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Education

Students raise their hands inside a classroom
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The new superintendent for the Detroit Public Schools Community District could begin work  as early as Tuesday. Dr. Nikolai Vitti’s five-year contract was approved by the Detroit school board earlier this month, but the commission that oversees the district’s finances still has to OK the contract. The Detroit Financial Review Commission is expected to vote Monday afternoon. 

If approved, Vitti has his work cut out for him.

Children at Cummings Early Education Center play at a water table using bottled water
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Every child who attends the Cummings Early Childhood Center in Flint lives in the city and was exposed to lead as a result of the Flint water crisis. That can have damaging effects on their development and growth. The Cummings daycare and preschool opened late last fall to help mitigate some of those effects on the youngest children. 

Battle Creek Central High School Building
Battle Creek CVB / Flickr CC / HTTP://BIT.LY/1RFRZRK

Michigan's school choice policy has opened the door for thousands of parents across the state to take their kids out of their home school district and go to schools in neighboring districts.

That shift of students from mainly poorer urban districts to better-off suburban schools has created big financial challenges for the urban districts.

Take Battle Creek Public Schools, where shrinking enrollment meant a $20 million cut in state funding.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

You cannot tell if Michigan’s School Reform Officer Natasha Baker was prepared to recommend closing any of the 38 schools on the state’s lowest performing school’s list. That information was redacted from public documents released this week by the state, following a March 3 request filed by Michigan Radio under the Freedom of Information Act.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
User alkruse24 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state is stepping in to help struggling schools instead of closing them.

 

Earlier this year 38 schools were marked for potential closure. Those were schools that consistently ranked in the bottom five percent of all public schools in the state.

 

Battle Creek Central High School Building
Battle Creek CVB / Flickr CC / HTTP://BIT.LY/1RFRZRK

Battle Creek Public Schools is getting an extra $51 million to spend over the next five years. 

The money comes in the form of a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. It represents about a 20% annual increase in funding for the district, compared to the current budget.

"Today we are saying we want to support and target our support where the need is the greatest," said Lajune Montgomery Tabron, president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. "So that our hometown will rise and thrive."

Michigan State University

Former Detroit Tigers great Kirk Gibson plans to talk about dealing with obstacles when he addresses Michigan State University graduates during commencement ceremonies later today.

“Hopefully I’ll give them some insight in how to deal with that and move on and be productive and accomplish their goals,” says Gibson.

Gibson is facing a major obstacle himself as he battles with Parkinson’s disease.

He was diagnosed with the progressive neurological illness two years ago. 

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz named Oakland U's next president

May 4, 2017
Incoming Oakland University president Ora Hirsch Pescovitz sitting on a chair
Oakland University

Oakland University's Board of Trustees has named Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., as its seventh president, beginning July 1. She will succeed George W. Lynd, who is finishing a three-year term, according to the university.

Dr. Pescovitz served as the head of the University of Michigan's Health System from 2009 to 2014. Most recently she has been an executive at Eli Lilly. She has spent much of her professional career at universities as a widely published pediatric endocrinologist and researcher.

teacher with two students
department of education / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

More and more teachers are posting their resignation letters online and on social media.

A Google search for "teacher resignation letters" returns over 2.1 million results. 

Some of those letters have gone viral by echoing the frustrations that many teachers have with the state of public education. 

The Washington Writer's Academy in Kalamazoo
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Detroit and at least seven other Michigan school districts have reached an agreement with Michigan’s Department of Education to allow more than 35 schools to stay open for at least the next three years.

All the schools performed in the bottom 5% on standardized tests for at least three consecutive years.

The state’s School Reform Office, or SRO, caused an uproar in January when it sent letters directly to parents announcing the potential closures without first notifying local school officials.

flickr user vasenka / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


It's graduation season at the University of Michigan. 

This year, the university celebrates its bicentennial. That means the public university was established in Michigan 20 years before Michigan was a state.

Bilal Tawwab, the superintendent of the Flint Community School District: "Right now, we are putting systems in place so that we're able to meet the needs of all of our children."
Flint Community School District

Who were the ones most vulnerable to lead poisoning in the city of Flint?

The children.

With that, Bilal Tawwab, the superintendent of the Flint Community School District (FCSD), joined Stateside's live show in Flint to talk about the state of the school district.

Courtesy of Brett Kopf

The Next Idea

Why is it that you can summon an Uber with one click on your smart phone, but if your child is struggling in school, you might not find out for weeks?

Pre-schoolers playing at a table.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the city of Flint will mark the third anniversary of its ill-fated drinking water switch. 

A prairie vole forms monogamous relationships with its mating partner.
Courtesy of Natalie Nevarez

Like any researcher, Natalie Nevarez was looking for funding. She ended up finding it in the most unlikely of places: a pornography website.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Livingston County schools could soon adopt a program that gives their students some community college experience.

Early Middle College School is a five-year program that allows students to earn a high school diploma and either a technical certification or up to 60 transferable credits.

Mike Hubert is the Superintendent of the Livingston Educational Service Agency, which spurred the early college proposal, says the state foundation allowance covers the cost of the program.

wmich.edu

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Western Michigan University has picked a dean and professor of economics at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy as its next president.

The Kalamazoo, Michigan school's trustees on Wednesday approved the selection of Edward B. Montgomery to the post. His selection follows a national search to find a successor to John M. Dunn, who earlier announced that he planned to retire. 

Montgomery served as President Barack Obama's auto-recovery czar. He has held faculty positions at Carnegie Mellon and Michigan State universities as well as the University of Maryland during a more than 35-year academic career. He has been at Georgetown since 2010.

fordschool / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Great Recession meant a big hit in state funding for colleges and universities. But even as the country has moved past those dire years, higher education funding is still below where it was before the recession.

How are colleges and universities making up those lost dollars?

A brand-new report from the American Association of University Professors finds colleges are doing it by hiring more part-time faculty and bringing in more out-of-state students.

Empty classroom.
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

High schoolers: don't want to tackle that required foreign language? How about taking computer coding instead?

A package of bills recently passed by the State House would let high schoolers do exactly that. Under the bills, students would be able to choose more technical and vocational training instead of some of the current courses set out by the Michigan Merit Curriculum, such as foreign languages.

test with bubble answers
User Alberto G. / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit Public Schools Community District starts giving students the M-STEP test this week. That’s the annual statewide test used to measure student achievement.

But more than 400 Detroit parents have opted for their kids to sit out the test, because they’re upset that the state uses that data to justify closing schools.

The unusually large number of opt-outs comes mostly as a result of a campaign organized by the Detroit Parent Network.

CEO Sharlonda Buckman says Detroit parents have come to feel “extremely disrespected” by state education officials.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan: We are failing black college students. We can do better.

That's the warning from Kim Trent, a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors. She laid out her concerns in a piece for MichiganFuture.org where she's a policy associate. It's titled "How Michigan fails black college students."

44 percent of Michigan 3rd graders tested proficient in English and Language Arts. The scores for African-American, latino and low-income students were even worse.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Three school districts in the state are getting some extra help.

The state has approved grants totaling three million dollars. The money is for consolidating and merging schools and resources in the districts.

“The consolidation grants support strategic consolidation of districts where it makes sense,” said Michigan Department of Education spokesperson Bill DiSessa. “Streamlining their services and operations in other cases, the grants help defray the costs and increase efficiencies in these districts.

Pexels

A new study released last month suggests that when college admissions officers have more background information about applicant high schools, students from low-income communities have a higher likelihood of acceptance. 

Learning more about district test scores, AP class offerings, and available support services from a high school can help an admissions officer identify high-achieving students in areas with limited resources or opportunities. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s school board interviewed the district’s second and final superintendent candidate Monday evening.

Derrick Coleman is the current superintendent of River Rouge Community Schools. He’s a Detroit Public Schools alumnus, and started his career as a teacher and administrator in the district.

He touted his success in a district that’s much smaller than Detroit’s, but has similar demographics.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What’s up is down and what’s down is up when it comes to ranking schools in Michigan.

Dozens of schools found they dropped 50 points in the state rankings while others soared from near the bottom to near top of the list.

Erin Einhorn, a reporter with Chalkbeat, joined Stateside to try to make sense of this rollercoaster ride for Michigan's school rankings. 

Stateside 3.29.2017

Mar 29, 2017

Today on Stateside, we hear why dramatic swings in K-12 school rankings say more about the state's ranking system than about individual schools. Plus, we learn why Michigan's capital moved from Detroit to Lansing 170 years ago.

Empty classroom.
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In January, the state’s School Reform Office sent a warning letter directly to parents at 38 low-performing schools. The letter told parents their child’s school was at risk of closing by the end of June “due to academic failure for many years” and they would get an update by March.

The schools on this list scored in the bottom 5% on state standardized tests for three consecutive years.

Detroit Public Schools Community District sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Finalists vying for the job of Detroit schools’ superintendent will start the public interview process this week, but some people think the best candidate isn’t in the running.

Choosing a new superintendent is the first major task for Detroit’s newly-elected school board, which just took power in January after years of state control. But the process has already become messy and controversial.

DPSCD Superintendent Alycia Meriweather and district staff announce new schools programs in March 2016.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is following through on its threat to sue the state School Reform Office, even after the state has largely backed off plans to close some of the state’s lowest-performing schools this year.

DPSCD had 16 schools on the SSRO’s “next level accountability” list, which also included eight schools in the state-run Education Achievement Authority. EAA schools will join DPSCD after the EAA winds down in June.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Women's Hall of Fame welcomed its latest group of honorees late last year.

Among the five contemporary honorees was Olivia Letts. She was the first African-American teacher hired by the Lansing School District. She started that job in 1951 and from there, Letts spent her life as an advocate for education, community service and civil rights.

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