Education

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan students enrolled in charter schools learn more in a school year than those in comparable traditional public schools. That’s according to a study released Monday by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

Researchers at Stanford University looked at the state’s more than 250 charter schools over a five year period ending in 2010.

UM president to travel to India in November

Jan 14, 2013
The University of Michigan

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman says she will travel to India in November.

Coleman is scheduled to spend a week in New Delhi and Mumbai working to boost the university’s global brand and improve relations with alumni.

Mark Tessler, U of M’s vice provost for international affairs, says the school wants to do more research and have more study abroad opportunities in India.  

In this week's edition of "That’s What They Say" English professor Anne Curzan and Weekend Edition host Rina Miller discuss words with split personalities in written form: words like 'all right' and 'every day.'

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Joel Ferguson has been re-elected to a fourth two-year term as chairman of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.

At a special meeting Friday, the board also elected Brian Breslin of Williamston to a two-year term as vice chairman.

Ferguson first was elected to the MSU board in 1986. The Lansing resident was elected again in 1996, 2004 and 2012. He was elected board chairman in 1992, 2007 and 2010.

Ferguson is the co-founder of F & S Development Company.

UM regents to meet in LA next week

Jan 11, 2013
Wikimedia commons

The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents is skipping its normally scheduled public meeting this month to travel to Los Angeles to meet in private with major donors and higher education leaders.

The eight member board, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, and a handful of other administrators will meet Thursday and Friday in L.A. UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the trip will cost up to $50,000 with the funds coming from donors, not from tuition payments or state money.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette continues his effort to remove some Detroit school board members.

A Wayne County judge heard oral arguments Thursday about Schuette’s lawsuit to throw out seven board members elected by district.

Schuette says state law only allows so-called “first class” school districts to elect board members that way. He says Detroit hasn’t met that threshold since 2008.

School board attorney George Washington insists his clients followed the law "as the legislature wrote it."

Washington also noted the lawsuit was only filed in 2012, after Michigan’s emergency manager law was suspended.

“They were happy with the way the school board was elected, until they thought they might not have a financial manager," Washington said. "And then they said, ‘Well, we gotta get rid of the board. No matter what the law says, or what we’ve allowed to happen.'"

This time on “That’s What They Say” Michigan Radio’s Rina Miller and English Professor Anne Curzan discuss adding an ‘s’ to words like ‘anyway’ and ‘toward.’

Miller says one of her pet peeves is adding an ‘s’ to words like backward, forward and toward, but Curzan says it is okay to do so.

“The toward/towards is mostly a British/American distinction. Brits will tend to use the ‘s’, ‘towards,’ Americans no ‘s’, ‘toward.’” Curzan says. “But at this point we are seeing the British ‘towards’ in a lot of American writing.”

Yet a lot of people cringe at the word “anyways.” Is that a word? Curzan says yes.

“The word actually goes pretty far back in English, used slightly differently. Used in a way that someone might say, ‘if he is in anyways involved,’ it’s more recently that people use anyways in a conjuctive role, to mean ‘in any case,’ and that’s the one that no one likes,” Curzan says.

The University of Michigan Winter theme semester launches tomorrow. The Understanding Race Project will include  guest speakers, special courses and events, as well as community conversations. The project is focused on deepening participants' understanding of race.  Amy Harris, co-chair of the project and director of the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History spoke to Michigan Radio's Jenn White.

Additional Staff Cuts for Ypsilanti Schools

Jan 8, 2013
Ypsilanti Schools

Ypsilanti’s Public Schools continue to battle red ink before consolidating with Willow Run Community Schools this summer.

Dedrick Martin is Superintendent of Ypsilanti schools and says his job may even go away as part of the consolidation process this summer. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A couple hundred school counselors…mental health professionals and social workers are meeting today in Lansing.   They’re in town to discuss what can be done to reduce bullying in Michigan’s schools.

Paul Liabenow says people understand that bullying is not just about “mean girls being mean” or “bad boys will grow out of it”.

Liabenow is the executive director of the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association.

He says efforts in recent years to address bullying in schools are working.

Grading Michigan's first fully privatized public school district

Jan 8, 2013
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Last summer, Muskegon Heights became the first school district in the state to completely privatize its public school system.

In December 2011, after running a budget deficit for six years in a row, the school board requested the appointment of an emergency manager under the now-defunct Public Act 4.

Soon after his appointment in April 2012, emergency manager Don Weatherspoon laid off all of the district’s employees, created a new charter district, and appointed a new school board to run it.

MSU to offer students free laundry in dorms

Jan 8, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

Students at Michigan State University may have more money for pizza and beer come fall as the university begins to offer free laundry in its residence halls.

Michigan State housing spokeswoman Ashley Chaney says the move is one way the university is trying to make the dorms more appealing than private off-campus housing.

“Students have their whole lives to live in an apartment and, you know, we really value that on-campus living experience,” Chaney said. “It's a time when everything is taken care of for you.”

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

A national education advocacy group ranks Michigan sixth in the country for education policy.

The group Students First says the state gets high marks for bills passed in recent years by the Republican-led state Legislature.     

They include measures making it tougher for teachers to be tenured, and teacher evaluations that depend more on student achievement.     

But Andy Solon with Students First said the state can do better in some areas.

MSU Study Shows Brief Interuptions May Double Errors

Jan 7, 2013
Michigan State University

A quick glance at a cell phone won’t just hurt your ability to drive.  It may also double the errors you make at work.

Researchers at Michigan State University are exploring how interruptions affect the work place.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Walk up to the new school inside the Blandford Nature Center and a flock of brown hens will quietly greet you. The hens are part of a business lesson about entrepreneurs at the Blandford School.

On Monday students and staff gathered to open the new school building paid for through mostly private funds.

Jennifer Brandstatter wipes tears from her cheek during the celebration. She moved her oldest of two daughters from a Catholic school to attend  6th grade at Blandford and she “loves it”.

“I just, I cry when I think about it. It’ just she’s having the best time of her life. The teachers are amazing. I mean it’s just such a unique experience,” Brandstatter explained.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Birmingham Schools Face Lawsuit Over Fees

Jan 2, 2013
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. 

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.  

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

UMTRI launches website for Parents of Teen Drivers

Dec 21, 2012

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.”

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.

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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