Education

Commentary
8:30 am
Wed February 22, 2012

A Michigan university grappling with the world

Once upon a time, universities were cloistered places, which deliberately shunned the down-and-dirty worlds of politics and the marketplace in favor of research, contemplation, and teaching.

That's never been totally the case in Michigan, however. What is now Michigan State was established for the explicit purpose of bringing "applied science" to the state's farmers and agricultural industry, back when that was the industry of Michigan.

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Education
2:41 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

State Senate committee deals blow to U of M grad students' hopes to unionize

Students walk on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus (file photo)
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A group of University of Michigan graduate research assistants suffered a significant defeat today in a state senate committee. The senate Government Operations committee passed a bill that would specifically prevent university graduate research assistants from forming a union.       

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says a union could interfere with the relationship between students and teachers.

“That relationship is a special relationship…it is one of learning and mentorship…and I think its important that we don’t interfere with that from the outside," Richardville said after the committee meeting.   

Samantha Montgomery is the president of the Graduate Employees Organization.  She remains optimistic that the hundreds of U of M graduate research assistants will eventually have a chance to vote on forming a union.   Montgomery says grad students like working with their professors on academic research. 

“And we are hopeful the presence of a union would help maintain that working relationship," says Montgomery. 

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission is considering the grad students’ application to hold a union vote.    But the proposed state law may make that process moot. 

Both sides accuse the other of playing politics with the issue.    Today’s vote was along partisan political lines, with three Republicans voting for the bill and two Democrats voting against. 

The results of a union vote are not certain.   A sizable number of U of M graduate research assistants signed a petition opposing a union.

Education
5:00 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan school district decides not to ban "Waterland" novel

user mconnors morgueFile

The Plymouth-Canton school district will not ban Waterland from its Advanced Placement English curriculum.

Graham Swift’s novel is the second book this year the Plymouth-Canton school district put on trial. The district considered banning Toni Morrison’s Beloved last month, but decided against it.

A committee voted anonymously in a closed meeting not to ban the books after hearing from teachers, students and parents during public meetings. (Since their votes are anonymous, we do not know if it was a unanimous vote.)

AP English teacher Brian Read, who has taught Beloved and Waterland for 10 years, says both books deal with the effects of trauma, and contain some mature content of a sexual nature. He says he and his colleague don't choose books because they're sensational, or because there's offensive material in it.

"We choose them because they’re really great works of literature and they really work well in our curriculum, they work well with other pieces that we’re teaching. So I’ll absolutely teach it again and I’m glad that I have that opportunity to teach it again."

Read says both books are worth fighting for, and he’ll continue to defend the books if they come under fire again.

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Education
8:37 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Lansing school superintendent given 'two weeks notice'

Lansing school superintendent Dr. T.C. Wallace (file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing school board voted Thursday night to give the district’s superintendent two weeks notice.

Dr. T.C. Wallace has been the capitol city’s school superintendent since 2007.  

He agreed last year to leave the district at the end of this academic year. 

But the school board decided to speed up Wallace’s departure.  

The district is facing major restructuring questions  and an estimated budget deficit that could be as high as 20 million dollars.

Education
4:37 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Detroit students launch new talk radio show for teens

user mzacha morgueFile

A new talk radio show hits the airwaves tonight. It's called "Can U Relate?" and it's produced by and for Detroit Public School students.

Ania McKoy is a junior at Detroit School of Arts, and is one of the handful of DPS students working on the new show. She says each episode of "Can U Relate?" will tackle a different topic - like teen pregnancy, bullying, homophobia.

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Education
10:30 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Report: Michigan students falling behind their peers nationally in math, reading

According to the report, Michigan now ranks near the bottom in most subjects and grades.
user jdurham morgueFile

A new report shows Michigan students over the past decade have fallen far behind their peers in other states when it comes to math and reading.

The "What Our Students Deserve" report by the nonprofit Education Trust-Midwest compares National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test scores in reading and math for fourth and eighth graders around the country.

According to the report, Michigan now ranks near the bottom in most subjects and grades.

Amber Arellano, executive director of Education Trust-Midwest, says Michigan students have been stuck in the same place for the past decade, while students in other states have been improving.

She says it's like a marathon, where She likens it to a marathon:

"We can see the other runners in this race, they’re all going much faster and much farther than our kids are."

Michigan's African American students ranked last in 4th grade reading among the 45 states reporting in 2011.

But Arellano says it’s not just low-income, urban or minority children who are struggling. White students in Michigan ranked 13th in the country for 4th grade math in 2003. Last year, they were 45th in the country.

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Education
9:58 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Detroit closes, consolidates more schools in ongoing transformation effort

Southwestern High School is one of the Detroit schools that will close for good.

The Detroit Public School system will shrink again next fall, as the district scrambles to revamp itself amidst declining enrollment.

This is just the latest in several waves of restructuring, as the district must constantly re-adjust to a student population that shrinks every year—and has fallen about 60% overall since 2000, from more than 167,000 students to about 69,000.

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Education
3:29 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

4 year community college degrees in Michigan on hold

A push to allow students to get some kinds of four-year degrees at Michigan community colleges is facing a roadblock at the state capitol.

Community colleges want to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing and a handful of other fields. Michigan universities oppose letting community colleges offer four-year degrees.

But state senators are concerned the state constitution may not allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees. So for now, the bill is on hold. 

Mike Hansen is the president of the Michigan Community College Association. He says the writers of the state constitution were a little vague on what could be taught at the community college level.

“I wonder why they didn’t just say…shall not offer baccalaureate degrees…in the constitution," says Hansen,  "I think the reason they didn’t do that was so the legislature can make that decision.”  

Hansen is optimistic the state senate will brush aside the constitution question and approve the bill. 

Education
11:26 am
Mon February 6, 2012

Truancy sweep scheduled for today in Detroit

Police officials are picking up kids who are not in school around the Detroit area today.

The Detroit Free Press reports Detroit Police are teaming up with local school officials and federal officials to make the sweeps

The program was initiated with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives by Detroit Police Officer Monica Evans, who was a teacher for 12 years. Detroit Public Schools officials are also participating. The effort stems from a U.S. Justice Department report that found many of the nation's prisoners listed truancy as their first offense. The task force has also organized patrols before and after classes at a number of Detroit schools to help students arrive and depart safely.

The Free Press reports the effort is part of "an ongoing collaborative effort by federal, state and local law enforcement to reduce crime by and against children."

They write the effort first started last year and "netted 63 truant students" during a sweep in April, 2011.

Education
5:08 pm
Sun February 5, 2012

Plymouth-Canton schools consider banning "Waterland" novel

user mconnors morgueFile

Another novel taught in the Plymouth-Canton school district is up for discussion this week.

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Education
2:58 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Supreme Court won't intervene in U-M grad student union effort

The Michigan Supreme Court
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

    The Michigan Supreme Court today rejected requests by the state attorney general and a g roup supported by a conservative think tank to intervene in effort to unionize graduate student research assistants at the University of Michigan.    

Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a request with the state Supreme Court to stop a hearing about whether certain graduate students at the University of Michigan can unionize.

Attorney General spokesman John Selleck says they "respect the decision of the Supreme Court."

"I'm happy that the Supreme Court denied the Attorney General's motion to intervene in our hearing," says Irene Yeh, a graduate student research assistant (GSRA) at the University of Michigan. "I'm glad it looks like GSRAs will have the right to decide whether we want to unionize."

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Education
2:32 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Students host LGBT educational summit

Gay pride flag
user Tyrone Warner Flickr

A group of high school students in Plymouth and Canton is hosting an educational summit on Saturday, Feb. 4. They want to address some of the issues gay students deal with in school. The group is known as a “gay-straight alliance," or  GSA.

Saturday’s event is open to all students, teachers and parents affiliated with the three high schools.

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Education
1:48 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

Uncertainty about national health care worries school clinic advocates

Advocates for school-based health clinics are meeting today at the state capitol.

There are approximately 100 school-based health centers operating in Michigan. They serve about 200,000  students.

Michele Straz is the executive director of the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan. She says it’s important to maintain government, foundation and other funding so the clinics can continue to provide a critical service to children.

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Education
6:59 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Community college baccalaureate degrees before Senate panel

Community college students may soon be able to get a bachelor’s degree without transferring to a four-year college or university. A bill before a state Senate panel would allow community colleges to offer the degrees in a few fields.

The measure would allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees in culinary arts, maritime studies, concrete technology, energy production, and nursing. State Representative John Walsh says the state needs more highly trained nurses. “We do at present have a shortage, and it’s only going to increase according to every study, including ones conducted by our own government.”

Those who oppose the measure say it would create unnecessary competition between community colleges and universities, especially in the field of nursing. But supporters of the bill say many people are not within a reasonable driving distance of a university, and community colleges could offer people in rural areas more opportunities to pursue four-year degrees.

Education
7:20 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

Wayne State toughens admissions standards

Wayne State University is changing its admissions standards and retention policies in an effort to boost graduation rates.

Wayne State used to admit students automatically based on a minimum gradepoint average or test scores.

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Education
9:28 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Lansing school district may close 4 schools during the next 2 years

Sexton high school in Lansing is still on the bubble. A decision on which high school to close may not be made until August, or even later this fall
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing schools will undergo a major overhaul during the next two years, if a plan released last night is eventually adopted.  

The plan calls for closing three elementary schools and one high school during the next two years. Twenty other schools would also see major changes.  

Brian Ralph is the district’s COO. He says the plan would save two million dollars over the next two years. Ralph chastised those who suggest closing schools will help the district close its estimated $20 million deficit.  

“If we’re going to sit here today and say we got to close schools to balance the budget…we got to close everything down in Lansing," says Ralph.

District officials concede closing or changing schools is an emotional issue. Guillermo Lopez is a school board member. He says it will be important to put emotional connections aside. 

"Let us no waste a lot of time…fighting for something that is….not the best for our students," says Lopez. The school board plans to hold several community meetings over the coming months to get input on the plan. Key decisions may not come until August.

Education
1:01 am
Tue January 31, 2012

Lansing school board talks about reconfiguring schools tonight

Lansing's Eastern High School may be on the list of city schools to be closed or reconfigured
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing School Board will be talking about closing schools tonight. Supporters of two city high schools are trying to keep them off the list.  

The Lansing School District is looking at a budget deficit that could be as high as $20 million.

Tonight, district officials will outline their plan to pare that number down, and closing some school buildings and reconfiguring other schools is part of that plan. 

Bill Morris is a member of ‘Save Our Sexton’, which is trying to keep Lansing’s Sexton High School off the closure list. He says they’ve been working with the Eastern High alumni group fighting its closure to get district officials to delay any decisions for a year.

"They do share many of the same goals, in terms of the future of the district," says Morris, "The only thing we really differ on is the building to close.  If a building has to be closed in this matter for the obvious reasons. School Board president Myra Ford says she’s been briefed on part of the plan. She expects no action will take place for a month because the plan may be more broad and effect more schools than most people expect.

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Education
5:33 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Michigan schools may offer more full day kindergarten this fall

user kakisky morgueFile

Full day kindergarten may be in store for more Michigan children, due to changes in the school aid budget.

Schools currently get the same amount of per pupil funding whether they offer half day kindergarten or full day kindergarten. But starting this fall, schools that offer half day kindergarten will see their per pupil funding for those students cut in half.

The state legislature approved the school budget funding change last year.

Here are several different school districts' takes on the changes:

One size does not fit all

Livingston County's Brighton Public Schools currently get the full $7,000 per pupil for half day kindergarten students. They’ll get $3,500 for half day kindergarten students beginning with the 2012 school year.

Greg Gary is superintendent for Brighton area schools. He says the drop in funding is going to hurt his budget, but he refuses to cut half day kindergarten from the schedule:

"Not every kid is going to excel in a full day program. I have two children, and I would have put one in full day kindergarten, and one in half day kindergarten, because kids are different."

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Education
2:15 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Oakland University getting $21 million from anonymous donor

ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) - Oakland University says a donor who has requested anonymity is giving $21 million to the school to help enhance students' academic experiences.

The Rochester school said Monday that university President Gary Russi announced the donation in an email to the campus community. Russi says it's the largest single planned and cash gift from an individual in Oakland University history.

Russi says the gifts "will touch the lives of hundreds of student and faculty for generations to come."

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Education
5:02 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

How does Michigan rank in college affordability?

For this analysis of college costs, Bridge Magazine divided Michigan’s 15 universities by using the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education, placing each school with public peer schools.
Bridge Magazine http://bridgemi.com/2012/01/college-tax-burdens-students-state

President Obama spoke at the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus today.

He spoke about his concerns over the cost of higher education and called for a college affordability report card.

The Center for Michigan's Bridge Magazine published its own report card with the affordability rankings for every Michigan university.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke to Ron French, Bridge Magazine's Senior Writer.

 

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