Education

Education
10:25 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Ypsilanti, Willow Run school districts consider consolidation

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Leaders of the Willow Run and Ypsilanti school districts say plans to consolidate could prevent them from being placed under the control of an emergency financial manager.

AnnArbor.com reports both school districts have been on the state's list of districts operating with a deficit consistently since 2009. Ypsilanti Public Schools has a total projected deficit of $9.4 million and Willow Run Community Schools has a $1.7 million deficit.

The superintendents of both districts said Tuesday that consolidation could prevent an emergency manager and improve student achievement.

Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin says his district has spent more than it has taken in since 2004-05. Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki says school officials are looking to take a local, proactive approach to solving their schools' growing financial and student achievement problems.

Education
1:28 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Michigan Senate passes bill banning intimate relations between school employees and students

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate has approved legislation aimed at expanding prohibitions against sex between school employees and students.

The Senate passed the main bill in a legislative package by a 36-2 vote Tuesday. The legislation advances to the House.

The legislation would make it a crime for school employees such as administrators and teachers to have sex with students even if the student is 18 or older.

Current law sets an age of consent in such cases at 18.

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Education
6:13 am
Thu March 15, 2012

Kettering University guarantees fixed tuition for undergrads

Kettering University in Flint will guarantee a fixed tuition rate beginning in the 2012-2013 school year.  The plan also eliminates many extra fees.

Kettering University specializes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Kettering president Robert McMahan says the fixed tuition guarantee will help full-time students know exactly how much their undergraduate education will cost.

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Education
1:20 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Supporters kick off campaign to pass GRCC millage in May

Kent County Commission Chair Sandi Frost Parrish endorses the GRCC millage at the kick off campaign Wednesday morning.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

People supporting a new tax millage for Grand Rapids Community College kicked off their campaign Wednesday. The millage would raise almost $100 million over 20 years pay to renovate almost every building on campus; including the main building constructed 90 years ago.

Students, employers, Democrats and even some Republicans gathered at the school’s Music Center Wednesday morning.

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Education
12:30 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Flint school officials start the process of deciding which schools to close

Frank Juarez Flickr

Flint school board members have started weighing their options for closing schools later this year.    They didn’t like the options they were given last night.

The two options presented to the school board last night included closing three elementary schools, one or two middle schools and possibly a high school.

School board members were very much against one proposal that included mixing middle schoolers and high schoolers.  

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Education
5:02 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Environmental group questions Dow's sustainability gift to UofM

Imerman Park sits on the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River. Signs along the trail warn walkers about dioxin contamination in some of the park's soil.
Shawn Allee The Environment Report

Update 5:02 p.m.

Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the University of Michigan, responded to concerns raised by an environmental group about Dow Chemical’s $10 million gift to the university.

The Ecology Center wants the university to release more details about the agreement between Dow and the U of M. In a press release, The Ecology Center’s Tracy Easthope urged the University “to make public the details of this gift, including whether the gift comes with strings attached.”

Fitzgerald said the University of Michigan has lots of partnerships with corporate funded research and other corporate philanthropy and has a “long track record of working very effectively with corporate partners in research projects.”

“We never turn over control of any research opportunities to the donors,” said Fitzgerald. “The program itself is directed by Don Scavia, the special counsel to the U of M President for Sustainability… and the program will continue to be directed by him and by the University of Michigan, and certainly when it comes to any curriculum development, that remains solely the responsibility of the U of M faculty and staff.”

Fitzgerald said there would be “a loaned employee from Dow” who would serve as a link between the U of M program and Dow Chemical, and who would provide some other program support.

Fitzgerald said if people are interested in the details, they are available upon request from the U of M’s public affairs department, the U of M’s Freedom of Information Office, or through Don Scavia’s office. Michigan Radio has requested a copy of the agreement.

“I think this is an exciting program,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s a great example of corporate philanthropy at the University of Michigan and we think it will be managed well and effectively to the benefit of society.”

2:12 p.m.

Environmental health director at the Ecology Center Tracy Easthope is calling on the University of Michigan to release the details behind Dow Chemical's gift to the university

It was announced yesterday that Dow will give U of M $10 million to establish a sustainability fellowship program.

The program will support the work of around 300 masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral students for a period of six years. From the University of Michigan:

Fellows will develop knowledge and seek breakthroughs across myriad components of the sustainability challenge, including human behavior, energy, water, mobility, climate change, built environment, land use, and global health.

In a statement, Easthope said, “while a major gift to further sustainability education is laudable, it is important to assure the complete independence of the University... We urge the University to make public the details of this gift, including whether the gift comes with strings attached.”

The group cites a University of California at Berkeley case as cause for concern. They say, after a giving a gift to U.C. Berkeley, a Dow Chemical employee was hired into a position where he teaches students - raising questions of academic independence.

From the Ecology Center's press release:

Dow Chemical is a global leader in manufacturing chemicals, some of which have problematic health and environmental attributes. Dow’s advocacy to continue production of these problematic chemicals suggests the company’s definition of sustainability is not in agreement with the mainstream.

“Dow is responsible for one of the largest contamination sites in Michigan, stretching more than 50 miles to Saginaw Bay and into Lake Huron,” said Rita Chapman, clean-water program director at the Sierra Club. “Until recently, they have delayed cleanup action, which has put people’s health at risk.”

Michele Hurd of the Lone Tree Council has been closely involved in the fight to get Dow Chemical to clean up its dioxin contamination in Michigan. In the release, she says "Dow has not earned a major voice in sustainability education."

A phone call was made to the University of Michigan for comment.

Education
1:26 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

East Detroit school gives 'white flight' warning

East Detroit High School
East Detroit Public Schools

EASTPOINTE, Mich. (AP) - A suburban Detroit school board member warns that his district's participation in a Michigan Schools of Choice program could lead to white students leaving the district.

On Monday night, the East Detroit Board of Education in a 5-2 vote approved opening the district to neighboring Wayne County schools, including Detroit and Harper Woods.

The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens and MLlive.com report board member Jon Gruenberg said Schools of Choice in other districts has caused a "second wave of white flight."

He predicted that could happen in East Detroit, where the number of minority students continues to increase.

East Detroit school officials long had opposed the Schools of Choice concept, but said the district needed to participate in order to survive financially.

Education
9:27 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Dow Chemical starts $10 million fellowship program with University of Michigan

Dow Chemical will fund a new, $10 million fellowship program at the University of Michigan.

The Dow Sustainability Fellows program is designed to support 300 graduate students over six years.

Graduate students from a variety of backgrounds can become fellows. But they must focus their research on a topic related to environmental sustainability.

Dow CEO Andrew Liveris says if that sounds broad, it’s by design. He says the point is to develop human capital to address a complex, hard-to-define issue.

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Education
3:43 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

U of M announces Dr. Sanjay Gupta as spring commencement speaker

user Dnd523 wikimedia commons

The University of Michigan has announced the speaker for its Ann Arbor commencement ceremony next month.

According to a press release from the university, graduates will hear an address from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical correspondent at CNN, a practicing surgeon, and a UM alumnus who was raised in Novi.

The U of M press release describes Gupta as:

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Education
4:15 pm
Sat March 10, 2012

Group wants "tuition equality" for undocumented students

A group of students at the University of Michigan want to make higher education more accessible for undocumented Michigan residents.

Freshman Daniel Morales recently petitioned the U of M Board of Regents for policy changes that would allow undocumented immigrants who graduate from Michigan high schools to pay in-state tuition.

Morales was an undocumented resident when he was first accepted to U of M.

He was told he would have to pay international tuition despite growing up in Michigan. He was also not allowed to apply for financial aid. Morales says that U of M's tuition policies are unjust.

"This is a civil rights fight in which we are restraining a certain population fo our community because of something that is not within their control. What they can control is how they do in school, and these are students who are getting into one of the most competitive universities."

Federal law guarantees undocumented students access to public education from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Universities set their own tuition policies.

Western Michigan University already charges in-state tuition for undocumented Michigan students.

Education
12:36 pm
Sat March 10, 2012

New superintendent works to unite Grand Rapids schools’ community

Teresa Weatherall Neal addressed the community at Ottawa Hills High School auditorium Saturday morning.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The interim superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools will get rid of some controversial initiatives put in place by the former district leader. The state’s third largest school district has been through a lot of turmoil over the last year.

Former Grand Rapids schools superintendent Bernard Taylor made academic improvements during his five years serving the district. But he was divisive at least and a pariah to some. He resigned abruptly in January. His replacement Teresa Weatherall Neal has worked for Grand Rapids schools for 35 years.

“I am truly, truly, one of you. This is my district and this is my city,” Neal said in her ‘state of our schools address’ Saturday.  

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Education
7:05 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court hears arguments in Detroit Public Schools emergency manager lawsuit

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

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court is considering a case related to whether the timing of the oath of office should affect the status of Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts.

The court heard oral arguments in the case Thursday.

The case was brought by Robert Davis, an activist who has filed several suits challenging aspects of Michigan's emergency manager law.

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Education
1:30 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Parents question lawmakers on cyber and charter schools, funding changes

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Five state lawmakers took tough questions from parents in East Grand Rapids Wednesday night. The legislative committee of the schools' PTA hosted the lawmakers; four republicans and one democrat. Hot issues included a proposed bill on cyber schools and the governor’s proposed k-12 budget for next school year.

Cyber charter schools

Last year Michigan lifted the cap on how many charter schools public universities can run. Now, there’s a bill proposed that would allow more cyber charter schools to operate.

Many parents asked the lawmakers why cyber schools get the same amount of state money per child as brick and morter ones. State Representative Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) said cyber schools shouldn’t get as much, saying the savings should be passed on to the taxpayers. Cyber charters can be run by national for-profit companies.

Tina Murua has two kids enrolled in East Grand Rapids schools. “I fear that they’ve couched the whole thing in terms of parental choice because…who can argue with that? It’s a brilliant strategy but it was a false choice,” Murua said. She worries companies are pushing states to allow more cyber schools just to make money.  

The state senate already approved the cyber charter school bill. It passed the State House Education Committee in late February.

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Education
4:15 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Michigan legislature passes school union dues bill

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Update 4:15 pm

The Michigan legislature has passed a bill to prohibit public schools from automatically collecting union dues from the paychecks of teachers and other employees.

Republican Representative Joe Haveman says the bill’s intent is to focus schools on educating children.

 “The focus of our school administration has to be on teaching the kids.   Let’s get out of the business of collecting bills for other people," says Haveman.

Critics complain the real intent is to weaken teachers’ unions.

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Education
12:27 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Religious freedom vs Academic accreditation

Julea Ward is suing EMU for being expelled from the school's master's program in counseling.
(courtesy of the Alliance Defense Fund)

 State lawmakers heard testimony today on legislation that would protect college students whose religious beliefs conflict with their university’s curriculum.    There are concerns the bill might cause problems for university accreditation.

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Education
4:44 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Michigan's 'Prop 2' going before a federal court on Wednesday

The U.S. Circuit Court in Cincinnati will hear arguments tomorrow about Michigan's constitutional amendment barring state universities from considering an applicant’s race in college admissions.

Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved ‘proposition 2’ in 2006. The amendment bars state colleges and other publicly funded institutions from considering an applicant’s minority status.

Mark Rosenbaum is with the American Civil Liberties Union. He says Prop 2 violates the U.S. Constitution by forbidding the consideration of race, while other factors like whether a college applicant’s parent is an alumnus, are still permitted.

“That’s un-American because it removes ‘racial identity’ from the vocabulary of a democracy," says Rosenbaum.  

Last year, a federal appellate court ruled against Prop 2.  Joy Yearout is with the Michigan Attorney General’s office.  She says the Attorney General finds a serious problem with that ruling.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals said that by banning racial discrimination it somehow perpetuates discrimination," says Yearout, "And if that sounds crazy to you, there’s a reason.  It just doesn’t make any sense.”

The case may eventually end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Education
3:24 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Muskegon Heights schools' review team begins real work Wednesday

A state appointed team that will decide if the Muskegon Heights school district needs an emergency manager really gets to work Wednesday. It’s the first time the team has met in Muskegon.

The governor appointed the review team in January. But because of legal challenges in the Highland Park school district, the team’s work has been delayed until now.

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Education
11:02 am
Mon March 5, 2012

MSU to offer class on how to survive a zombie pandemic

user: camrynb morgueFile

Michigan State University is taking the zombie movie craze one step farther with a class that asks: What would you do if zombies actually attacked?

MSU's seven-week, online summer class looks at how people behave in times of catastrophe...real or otherwise.

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Education
9:28 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Agreement lets Highland Park schools stay open through the school year

The Detroit school district has stepped in to help make sure the Highland Park public schools stay open for the rest of the school year.

But there are still plenty of questions about what happens after that.

The state had to advance Highland Park money last week, or the district would have gone broke.

And the state did—but with the provision that the money couldn’t go to the Highland Park school district, per se.

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Education
4:09 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Highland Park schools will remain open, teachers will be paid

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

The cash-strapped Highland Park schools will get help so schools in the district can remain open until the end of the school year, the Michigan Department of Treasury announced today. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is covering this story and will have an update later.

From a press release sent by Michigan's Treasury Department:

Highland Park Schools Emergency Manager Jack Martin, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts, and State Treasurer Andy Dillon today signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that provides temporary assistance and support to Highland Park Schools from Detroit Public Schools. The MOA, which will be in place for the remainder of the 2011- 2012 school year, allows current Highland Park students to remain in their current classrooms with their current teachers, if they so choose, despite the district’s financial crisis.

Plans to reform the finances at Highland Park schools hit a snag when a judge ruled the state violated the open meetings act when a state financial review team appointed emergency manager Jack Martin to oversee the school system.

Martin was temporarily taken off his post and re-appointed to his post by Governor Snyder this morning.

In the press release, Martin said their goal is to "ensure that students face as little disruption as possible." He thanked DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts:

“I want to thank Mr. Roberts for his willingness to assist Highland Park Schools through such trying times. I would also like to thank the teachers and staff who have been in class and working all week despite not getting paid last Friday. They will be receiving paychecks later today.”

Detroit Public Schools, which has its own financial troubles, will receive "distressed district student transition grants" worth $4,000 per pupil.

State officials say Detroit Public Schools "will support personnel-related functions on behalf of Highland Park Schools."

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