steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder is urging calm ahead of Michigan's release of the lowest-performing public schools, saying there is a "misperception" that schools will be closed.

He said Friday that Michigan is required to publish the bottom 5 percent list by next week, but he told The Associated Press it is wrong to assume listed schools will receive closure notices.

In their report, Mike Wilkinson and Chastity Pratt Dawsey call school choice Detroit's new white flight
flickr user frank juarez /

The state board of education wants more input on the fates of Michigan schools deemed “failing.”

That’s what some board members signaled in a statement released this week.

It called on the State School Reform/Redesign Office to work with the Michigan Department of Education “to provide assistance to local districts to succeed at turning around their own schools and to keep the public fully informed of decisions affecting their local schools.”

According to Bowens, the report "does not adequately reflect the realities of today."
morgueFile user kconnors /

Anyone driving between Detroit and Grosse Pointe will be struck by the stark change that happens when you cross the border at Alter Road.

A report from a New Jersey non-profit group has declared that the economic divide between Detroit schools and Grosse Pointe schools is the worst in the nation. 

The report from the group EdBuild says nearly half the households in Detroit's school district live in poverty. In Grosse Pointe, that number is 6.5%. 

It also found that 82% of Detroit's public school students are African-American. In Grosse Pointe schools, it's 16%.

When you go to vote this fall, you'll have a chance to weigh in on education.

Amidst mounting calls for the state to do a better job educating its students, state Board of Education candidates are up for election, as well as trustees and governors of Michigan's major universities. 

Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry joined us today to talk about the myriad issues at stake in the upcoming education races. 

A 2014 Impala driving off the line at Oshawa Assembly.
General Motors

The Next Idea

Around the world, Michigan is known as a state that makes things. And the way we make things is about to undergo a massive shift – so massive, in fact, that experts are calling it the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.

Packing up school supplies.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than a thousand backpacks are on their way to Flint school children.

This past week, volunteers unloaded a moving van filled with backpacks.

Rhetta Hunyady, with the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, says they want to get these much-needed school supplies into the hands of children whose parents might not otherwise be able to afford to buy them what they need for school.

“And to let Flint kids know that people here in our community and outside of our community really care about who they are and helping them to be successful,” says Hunyady.

Flickr user alamosbasement/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Michigan’s School Reform Office has warned failing schools that they could be shut down by next June – more than 100 of them.

Erin Einhorn, editor at Chalkbeat Detroit, published an article breaking down the effects of closing schools with poor testing results, including more than 40 in Detroit.

Using recent state exam scores as their metric, the office will inform each school by the end of 2016 if their doors will close.

Michigan plans steps to close failing schools

Aug 16, 2016
Motown31 / wikimedia commons

The Michigan school reform office plans to put chronically low-performing schools on notice that they might be closed by next June.

Natasha Baker is with the state school reform office and she says low performing schools that have improved should be looked at as an example and will stay open. 

"[Improving schools] make the necessary decisions to make sure that their schools can turn around quickly, and I think Michigan would be better off if we looked at those success stories," Baker says.

Baker says getting kids into better schools is the priority.

Flickr user Jobs For Felons Hub/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When you think of "prison inmates," what's the first thing that comes to mind?

For many, it might be the face of someone convicted for a high-profile, brutal crime.

For others, it may be the image of some vague, homogenous mass of "bad" people who are best locked away. 

Judy Patterson Wenzel begs to differ.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fourteen Michigan schools received a total of $40 million in the fifth and final round of federal School Improvement Grants. The grant program was authorized under the 51-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The ESEA is being replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the grants will not continue.

EAA chancellor Veronica Conforme.
via Education Achievement Authority

Does the Education Achievement Authority still owe the Detroit Public Schools about $12 million?

The two districts seem to have distinctly different ideas about that, in what’s become a very odd dispute between the two state-run school districts.

And for now at least, it seems the state is unwilling to step in and help resolve the dispute.

The EAA took over fifteen former DPS schools when it launched as an attempt at a stateside turnaround school district in 2012.

Terrapin Flyer / Flickr

The first day of school probably isn't the best day to miss, but that's what plenty of students in Ypsilanti experienced on Monday.

Holmes Elementary School and Ford Early Learning Center in Ypsilanti both started school last Monday, but roughly a third of students were absent. 

Both schools have waivers from the state to start earlier than September as a part of the balanced calendar, which is more effective than longer summer vacations.

Yen Azzaro is with Ypsilanti Community Schools and she says the schools gave parents plenty of notice for the start of school.

Dan Bach / Flickr -

Michigan State University and Wayne State University have joined a growing list of schools that are no longer requiring college algebra to earn a degree. Engineering students, and the like, will still be required to take plenty of math, but if you are a history or an English major who doesn't like algebra, then you can rest easier.  

Flickr user Dave Conner/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Business leaders of all kinds have talked about needing more skilled workers in their ranks. But they’re not the only ones. Law enforcement agencies also require more skilled employees.

Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma recently issued a report calling for additional support for community colleges. Those schools are home to most of Michigan’s police academies.

Apple with books
Creative Commons

The CEO appointed by the state to take over four low-performing East Detroit schools can start working, but with some limits.

Under an agreement in court Thursday, CEO Gary Jensen can act as a consultant in the district, but he doesn't have authority over decisions on academics, curriculum or finances.

The state's decision to hire a CEO has faced months of backlash from teachers and administrators in East Detroit schools, who say they're already working to turn things around in the struggling district.

Open Books

A state panel will be named soon to look into improving Michigan’s dismal literacy rate. Governor Rick Snyder signed an executive order Wednesday creating the new PreK-12 Literacy Commission.

Michigan has one of the nation’s worst literacy rates. It’s ranked 40th when it comes to student literacy in the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Allen Academy is unimstakably a former Catholic church.
Allen Academy / via Facebook

How do you decide if a so-called “failing” school should shut down, and is there a right way to do it?

Three Detroit charter schools shut their doors forever at the end of this school year.

One of them, Allen Academy, was one of the city’s very first charters. And its closure leaves a wake of upheaval.

"The kids are going to be better off"

The ornate, red-brick complex on Detroit’s west side is unmistakably an old Catholic church.

The Saint Theresa of Avila parish closed in the 1980s. Since 1999, it’s been Allen Academy.

“When we defer [capital expenditure] or investment in a school district, we’re knowingly ensuring that our students won’t keep up with their peers across the state or the country or the world,” Saunders said.
wikimedia user motown31 /


Michigan school boards are facing a dearth of candidates in the November election. Nearly 1,600 seats will open up in 540 districts across the state. Yet, in the 2014 elections, approximately 70 seats remained empty. Why are people so reluctant to serve on their school boards?

Pre school classroom


For working parents with young children, child care is not a luxury. It's a necessity. But for many low-income families in Michigan, it's out of reach.

Consider this: it costs around $10,000 a year to send a toddler to high-quality child care.

That is almost as much as it costs to send a kid to college at a public university.

A student inmate reads in class
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

For a convicted felon, getting a shot at an education might begin in prison.

Typically that means job training or a GED.

But a new program offers something more often associated with quiet campuses and ivy-covered walls.

The Calvin Prison Initiative is bringing the liberal arts and theology to inmates at a west Michigan prison.

MDOC Spokesperson Chris Gautz told us that while it was “a very serious situation,” the events of September 10 at Kinross Correctional Facility don’t meet the definition of a “riot.”
flickr user Thomas Hawk /

There are 2.2 million people now incarcerated in American prisons. 

Each year, hundreds of thousands of those inmates are released.

One of the most important ways of keeping them from re-offending and winding up back in prison is education. 

College graduates
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

According to a new report, it’s taking Michigan students more than four years to get a four-year degree.

The state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information has released its first report on postsecondary success rates for students at Michigan public universities and community colleges.

Credit Flickr user Herald Post/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0


Who are Michigan's homeless students? And how does being homeless affect their education?

These are crucial questions for the state, as education plays an important role in homeless students' ability to escape the chains of poverty and homelessness.

Joshua Cowen is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. He recently published a study examining these important questions. His study reveals exactly who Michigan's homeless students are and where they come from. It also reveals how homelessness affects a students performance in schools.

Photo courtesy of Sean Ahlquist, University of Michigan

The Next Idea

For a child on the autism spectrum, there can be challenges to learning and engaging with the world.

Our latest contributors to The Next Idea are Sean Ahlquist and Leah Ketcheson. They're on a team from the University of Michigan that's developing exciting new technologies to help autistic children tackle those challenges.

Dorothy Aldridge and Sylvia Morgan in front of an exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum​ in Memphis​ showcasing Detroit activist Viola Liuzzo, who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while driving black voting rights activists between Selma and Montgom
Eric L. Hood

How do you get students to really appreciate history?

One powerful way is to get those students out of the classroom and take them to historic sites, bringing that history off the page and making it real.

That's the idea behind the Freedom Tour. 

According to the International Dyslexia Association, as much as 20% of Americans have some symptoms of dyslexia.
pixabay user picjumbo /

By the time they leave kindergarten, kids are supposed to have learned the building blocks of literacy. 

They should be able to connect letters to sounds and spell simple words like "cat" and "book."

But for an estimated one in five children with dyslexia, those basic skills aren't so easy to master.

Flickr user Brian Turner/Flickr

A group says free speech is threatened on college campuses.

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, rates colleges and universities based on how they restrict free speech.

Its mission is “to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities.”

That includes protecting freedom of speech, freedom of the press, due process and more.

Shelby Emmett, Legal and Legislative Policy Advocate for FIRE, said she views the group as an “empowerment organization for students.”

DPS EM Steven Rhodes, center, takes notes at a meeting with Detroit's elected school board.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools’ board of education met for the final time ever on Thursday.

The board has very little to do now as part of the "old,” debt-ridden DPS.

It will be replaced by a “new” district, run by a “transition manager”—currently the district’s last emergency manager, Judge Steven Rhodes.

Gov. Snyder just signed bills setting up this bankruptcy-style restructuring just last week.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons

A long-awaited, state-sponsored study has put a minimum price tag on what it takes to educate the average Michigan public school student.

The Michigan Education Finance Study set out to answer a simple question: How much money does it take to educate a student that’s proficient by state standards, every year?

Finding the answer, it turns out, is complicated.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Three Michigan colleges will participate in a program to give inmates a chance at higher education.

Jackson College, Delta College and Mott Community College were selected to participate in The U.S. Department of Education's Second Chance Pell Pilot Program. 

It hopes to give prisoners a college education.

Chris Gautz is a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections and he says Michigan has been on the forefront of educating its inmates.