Franca Grassi, Marc Grassi, Mina Grassi and Nikki Rittenour.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

Five-year-old Franca Grassi is only looking for two things in a kindergarten: She doesn't want to be forced to nap, and she wants to see her mom every day. Franca's parents, on the other hand, are a lot more discerning.

“We actually have a google doc spreadsheet of pros and cons of some of the schools,” says Nikki Rittenour from the family’s long, wooden dining room table.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers have approved loaning more money to schools facing serious financial problems.

Long term, low interest emergency loans help school districts restructure and pay down their debt.

But the state’s Emergency Loan Board already offered more than $48 million dollars in loans to school districts, almost all the money state law allowed. Now the cap has been lifted to $70 million.

MSU officials expect fewer international students

Jul 8, 2015
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University officials are expecting fewer international students this fall after years of growth. 

Jim Cotter, MSU's director of admissions, says applications for international students are down by 4.5%. 

He says that fewer Chinese students sent in applications this year, which contributes greatly to the overall reduction. 

"China is our greatest international feeder, so when that number declined, it made a more significant impact," Cotter said. 

Oakland University Campus
Oakland University

State lawmakers could consider adding new penalties for universities that hike tuition above the state’s cap on tuition increases. This year, lawmakers set that cap at 3.2 percent.

Oakland University this week decided to join Eastern Michigan University in blowing past the cap. OU will hike tuition 8.48 percent, and EMU will raise tuition 7.8 percent.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After more than two years with an interim superintendent, Flint schools may have a permanent leader.

On Tuesday night, the school board voted 5 to 4 to offer Bilal Kareem Tawwab the top job at Flint schools.

Tawwab worked at Detroit Public Schools for 18 years. Right now he’s an assistant superintendent responsible for overseeing more than 40 of the Detroit district’s lowest-performing schools.

Oakland University Campus
Oakland University

Oakland University is raising tuition by more than 8%, one of the biggest increases by a state school this year.

This means Oakland is busting a state-imposed, 3.2% cap on tuition increases.

Because of that, the school gives up about $1 million in state incentives for schools that stay below that cap.

But the tuition hike should bring in $12 million for the school next year, says Oakland University President George Hynd.

Albion Public Schools wants other districts to stop sending buses to Albion to pick up school of choice kids. Credit Bill McChesney / Creative Commons Edit | Remove


The superintendent of Albion Public Schools wants nearby districts to stop sending buses to Albion to pick up school-of-choice students.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Saginaw School Board may pick a new superintendent next month.

The district’s interim superintendent is retiring, in part, because of frustration with the board.    

Kelley Peatross came out of retirement 8 months ago to lead the district.  But she says the “antics” of some individuals have made it difficult for her to continue in the position. 

Brianna and Alyssa Foster have been to three different schools since 2013.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio


This fall, it’s looking like Alyssa and Brianna Foster might switch to a new school.


It’s a pretty common experience in Detroit, where students switch schools 2.5 times more frequently than kids in the rest of the state.

Manufacturing Tech Expo at College of DuPage 2014 4

Michigan has a teacher shortage, at least when it comes to vocational programs.

Education administrators say it's creating "emergency situations" in some parts of the state, especially rural areas. 

Will Folsom / Creative Commons

A new study shows the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship has "significantly" increased college enrollment and graduation rates.

The study says 48% of Promise-eligible students complete a post-secondary program within six years after high school. 

That's a 12% increase compared to pre-Promise students.

Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan has released the results from its campus climate survey on sexual misconduct.

And while the vast majority of students said they feel safe on campus, 11% of students had an unwanted sexual experience in the last 12 months.

user jdurham / morguefile

The class of 2017 at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and Consortium College Prep High School has their work cut out for them.

The two Detroit schools chartered under the American Promise network are the first in the city to require students to pass at least one Advanced Placement course in order to graduate. Couple this with the expectation that all students gain admittance to at least two post-secondary institutions, and these kids have a challenging road ahead.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

Michigan’s top education official says the state should help Detroit Public Schools pay down its massive debt.

The governor and state lawmakers are discussing ways to turn around the district - which is almost $500 million in debt. The district spends $53 million dollars a year on debt service.


Outgoing state Superintendent Mike Flanagan says paying off the district’s debt would free up tens of thousands of dollars for every classroom in Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school board has decided it needs more time to pick its “preferred” candidate for the district’s soon-to-be vacant superintendent job.

The board heard from the two finalists for the position last night.

Bilal Kareem Tawwab is an assistant superintendent in the Detroit Public School district. Errick Greene is an executive with an education consulting businesses.  Greene is also the son of one of Flint’s school board members.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school board may pick the district’s new superintendent this evening.

Larry Watkins is currently Flint's interim school superintendent. His decision to retire prompted the district to launch a national search for his replacement.

The school board is scheduled to hold a final round of interviews with the two remaining finalists for the superintendent job.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Last summer Benton Harbor schools won a three-year, $18 million grant to improve student success. But the district is having major financial problems.

Now the district says it doesn’t have the staff it needs to put the grant money to work, so it’s giving up the grant after one year. The district hopes to be able to get the grant back for the 2016-17 school year.

Eastern Michigan University isn't the only school in Michigan bucking funding incentives
flickr user krossbow /

Eastern Michigan University will raise tuition by 7.8%, one of the biggest recent hikes by a public university in the state.  

The school is exceeding a state-imposed 3.2% cap on tuition hikes, which means the school is giving up a $1 million incentive payment it would have received if it had stayed below the cap.  

In-state students will now pay $10,417 in tuition and fees.

EMU says it's spending a lot of money on building improvements and repairs, hiring new faculty, and creating new academic programs for health-care workers, like a physician assistant program.  

Mr.TinDC /

The Michigan Senate passed a pair of bills (SB 209 and SB 211) this week that promote teaching of civics principles from the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Michigan Constitution for all public school students.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, is intended to fill holes in civics education that Colbeck says leave many Americans unable to demonstrate basic knowledge about how government works.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

Today’s the deadline for teachers and students to tell the state how Michigan's new standardized test went.

The test is called the M-STEP, and students took it for the first time this year.

Benjamin Chun / Flickr creative commons

The Ann Arbor school board is rethinking how it deals with students who opt out of state tests.

The board is scrapping a controversial proposal to remove kids from magnet schools if they opt out of state tests. An online petition protesting that move got more than 700 signatures.  

jimmiehomeschoolmom / flickr

The incoming state superintendent says he wants to cut down on the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests.

Brian Whiston answered questions from lawmakers on Wednesday for the first time. He says the state may need to move away from the brand new M-STEP exam.

Alberto G. / Flickr creative commons

As the Ann Arbor school board considers cracking down on students who opt out of state tests, we’re now getting a clearer picture of why the board is so worried about the “opt out” movement.

The Michigan Department of Education says it could cut a portion of any district’s federal funding, if a single school in that district misses a test-participation requirement for four years in a row.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a push to recall the head of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

Steve Conn has been on the job since January.  But the DFT president has ruffled a lot of feathers with his confrontational style. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor’s school board is working to please Michigan’s Department of Treasury so it can get an emergency loan.

The school board approved plans to let Berrien County’s intermediate school district run its business office Tuesday night. Plante Moran currently runs the office. But the switch to the county district is expected to save around $125,000 a year.

School lunch line
Tim Lauer / Creative Commons

Michigan is getting $5.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help feed kids this summer.

The grant will fund a pilot program that lets families use electronic benefits cards to purchase healthy food in their communities.

Kyle Guerrant with the Michigan Department of Education said one in five children in the state  doesn't have enough to eat.

"Approximately 50% of a student's calories are received in the school environment," he said. "We know that need is still there in the summertime for many of  our students and families."

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The emergency manager of the Highland Park schools organized a community forum which turned out to be a carnival of surrounding schools. They set up tables and handed out flyers, trying to entice Highland Park’s students. That’s  because the charter school operating the district is closing the high school.

57-year-old Christina Lumpkin heads to work at DTE Energy.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio


Back in March, I introduced you to 57-year-old Christina Lumpkin and her family. At the time, they were navigating a crisis. Lumpkins’s daughter, Maya, had lost her job at McDonalds, and the family didn’t have any money coming in.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Parents and students in Highland Park will get a chance to hear what options they have for next year now that the high school is closing.

A couple weeks ago, the state-appointed emergency manager of Highland Parks schools announced the district would be a K-8 district only. He says there are just too few students to make it feasible.

EMU faces controversy over resurrected Huron logo

Jun 6, 2015
Eastern Michigan University Eagle
Kenneth Bailey / Wikimedia Commons

Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice were at Eastern Michigan University this week to meet with President Susan Martin and a Native American student group over the school's continued use of its Hurons logo.

The retired logo depicts the painted face of a Native American with feathers.