Education

Education
3:40 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Crawling to protest the closing of Albion High School

Community activist Bobby Holley is crawling, on his hands and knees, from Battle Creek to Albion. He's protesting the closing of Albion High School.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A community activist is making a unique protest, in hopes of rallying people in Albion to fight the closure of their high school.

With a kiss from one of his supporters, Bobby Holley started crawling.   He intends to crawl, on his hands and knees, the 30 miles from Battle Creek to Albion.   

He says he wants to rally the people of Albion, so they will fight the decisions to close their high school

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Education
6:23 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Buena Vista fails to pay teachers, after all the controversy

It was a payless payday after all, for teachers in the Buena Vista School District on Friday.

After a two-week shutdown of the district, teachers returned to the job on Monday.

State officials had said they would oversee how the troubled district spent its state aid.

David Crim is with the Michigan Education Association.

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Education
3:14 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Michigan public schools could get a funding boost

School work
Jane M Sawyer morgue file

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.

Education
12:44 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Are we allowing poorly performing charter schools to expand in Michigan?

Detroit Public Schools is offering 45 schools to charter companies.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Education Trust-Midwest, "a statewide nonpartisan policy, research, and advocacy organization," released an analysis on the 32 charter schools set to open in Michigan this fall.

They say while some newly approved charter schools are run by operators with a strong track record, many others are run by operators that are “chronically low-performing.”

According to ETM’s David Zeman, the data demonstrates that “Michigan needs to seriously consider holding charter authorizers more accountable for school quality.”

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Education
9:32 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Why Ann Arbor may lay off teachers for the first time ever

We all thought districts like Ann Arbor were safe from massive cuts. We were wrong.
Ann Arbor Public Schools http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/academics/files/pre3.jpg

In case you've been living under a rock the last couple of months, many Michigan schools are in financial crisis.

It's not just separate outbreaks. It's an epidemic. Buena Vista had to shut down for two weeks when they ran out of money to pay staff. Albion is closing its high school.

About 50 districts are on the state's financial watch list (as in, watch-out-these-guys-could-go-under).

Now, Ann Arbor, the artsy cosmopolitan Disney Land of public school systems, is feeling woozy.

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Education
7:39 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

32 new Michigan charter schools set to open in fall 2013

U of M's two-year study will look at charters schools across the state.
user: jdurham morguefile

This fall, 32 new charter schools are scheduled to open in Michigan.

To check out where these schools will be located, look at this Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) link.

According to MAPSA, there are currently 232 charter public schools in Michigan with over 100,000 enrolled students.

This year, there number of charter schools opening is due in part to a controversial law that lifted restrictions on charter schools.

More from MAPSA:

Michigan law allows new public schools to be chartered by state universities, community colleges, intermediate school districts and local school districts.

“Michigan’s system of charter school authorizing and oversight is considered a model around the country, and as we look at the new schools opening this year, we can see why that is,” [MAPSA President Dan Quisenberry] said. “Once again, the authorizers have done an excellent job of making sure that only the best, most promising schools will be allowed to open. You’ll notice that we aren’t seeing the supposed ‘flood’ of new charter schools that some critics feared. The authorizers aren't going to charter any new school that doesn’t offer a high-quality, innovative approach.”

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Stateside
5:13 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Is teacher merit pay what's best for Michigan?

Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

An interview with professor Jennifer Rice King and Superintendent Scott Moore

As the 2012-2013 school year winds down, one of the issues occupying the attention of state lawmakers is teacher pay. In essence: what should determine teacher salaries in Michigan?

A state House panel has approved a plan to tie teachers' pay to student performance. But, as Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher told us, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they're worried the bill would strip away local control.

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Education
7:30 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Despite state takeover, special education problems linger for Muskegon Heights schools

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Listen to the on air version of this story.

New reports show special education students in Muskegon Heights didn’t get all the services they should have this year. The company that runs the state’s first all-charter public school district is working to correct the problems.

Problems with charter company’s handling of special ed services

Federal law and state regulations outline the rules that are supposed to make sure kids with special needs still get a fair education.

Michigan’s Department of Education found more than a dozen ways the new Muskegon Heights charter district violated those rules, affecting a couple hundred special education students.

“In my opinion this was probably the worst delivery of special education services I’ve seen in my career,” said Norm Kittleson, a former special education teacher at Muskegon Heights. He’s been teaching for 15 years.

Kittleson started teaching a small class of students with learning disabilities and emotional issues at Muskegon Heights last October.

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Education
5:13 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Performance pay for teachers moves forward in state House

The state House.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

A state House panel has approved a plan to tie teachers’ pay to student performance. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they’re worried the bill would strip away local control.

Bill supporters say just because someone has been teaching for a long time, that doesn’t mean they’re a great teacher. They say educators should be paid more if their students are making progress, and less if they’re not.

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Stateside
4:40 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Fitting a liberal arts education into our future

Dean Terrence McDonald
umich.edu

An interview with Dean Terrence McDonald.

Here's a question that colleges and universities across the country are grappling with: how does "liberal arts" fit into our futures?

We hear more and more talk about stem courses and careers: science, technology, engineering and math.

There's lots of talk about the fact that the U.S. needs people with these degrees to compete in a global economy.

So what will it take for liberal arts programs to matter to students who want to graduate with degrees that will secure a job that pays?

Those are some of the questions being tackled this week at a major conversation involving more than 50 deans at large research universities around the country coming to the University of Michigan for an unprecedented national conversation.

The focus -"The Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Research University Today: Histories, Challenges, Futures."

The Dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan, Dean Terrence McDonald was kind enough to join us in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

3:31 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Activist to crawl on hands and knees to Albion High School

Lead in text: 
49 schools districts in Michigan are in the red. Albion is not one of them. To avoid the red numbers, the district cut their high school.
Community activist Bobby Holley plans to leave Battle Creek Central High School at 10 a.m. May 28 and crawl on hands and knees to Albion High School to protest that school's closure and rally community support for the school. Holley said it could take him two days to crawl from Battle Creek, through Marshall, and to Albion.
Education
1:28 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

77 percent of students return to troubled Buena Vista school district

Sarah Alvarez Michigan Radio

The Buena Vista School District reopened on Monday after closing for two weeks due to a financial crisis. 

Of the 400 students that attended the school district before the closure, 77.5 percent have returned, according to Lindsay Knake at MLive:

Superintendent Deborah Hunter-Harvill said the there are 339 students back in school this week, including 151 students at Doerr Child Development Center, 97 students at Phoenix Science & Technology Center and 91 students at the high school.

"We have to keep working to receive high school students back," she said. 

The high school had about 160 students prior to the school closings, and is missing 40 to 50 students including the 25 graduating seniors, Hunter-Harvill said. There are 29 students missing at Doerr and 10 missing at Phoenix.

"Come back to us," Hunter-Harvill asked students at a community meeting on Tuesday, May 21. "Believe in us."

Knake also reports that five employees who were laid off were recalled:

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Education
10:29 am
Wed May 22, 2013

New student safety hotline aims to stop school violence before it happens

user BES Photos Flickr

State officials say students need new and better ways to report threats of school violence. Officials plan to create a new anonymous tip-line that would include a mobile app for tech-savvy teens.

The program would let students send in tips by phone, text message, email, or the mobile app - which accepts photos and videos.

They call “OK-2-SAY”.

Michigan State Police Director Kriste Etue says it’s crucial to remove as many barriers as possible for teens with possibly life-saving information.

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Stateside
4:44 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

New unified school district superintendent in Ypsilanti speaks

Scott Menzel
annarbor.com

An interview with Scott Menzel, superintendent of the new unified district Ypsilanti Community Schools.

The litany of school districts in serious money trouble is long and growing longer: Buena Vista, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Pontiac, Albion.

Now we hear that Hazel Park schools are broke, according to the Superintendent, who blames an "unexpected drop" in student enrollment.

Close to fifty public school districts across our state are facing deep deficits. Buena Vista actually closed down for two weeks while scrambling to find enough money to keep things running.

Other districts have implemented layoffs and program cuts.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And some say Michigan has too many school districts, and that consolidating some of these districts is a prudent choice.

Last year, the state encouraged Ypsilanti and nearby Willow Run schools to consolidate.

After tough decisions regarding layoffs, staff restructuring and closing buildings, the consolidation will happen July 1.

Scott Menzel is the superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and, come July 1, he will be the superintendent of the new unified district: Ypsilanti Community Schools.

He joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:00 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Consolidation is a viable option for some Michigan school districts, but not all

Is consolidation something that will work for struggling school districts?
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

An interview with Eric Scoresone, an economist at Michigan State University, and Michelle Richard, a senior consultant at Public Sector Consultants in Lansing.

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."

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Stateside
4:58 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Current Buena Vista teacher and former student is hopeful for the district

Tory Jackson is the men's basketball coach at Buena Vista high school.
Twitter

An interview with Tory Jackson on the future of Buena Vista.

In the Buena Vista school district, teachers are back in the business of teaching and students are back in the business of learning for the first time in two weeks.

It has been two weeks since the Buena Vista school board laid off all but three staff members and closed down the schools, because there was just no money to keep things running.

It took a new deficit-elimination plan and the state releasing three months of state aid that had been withheld to recoup funding for a program for incarcerated youth. The district had stopped running the program, but had not notified Lansing.

It's convoluted and confusing, but in all of these news stories and headlines there is one crystal-clear reality: students are suffering.

So are their teachers, who actually offered to work without pay.

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Education
10:58 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Buena Vista schools reopen, but financial future uncertain

Buena Vista's website announcing school opens today.

Students and teachers in the Buena Vista School District are back in the classroom today.

After a two-week closure of the Saginaw County district, all three schools in the district opened their doors Monday morning. To make up for lost instruction time, the school year will now end on June 21, instead of the scheduled June 13, MLive reported.

The district shut down after the state pulled some $400,000 in misappropriated funding.

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Education
1:22 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

The 15 Michigan schools running the biggest deficits

Carstens Elementary-Middle School in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Bake sales, magazine subscriptions and car washes ... it seems school systems are perennially low on money.

But with one Michigan school system closing its doors before the school year ends, others consolidating to save money, and still another giving up on its high school; Michigan schools seem to be in an especially bad spot.

Blame gets spread around.

It's the economy - mismanagement - declining enrollment - excessive funding cuts - high retiree costs - or cumbersome union contracts.

Pick whatever reason you like best, it doesn't change the fact that many Michigan schools are in trouble.

The State's Deputy Superintendent of Schools wrote this in a recent memo to local school officials:

"... we have seen a marked increase in the number of districts that have experienced a deficit fund balance. The magnitude of some of these districts seems almost insurmountable."

Let's give it a little perspective.

Over the last decade, here are the number of schools that ran a deficit in a given school year.

Michigan had 742 school districts in 2002-2003. Today, the state has 805 districts.

Of the 805 districts today, as the chart shows, 49 are running deficits.

Here are the fifteen schools in Michigan with the biggest projected budget deficits as a percentage of their expected overall revenue. It should be noted that these numbers could change as the school year advances.

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Education
12:52 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Michigan high school bans baby bump photos from yearbook

A pregnant couple.
mich.gov Michigan Government

Two teens were banned from showing their pregnant bellies in yearbook photos, the Associated Press reported:

A Michigan school district has barred two pregnant students from showing their baby bumps in the high school yearbook — a decision made to keep with the state's abstinence-based approach to sex education, according to the superintendent.

Deonna Harris says she was pulled aside this week by a yearbook staff member and told her photo would have to be re-taken because the previous shot displayed Harris' pregnant belly.

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Education
12:15 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

'Massive' teacher layoffs planned in Pontiac, Flint

A school in Flint, Mich.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Flint School District is planning over one hundred layoffs, the Flint Journal reported.

139 teachers and faculty in Flint will receive pink slips, with the staff cuts going into effect the day after school gets out on June 10.

While the interim superintendent emphasized the possible rehiring of many of these teachers at the end of June, the school district’s deficit reduction plan calls for firing 150 teachers over the next three years.

The Flint School District has three years to chop away at a $15.6-million deficit. If the deficit isn’t eliminated by their 2015 deadline, the district could lose state funding.

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