Education

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.

 

Education
3:48 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Expelled EMU student's bias suit revived by appeals court

Julea Ward.

Update: 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28:

Eastern Michigan University issued this statement:

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Education
6:45 am
Fri January 27, 2012

At University of Michigan today, Obama to lay out ideas for keeping college affordable

President Obama and his director of speech writing, Jon Favreau, go over a draft of the State of the Union address. Obama will talk more about his ideas for keeping college affordable today in Ann Arbor.
White House

In the last two decades, the cost of attending one year of college in a four-year institution has gone from an average of $7,602 in 1990-1991, to an average of $21,189 in 2009-2010.

And for Michigan's 15 public universities, tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates have more than doubled in the last ten years -

  • going from an average of $5,056 in 2001-2002
  • to an average of $10,551 in 2011-2012

The public universities in Michigan, as in many states, have been adjusting to big cuts in state funding.

In her "Open Letter to President Obama" last month, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman called Michigan "ground zero" for higher education funding cuts:

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Education
7:30 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

More online K-12 schools coming to Michigan?

The debate over the effectiveness of K-through-12 cyber schools is ramping up at the state Capitol.

A state House panel is considering a measure that would allow more "cyber schools" to operate in Michigan.          

There are currently two cyber schools authorized in Michigan.

Former state schools Superintendent Tom Watkins supports allowing more cyber schools to operate in the state. But he cautioned lawmakers to take careful consideration of how well individual schools are performing.  

“I would invoke an old Chinese saying; that once you open the window, all the flies can come in,” said Watkins.

Those opposed to more cyber schools in the state say not enough is known about their success rates.

Democratic state Representative Rudy Hobbs, playing on Watkins' flies metaphor, said he wants to make sure new cyber schools operating in the state meet high performance standards.

"Once we pass this, we open up the window. All the flies can come in; every single one of them," said Hobbs. "And then we have to try and figure out which ones are good, which ones are bad, get our fly-swatter out and kind of kill the ones that are bad. Why get the fly-swatter out? Let’s just make sure we let the good ones come in and be done with it."

Supporters of online learning say kids and parents should be afforded more education options and opportunities in the digital age. And they say wait-lists for cyber schools are long.

Republican state Representative Tom McMillin chairs the House Education Committee.

"Education is changing, and it’s changing rapidly. But if we don’t change, the world’s not waiting. And we can’t be stuck in some of the older ways of doing things and our kids are going to be left behind and our state is," said McMillin.

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants traditional public schools to incorporate more cyber-learning. But he has not called for more online-only schools.

Education
6:03 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Uncertainty in Highland Park schools as parents look for answers

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Highland Park school officials are battling to keep their school district from a state takeover.

But many parents there say they just want to know whether the district will last through the next month.

An audit shows the Highland Park school district is running an $11.2 million deficit—mostly because it’s lost more than two-thirds of its students.

In 2008, the district had 3419 students. Today, they have fewer than 1000.

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Education
4:45 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Gov. to Highland Park parents: schools in danger of closing next month

Governor Rick Snyder has put Highland Park schools parents on notice that the district is in danger of closing next month.

The warning came in a letter Snyder sent to parents. It says the district’s finances have reached a crisis stage, and that Highland Park might not be able to finish the school year without state intervention.

"We were hearing lots of concerns, lots of frustration" the governor's spokeswoman, Sara Wurfel, said of the letter. "And so we just wanted to make sure we were communicating directly so they could hear from the governor, and he could begin to help answer those questions as best we can at the time."

But Highland Park school board secretary Robert Davis says the letter serves little purpose other than to scare parents, "and in turn may cause some parents to take their kids out of the district, which will further cripple the Highland Park school system."

The district's cumulative deficit is more than $11 million. Two weeks ago, the state had to front the district money to meet payroll.

A state review team has recommended that Governor Snyder appoint an emergency manager to run the district. Governor Snyder is expected to make a final decision once he receives a report from the state Treasury Department from a hearing held last week, at which district officials opposed state intervention.

Education
10:14 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Grand Rapids Community College to ask Kent County voters to approve $100 million bond

Grand Rapids Community College campus downtown.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Voters in Kent County will decide on a millage increase for Grand Rapids Community College this May. The college’s board of trustees voted to put the question on the May ballot Monday night.

GRCC’s President Steven Enders says the tax increase is worth it for everyone living near Grand Rapids. “You cannot begin to put a value of the impact of this institution on Kent County and this region. It is just not as simple as counting numbers," Enders said. 

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Education
7:16 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Grand Rapids schools suspends superintendent search

GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The school board of Michigan’s third largest public school district voted unanimously Monday night to extend interim Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal’s contract for 18 months and suspend the superintendent search.

Neal replaces former superintendent Bernard Taylor. Taylor had agreed to resign from Grand Rapids schools at the end of this school year after he was a finalist for other jobs beginning last spring. But he departed abruptly earlier this month.

In a written statement school board president Senita Lenear said:

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Education
4:52 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

School district decides against "Beloved" ban

A Michigan school district has decided to keep one of two books it had considered banning from its curriculum.

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison is a novel that deals with slavery. It contains physical and sexual abuse, and the murder of a child by her mother, so her daughter won’t be sent into slavery.

After two parents complained the Plymouth-Canton school superintendent ordered the book removed from an advanced placement English class.

That drew an outcry from the community.

On Friday, the district decided not to ban the book.

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Education
10:53 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

Lansing school board may consider closing schools in 2 weeks

CORRECTION: The three students pictured are the officers of the Junior board of education. One is an Everett High School student, another is an Eastern High School student and the third is a Pattengill Middle School Student.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing school district may decide in two weeks whether it will close schools to save money.

The school district is considering ways to restructure to deal with a declining enrollment and diminishing state aid.

Last night, the Lansing school board heard from people opposed to any plans to close schools. Lansing resident Richard Kibbee  says the school board should not take the recommendations for which schools to close from a superintendent who is retiring in a few months.

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Education
4:48 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

A Michigan school district considers banning two books

user mconnors morgueFile

Two award-winning novels are at the center of a book-banning effort in the Plymouth-Canton school district.

One of the books up for review is Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a story about slavery, rape and the effects of trauma.

Meredith Yancy, 16, is reading the book in her Advanced Placement English Literature class at Salem High School. She says she didn’t have a problem with the book’s mature content.

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Commentary
11:35 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Plymouth-Canton school district banning books

There’s an interesting controversy going on in the  Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, a middle-class school district in Western Wayne County. It has to do with banning books.

And while it hasn’t made headlines, the implications are ominous, and scary. This is a sizable district, with three high schools with more than six thousand students.

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Education
5:51 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

State superintendent recommends formal review of Muskegon Heights Public Schools' finances

Muskegon Heights High School
Muskegon Heights School Board

Michigan’s Department of Education is recommending the governor conduct a formal review of Muskegon Heights Public Schools’ finances. That’s the next step in a process that could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager – which the school board has asked the state to do.

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Education
9:00 am
Fri January 13, 2012

U of M group aims to improve teacher training nationwide

TeachingWorks, a national organization based at U of M, aims to develop a nationwide system for all teaching programs, so that teachers are prepared the minute they walk into the classroom.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

There’s currently no set standard for how to train K through 12 teachers. Every program in the country has a different curriculum. As a result, the level of teaching skill varies widely.

A new nationwide organization based at the University of Michigan aims to change that.

The goal of Teaching Works is to develop a nationwide system for all teaching programs, so that teachers are prepared the minute they walk into the classroom.

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Education
4:50 am
Mon January 9, 2012

Last workshop on new Education Achievement Authority this week

Benton Harbor High School is one of nearly 100 schools on the list of the Michigan's "lowest achieveing schools" for 2011.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

This week parents and educators have one last chance to weigh in on the state’s plans for the new Michigan Education Achievement Authority.

The authority is a new school system that’ll try to help turn around the state’s lowest performing schools. Roughly 100 public schools across the state make that list. The system starts in Detroit Public Schools next fall.

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Education
4:01 pm
Sat January 7, 2012

The number of charter schools in Michigan expected to increase slowly (though mainly in 2013)

A spokesman for Michigan’s charter schools does not expect a new law that took effect this month will translate into a surge in the number of charter schools in the state.   

This week, the application period started for groups wanting to open charter schools in the state. A new law which took effect January 1 doubled the number of charter schools allowed in Michigan.   

Dan Quisenberry is the president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. Quisenberry believes there is room for growth, but he expects the number of charter schools will grow slowly over the next few years.  

“The new law will probably have more effect on fall 2013," said Quisenberry,  "And even then we wouldn’t expect some kind of dramatic change."  

The law Governor Snyder signed in December will eventually do away with the state cap on charter schools in Michigan. Critics complain increasing the number of charter schools will drain financial resources needed by existing public schools. 

Education
3:03 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

Study: Online school scores lag behind traditional public schools

jdurham Morguefile

A new report finds students who attend online schools in Michigan are not performing as well on standardized tests as those in traditional public schools. 

The National Education Policy Center found about 27 percent of online schools met federal achievement standards in the last school year. That compares to about 51 percent at brick-and-mortar schools.

The study says the largest growing subgroup of public charter schools is virtual -- or online -- schools.

Western Michigan University education professor Gary Miron co-authored the study.

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Education
6:40 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

State receives federal grant to continue student food assistance program

The state of Michigan has been awarded federal grant money as part of a pilot food assistance program for K-12 students and their families. The program gives a monthly stipend to 10,000 low-income families with students in Grand Rapids and Saginaw Bay area schools once classes are done for the summer.

Howard Leikert, with the Michigan Department of Education, says the money can only be used for specific foods:

"There’s a food list that lists only the specific food that can be purchased,” said Leikert.

Leikert said the money can only be used to purchase healthy foods such as fresh produce and whole-grain bread. Leikert said it will be up to Congress to decide whether the program should be expanded nationwide after it receives a report on the success of the pilot in a couple years.

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