Education

Michigan Senate OKs bailout for Detroit schools

Jun 8, 2016
flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan senators have approved a $617 million bailout of Detroit's debt-ridden school district.

The Republican-controlled Senate narrowly passed the restructuring package late Wednesday, nearly a week after House passage. The bills soon will reach Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature as long as the House OKs some changes, likely later in the night.

The rescue comes two years after the state helped bail out Detroit's municipal government as part of its bankruptcy case.

Of the 662 Michigan schools that qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision, 167 would no longer be eligible under HR 5003, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Tim Lauer / Creative Commons

For many children living in poverty, hunger is an everyday reality, and going to school hungry can have a big impact on a kid’s ability to learn.

That’s one of the reasons why the federal government offers free lunches to low-income students.

Detroit Public Schools students participated in a mock election on May 19 to decide on two DPS-specific ballot measures and vote in presidential primaries.
pinehurst19475 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The results are in, and Bernie Sanders is the winner -- of a mock election that 5,139 Detroit Public Schools students on 22 high-school campuses participated in on May 19. 

The Vermont senator took 58.12% of the Democratic vote and received 2,844 votes overall, according to a DPS release, beating out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the next-highest vote-getter, by a comfortable margin. Clinton received 1,857 votes.

From left to right: Patrick Harris, Reginald Franklyn, Slytazion Sanders, and Dominick Williams.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to “fix” Detroit schools.

State lawmakers are trying to save the Detroit Public Schools from fast-approaching bankruptcy.

But little of that discussion has included the voices of DPS students.

Here, four students from Detroit’s Cody High School share their thoughts about just how bad things are right now.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state Senate could vote this week on a Detroit Public Schools bailout plan, even though it’s a departure from the bipartisan compromise already adopted by the chamber.        

This new plan is a Republican-only proposal that cleared the state House last week with no support from Democrats. Their main complaint is there’s no control over the location of new charter schools in the city.

The earlier Senate version had the backing of Democrats, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Governor Rick Snyder.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Leaders of the charter school system in Highland Park are more confident as they wrap up this school year.

Highland Park's charter system was created by an emergency manager in 2012 to save money. But soon the charter district ran into its own money problems, and began running a deficit.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Aggregate funding for Michigan's public universities in the next state budget will still be less than it was before a major cut five years ago, despite Gov. Rick Snyder's initial proposal to bring them back to levels in place when he took office in 2011.

  Spending will rise roughly $40 million to $1.4 billion, a 2.9 percent increase, under a spending plan up for final legislative votes this week. The Republican governor and lawmakers had hoped for a $60 million, or 4.4 percent, boost.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Emails obtained by a newspaper show the University of Michigan has repeatedly requested delays in turning over thousands of documents sought by federal investigators looking into sexual assault complaints on campus.

  The documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press  through a Freedom of Information Act request also indicated the university has sought to limit the scope of the ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Education by asking investigators to review fewer incidents than requested.

Stateside 6.2.2016

Jun 2, 2016

 

On Stateside today, we find out how Girls Group empowers young women to "ignore the noise" and be the first college graduates in their families.

To find individual interviews, click here or see below:

nearly one in every five DPS students  qualifies for some special education services
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The fight continues over a bailout package for Detroit Public Schools.

Today, the state House is attempting to hash out the differences between its rescue plan and the bipartisan plan passed by the state Senate.

At the heart of the fight is an amended Senate proposal for a Detroit Education Commission, a body that would set the same standards for closing down both failing public schools and charter schools in Detroit.

Clark Durant is co-founder of Cornerstone Schools, which runs charter schools in Detroit.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Sue Schooner has never taken a social work class, nor has she ever had children. But that didn’t stop her from creating and leading Girls Group, an organization that empowers young women to complete high school and be the first college graduate in their families.

The creation of Girls Group led to a change of heart for Schnooner.

Flickr user Newman University/Flickr

The Next Idea

Hundreds of leaders have descended upon Mackinac Island for the Mackinac Policy Conference this week. Their aim is to explore solutions to Michigan’s problems, and education across the state has been a big talking point.

One of those leaders is Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.

hackNY / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan high school students may soon need fewer foreign language classes to graduate.

The Michigan House of Representatives has approved a bill that would allow students to replace a foreign language class with computer coding, or performing arts.

State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Twp., co-sponsored the bill.

He says coding classes might be more vital for students now, and that students should ultimately decide which classes are best for them.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan with students at the Detroit Promise Zone scholarship announcement.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is making a final push for a larger role in the city’s education landscape.

Duggan stood alongside some charter school operators and Detroit Public Schools officials Tuesday, in support of a Detroit Education Commission.

That commission is being debated in Lansing as part of a larger, bankruptcy-style restructuring for Detroit Public Schools, which needs hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid if it’s to open doors in the fall.

Parents protest outside a Detroit elementary school earlier this year.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan

Some Detroit education activists and power players are making a last, all-out push for a specific component of any potential rescue package for Detroit Public Schools.

Lansing needs to come up with some plan to keep DPS from going bankrupt this summer.

But so far, state House leaders haven’t budged on a crucial issue for some: the proposed Detroit Education Commission.

That Commission would have the power to decide what schools open where in the city, including charter schools.

According to Bowens, the report "does not adequately reflect the realities of today."
morgueFile user kconnors / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Big changes are coming to students in Albion.  Voters have approved Marshall Public Schools' annexing of the struggling Albion School District. 

An empty hallway lined with lockers.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The state is giving Benton Harbor Area Schools another emergency loan.

The southwest Michigan school district of roughly 2,200 students has already received more than $5 million in emergency loans from the state’s Emergency Loan Board. A Michigan treasury department spokesman says last week the appointed board approved another one, this time for $3.3 million, making it the largest loan the board has given the district so far.

nearly one in every five DPS students  qualifies for some special education services
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Yet another Detroit Public Schools administrator is accused of stealing from the district.

This time the alleged scam steered at least $1,275,000 to a former grants manager for tutoring services that were never delivered.

Carolyn StarkeyDarden worked for the district from 1968 to 2005. She went on to set up a series of companies that got tutoring contracts with the district.

DPS interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather makes an announcement.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Amidst tremendous uncertainty about its future existence, the Detroit Public Schools is trying to recruit teachers.

The district is holding a “DPS Day” recruitment fair for new teachers at Martin Luther King High School on Tuesday.

Officials admit that’s a challenging task when the district’s future is so insecure.

It’s waiting on state lawmakers to pass a huge aid package before it runs out of money altogether this summer.

DPS interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather says the sooner Lansing can get that resolved, the better.

Courtesy of Imani Harris

The future of the Detroit Public Schools as a functioning district is in doubt. The state Legislature is haggling over whether to give it a fighting chance or shortchange it – and allow uncertified teachers.

That has legislators, the governor, some business leaders and teachers very concerned. But they aren’t the only ones.

Imani Harris, a sophomore at Renaissance High in Detroit, voiced her thoughts on what’s happening to DPS in a letter. She joined us today on Stateside.

Stateside 5.19.2016

May 19, 2016

On Stateside today, we talk to a retiring performing arts teacher from Detroit Public Schools about why she chose teaching over her dreams of being an actor.

Rafael Soto / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan's K-12 students are among the weakest academically in the U.S., and they're falling even further behind, according to a report released today by Education Trust-Midwest, a Michigan-based non-partisan research education and advocacy organization.

The report predicts that if things don't change, Michigan will rank 48th nationally in fourth grade reading scores by 2030, far from the state's goal of becoming a top ten state in education by that year. 

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

The Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager, Steven Rhodes, met with the district’s elected board for the first time publicly Wednesday.

That board has been virtually powerless since emergency managers started running DPS in 2009.

Rhodes largely sat quietly, taking notes, as board members peppered him with questions about how the district got to the verge of bankruptcy. They’re pushing for a forensic audit of the district’s finances, particularly contracting practices, during the past seven years of state control.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint public school district is expanding early childhood education programs. 

The three-, four- and five-year-olds at the Great Expectations Early Childhood Program at Holmes STEM Academy are the lucky ones. The waiting list to get into this program is hundreds of names long.

But Superintendent Bilal Tawwab says the University of Michigan-Flint is working to expand the program, which he says is critical.

DPS emergency manager Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

Contract talks between Detroit Public Schools teachers and the district’s emergency manager are on hold, and union leaders say that’s a mistake.

Contracts for DPS teachers and most other school employees expire June 30th.

Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes has said the district will delay collective bargaining until Lansing acts on legislation to prevent a DPS bankruptcy.

Jodi Westrick

There are big differences between the state House and Senate on what to do next about the budget crisis facing Detroit Public Schools. 

The district needs a massive influx of state aid to stay open next school year. DPS interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather joined Cynthia Canty on today’s Stateside to explain how she hopes to elevate the quality of education for all Detroit public school students.

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state-appointed manager of Detroit Public Schools laid out his plan to turn the struggling district around during a public meeting Tuesday night.

Judge Steven Rhodes told a hostile crowd that included teachers, students and community members that he's trying to set a path for long-term success for students and educators.

Dozens of people at the meeting repeatedly interrupted Rhodes during his presentation.

Alycia Meriweather announces the district's new offerings at Detroit's Cooke Elementary School.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools is planning a dozen “innovative” new school programs for the fall.

They include Montessori programs, an Arabic dual language immersion school, expanded Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) offerings, new programs for English language learners, and more opportunities for outdoor experience and “place-based education,” among other things.

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

The Next Idea

 

Modern, high-tech innovation has benefited the world enormously. It has improved health and safety, and helped us communicate and travel across borders. But lots of people cannot afford these technologies – many of which are of limited usefulness for economically disadvantaged citizens who live outside of metropolitan areas. Indeed, these citizens were never the main market for these technologies in the first place.

Detroit teachers want a forensic audit, so they held a lemonade stand to raise money and public awareness at Detroit's Eastern Market this weekend.
flickr user Rob Bertholf / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit Public Schools has been controlled by the state since 2009. 

Yet, the latest emergency manager says without an infusion of cash from the state, the district won't be able to meet its financial obligations after June 30. 

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