Education

Education
8:00 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Patience please, Muskegon Heights school leaders “building the airplane as we fly it”

Don Weatherspoon answers questions from Mary Valentine (top right) after a school board meeting following the repeal of Public Act 4.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

This story is the fourth in a four-part series about how things are going so far in Michigan's first fully privatized public school district. Find part one here, part two here, and part three here.

The on-air version of the story. An expanded online version is below.

Students in Muskegon Heights are going through a lot of changes this year, because the entire school district was converted to a charter school system. After tackling some tough issues in the first half of the school year, the operators of the charter school system want the public to give them a full school year to put the changes in place.

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Education
8:00 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Many Muskegon Heights students dig the charter company’s curriculum: “It’s fun.”

Students at Edgewood Elementary School learn about philosophy through Mosaica's Paragon curriculum.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

This story is the third in a four-part series about how things are going so far in Michigan's first fully privatized public school district. Find part one here, part two here and part four here.

The decision to convert the Muskegon Heights Public School district into a charter school district was a financial one. But the officials who run the new system hope to improve academics too.

The on-air version of the story. An expanded online version is below.

From the outside, Edgewood Elementary School looks and sounds the same as any other year.

But this year, Mosaica Education, the charter company that’s running the school, hopes a new curriculum, longer school day and year round classes will improve student success.

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Education
8:00 am
Thu January 3, 2013

"I couldn't accept that." Why Muskegon Heights teachers quit and how it impacts students

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

This story is the second in a four-part series about how things are going so far in Michigan's first fully privatized public school district. Find part one here, part three here, and part four here.

The on-air version of the story. An expanded online version is below.

At least one in four teachers at the new Muskegon Heights school district have already quit the charter school this year. That’s after an emergency manager laid off all the former public school teachers in Muskegon Heights because he didn’t have enough money to open school in the fall. That means there have been a lot of new, adult faces in the district.

Students say the high teacher turnover has affected them and top school administrators say it has held back academic achievement this school year.

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Education
5:43 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Birmingham Schools Face Lawsuit Over Fees

A lawsuit challenges fees for items like padlocks
OliviaBurns MorgueFile.com

A lawsuit filed against Birmingham Public Schools says the district is violating state policy which bars mandatory special fees.  

Gym clothes, combination locks, and student planners are all common purchases for back to school shoppers.

But the lawsuit, brought by parents of a sixth grader in Birmingham, says the district cannot require these annual purchases. 

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Education
8:00 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Muskegon Heights students hope for less "chaos" as they return to class today

Muskegon Heights schools emergency financial manager Don Weatherspoon (right) talks to Muskegon Area Intermediate School Board members. Without the MAISD's help, Weatherspoon said “we would be probably still be fighting our way out of the mud."
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Muskegon Heights students are heading back to class today to begin the second half of what’s been a very turbulent school year.

This story is the first in a four-part series about how things are going so far in Michigan's first fully privatized public school district. Find part two here, part three here, and part four here.  

Muskegon Heights Public School Academy mini series. Feature 1 of 4.

Old district “implodes” after years-long financial problems

The school board in Muskegon Heights battled a budget deficit for at least six years in a row. They gave up the fight a year ago and asked the state to just take over. 

“The system that was in place imploded,” said Don Weatherspoon, the guy the state eventually sent in late April to be the emergency manager.

"Enrollment went down, costs went up, they borrowed more than they could pay back; you’re on a collision course with disaster and that’s what happened," Weatherspoon explained. Student enrollment is a big factor in how much money a school district receives from the state.

“Everything that you can think of basically broke down. Discipline, learning, record-keeping, financial accounting, etc,” Weatherspoon said.

By May, Weatherspoon discovered the district is more than $16 million dollars in debt; so much debt it couldn’t afford to open school in the fall.

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Education
3:54 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

With strike threat looming, Wayne State and professors talk through the holidays

With the threat of a faculty strike looming, both sides in Wayne State University contract talks say they'll continue working toward a deal.

The two sides have met over the holidays, and additional bargaining sessions scheduled. In the meantime, the faculty contract that expired last summer has been extended once again, this time through mid-February.

Talks “made some progress” on Thursday—but not enough, says Charles Parrish, a political science professor and lead negotiator for the faculty union

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Education
5:22 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

UM's futuristic printers can print out 3D objects

Designing the digital model
UM3DLab YouTube.com

Some printers at the University of Michigan can make unusual prints.

Machines  in the University's 3D Lab can produce three-dimensional sculptures, car parts and even model human body parts. A student or faculty member can design a model, take it to the U-of-M's 3-D lab and leave hours later with their object in hand.

Here's how it works:

A student or faculty member designs a model on a computer. Technicians send the design to the refrigerator-sized machine, then a mechanical arm applies layers of material in cross-sections that slowly build up the model.

The machines layer plaster or heated plastic models as large as basketballs.

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Education
7:59 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Michigan Science Center opens in Detroit

There are tons of hands-on exhibits, presentations and interactive games for kids—and adults—at the new Michigan Science Center, which opened its doors to the public for the first time Wednesday.

The former Detroit Science Center had been shut down since it was on the brink of financial collapse last year.

But Ann Arbor businessman and Republican political heavyweight Ron Weiser bought the science center’s assets. He’s now sold them to the Michigan Science Center, a new non-profit.

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Education
10:28 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Improving the winter driving skills of Michigan teens

Winter driving can be hazardous for even the most experienced drivers. It can be esspecially dangerous for teenagers.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A website is launching just in time to help parents monitor and improve winter driving skills for teen drivers.

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute created the site called - "safer driving for teens dot org".

“This promotes parents and teens communication with each other and clarity and what it is that’s expected. And some consequences…what will happen if the restrictions are not met,” says Jean Shope.  She’s with the Institute.

Education
10:18 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Declining enrollment may spell doom for some Michigan school districts

DETROIT (AP) - Declines in school enrollment across the Detroit area are driving school districts into debt and forcing administrators to make additional cuts.

Data reviewed by the Detroit Free Press shows that during the five years spanning fall 2008 to fall 2012 enrollment declined 17 percent in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne county school districts. Highland Park enrollment declined 69 percent, while Detroit dropped 29 percent. Romulus and Inkster declined 26 percent.

Overall, 20 Detroit-area districts had double-digit enrollment losses.

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Education
4:32 pm
Sun December 23, 2012

In the wake of right-to-work, Detroit charter school teachers press for union

The Cesar Chavez Academy high school campus in Detroit
Credit via www.chavezwaterman.com

Teachers and staff at a Detroit charter school are pressing forward with an effort to unionize.

Teachers at the Cesar Chavez Academy have filed to hold an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. They hope that will happen early next year.

Cesar Chavez serves more than 2000 students on several campuses in southwest Detroit. If a majority of their members votes to unionize, they will be represented by the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan.

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Education
9:00 am
Sun December 23, 2012

The words of the holidays

That's What They Say interview for 12/23/12

This week on That’s What They Say, Anne Curzan, English professor of the University of Michigan and Weekend Edition host Rina Miller discuss the origins of holiday words.

Here are a few:  

Mistletoe used to be called “mistleton.” “Ton” meant “twig” in old English.

The “yule” in the word “yuletide” refers to Christmas or the months of December and January, and “tide” means “a period or extent of time.” Therefore, “yuletide” means the “time of Christmas.”

And the “nog” in egg nog refers to strong ale.

Curzan and Miller also discuss how to pronounce the word “poinsettia” and Curzan explains that Santa’s reindeer named vixen is actually names after a female fox or a sexy woman.

Education
3:58 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

UMTRI launches website for Parents of Teen Drivers

A website is launching just in time to help parents monitor and improve winter driving skills for teen drivers.

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute is launching the site called  Safer Driving for Teens.

Jean Shope serves as an associate director of UMTRI and says parents find it's worthwhile.  “We do find that teens whose parents have used this program, and they’ve had an agreement, drive in a less risky manner…and in other studies certainly have less crashes.”

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Education
5:16 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

How social media closed down more than 100 Michigan schools

Tweets from students help spread the rumors.
Elaine Ezekiel Michigan Radio

You might have heard how Genesee and Lapeer counties closed down all their schools today and tomorrow due to rumors spreading across Facebook, Twitter, and texts.

But how could a rumor close so many schools?

Below is a Storify narrative of how one text message prompted a social media wildfire in southeast Michigan.

You can click on any of the linked text or images to follow the story further.

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Education
5:12 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

A "one-man Dream Act" for Michigan grad

Despite a severe genetic disorder, Victor Chukwueke graduated from Wayne State University with two degrees
www.victorshope.org

Maybe this will finally do something for Congress’ approval ratings. This week, lawmakers passed a rare, “one-man Dream Act” for a Nigerian student living in Michigan.

Victor Chukwueke (say “chew-KWEK-ay”) was born with a severe genetic disorder that causes facial tumors. Doctors in Nigeria told him there was nothing they could do for his life-threatening condition.

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Education
10:35 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Internet rumors close Genesee Co., Lapeer schools

A Maya mask... made before the days of social media.
Wolfgang Sauber Wikipedia

Schools in Genesee and Lapeer counties will be closed tomorrow and Friday, amid threats circulated on social media.

From the Genesee Co. Intermediate School District Web site:

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Education
1:33 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

'Student revolt' threat affecting schools in Genesee County

About a half dozen Genesee County school districts are dealing with a bizarre internet rumor of plans for an armed ‘student revolt’ this Friday.

Police are investigating the alleged revolt, in the wake of last week’s school massacre in Connecticut and the Mayan ‘end of the world’ prophecy.

Grand Blanc schools Superintendent Norm Abdella says messages have been swirling on social media sites that students were planning to bring weapons to schools in Genesee County on Friday.

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Education
10:36 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Flint names interim school superintendent

Larry Watkins, interim Flint school district superintendent
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A long-time district administrator has been picked to be the interim Flint schools superintendent.

Larry Watkins likes to say he’s worked for the Flint school district since he was 14, when he was a high school locker room attendant.  He retired from the district in August, after a long career as an administrator.

Last night, the school board hired him back, on an interim basis, to fill the void left by last month’s retirement of Flint’s former superintendent.

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Education
5:07 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Stateside: Grand Rapids restructures its districts to save money, improve education

The Grand Rapids School Board approved a district restructuring plan
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

On Monday, The Grand Rapids School Board unanimously approved a district restructuring plan. Recommended by Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal, the plan aims to both improve student achievement and save money.

The “Transformation Plan” attempts to reinvent the school district by closing ten buildings, reopening one elementary and reforming other programs. The plan will save more than $22.4 million over five years, with at least half being re-invested in replicating and expanding effective school programs.

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Education
7:07 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Wayne State faculty ok possible strike

Wayne State University professors have authorized their union leaders to call a strike if they can’t otherwise reach an agreement with the school.

The faculty union and school administration have been mired in contentious contract negotiations for months.

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