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Education

Parents, students and community activists holding signs at a press conference in front of Osborn High School in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents and students want the state to hear from them before closing their schools.

Twenty-five public schools in Detroit could be shut down for having poor test scores.

The state School Reform Office, which released the list of schools that might close, has yet to meet with parents or students from these schools.

Terry Whitfield is with 482 Forward, a citywide network of community organizations, schools groups and church groups.

He says the state needs input from the people most affected by the possible school closings.

Protestors urge state lawmakers to not close 25 low-performing Detroit schools.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Parents and teachers of Detroit public schools students believe closing down schools won't improve education in their city.

The state released a list of 38 Michigan schools that could be shut down for low test scores. Twenty-five of them are in Detroit.

Robin Jennings, a Detroit public school teacher, said the state hasn't given the newly created school district enough time to improve.

“They promised that if they opened up this new school district, they would allow us time to get us on track, and they lied to us,” Jennings said. “They outright lied.”

MSU President Lou Anna Simon / File photo / MSU

Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon says a pair of sexual assault investigations are not signs of larger issues within the athletic department. 

She says sexual assault will not be tolerated, but added it’s not unique to MSU.

“To make it an MSU problem in the reporting, from my perspective, and not a society problem that also happens to be at MSU, it does a disservice to the university,” Simon said.  

The Washington Writer's Academy in Kalamazoo
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Kalamazoo school board will sue the state to try to stop Michigan’s School Reform Office from closing two of its schools. The board announced Thursday it’s joining with Saginaw schools to file the lawsuit early next week.

Thirty eight schools across the state are at risk of closure because of poor performance on state standardized tests. School officials don’t think the state has the authority to close schools and they say scattering students won’t help academic achievement.

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

Large numbers of students were absent from Grand Rapids Public Schools today.

Officials with the school district believe this was because of the nationwide "Day Without Immigrants" protest.

So many students were absent that the district might not be able to count this as an instructional day. School administrators may have to add an extra school day to the calendar.

John Helmholdt, a spokesperson for the school district, said no students will be punished for missing school due to the protest.

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

The Next Idea

Thirty years ago, University of Chicago Professor Allan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind. The book deconstructed higher education’s failure to prepare students with the knowledge necessary to lead enlightened lives. Bloom’s emphasis on reading the Great Books was met with adulation by conservatives, who viewed it as a declaration of traditional values, and with condemnation by progressives who thought the work was a perpetuation of social class inequities.

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

The Michigan Board of Education wants Governor Snyder's School Reform Office to call off closing any schools this fall. It joins a growing chorus of protest by parents and school administrators against possible school closures.

Last month the School Reform Office announced that 38 schools are at risk of closure because of persistently low standardized test scores. The office said it was reviewing whether a closing would create "unreasonable hardship" before it reaches a final decision on closing a school.

wikipedia

The faculty union at Eastern Michigan University has filed a grievance against the university's administration over a controversial online degree program. 

Many faculty members are outraged, according to faculty union leaders, that they weren't consulted before the university contracted with an outside group called Academic Partnerships. 

School desks
Flickr user Frank Juarez/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

One of Governor Snyder’s key advisors says “there’s no way in the world” the state will close 38 “failing” schools this year.

That’s what Rich Baird told the crowd at a Detroit meeting about potential school closures Monday night.

The State School Reform Office has sent letters to parents at 38 schools across the state, warning they could be shut down because of persistently low test scores. 25 of those schools are in Detroit.

The three high schools that make up the Osborn campus could all close at the end of this school year.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Lansing spent $617 million last year to keep the Detroit Public Schools alive. That solved the district’s massive debt problem, but it didn’t start to touch some of the district’s other chronic issues.

A year ago, Detroit schools were in genuine crisis. The district was cycling through state-appointed emergency managers, and faced the prospect of going bankrupt before the end of the school year.

And that was just some of the turmoil.


Grand Valley State University drumline
flickr user rachaelvoorhees / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Another school has signed on with the Detroit Promise to make it easier for more of the city's students to attend college.

Grand Valley State University is the latest Michigan institution to offer a tuition-free education to Detroit graduates who meet certain criteria.

GVSU president Tom Haas says the school is "delighted" to become a full partner with the program.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state office charged with possibly closing some Michigan schools for poor performance is midway through a critical review of some three dozen schools.

The Michigan School Reform Office is spending the next few weeks studying whether schools like Saginaw High School should close.    They’ll be at the school Monday morning.    

Saginaw school district leaders are considering going to court to fight any potential move by the state to close their schools.  

State School Reform officer Natasha Baker says she’s not paying attention to the potential legal challenge.

A new House bill looks to make "Common Core" no more

Feb 10, 2017
test with bubble answers
User Alberto G. / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan would dump the controversial "common core" education standards under a bill in the state House.

State representative Gary Glenn, R-Midland,  introduced the bill, which calls for adopting a set of standards developed by the state of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has the best standards in the country, according to Glenn.

He said the new standards are more rigorous and will better prepare students for college and work.

“Why would we give Michigan students anything less than the best in the country?” Glenn asked.

Flickr user Frank Juarez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As the state School Reform Office moves closer to potentially closing multiple schools across Michigan, a bill ending the law is being hotly debated in the Legislature.

Republican Senator and chair of the Senate Education Committee, Phil Pavlov, is sponsoring a bill that would repeal the law allowing the SRO to close consistently low performing schools.

During last week’s meeting about the new bill, the School Reform Office was criticized by school administrators and parents. They said there is not a consistent method for measuring school progress and quality.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is prepared to sue the state if it moves ahead on its threat to shut down some low-performing schools.

The district’s school board approved the potential lawsuit at a meeting Wednesday night.

DPSCD has 16 schools that the State School Reform Office has named persistently low-performing, and at risk for closure after this school year.

But the district says the state shouldn’t shut those schools down. And it’s prepared to go to court to stop it.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The community held a pep rally to support Muskegon Heights students Monday afternoon.

The high school is on a list of 38 poorly performing schools that could face closure.

Listen: We Live Here - A neighborhood school on the brink of closure

Five years ago, an emergency manager converted Muskegon Heights into a charter school district to salvage it. Now it’s academics, not finances, that threaten the school’s existence.

There are three smaller high schools on the larger Osborn High School campus. All three face potential closure because of low test scores.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As the state decides which schools it’s deemed “failing” will close, students, parents and staff at some Detroit schools on the chopping block are rallying for them to stay open.

That includes Osborn High School, which is actually three smaller schools on one campus. All three could be shut down at the end of this school year because of persistently low test scores.

But many in the Osborn community say that’s a bad idea for a whole variety of reasons. Some of them explained as they rallied outside the school on a brutally cold Friday.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State officials who announced the potential closure of 38 “priority” schools across the state are now visiting those schools. The schools on this list scored in the bottom 5% on state standardized tests for three consecutive years.

Just look at the racial census makeup of school districts in Michigan. The numbers from the state Department of Education show districts in Michigan are deeply segregated.

In today’s State of Opportunity special Better Together: How School Diversity Makes a Difference, we look at schools, teachers and parents who are working to create, maintain or even boost diversity in the classroom.

Stateside 2.1.2017

Feb 1, 2017

Today on Stateside, we bring you "Better Together," a State of Opportunity special on how school diversity makes a difference.

Courtesy of Tommy Truong

Two MSU students are working to bring notable landmarks from around the world into the classroom with virtual reality technology.

Tommy Truong and Eric Martin have developed 360-degree immersive environments of sites like the Colosseum in Rome and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to be used in tandem with traditional teaching methods.

Truong believes immersive VR experiences can be a valuable and inexpensive way for educators to engage their students.

A key Senate committee voted Tuesday to approve the nomination of Betsy DeVos, a school choice activist and billionaire Republican donor, to be secretary of education, despite the fierce objections of Senate Democrats, teachers unions and others. There's much speculation as to exactly how she might carry out President Trump's stated priority of increasing school choice.

WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

After a 12-11 vote in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of the Department of Education goes to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.

The close margin of the committee’s decision, and the extensive debate that took place before, during and after the vote, reflects the controversial nature of DeVos’s nomination.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
User alkruse24 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lawmakers are considering a repeal of a law that allows the state to shut down low-performing schools.

The so-called “failing schools law” determines Michigan’s worst-performing schools based on their test scores. Schools on the list for too long could be closed for good.

Although many were in favor of getting rid of the “failing schools law,” some lawmakers say they’re concerned about how schools would be held accountable without the law.

krossbow / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

More details have emerged about Eastern Michigan University's contract with Academic Partnerships, a company that helps universities offer degrees online.

On December 21, 2016, Eastern Michigan University disclosed that it had entered into a five-year contract with Academic Partnerships, an outside group that will help the university launch four online degrees.

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
Screenshot / C-SPAN

Betsy DeVos is facing stiff opposition from teacher's unions in her nomination fight to head up the US Departent of Education.  

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow announced that she would not support DeVos nearly three weeks in advance of the vote by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. (On Tuesday, the committee voted 12-11 along party lines on Tuesday to move DeVos’s nomination to the Senate floor.) And, in DeVos’ hometown of Holland, about a thousand people recently gathered to protest the nomination.

But DeVos also had some devoted supporters in her corner. 

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
Screenshot / C-SPAN

The full U.S. Senate is the next stop for Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as U.S. Education Secretary. That’s after a Senate committee on Tuesday voted 12 to 11 along party lines in favor of DeVos, a billionaire from West Michigan who’s long supported school choice, charter schools, and vouchers.

But two prominent Republican senators on the committee expressed reservations, particularly about DeVos’ lack of experience.

Boy in classroom with his hand raised
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Schools would have to give parents at least a month's notice before closing, under a bill (HB 4090) re-introduced by State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit).

Schools that are slated for closure for financial reasons would also have to shut down in the summer in most cases.

"It's irresponsible to close schools in the fall or winter or spring if isn't an emergency situation," says Chang.  "If school's closing in October, and the school year basically just started, then it really is disruptive to a child's education."

Courtesy of the Michigan History Center/Archives of Michigan

Happy birthday, Michigan!

On Jan. 26, 1837, 180 years ago today, Michigan became the 26th state to join the union.

Before that could happen, there was some housekeeping to do, namely: to settle the fight between Michigan and Ohio over a narrow strip of land known as the Toledo Strip. The conflict is otherwise known as the "Toledo War."

State Archivist Mark Harvey from the Michigan History Center joined Stateside to look back at how the state of Michigan got started.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

A neighborhood school used to be the center of a everything. You sent your kids there, you had community meetings there, you went there to vote.

So, what happens to a neighborhood—and the kids who live there—when a school closes? 

We Live Here is a new documentary from State of Opportunity that investigates how massive schools closures in Detroit have affected students and neighborhoods.

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