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Education

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.

white building with columns and yellow tree in front
VasenkaPhotography / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Leaders from some of the world’s most prestigious universities gathered for a meeting of the minds today at the University of Michigan.

They are taking part in the UM President's Bicentennial Colloquium, which includes a session titled “The Evolving Bargain between Research Universities and Society.”

Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Friday marks the last day of the Education Achievement Authority, Michigan's controversial state-run turnaround district. 

The EAA's 15 schools will stay open, but they'll be absorbed back into the Detroit Public Schools Community District. Sonya Mays, treasurer for the DPSCD school board, says the district is working with the EAA to make it a smooth transition for students. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University plans to press incoming freshmen to sign up for more courses.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon says studies show first-year college students who take 30 credits their freshman year are more likely to graduate in four years.

“If you take more credits, no matter your preparation the first year, you’re going to be able to graduate higher,” says Simon, “Student success is really important because you’re investing a lot of money and the value of your degree is when you finish.”

USER: RICHEVENHOUSE / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A $2.5 million budget item has triggered a growing battle over whether Michigan can funnel state money to private and parochial schools.

It began when Michigan's Republican-controlled Legislature added that $2.5 million to the state's $16.1 billion education budget. The money was to reimburse private and parochial schools for the cost of complying with state-mandated safety measures.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The latest version of changes to the state’s teacher retirement plan passed through committees Wednesday. The changes were announced late Tuesday and received committee hearings early Wednesday morning.  

The House and Senate adopted identical amendments to bills their respective chambers had already introduced.

Democrats have largely been left out of behind the scenes negotiations between the governor and leaders of the House and Senate. Democratic Representative Winne Brinks voiced her frustration with the speed the bills were moving during a committee hearing.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A deal for the state’s budget and teacher retirement has been made.

Top Republican lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder have been in a stalemate over what to do with the teacher’s retirement plan.

But now a deal is in place.

The current teacher retirement plan gives teachers the option between a straight 401K and a hybrid 401K and pension-type plan.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan's zero tolerance policies were part of a 'tough on discipline' trend that was big in the 1990s, but countless studies since then have shown that zero tolerance doesn't work and many states have amended their school discipline laws to reflect that.

Brian Hart / Flickr

The 2017 Kids Count Data Book reveals that Michigan lags behind in nearly every aspect of child well-being. The report lists Michigan at 32nd among states for overall child well-being.

The report looks at health, education, economic well-being and family and community as part of a national effort to improve conditions for children and their families.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan has made major strides when it comes to the number of kids enrolled in state-funded preschool.

The state now ranks 15th in the country according to a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

The state’s Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) serves kids whose families make up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line. It enrolled almost 39,000 kids last year, which is a 64 percent increase from 2012. 

Tracy Samilton

For most Michigan kids, the school year is over next week. 

But for the 300-some kids at Taylor International Academy in Southfield, it ended twelve days early, after the charter's management company suddenly pulled its staff, including the principal.

Aaron Katchen / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Back in March of 2010, I did a commentary on Michigan Radio about the animus being directed at teachers.  I expressed a common sentiment among educators at the time that we were bewildered by this development. 

A year later, I followed up with another one, an update if you will, where I expressed surprise that the situation had actually worsened.

kids walking in a school hallway
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A school reform plan implemented in Michigan in 2012 didn't actually improve schools.

That’s according to a new working paper published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study looked at reforms implemented as part of the state's waiver from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

kids at computers
U.S. Department of Education

Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed state budget includes a 20% cut to per pupil spending for virtual charter schools, but lawmakers in both the state House and Senate want to continue funding online schools at the same rate as traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

Upward Bound alum Amy Lehigh, and parent of alum Jackie Allard.
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Many programs are on the chopping block in President Trump's proposed budget.

That includes the Upward Bound program, which helps rural low-income kids who are the first in their families to go to college.

Upward Bound is for students in 9th-12th grades, offering field trips along with academic instruction in subjects like math, literature and foreign languages.  Students learn how to study in college, how to take good notes, and what to expect once they get on campus.

Stateside 5.31.2017

May 31, 2017

Today on Stateside, we hear why Michigan advocates say protecting LGBT rights has to be a state issue. And, turns out what you learned in school about the Underground Railroad wasn't the whole story.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s been a high-speed first few days on the job for Detroit’s new school superintendent.

Nikolai Vitti began his new job last Tuesday and jumped right in with school visits, and meeting and talking with teachers, parents and staffers.

University of Michigan MSIS / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

Recently, I read a story in the LA Times entitled, “'A sea of despair': White Americans without college degrees are dying younger.” It was about a Princeton study on mortality rates. Apparently, all ethnic groups are living longer with the exception of white Americans. The researchers suggest that decades of underemployment have had a damaging effect on the group’s financial and personal decisions, making them an easy target for profiteers and ideologues. The message: You need a college education if you don’t want to die young.

Nikolai Vitti
via Twitter

Detroit’s new schools superintendent knows he’s taking on a tough job, but he’s also convinced the troubled district can turn around, and prove that “traditional urban public education works.”

Nikolai Vitti has started laying the groundwork for that. He took over as superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District last week.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

This will be the second so-called adequacy study to try to figure out the cost of educating a child in Michigan.

Nikolai Vitti shakes hands at a teacher recruitment fair at Detroit's Martin Luther King, Jr. High School.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s new schools superintendent says it’s “time to think differently” about some pressing issues—including the district’s chronic, ongoing teacher shortage.

It’s Nikolai Vitti’s first week on the job as head of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

On Monday, Vitti met with teachers’ union leadership, visited two schools, and stopped by a teacher recruitment fair. He said the lack of teachers in too many classrooms is taking a toll on everyone in DPSCD schools.

pictures of rock garden
Courtesy of @GHHSBucs / Twitter

When a teen is depressed and wrestling with thoughts of suicide, the stigma associated with mental illness can be a huge barrier to reaching out for help.

That's why the culture and climate at school is so crucial. Schools need teachers and administrators who know the warning signs of a mental health crisis and what to do next to support their students. 

At Grand Haven Public Schools, six students have died by suicide since 2011. Those tragic losses have spurred the district to revamp the way they talk about mental health. 

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.

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