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Education

Notebook and pencil laid across the pages of an open book
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DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Public school advocates are suing to block the state of Michigan from helping private schools with the cost of complying with state requirements such as immunization reporting and safety drills.

East Detroit school and community officials blasted Jensen's appointment in June. They eventually settled on a power-sharing arrangment that limited Jensen's authority.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

An experimental and contentious turnaround effort in the East Detroit Public Schools is coming to an end, as state-appointed CEO Gary Jensen announced Monday he will step down early next month.

The state school reform office appointed Jensen, a former Michigan Principal of the Year, as CEO of four low-performing East Detroit schools last June. The school system is located in Eastpointe, a small suburb just north of Detroit.

He was supposed to have broad powers to make sweeping changes to boost academic performance.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The debate over publicizing A-to-F grades for every public school in Michigan is not entirely over, despite the surprise decision by top education officials to back off the proposal.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston will default to report cards without any letter grades, to replace color-coded marks that have been criticized. But the caveat remains that the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder could still decide that letter grades should be issued.

It will be a tough sell.

knittymarie / flickr

Michigan's average teacher salary has dropped for the fifth year in a row, according to data recently released by the state. Public school teachers are hit the hardest.

David Crim is with the Michigan Education Association. He says salary cuts drive young people away from pursuing education as a career.

"We're losing some of the best and brightest young teachers because they can't afford to pay off student loans while paying the cost of housing, food, and other essentials," Crim said.

It's SAT and ACT season.

The high-stakes tests for high school juniors do more than just assign a number to your math and reading skills. There's also a lot of scholarship money available for students who earn high scores.  

creative commons

State Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston plans to ditch an idea to use grades to describe the performance of individual schools in Michigan, under the state's draft plan to comply with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

That's after many groups protested the grades idea.
 

Chris Wigent is with the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

He says grades don't give much detail, and they can be misleading. But he likes the idea of presenting information about schools on what he calls a "dashboard."

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

The heads of most of the 38 schools facing closure for low academic performance are drafting agreements that would allow the schools to stay open and collaborate with the state.

The state offered the agreements as a sort of olive branch after major backlash to the closure announcements in late January.

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

Some lawmakers want Michigan to dump the Common Core education standards. But that might put them at odds with Governor Snyder’s vision for education in Michigan.

Michigan’s current education standards are Common Core with a twist. But some lawmakers want to use the standards that another state used a few years ago.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan needs to “invest with urgency” in some “high-yield” education strategies, or risk falling even further behind other states.

That’s the gist of a new report from Gov. Snyder’s 21st Century Education Commission, which lays out a “blueprint” for that effort.

Those recommendations run the gamut. Among the most prominent or controversial:

The state says 38 schools with persistently low test scores might not have to close by the end of the year. At least, not yet. These schools now have 60 days to come up with a turnaround plan using what the state calls a "partnership" model. We wanted to know a little bit more about what that partnership strategy might entail, so we took a trip to Dearborn to find out. 

SARAH CWIEK / MICHIGAN RADIO

Life Remodeled is a group pouring money and effort into fixing up Detroit Schools. It’s worked on Detroit’s Cody High School, Osborn High School and Denby High School.

All three of those have either individual schools or the entire campus that are on the list of 38 schools in danger of closure due to poor performance. (The state has offered schools on that list a chance to stay open.)

Life Remodeled has spent $15 million in the last three years on projects to benefit the Detroit community.

creative commons

A new report from advocacy group The Education Trust shows a large gap in six-year university graduation rates between African-American students and white students.

The Education Trust is a national non-profit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, particularly for students of color and low-income students.

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The Michigan Department of Education is offering a reprieve for the 38 schools in danger of being closed for poor performance.

The reprieve is laid out in a letter from Michigan Superintendent Brian Whiston to the eight school districts with schools on the possible closure list.

The Old Main building at Wayne State University
Wikimedia Commons

A group of academics will visit Wayne State University this week as part of an accreditation process that happens every ten years.

The Detroit News reports that the Higher Learning Commission will be assessing the quality of education offered by the university. The organization is one of six in the U.S. that accredits colleges and universities.

Wayne State was first accredited in 1868 and has been ever since.

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

The state is giving 38 of Michigan’s worst-performing schools 60 days to come up with a turnaround plan, and avoid closure – at least for now.

Under the so-called "partnership model," schools would get support from the state, district and outside groups to help them address weak areas. 

The schools would have to meet benchmarks at 18-month intervals, or they could still face closure after three years.

The plans would have to be approved by the state Department of Education and the School Reform Office.

Courtesy of Susannah Goodman

  The Next Idea

Get kids started at an early age with the arts and the payoff could be better math, science and literacy skills, in addition to better overall learning skills.

That’s the idea behind the Livings Arts' Detroit Wolf Trap Program. Its goal is to narrow the achievement gap between affluent and less-affluent areas through arts education.

GVSU settles lawsuit over campus free speech

Mar 2, 2017
Grand Valley State University Student Services Building
Demhem / wikimedia

Grand Valley State University has entered into a settlement agreement with two students and a student group that sued the school, claiming unlawful restrictions on free speech on campus.

Under the February 28 agreement, GVSU agreed to adopt a new Grounds and Facility Use Policy and to pay about $11,000 in legal fees and costs.

School bus.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint public schools have settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

In 2014, the Genesee Intermediate School District filed suit against the Flint public schools for $8.6 million.

The suit claimed Flint school officials used countywide tax money meant for vocational education at the Genesee Area Skill Center on general operations.

At the time, Flint public school officials blamed accounting errors for the discrepancy.

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

State boards of education across the country are issuing draft plans on how to meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2015 federal education law that set new national standards for K-12 schools.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) recently released its plan for complying with ESSA. The plan aims to make Michigan “a top 10 education state within 10 years.”

Bryan McDonald / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Trump administration has alarmed transgender students and their families, according to the advocacy group Stand with Trans.

The group is looking to update the Michigan transgender community and educators at an informational session on Wednesday night about transgender students' rights at schools in Michigan.

The Trump administration recently rescinded federal guidelines that made clear that Title IX protects transgender youth from discrimination in schools and colleges.

Teacher and students at Flint's Southwestern Academy.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s new legislation that may help more Flint school children go to college.

Ten Michigan communities are designated as so-called "promise zones."

The communities raise money, by means including tax increment financing, to pay for students to receive a college education.

State Sen. Jim Ananich’s (D-Flint) new bill would add Flint to that list.

Stateside Staff

How important is leadership to the success – or failure – of a school?

After 20 years as a teacher and principal in the Detroit Public School System, Antoinette Pearson is making the argument that it is fundamental.

In her new book, Truth Transforms Education: A Framework for New School Leaders, Pearson describes three different leadership styles and the effects they can have.

Stateside 2.23.2017

Feb 23, 2017

What do you picture when someone says "typical college student?" Today we learn why the image in your head might be the wrong one. And, we hear of efforts by the state and hunters to control Michigan's "resilient" coyote population.

What do you picture when someone says "traditional college student?"
Bradley Gordon / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What do you picture when someone says "typical college student?"

Maybe you pictured a teenage student who recently graduated from high school. He's off to attend college, which is likely paid for by his parents.

That image is mistaken.

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

Lawyers for Saginaw and Kalamazoo school districts say the state does not have the authority to close four of their low-performing schools.

The complaint was filed late Wednesday on behalf of the two school districts and more than a dozen parents. They argue the governor violated the state constitution when he signed an executive order in 2015 moving the School Reform Office into a department under his control, instead of the state superintendent and the education department.

The office is considering closing 38 schools.

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

Some parents may have to drive their children ten, 20, even 30 miles to school next year. But those parents still aren't sure if that's the case yet, or if any of their options will be much better than their current schools.

All the confusion is because last month, the state School Reform Office (SRO) announced that 38 schools could be closed at the end of this school year.

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

Are Michigan’s schools improving? According to a new analysis of national testing data, the answer is a clear “no.”

The report, authored by University of Michigan professor Brian A. Jacob, looked at the scores of 4th- and 8th-grade students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The nationally administered test measures for proficiency in reading and math.

Parents, students and community activists holding signs at a press conference in front of Osborn High School in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents and students want the state to hear from them before closing their schools.

Twenty-five public schools in Detroit could be shut down for having poor test scores.

The state School Reform Office, which released the list of schools that might close, has yet to meet with parents or students from these schools.

Terry Whitfield is with 482 Forward, a citywide network of community organizations, schools groups and church groups.

He says the state needs input from the people most affected by the possible school closings.

Protestors urge state lawmakers to not close 25 low-performing Detroit schools.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Parents and teachers of Detroit public schools students believe closing down schools won't improve education in their city.

The state released a list of 38 Michigan schools that could be shut down for low test scores. Twenty-five of them are in Detroit.

Robin Jennings, a Detroit public school teacher, said the state hasn't given the newly created school district enough time to improve.

“They promised that if they opened up this new school district, they would allow us time to get us on track, and they lied to us,” Jennings said. “They outright lied.”

MSU President Lou Anna Simon / File photo / MSU

Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon says a pair of sexual assault investigations are not signs of larger issues within the athletic department. 

She says sexual assault will not be tolerated, but added it’s not unique to MSU.

“To make it an MSU problem in the reporting, from my perspective, and not a society problem that also happens to be at MSU, it does a disservice to the university,” Simon said.  

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