Education

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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.

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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.”

user: NonOther / flickr.com

Many students attending summer school in Detroit will have the day off today.

From the Associated Press:

Detroit's school district says it's closing more than 70 schools in the afternoon that don't have air conditioning as a heat wave continues.

The Detroit Public Schools made the announcement Wednesday morning.

The district says power outages also forced the closure of three schools Wednesday. And heat and mechanical problems closed two others.

A DPS spokesmen said more than half of the school district's summer population of 38,000 will be affected. The district has also opened 13 cooling centers.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

In a move likely to shock many observers, Detroit Public Schools has named Doug Ross to head its charter school office.

Ross is the CEO of New Urban Learning, which manages what’s widely considered Detroit’s most-successful charter school system. He'll help Detroit Public Schools as it expands the number of charters it authorizes from nine to 14. He’ll also oversee the process for selecting operators to convert more of the district’s traditional schools in 2012.

Ross says it’s time for critics stuck in the charter-versus-traditional school debate to move past it:

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Many colleges and universities are still trying to develop their social media strategy. A study by Noel-Levitz Higher Education Consultants shows one in four potential students drops a school from their prospective list after a bad experience on the university’s website.

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The University of Michigan-Flint is one of many American campuses that has hired more lecturers than tenure track faculty in the past few years. According to AAUP research, nationally the number of non-tenure track faculty increased by more than 200 percent on college campuses while tenured faculty increased 30 percent and tenure track faculty increased 7 percent.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools has named 25 people to serve as board members for the district’s five new charter schools that will open this fall.

Ola Elsaid will serve on the board of directors for the EMAN Hamilton Academy.

"I really feel like the children in Detroit deserve better. I believe this transitioning to charter schools will provide better education, better guidelines. They deserve as much as students everywhere else deserve, and I really hope we can make a difference to the schools in Detroit."

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Undergraduate students won’t be able to rely on pell grant money for summer study starting next school year.  The pell grant program provides students with funds that do not have to be repaid.  Linda Grimshaw is with Financial Aid at University of Michigan-Flint. She says in 2009-2010, students could receive this additional pell grant funding for spring and summer study if they were enrolled in school at least half time.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Superintendent resigned yesterday, but today he hinted that he may not want to leave.

Superintendent Bernard Taylor has been lobbying state lawmakers to pass teacher tenure reform. Yesterday, lawmakers did that. 

Taylor says the reform means everyone’s focus has to be on student achievement.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids Superintendent Bernard Taylor is resigning. The school board accepted his resignation this afternoon by a unanimous vote.

Superintendent Bernard Taylor was a recent finalist for two open positions at other school districts. He says he wants to lead a school district that’s more prepared for aggressive reform to improve student achievement.

Taylors resignation is not effective until one year from now.

Taylor was not at the meeting. In a written statement, Taylor says he appreciated the time and 'careful deliberations' of the board of education.

Jack Amick / Flickr

Lansing teachers have approved a new one year contract that includes benefits cuts and layoffs.  Under the deal approved by Lansing teachers, the district will eliminate up to 95 positions.   The one year agreement also freezes wages, while increasing employee contributions to their health care plans.

The contract concessions are tied to the Lansing School District’s need to reduce a projected $18 million dollar budget gap.   The school board is expected to vote on the district’s budget for the next fiscal year this evening.

Patti Seidl is the president of the Lansing Schools Education Association.   She’s worried that the school district may seek additional wage and benefit concessions next year, when the new contract expires.   

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Education has released the results of the Michigan Merit Exam.

All Michigan high school juniors take the test in the spring to see how well-prepared they are for college. The MME tests students in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.

(courtesy of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin's Office)

An incoming University of Michigan student has taken her fight against being deported to Washington D.C.  Ola Kaso testified before a U.S. Senate committee in favor of the Dream Act.   The bill would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. to pursue their educations. 

Kaso says she has tried to take advantage of the education opportunity given to  her, an opportunity now threatened by deportation to Albania.

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Fourteen Michigan colleges and universities are getting ready for a fall campaign to encourage college students to stay in Michigan after graduation. This campaign, which includes private schools like Calvin College and Marygrove College, stems from research that showed students’ negative perceptions of Michigan. 

Bob Bartlett is President of the Michigan Colleges Foundation.  Bartlett says it will take some effort to change the perceptions of students.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state Senate may soon consider bills to make it easier to fire veteran teachers.   The state House has already passed the bills.  

Photo courtesy of Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts says he’s on a mission from the Governor to make the schools work. Roberts spoke at a public hearing Monday night to discuss next school year’s proposed district budget. Roberts spoke only briefly about his budget proposal. It calls for cutting more than 850 positions, and all wages by 10-percent. Roberts then listened silently to concerns from parents, teachers, and other school staff…some of whom took the opportunity to shout at him. Keith Johnson is President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Kids still enjoy the playground at Stocking Elementary School. The school in Grand Rapids was closed last year to save money. State Representative Roy Schmidt used the shuttered school as a backdrop while telling people Michigan’s fund for K-through-12 schools had a surplus this year.

“We had the money, it just got switched somewhere else.”

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