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We have an update on the efforts to get Detroit area charter school employees paid for time worked during the school year.

Many employees at Michigan Technical Academy spread their paychecks out over the year, but late last month, the charter school's board had to divert those summer paychecks to creditors. 

Matchbook Learning is the nonprofit charter management company that directly employs MTA staff. Today, the company's CEO Sajan George sent a letter to MTA employees saying the charter's board gave its approval last night to appoint an independent "receiver" to review the payroll issue. 

Andrew Stein, executive director of City Year Detroit, says Americorps members help at-risk students, and teachers who have to manage large class sizes.
Detroit Public Schools

Detroit public school students could soon be spending a lot less time on testing during the school year.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is moving to cut the number of assessments they give students across the district by 70 percent — from administering 186 tests down to 57 tests.

RANDOM HOUSE, PENGUIN RANDON HOUSE LLC, NEW YORK

A decision to join Teach for America brought then 22-year-old Michelle Kuo to the Mississippi Delta. Her hope was to teach American history through black literature. It was a very different life than the one she'd had growing up as the daughter of parents who’d emigrated from Taiwan to West Michigan. 

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

We reported last week that a Detroit area charter school used state money to pay its bondholders instead of its teachers.

Many employees at Michigan Technical Academy spread their paychecks out over the year, but late last month, the charter school's board had to divert those summer paychecks to creditors. 

pile of one  dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 460 Michigan college students who say they have been defrauded by their for-profit schools filed federal claims this year to try to get their student loans forgiven. But the Trump administration has not approved any so-called borrower defense claims yet.

Students from Detroit's Neighborhood Educational Center Program in 1970.
American Library Association

In the wake of Detroit’s 1967 rebellion, and similar unrest nationwide, a group called the Kerner Commission dug into the underlying causes.

Their main finding was that America was heading toward two separate, unequal societies: one white, one black. One of the deepest inequalities was in education.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A literacy program is hoping to get more Genesee County children reading this summer. 

Ja’Nel Jamerson is the director of the Flint & Genesee Literacy Network.

He says it’s important for children everywhere to maintain their education levels during their summer vacation.  

But Jamerson says it’s especially important in Flint, where thousands of children were exposed to lead in their drinking water which can negatively affect their neurological development.

group of students facing away from camera
Courtesy of The James & Grace Lee Boggs School / Facebook

 


Fifty years after Detroit’s 1967 rebellion, conversations about what the events of that summer so long ago mean for our society today have been everywhere.

But kids, who generally prefer cartoons to the evening news, might not have many opportunities to engage with the history of what happened in the city 50 years ago. That is, unless, they to go the James & Grace Lee Boggs School

tables in a classroom
Frank Juarez / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Charter school employees at Michigan Technical Academy in metro Detroit are not getting paid for time they worked in the classroom.

The charter school’s license was revoked last month for poor academics and financial problems -- it owed roughly $16 million in long-term debt and $50,000 in short-term loans, according to Central Michigan University officials. CMU authorized the school and issued its charter.

Whether teachers get their $550 million back from the state depends on the Supreme Court's decision.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Nearly every school district in the nation uses the same type of salary schedule to pay its teachers -- a schedule with "steps" and "lanes" that pays based on years in the classroom, and you automatically get paid more if you have a master's degree or higher.

Photo courtesy of the Economic Policy Institute

Our first post in this series looked at the state's "average salary" for teachers and how that number can be misleading since it doesn't account for years of experience.

Results of our teacher survey.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

We put out a non-scientific survey earlier this summer asking teachers in the state how they've seen their pay change over the past several years. (You can check out the survey questions here.)

 

We heard from 390 teachers across more than 115 districts, which is awesome. (Thanks, teachers!)

 

We'll go through the six main themes that emerged, but first let's get up to speed on the basics.

 

A primer on teacher pay

 

Public school teachers in Michigan and most of the country follow a salary schedule that doles out automatic and relatively small incremental raises for each year of service (these are called "steps") and gives a bigger pay bump for additional educational attainment, like a master's degree or PhD (these are called "lanes").  

 

The number of "steps" and "lanes" varies from district to district. It can take seven steps to reach the top of the teacher pay ladder in one district and 30 steps in another district.  There are no more yearly step increases after a teacher reaches the top step, but some districts offer "longevity" bonuses for veteran teachers.

crowd of people in chairs
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

Give us back our schools.

That's the message some Albion residents have for state lawmakers.

The south central Michigan city voted to let Marshall Public Schools annex its school district last May. But now some community members are asking for a do-over.

A child at a desk raising his hand.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio


We entrust our kids with Michigan's teachers five days a week. Yet most us of probably don't know much  about the way our teachers are paid. The truth might be surprising.

This week, Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra is exploring teacher pay in Michigan, and what it means for keeping the best teachers in their classrooms instead of seeing them flee for more lucrative and less stressful jobs elsewhere.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan's average teacher salary has dropped for the fifth year in a row, and many districts say they have trouble retaining high quality teachers because of low pay.

So we wanted to know: what's going on with teacher pay in the state?

As a starting point, we have the average teacher salary in Michigan. The state Department of Education puts it at $61,978.

OK, so what does that number really tell us?

First, it marks a downward trend for five years in a row. The average teacher salary in 2011-12 was $62,613 and has dropped every year since. But beyond that, because it's not paired with any longevity data, it doesn't tell us a whole lot more.

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

Almost everyone agrees that good teachers are important for our children. However, how those teachers should be compensated can lead to heated debates. Take, for example, the one that just happened over the new teacher retirement system approved in the latest state budget.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra is taking an in-depth look at how we go about paying teachers in Michigan and what it means for teacher performance and retention in the state. 

Boy in classroom with his hand raised
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan will no longer rank schools based on test scores. The state is working on a new accountability system as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new federal education law that goes into effect this coming school year.

ESSA replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind education law, which evaluated schools solely on proficiency (i.e. test scores) and went into effect in 2002. 

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Detroit students will have a new high school option this fall, but they'll have to pass a test to get in.

There are currently three high schools in Detroit with entrance exams -- Cass Technical, Renaissance, and Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School -- but space is limited at those schools.

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

Lawyers say they’ve agreed to a broad framework to settle lawsuits against the state’s School Reform Office. The office caused controversy when it mailed letters to thousands of parents earlier this year, saying their child’s school was at risk of closing because of “academic failure for many years.”

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan is one of 23 states that did not meet all the federal requirements for educating its students with disabilities.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, attorneys representing four Michigan school districts will argue that the state overstepped its bounds when it threatened to close three dozen low-performing schools earlier this year.

Chalkboard
user alkruse24 / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan’s education chief forecasts some contentious negotiations with federal officials on the state’s plans for identifying and helping struggling schools.

Detroit Public Schools Community District sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Federation of Teachers members are set to start voting on a new contract agreement this week.

Flickr user Frank Juarez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Just before the holiday weekend, Central Michigan University’s Board of Trustees made official what parents have known for a while now: Michigan Technical Academy is closing. The pre-k through 8th grade charter school in Detroit has been open for more than a decade.

The state had threatened to close the school in the spring, over persistently low performance on standardized tests.

Keeria Myles says her 8-year-old daughter, Sonja, had only been at the school one year, but loved it.

“She’s upset about it and she feels like it’s her fault,” Myles said.

kids at computers
U.S. Department of Education

The number of Michigan kids who attend virtual schools has exploded in the past eight years. But a new study suggests those students aren’t keeping pace with their peers.

In the 2009-2010 school year, there were just two virtual schools in Michigan that enrolled fewer than 1,000 students. Today, there are 66 online schools with enrollment just shy of 14,000 kids.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A judge has extended a freeze on $2.5 million in state aid for Michigan private schools at least until a court hearing Wednesday.

  Opponents are challenging the appropriation to private schools for fire drills, inspections and other state requirements. They say it violates the Michigan Constitution's ban on aid for non-public schools.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A college education is getting more expensive in the state of Michigan.

Last month, many Michigan colleges and universities approved tuition increases for this fall.  And starting today, interest rates on federally backed student loans are rising too.  

Interest rates on loans for undergrads are rising from 3.76% to 4.45%.   Overtime, that increase will add hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, to the cost of getting a degree.

Durfee Elementary-Middle School in Northwest Detroit
Jenna Belevender

Gov. Rick Snyder has reversed course and moved Michigan's school turnaround office back to a state department over which he has no direct control.

The move Friday comes two years after Snyder transferred the School Reform Office from the Department of Education - whose leader is hired by elected members of the state Board of Education - to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

EAA
Sarah Cwiek/Michigan Radio

The state's experiment in running a school district ends this week: the Education Achievement Authority will cease to exist as of Friday.

Its 15 schools will be absorbed back into the Detroit Public Schools Community District. So, did anything actually work under the EAA?

Nir Saar is the principal of the Mumford Academy in Northwest Detroit.
Courtesy of Nir Saar

Michigan's experiment in running a school district ends this week.

The Education Achievement Authority (EAA) will cease to exist as of Friday. Its 15 schools will be absorbed back into the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Nir Saar, the principal of the Mumford Academy in Northwest Detroit, joined Stateside to look back at the EAA's legacy and what we can learn from it.

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