Education

alvimann / MorgueFile

The Grosse Pointe Public School System will impose penalties of up to $13,000  for parents who violate the district's residency requirements.

Prospective students will have to verify home ownership or provide monthly proof of rental, as well as parental or guardianship verification and other documentation.

Eight Highland Park school students returned to classes this week as plaintiffs against a school system they say has failed them. Their families and the ACLU say the school district and the state have  denied them the right to learn to read.

“It’s heartbreaking every day when you get up and people look in your face and say: oh, that’s that lady, her daughter can’t read,” says Michelle Johnson. Her daughter is heading into the 12th grade. But she can only read at about a fourth-grade level.

Detroit Public Schools officials are happy with the district’s attendance figures so far this year.

Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts says the district averaged 85% attendance Wednesday, the second day of school for Detroit students.

Roberts says that’s much better than the past two years. The district didn’t reach a 75% attendance rate until later weeks, jeopardizing state funds.

“We think this is proof that Detroit Public Schools is making great strides to meet the needs of the students,” Roberts said.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio is launching a new talk show called, Stateside today.  It will air Thursdays from 3-4pm. Morning Edition host Christina Shockley sat down with Stateside host Cynthia Canty to talk about the new show.

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder will sign legislation into law Tuesday that will make some changes to how teachers and other school employees save for their retirement.
    
School employees will have to pay more for their benefits, and those hired after today will no longer get retirement health coverage.

Instead, they will get savings accounts to help them buy insurance once they are done working.
    
Governor Snyder said he understands that many school employees are upset.

“We had to make some reforms to make it fiscally viable and financially sound f or their future, too, in terms of their retirement benefits," said Snyder. "So, it’s a case of us all working together, and sometimes change is tough on people and I appreciate that. We’re just trying to make it something that lasts for the long term for the benefit of all."

Snyder said the new approach will begin to retire a long-term pension liability estimated in the billions of dollars.

He said it will also shore up the state’s credit rating, and ensure taxpayers won’t be saddled with the costs of a bailout years down the road.
    
Teachers unions say the plan breaks promises made to school employees, and went to court on Friday with a legal challenge.

J. Pinkston and L. Stern / U.S. Geological Survey

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit university is playing a role in early but promising efforts to find and extract new energy sources.

A research project at Wayne State University is among 14 across 11 states involved in work on methane hydrates. These are structures that look like ice but have natural gas locked inside.

The project builds on what the U.S. government calls a "successful, unprecedented" test on Alaska's North Slope that produced a steady flow of gas from methane hydrates.

Frank Juarez / Flickr

Detroit Public Schools announced Friday that employees will get a bonus in December if the district meets its budget goal, which looks likely. 

Oakland University Campus
Oakland University

ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) - Oakland University in suburban Detroit and its professors have reached a three-year proposed tentative contract agreement.

The agreement was announced early Friday in a posting on the website of the 700-member Oakland University chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Details of the proposed agreement are expected to be made public later. It's expected to include pay increases, merit pay adjustments and changes to benefits.

Classes begin Tuesday at the school. Voting to ratify the contract likely will take place in a few weeks.

In 2009, professors at the school went on strike for a week starting the day classes were expected to begin before a tentative contract agreement was reached.

Ali Moore / Wikimedia Commins

Schools around the county are considering digital textbooks as a more affordable and modern update to paper textbooks, and a West Michigan school district will pilot an "etextbook" program this year.

The Muskegon Chronicle reports Mona Shores Public Schools' students in select classes will receive their own computers to test how the etextbooks compare to traditional methods.

The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond / pisab.org

Race issues can be difficult to talk about. People often focus on differences, rather than what they have in common.

This weekend, The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, is holding a two-day workshop in Ann Arbor called, “Undoing Racism.” Friday is the last day to register for the workshop, at the Ann Arbor Community Center.

Rachael Ibrahim is a volunteer community organizer and one of the event trainers. She says the workshop is open to everyone.

“Students, parents, teachers, administration, it’s an important conversation for everybody because there is no one who can escape racism. It exists everywhere, whether we see it or feel it, it exists," she said. "So this conversation is important for everybody."

As an African American women, Ibrahim says she personally sees many inequities that need to be addressed. “Whether we’re talking about health care, whether we’re talking about the rate in which people are incarcerated… if we look at education… and we see some trends, then there is something important to look at when we can see the disparities among people of color,” she said.

(courtesy of KQED)

In 2011, a new teacher tenure law was put in place by the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Snyder. It called for teacher evaluations, but it didn't specify how these evaluations should be done.

Now the panel put in charge of figuring that out will test 4 national teacher evaluation models in 14 Michigan school districts.

More from Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Public Schools / detroitk12.org

The Detroit school district has kicked off its fall enrollment drive in a big way, draping a 300-square-foot T-shirt over the Spirit of Detroit statue in front of city hall.

Leaders of the Detroit Public Schools are working to attract families to the district's new buildings and stabilize attendance that has seen losses to charter and suburban schools.

The T-shirt with the slogan "I'm in" was unveiled this morning and will decorate the statue through Sept. 4.

user krossbow / Flickr

Eastern Michigan University officials announced today they've reached a tentative agreement with the union representing EMU faculty members.

The current contract with the union was set to expire at midnight on August 31. EMU students start classes on Wednesday, September 5.

EMU officials say the contract "provides for salary increases of 2 percent per year for each year of the contract, as well as changes to health care plans."

A Wayne County judge ruled Tuesday that the Education Achievement Authority can launch as scheduled.

That statewide district for the lowest-achieving schools is set to open with 15 former Detroit Public schools next month. The elected Detroit school board had voted to reverse that decision.

Officials at a southwest Michigan school district are asking the state’s superintendent to return close to half a million dollars. The state deducted the money from the Gull Lake Community Schools district last school year over mistakes the state says the district made with its new virtual school.

"For an online course there has to be two way communication a number of times during the semester. And what happened is that – well they weren’t able to meet that requirement. They weren’t able to show us there was two way communication,” Ellis said.

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Kettering University is getting a $15.5 million pledge from the C.S. Mott Foundation, the largest such gift in the school's history.

C.S. Mott Foundation's pledge of support announced Monday is aimed at strengthening the school's leadership in higher education and expanding its role as a strategic partner in the Flint area's revitalization efforts.

The C.S. Mott Foundation intends to provide a series of grants to Kettering over three or more years. The first, of $2 million, was made in May.

The grants aim to increase enrollment, nurture the school's economic impact on the Flint area, communicate the university's identity to a broad audience and build alumni relationships.

via Detroit Public Schools

With Detroit Public Schools students set to head back to class in less than a month, serious questions linger regarding the district’s teachers.

The district’s emergency manager, Roy Roberts, imposed new contract terms on teachers last month.

That infuriated teachers and their union leaders, who said the district never even collectively bargained with them.

But those new terms are now null and void, argues Keith Johnson, President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. He says now that the law has been suspended, Roberts’ “authority” is suspended, too.

KN

The Ann Arbor District is thinking outside of the box with a new collection called "Music Tools."

The small collection features quirky instruments and sound processors. It includes items with futuristic names that make sounds like hovering spaceships and funky clicks and clacks.

School districts with emergency managers have been plunged into uncertainty, now that the state’s emergency manager law has been suspended.

In Detroit, the Michigan Attorney General is suing to make sure the elected school board doesn’t take power back there.

Detroit’s elected school board went from having very little power, to no power whatsoever when the state broadened the powers of emergency managers under Public Act 4.

Ypsilanti Public Schools

Two struggling Michigan school districts will ask voters in November if they should merge.

Ypsilanti Public Schools has about 3,600 students; Willow Run Public Schools has about 1,600.

Both districts have serious financial problems, along with poor student test scores and low graduation rates.

Both districts' high schools failed to meet adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind law last year. 

Dedrick Martin is Superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools.

User: s_falkow / Flickr

Every Monday, Christina Shockley talks with someone in the state that is trying to make a difference in the lives of others. As part of Michigan Radio's Seeking Change series, today features Monika Holzer Sacks. She is a family law lawyer. She works mostly in divorce cases and says her goal is to help couples avoid going to court and instead have them work together cooperatively.

jdurham / MorgueFile

The Michigan Department of Education has unveiled a new system to classify school performance. 

The state's schools will now fall into three categories:  Reward, Priority and Focus.

Reward Schools include the top 5 percent of schools, and those that have made the most academic progress over the previous four years.

Vanessa Keesler is with the Michigan Department of Education. She says being classified a Priority or Focus school means there are some problems.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra spoke with Geoffrey Canada about how to break the cycle of poverty Wednesday. Canada is with Harlem Children's Zone.

The Harlem Children's Zone has been around for 13 years and covers about 100 blocks in central Harlem, and has become a model for other organizations around the country. Its leader Geoffrey Canada has become famous for his "whatever it takes" approach to helping kids. 

Canada says part of what makes the Children's Zone unique is that it covers all kids, and it helps them from birth through college. Canada says it's "not about just creating a good school or saving some kids, but actually changing the culture so that a community that failure was the norm becomes a community where success is the norm."

To find out more about the Harlem Children's Zone, visit the State of Opportunity website.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Community College is about to undergo a $67 million renovation.

College president Brent Knight says many of the buildings on the downtown campus need significant upgrades and they will get those upgrades during the next 30 months.

Woodley Wonder Works / Flickr

Michigan will change how it measures success and what it calls under-performing schools. In the future, schools that fall short will be called “priority schools,” and receive some coaching, and other help developing improvement plans.

The state recently won a waiver from the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act  to give it more flexibility in its school improvement plans.

Vice President Joe Biden says Republicans have stopped believing in the concept of public education.

Biden made those comments as he rallied thousands of educators at the American Federation of Teachers’ annual convention in Detroit Sunday.

AFT union leaders strongly back President Obama. And Biden took repeated shots at Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Biden says Romney and fellow his Republicans now “have a totally different perspective” from most Americans about education—and pretty much everything else.

User; Beverly & Pack / Flickr

A program at Eastern Michigan University is helping students with autism navigate college life. It's part of the university's Autism Collaboration Center. The center helps people with autism of all ages. As part of Michigan Radio's Seeking Change series, Christina Shockley talked with the center's Lisa Johnstone about the program.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The American Federation of Teachers is in Detroit for the group’s annual convention.

And they’re taking it to the streets—and to Detroit Public Schools’ officials—on behalf of the district’s teachers.

Earlier this month, Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager Roy Roberts imposed new contract terms on the district’s teachers.

Those terms include a pay cut, larger class sizes, and less prep time for teachers.

The Leona Group, L.L.C.

Highland Park Public Schools contracted the Leona Group to run its charter system next year.

A press release issued by the school system's Emergency Manager, Joyce Parker, said that she met with the newly appointed board of education today who approved the Leona Group, LLC contract as charter operator unanimously.

From the release:

Student debt by year
Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Students at Michigan's five largest universities sought more loans to pay for college, according to a Detroit Free Press database

These students will join recent graduates around the country whose outstanding private and federal education debts have topped $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to the data, as of 2010, students in Michigan have the 11th highest average debt of any state.

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