA in which to place these most struggling schools.”

So, what are the other options that the State might use to help failing schools? And what's ahead for the controversial EAA?

Jake Neher, who covers Lansing for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Classroom
User Motown31 / Creative Commons

The Michigan Department of Education will end its exclusive contract with the Education Achievement Authority to oversee some of the state's lowest-performing schools.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has sent a letter to the EAA notifying it that the contract will be terminated a year from now.

The MDE says it still intends to use the EAA to turn around struggling schools. It says ending the contract will simply open up more options to other entities that can oversee the schools.

The EAA currently runs 15 schools in Detroit. 

Martin Ackley is a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Education.

"There are situations where a struggling school may be better served by a neighboring school district or the local intermediate school district as opposed to the EAA."

Ackley says the state still intends to use the EAA to help oversee struggling schools. He says ending the contract will simply give state education officials more options.

"Now, this is in no way a statement or an indication of alack of confidence in the EAA or its academic strategies. This is just an action that needed to be taken in order to provide flexibility and to provide options other than the EAA in which to place these most struggling schools."

Critics of the EAA say it's struggling with declining enrollment, finances, and school safety. Lawmakers are considering legislation that would bolster the authority and allow it to expand it statewide. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With many Michigan schools racking up snow days, what's the best way to make up lost time? Adding minutes onto the school day? Or adding days at the end of the school year? Should local districts be allowed to decide for themselves or should Lansing make the decision for them?

Bridge Magazine contributing writer Ted Roelofs dug into these questions for his story in this week's Bridge.

Listen to the full interview above.

In the classroom.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

As Michigan moves into new, uncharted waters in terms of testing and evaluating those who hope to become teachers, there are many views on whether this testing and evaluation is fair, helpful, and an accurate measurement of how students, teachers, and schools are doing.

Mitch Robinson is an associate professor and chair of music education at Michigan State University. A former teacher, his research is now focused on education policy and the mentoring of new music teachers. 

He believes test scores like the beefed-up version of Michigan's teacher certification test aren't telling us anything substantial about students or learning.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Michigan House could vote this week to expand the Education Achievement Authority, or EAA.

The EAA was created by Gov. Rick Snyder as a separate school district for the lowest-performing 5% of schools in Michigan. The idea was that under the oversight of a state appointed emergency manager, those schools could be transformed into higher performing, stable schools. Supporters of the EAA say the district is showing student improvement. Critics of the district say the EAA is failing students and schools.

Democratic Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton is the sponsor of House Bill 5268. She spoke with All Things Considered host Jennifer White.

user Marlith / Flickr

How far should a school go to accommodate its transgender students? What federal or state laws and ordinances might impact policies for transgender students?

School districts around the nation are wrestling with these questions, even as parents and civil rights groups mount court challenges against districts whose policies are not supportive of transgender student rights.

The ACLU of Michigan's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Project is now crafting a comprehensive model policy for transgender students – a policy that could be adopted by local school districts. Jay Kaplan is a staff attorney who is part of this effort, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Saginaw School District Board of Education approved a deficit elimination plan Monday afternoon.

The plan trims nearly $5 million from the district’s budget by closing three schools, laying off dozens of district employees, and other spending cuts. The district has a $6 million deficit.

Carlton Jenkins is Saginaw schools superintendent. He says it’s important for the district to have a “sustainable” plan to move forward – one "people can rally around that can rebuild Saginaw Public Schools.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Saginaw School Board is going down to the wire in considering a deficit elimination plan for the district.   The board must approve a plan today or risk losing state funding.

The Saginaw school board has been meeting since noon on a plan to close and consolidate schools, lay off teachers and support staff and cut union wages. Administrators say the plan could save about $4.9 million.

The district has a $6.1 million deficit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Saginaw school board members will vote tomorrow afternoon on a deficit elimination plan.

The plan calls for closing two elementary schools, turning the city's two high schools into seventh through twelfth grade schools and laying off dozens of employees.

The board has been struggling for the past two weeks to come up with a plan to eliminate the district’s $6.1 million deficit. State Education officials are threatening to withhold the district’s March state aid payment unless the district delivers a workable plan by Tuesday.    

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Despite a renewed push, expansion of a state turnaround entity for failing public schools beyond Detroit remains in trouble in the Legislature.

Some majority Republicans say it's too early to know whether the 15-school Education Achievement Authority is working.

Others contend a version of legislation floated this week doesn't guarantee a role for local intermediate school districts to run the worst schools instead. Critics also say there's no promise schools can return to their home districts once being improved.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan-Flint is responding to a growth in its engineering program by investing in high-tech equipment for the students.

The Flint Journal reports that engineering enrollment has doubled since 2008 and now stands at 320 students. To meet the demand, the school has acquired a $75,000 microscope that magnifies objects 60,000 times and expects to get a $100,000 three-dimensional printer. The department also is hiring two new professors.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Saginaw school officials are spending today crunching the district’s budget numbers.

They have two days to come up with a deficit elimination plan that will do away with the district’s $6.1 million deficit over the next two years.

“We’re going to work furiously to make sure we’re going to put forward the best plan that can not only sustain Saginaw public schools but also help us rebuild in a way that would be very vibrant,” Saginaw School Superintendent Carlton Jenkins said after last night’s school board meeting.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

How do you best measure the progress of students in Michigan's classrooms and, by extension, the effectiveness of their teachers?

It's one of the thorniest challenges being debated in Michigan education.

For years, the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) and the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) have been the assessment tools. Now, with the move to the Common Core Standards, it's out with the MEAP and MME and in with the what?

Districts around Michigan are gearing up for an online adaptive assessment test in the spring of 2015.

The Michigan Department of Education says the state has only one option for testing students on the Common Core State Standards for the next three years.

And that option is the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the SBA.

But state lawmakers haven't made that official.

We wondered how districts  are preparing for the SBA or whatever test they're told to administer next year.

William Heath is superintendent of the Morrice Area Schools and the principal at Morrice Junior and Senior High School located in Shiawassee County. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

user krossbow / Flickr

The College of Education at Eastern Michigan University is laying off the majority of its full-time lecturers because of falling enrollment. 

That's according to the Ann Arbor News:

The school has issued layoff notices to 10 of its 11 full-time lecturers, effective in August, according to members of lecturers union. (EMU officials say they issued notices to eight lecturers.) Lecturers, many of whom have held their jobs for several years, are upset by the changes and say the layoffs are unnecessary.

Jann Joseph, EMU's dean of education, says the opposite is true.

"We looked at the data. We looked at the enrollment patterns, and we were not convinced that we would have enough teaching loads and classes for all the people who were currently lecturers," she said. "We are just managing at a time of decline."

The MEAP is out, but which standardized test will Michigan's students be taking next year? It's out of the control of educators and students and in the hands of the Michigan Department of Education. At stake? Million-dollar contracts to nonprofits developing and administering the test. State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer has a closer look.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

The Michigan State Board of Education hopes public school funding will be a top priority for voters when they head to the polls in November.

The board on Tuesday kicked off a series of discussions meant to publicly critique the way the state pays for public education. The talks will continue at its monthly meetings until November.

A set of bipartisan bills moving through the state legislature would reshape Michigan’s teacher evaluation system.

Democratic Rep. Adam Zemke from Ann Arbor sponsored Bill 5224. He spoke with All Things Considered host Jennifer White. 

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

Getting college students out of their classrooms, out of the "academic bubble" and into communities, giving eager students an opportunity to take what they're learning and put it into practice, and, at the same time, hopefully help their communities certainly seem like a win-win for all sides.

And that's why students from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan are permeating the city of Detroit in many ways, through many programs.

We wanted to see what's been learned by all sides in these partnerships.

Jerry Herron, founding dean of the Honors College at Wayne State and UM professor Larry Gant joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Adam Glanzman

University of Michigan students are holding an all-night event later this month to discuss race on campus.

The event, billed as a "Speak Out," is being organized by the United Coalition for Racial Justice, a student organization consisting of students and faculty members.

The event will build on momentum gained by the university's Black Student Union to make the campus more inclusive and diverse.

Annie Green Springs / Flickr

It's called "Mission A2" – short for Michigan Itinerant Shelter System Interdependent  Out of Necessity. This Ann Arbor-based nonprofit is dedicated to building links between homeless and what it calls "homeful" Washtenaw County residents. One of its key activities has been running a series of rotating tent cities for the homeless.

But now, Mission A2 is taking things to a new level. They're partnering to buy land and build a permanent settlement called Homeward Bound, a place for Ann Arbor's homeless to begin the process of rebuilding confidence and their lives.

User: Old Shoe Woman / Flickr

There is a two-bill package making its way through the state Legislature that could impact students in every third-grade classroom in Michigan.

It would hold back third-graders who have poor reading skills. If a child fails a third-grade reading exam, he or she does not move along to fourth grade.

Backers say it can help get a struggling student back on track. Critics say flunking that struggling student is a punishment. State Superintendent Mike Flanagan panned the legislation, saying it should be up to local schools and parents.

Amber Arellano is the executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Saginaw school board members will meet again Tuesday to discuss how to deal with the district’s multi-million dollar deficit.

Saginaw school board members have met three times in the past week to hash out a deficit elimination plan.

The most recent proposal called for laying off employees and closing three schools, including Saginaw High School.

Parents and students have attacked the plan and the board for considering it.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The rising cost of college textbooks is leading more students to opt out of purchasing them altogether.

A new report suggests many students are missing out on some educational opportunities by not buying textbooks.

Ethan Senack is a higher education associate with the Public Interest Research Group, which wrote the report.

He says the good news is that students are ready for alternatives to the traditional textbook model.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, Governor Rick Snyder made good on his promise to boost preschool spending.

Today he got a chance to talk to some parents, teachers and school administrators in Grand Rapids about the proposal.

About a dozen four-year-olds sat in a circle around Gov. Snyder. He read them "Snowmen at Work," a children’s tale about what snowmen do for a living.

“Are they in school just like you?” Snyder asked the group. 

"Yeah!” they replied in unison.

“You have fun at school?"

"Yeah!”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Saginaw school board has put off a decision on the district’s financial future.   

A few hundred people attended a meeting last night on a controversial plan that includes closing one of the district’s high schools.

“My pressure’s going up just by the thought of Saginaw High closing,” said Saginaw city councilman Norman Braddock, which drew cheers from the audience.

Speaker after speaker berated school district officials for considering a plan that would merge two high schools, close two other schools and lay off many teachers and other school employees.  

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Update: The office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued the following statement to Michigan Radio," After a thorough review of Mr. Sanchez-Ronquillo's case. The agency has granted a one-year Stay of Removal." We are updating our earlier story now. 

Charlie is seven years old, a second-grader at an Ann Arbor elementary school. Over the last week, his picture has been all over facebook. It's also on flyers and email as his church and parents at his school try to organize around his family.

Read the updated story at State of Opportunity.

 

Read or listen to the entire story at State of Opportunity.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Saginaw school board is expected to vote tonight on a deficit elimination plan.

The plan calls for major changes to the district, which is facing a multimillion dollar deficit.

The state education department is threatening to withhold the district’s February state aid payment unless a new deficit elimination plan is submitted by Monday.

Flint Community Schools

There is no doubt that teachers in the Flint Community Schools will be paid through the end of the school year.

That's according to Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins.

Watkins said the state approved the Flint school district's deficit elimination plan today.

The district will get a $2.3 million advance on its state aid payments, and Watkins said the state authorized the district to borrow $3.6 million.

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