Education

Terry Whitfield/Partnership for Youth

A group of teenagers in Detroit has been pounding the pavement this summer and surveying local organizations. Their goal was to find out which organizations offer jobs and internships to young people.

The teenagers surveyed 150 organizations and mapped out their results using a data analysis program. One of the things the kids learned was that transportation becomes an issue for kids who are far away from resources.

The program is run by Partnership for Youth and is affiliated with the larger organization, Southwest Solutions.

A new pilot program will offer all Detroit Public Schools students free breakfast, lunch and snacks starting this fall. Michigan is one of three states selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture program.

Kisha Verdusco is spokeswoman for the Detroit Public Schools.

"The plan is to roll this out nationally across the country. We are among the first, and more states will be added each year, and in the year 2014 to 2015 the entire nation will have this program."

Other Michigan school districts can qualify for the program if 40 percent of their students are from low income families.

A new federal mandate could make it easier for families to budget for college. Net price calculators will be required by all colleges and universities starting October 29th. At a minimum, net costs are based on a student’s income, how big their family is and their dependency status.

Keith Williams works in the financial aid office at Michigan State University. He says MSU’s net price calculator has been around for several years.

"It just allows a student to make a real, realistic comparison as to what the net price will be at one school versus another school," Williams said.

Margaret Rodriguez works in the financial aid office at the University of Michigan. She says the mandate is a good thing.

"The more information that we can make available to families about the availability of financial aid, the better it is," she said.

Schools can use their own system or the generic calculator provided by the federal government.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

cmich.edu / Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University classes may not start as planned on August 22nd. The faculty and administration have been fighting tooth and nail in contract talks since April. The two sides have not met since last month. Union members are expected to talk about informational picketing or a strike in a meeting 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Jeffrey Weinstock is a professor at CMU. He says he feels as if the faculty is being strong-armed by the administration.

"We have never not had an extension of the current contract during bargaining and we’ve never struck and nobody really wants to but … I get the sense we’re really being backed into a corner and being dared," Weinstock said.

The administration released a statement today welcoming students back for the start of school. The statement says students are moving in and freshmen are attending orientation activities to prepare for next week.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The number of schools in Michigan meeting federal "Adequate Yearly Progress" goals dropped off in the last academic year.

Adequate Yearly Progress goals are part of the No Child Left Behind law.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett has more:

Fewer schools in Michigan met federal benchmarks for students’ academic progress this year, and state officials blame the slide on higher standards required by the federal government.

midnight_peace89 / flickr

A new state Web site goes live tomorrow that will give parents better access to information about Michigan schools. The Web site, mischooldata.org, will compile data that parents used to have to hunt for in different places.

Tom Howell of the Center for Educational Performance and Information says eventually there will be more information available – like graduation rates, and how well high schools are preparing students:

Flickr user SvobodaIT

Michigan State University will be a little more crowded this fall. The incoming freshman class at the East Lansing university will be the largest and most geographically diverse in the school's history.

That’s according to The Lansing State Journal.

MSU is expecting about 7,800 students.

BAMN / bamn.com

Prosecutors have dropped charges against 10 people who were arrested for civil disobedience at a Detroit school in April.

Students and a teacher at the Catherine Ferguson Academy for pregnant and parenting teens were arrested during a sit-on to protest the school closing.

The Detroit Public Schools later announced that a charter operator would take over the school.

Ben Rollman / Flickr

Michigan lawmakers want legislation in place to improve parental involvement in schools. The lack of involvement is seen as one cause of Michigan’s low education scores.

Representative Bob Genetski of Saugatuck is a Republican. He says welfare reform is necessary for education reform.

“I believe much more in workfare than in welfare,” Genetski said. “I think that we need to instill in our kids that nothing comes free and that you earn everything you get.”

Representative Tim Melton of Auburn Hills is a Democrat. He says Child Protective Services should be involved if younger children don’t come to school every day.

“These kids are going to end up in the system either way,” Melton said. “If they’re not showing up at school, that’s an early warning sign of child neglect.”

Melton says Child Protective Services has said they don’t have the resources to take this project on.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

The board that will run the statewide district for Michigan’s lowest-performing schools met for the first time in Detroit Thursday.

Governor Snyder says the Education Achievement System will eventually take on the bottom 5% of schools across the state, starting in Detroit in 2012.

Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts is also heading the EAS. That’s a concern for some, including Detroit Federation of Teachers Vice President Mark O’Keefe.

Michael Tam / Flickr

The legal battle between Lansing-based law and some of its former students has deepened. Cooley Law School has been sued by four of its former students for claiming false job placement statistics. They say Cooley is misrepresenting data to improve the school’s image and get more students. Cooley sued the law firm representing the students last month for defamation. Kurzon Strauss law firm in New York had several online advertisements looking for information about Cooley and other law schools misrepresenting job placement numbers.

Jesse Strauss is a lawyer at Kurzon Strauss. He says their posts requesting information about Cooley were not defamatory.

“We regard the Thomas Cooley suit as a pure intimidation tactic – to sort of make us go away and stuff our investigation,” he said. “The whole suit is about our investigation. The postings that they point out were made when this firm was seriously contemplating litigation against them. We believe they are well aware of that.”

James Thelen is an associate dean at Cooley. He says in an email that the students’ allegations are “completely baseless.”

“We will vigorously defend this lawsuit and continue to pursue the defamation and other legal claims we filed against the Kurzon Strauss firm last month," Thelen said.

A similar lawsuit has been filed against New York Law School by three former students with Kurzon Strauss.

- Amelia Carpenter – Michigan Radio Newsroom

Central Michigan University

Classes at Central Michigan University may be delayed because of contract disputes between the faculty union and administration. Without a contract, faculty may not show for class August 22. The two groups are at a standstill on a number of issues including salary increases, health care or who is allowed to be a union member.

Tim Connors is the former president of the faculty union at the university. He says the union is ready to get back to the table.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

More than a thousand children and their parents are expected to mark the start of the school year at a park in Grand Rapids Tuesday afternoon. Hundreds of kids swarmed Clemente Park Monday evening; jumping in a bounce house, getting their faces painted, eating hot dogs, and signing up for afterschool programs.

Grand Rapids Public Schools is hosting the parties to get parents information and kids excited about the new school year. For four year-round schools in Grand Rapids, classes start this Thursday.

user clarita / morguefile

Classes start today at the new, privately funded Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in southeast Michigan. It's the first of three new medical schools expected to come online in the next few years.

moare / MorgueFile

From The Associated Press

Hundreds of new Michigan teachers are leaving for positions in other states, a reflection of Michigan's shrinking number of students, wealth of teaching colleges and budget cuts that are forcing schools to cut staffs.

 Since peaking in the 2004-05 academic year, the number of Michigan public school teachers has shrunk by nearly 9 percent, a loss of around 10,000 jobs, according to the Center for Educational Performance and Information.

user jdurham / morguefile

Governor Snyder has appointed eleven people to oversee the state’s Education Achievement System. That’s the system designed to turnaround the state’s worst schools – starting with Detroit.

Three unions representing about 10,000 Detroit Public Schools employees have sued over a 10 percent pay cut and 20 percent contribution to health insurance imposed by the district.

Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson tells The Detroit News the cuts are "an unprecedented power grab." Secretary's union President Ruby Newbold tells the Detroit Free Press employees will fight them any way they can.

The federal court suit seeks an injunction to block the changes, which were made under new state legislation expanding emergency financial managers' power.

The suit is against emergency financial manager Roy Roberts and state Treasurer Andy Dillon, who approved the cuts.

Roberts declines comment on the suit but says he's encouraged by the "overall attitude of the unions" in showing willingness to work with him.

Photo courtesy of Northern Michigan University

Governor Rick Snyder’s budget director has given his OK to Northern Michigan University’s tuition increase for the fall term. The decision means the public university in Marquette will not face sanctions for exceeding the state’s tuition increase cap of 7 percent. NMU said the university’s rate increase should not be measured against the fall 2010 rate after students got a discount. The university reduced student costs last year based on a windfall of federal stimulus dollars.

A spokesman for Budget Director John Nixon says he does not put Northern’s tuition hike in the same category as fall increases at Wayne State and Michigan State universities. He says MSU and Wayne State technically complied with the law, but violated the intent of efforts by Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature to hold down tuition increases despite budget cuts to higher education.

Woodley Wonderworks / Flickr

Governor Snyder has announced the appointment of 11 people to the board of the new Education Achievement System. Back in June, Snyder announced the creation of the EAS which will take over and run Michigan’s lowest performing schools, beginning in Detroit.

From the Associated Press:

Two members were appointed by the Detroit Public Schools, two by Eastern Michigan University and seven by the governor.

The Detroit school appointees are emergency financial manager, Roy Roberts and Detroit Parents Network director Sharlotta Buckman.

The Eastern Michigan appointees are American Electric Power chief Mike Morris and university regent Jim Stapleton.

The gubernatorial appointees are Detroit Medical Center chief Mike Duggan, Skillman Foundation chief Carol Goss, the Rev. Joseph Jordan of Hamtramck's Corinthian Baptist Church, Meijer president Mark Murray, VITEC chief William Pickard, New Detroit chief Shirley Stancato and Lansing Community College associate vice president Judith Berry.

The Education Achievement System will begin in the 2012-2013 school year.

The President of the Detroit Board of Education has resigned his position.

Anthony Adams’ resignation note states “I resign my position with deep regret,” but doesn’t give further details.

The note does mention Adams’ route to school board President as a write-in candidate, and his time as Detroit Public Schools General Counsel from 2002-2005.

The Detroit Tigers may win the American League pennant this year, and I don’t like that one bit. It reminds me, in fact, of one of the reasons that our schools are so screwed up.

If that doesn’t seem to make any sense, hang with me for a moment. First of all, I grew up a huge Tigers fan, and can still remember everything about the World Series-winning 1968 team.

But this year, while Detroit has been in first place for much of the last month, it doesn’t mean as much. The teams are divided into many divisions now, so there can be more winners.

It is likely that the second-place team in the more powerful Eastern division will end up winning more games than the first-place team in the Central. To me, that isn’t right, and means a tainted first place finish. Now, what does that have to do with our schools? Simply this. Virtually all Michigan public schools are accredited by the state.

Accreditation ought to mean some guarantee that a school is doing what it should, that you can put your child in it and  expect that he or she will get a proper education.

Provided, of course, you do your part as a parent.

User: Old Shoe Woman / Flickr

The Michigan Board of Education wants an additional 10 years to get students prepared to meet the proficiency scores on state standardized tests. The federal goals call for all children to be proficient on state exams by 2014. State leaders want to waive the No Child Left Behind requirements for 10 years. They believe this period will prepare every Michigan student to be proficient in reading and math.  

Jeff Bean is a Flint high school teacher. He says working to get all students proficient is noble but not realistic.   

"It would be like me setting standards for medical professionals: I think everybody who goes into a cancer treatment should get cured. Let’s go for 100%. That’s a noble effort. But to dictate whether doctors get to keep their licenses or not based on whether they save every patient they see, is an incredibly unreasonable piece."

Bean believes extending the 10-year deadline is a way for certain leaders to buy time to change the federal goals. He says pre- and post-testing would be a more effective goal for students.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, says more than 80% of the nation’s public schools could be labeled as ‘failing’ under the No Child Left Behind law requirements.

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

(Flickr Wysz)

The Princeton Review is out with its annual list of the best colleges and universities for those who put more of an emphasis on 'party' than 'school' .    No Michigan colleges or universities made the dubious list this year.   Though Calvin College in Grand Rapids did land a spot on the list of schools that have more students in the library on a Saturday night than in a local bar. 

 

Here are the lists:

Party schools

1. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio

Shannon Muskopf / Flickr

A number of Michigan public school teachers are feeling pressured to cheat. A recent Detroit Free Press survey shows one-third of Michigan educators feel pressure to cheat on standardized tests and adjust students’ grades. The problem has surfaced in public schools across the country.

Emily Richmond is with the National Education Writers Association. She says measuring teacher performance and political pressures are the reason.

"Teachers are feeling a lot of pressure – I think a lot of them are feeling threatened and I think they feel their job security is on the line," she said.

About 3-hundred public schools in the country have recently faced suspicions, claims or cases of cheating to improve test scores.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Woodley Wonderworks / Flickr

The amount of money Michigan has to spend in its general fund for everything from prisons to health care dropped by nearly 25 percent over the past four fiscal years amid the recession and shrinking tax revenues. Yet the state's school aid fund remained relatively healthy, protected by earmarks for public schools.

State budget director John Nixon thinks those earmarks merit another look.

"It's not that I'm saying we need to cut the school aid fund ... (but) a lot of this stuff was put in place 15, 20 years ago when Michigan looked totally different," he said during a recent interview with The Associated Press. "We just need to strip things down and say, `This is the money we're bringing in, this is where it's going. Is it lining up appropriately?"'

Nearly three-quarters of the sales tax collected annually goes to the $13.3 billion school aid fund, as well as nearly a fourth of the income tax revenue, 42 percent of cigarette tax revenue and a third of the money raised by the use tax and the Michigan Business Tax. The school aid fund also receives all of the money raised through a statewide 6-mill education property tax, the real estate transfer tax, the state casino wagering tax and the net proceeds from lottery sales.

DETROIT (AP) - Wayne State University is cutting 200 jobs, including 80 that are currently filled due to a loss of $32 million in funding from the state.

The Detroit Free Press reports Friday that an email about the layoffs and cuts was sent Thursday to all university employees by school President Alan Gilmour.

Gilmour writes that the school has "notified most of the affected employees."

The Detroit university looked at each of its schools, colleges and divisions for cost savings and hiked tuition for undergraduate and graduate students to keep its budget balanced.

It says no additional job cuts are planned.

(courtesy of the Detroit Public School District)

Public school teachers in Detroit are getting a wage and benefit cut.  The state appointed emergency manager informed Detroit Public School unions this morning that he is imposing a 10 percent wage cut this year.   Emergency Manager Roy S. Roberts is also imposing an 80/20 split on health care benefits.    

The move is expected to save the district nearly 82 million dollars this year.  

Roberts issued a written statement explaining the need for imposing the concessions. 

State Budget Director John Nixon says Michigan State University and Wayne State University did not violate the state's tuition cap of 7 percent when setting fall tuition rates and they will receive their full state aid payments. Nixon still needs to make a decision on whether Northern Michigan University exceeded the cap. 

The University of Michigan will offer a year-long masters degree in entrepreneurship starting fall 2012. The joint program between the College of Engineering and Ross School of Business aims to combine the wealth of technological ideas with business expertise.

David Munson is the College of Engineering dean at the University of Michigan. He believes the partnership is the first of its kind.

"The uniqueness really stems from the quality on both sides and bringing that quality together to try to produce what we hope will be the best program of its kind in the country," Munson said.

Munson expects many engineering students to enroll in the entrepreneurship program after they graduate. Entrepreneurship will likely have a place in each department at the university in coming years.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Kevin Wong / Flickr

Teachers in our country rarely get the respect they deserve -- a uniquely American pathology. But this year they’ve endured not just indifference, but disrespect – and from Congressmen, no less. Teachers are now blamed not just for falling test scores, but failing state budgets and rising healthcare costs.

There was once a politician who took a different view.

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson's Northwest Ordinance – what some scholars believe to be one of the three most important documents in the founding of America, along with the Constitution and Declaration of Independence – provided funding for public schools and universities. In it, he declared, “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

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