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Education

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It's graduation season at the University of Michigan. 

This year, the university celebrates its bicentennial. That means the public university was established in Michigan 20 years before Michigan was a state.

Bilal Tawwab, the superintendent of the Flint Community School District: "Right now, we are putting systems in place so that we're able to meet the needs of all of our children."
Flint Community School District

Who were the ones most vulnerable to lead poisoning in the city of Flint?

The children.

With that, Bilal Tawwab, the superintendent of the Flint Community School District (FCSD), joined Stateside's live show in Flint to talk about the state of the school district.

Courtesy of Brett Kopf

The Next Idea

Why is it that you can summon an Uber with one click on your smart phone, but if your child is struggling in school, you might not find out for weeks?

Pre-schoolers playing at a table.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the city of Flint will mark the third anniversary of its ill-fated drinking water switch. 

A prairie vole forms monogamous relationships with its mating partner.
Courtesy of Natalie Nevarez

Like any researcher, Natalie Nevarez was looking for funding. She ended up finding it in the most unlikely of places: a pornography website.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Livingston County schools could soon adopt a program that gives their students some community college experience.

Early Middle College School is a five-year program that allows students to earn a high school diploma and either a technical certification or up to 60 transferable credits.

Mike Hubert is the Superintendent of the Livingston Educational Service Agency, which spurred the early college proposal, says the state foundation allowance covers the cost of the program.

wmich.edu

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Western Michigan University has picked a dean and professor of economics at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy as its next president.

The Kalamazoo, Michigan school's trustees on Wednesday approved the selection of Edward B. Montgomery to the post. His selection follows a national search to find a successor to John M. Dunn, who earlier announced that he planned to retire. 

Montgomery served as President Barack Obama's auto-recovery czar. He has held faculty positions at Carnegie Mellon and Michigan State universities as well as the University of Maryland during a more than 35-year academic career. He has been at Georgetown since 2010.

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

The Great Recession meant a big hit in state funding for colleges and universities. But even as the country has moved past those dire years, higher education funding is still below where it was before the recession.

How are colleges and universities making up those lost dollars?

A brand-new report from the American Association of University Professors finds colleges are doing it by hiring more part-time faculty and bringing in more out-of-state students.

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

High schoolers: don't want to tackle that required foreign language? How about taking computer coding instead?

A package of bills recently passed by the State House would let high schoolers do exactly that. Under the bills, students would be able to choose more technical and vocational training instead of some of the current courses set out by the Michigan Merit Curriculum, such as foreign languages.

test with bubble answers
User Alberto G. / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit Public Schools Community District starts giving students the M-STEP test this week. That’s the annual statewide test used to measure student achievement.

But more than 400 Detroit parents have opted for their kids to sit out the test, because they’re upset that the state uses that data to justify closing schools.

The unusually large number of opt-outs comes mostly as a result of a campaign organized by the Detroit Parent Network.

CEO Sharlonda Buckman says Detroit parents have come to feel “extremely disrespected” by state education officials.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan: We are failing black college students. We can do better.

That's the warning from Kim Trent, a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors. She laid out her concerns in a piece for MichiganFuture.org where she's a policy associate. It's titled "How Michigan fails black college students."

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

Three school districts in the state are getting some extra help.

The state has approved grants totaling three million dollars. The money is for consolidating and merging schools and resources in the districts.

“The consolidation grants support strategic consolidation of districts where it makes sense,” said Michigan Department of Education spokesperson Bill DiSessa. “Streamlining their services and operations in other cases, the grants help defray the costs and increase efficiencies in these districts.

Pexels

A new study released last month suggests that when college admissions officers have more background information about applicant high schools, students from low-income communities have a higher likelihood of acceptance. 

Learning more about district test scores, AP class offerings, and available support services from a high school can help an admissions officer identify high-achieving students in areas with limited resources or opportunities. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s school board interviewed the district’s second and final superintendent candidate Monday evening.

Derrick Coleman is the current superintendent of River Rouge Community Schools. He’s a Detroit Public Schools alumnus, and started his career as a teacher and administrator in the district.

He touted his success in a district that’s much smaller than Detroit’s, but has similar demographics.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What’s up is down and what’s down is up when it comes to ranking schools in Michigan.

Dozens of schools found they dropped 50 points in the state rankings while others soared from near the bottom to near top of the list.

Erin Einhorn, a reporter with Chalkbeat, joined Stateside to try to make sense of this rollercoaster ride for Michigan's school rankings. 

Stateside 3.29.2017

Mar 29, 2017

Today on Stateside, we hear why dramatic swings in K-12 school rankings say more about the state's ranking system than about individual schools. Plus, we learn why Michigan's capital moved from Detroit to Lansing 170 years ago.

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

In January, the state’s School Reform Office sent a warning letter directly to parents at 38 low-performing schools. The letter told parents their child’s school was at risk of closing by the end of June “due to academic failure for many years” and they would get an update by March.

The schools on this list scored in the bottom 5% on state standardized tests for three consecutive years.

Detroit Public Schools Community District sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Finalists vying for the job of Detroit schools’ superintendent will start the public interview process this week, but some people think the best candidate isn’t in the running.

Choosing a new superintendent is the first major task for Detroit’s newly-elected school board, which just took power in January after years of state control. But the process has already become messy and controversial.

DPSCD Superintendent Alycia Meriweather and district staff announce new schools programs in March 2016.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is following through on its threat to sue the state School Reform Office, even after the state has largely backed off plans to close some of the state’s lowest-performing schools this year.

DPSCD had 16 schools on the SSRO’s “next level accountability” list, which also included eight schools in the state-run Education Achievement Authority. EAA schools will join DPSCD after the EAA winds down in June.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Women's Hall of Fame welcomed its latest group of honorees late last year.

Among the five contemporary honorees was Olivia Letts. She was the first African-American teacher hired by the Lansing School District. She started that job in 1951 and from there, Letts spent her life as an advocate for education, community service and civil rights.

Notebook and pencil laid across the pages of an open book
Jane M Sawyer / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

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. 

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