Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Board of Education will meet Tuesday to go over a proposed settlement with Robert Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager.

A Wayne County judge ruled last month that the Detroit school board is in charge of academics for the district, not the district’s financial manager. But both sides have to come to an agreement on how to implement the ruling, since Bobb’s team implemented several classroom reforms while the lawsuit was pending.

Anthony Adams is the school board’s president. He says it’s in the district’s best interest to keep most of  Bobb’s reforms in place:

Albion Public Schools

Many Michigan school districts are struggling to stay afloat.  Some have to borrow money to pay employees.

The city of Albion boomed in the 1950s and ‘60s, but fell into a steady decline in the 1970s when auto-related industries began to close.

Albion’s population shrank and so did the property taxes the school district depends on.

To make matters worse, state revenue sharing has been in tumult the past several years.

John Waugh is Albion Public Schools’ accounting supervisor.

 Michigan teachers who want to be certified to teach the Arabic language will get the opportunity beginning this fall.

Jeff Bale is an assistant professor at MSU.

He says the program responds to a growing need for Arabic-speaking teachers.

Bale says the program is not without controversy.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A new report out today paints a grim picture of Michigan’s schools.

Education Trust-Midwest says students in Michigan’s schools are not doing as well as test scores suggest, and the state’s education problems reach far beyond Detroit.

“We are far from a leader in education right now. Though glowing reports from state education leaders regularly inform us that the vast majority of our children (around 80 percent in elementary and middle schools) are meeting state standards, performance plummets when those students take the more rigorous national examinations.”

The report goes on to cite what it calls Michigan’s inflated standardized test scores (you can see some of the charts in the slide show above).

Its author, Amber Arellano, a former Detroit Free Press education reporter and Detroit News editorial board writer, says people tend to think of Detroit as the only school district in the state with major problems:

“Michigan really has a statewide education problem. This isn’t just about Detroit kids. It’s not just about African American kids. It’s about white kids, it’s about brown kids, it’s about black kids. It’s really about kids all over the state.”

Arellano says it might surprise people to know that students in other districts – including Flint, Lansing, Pontiac, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo – have all registered lower proficiency rates than their Detroit counterparts.

Photo courtesy of

Governor Rick Snyder met yesterday with the presidents of the state's universities.  They told the governor they are ready to help improve Michigan's economy. The Associated Press reports:

...Snyder says universities likely will have to sacrifice in the short run, but he wants to invest more in higher education when times get better. Michigan Technological University President Glen Mroz said in a statement that the meeting set a positive tone for the relationship between universities and the new Snyder administration.

Reports say Snyder did not give any specific details on what he plans to do for universities in the state's next budget. Michigan faces a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A couple of geology professors conducting research in Haiti want to help the people they met there. And on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, their idea to give young Haitians a college education is becoming reality. Grand Valley State University is launching a fundraising effort to offer scholarships to promising high school students in Haiti.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

Michigan students who think standardized tests are tough now may be in for a rude awakening.

The Michigan Board of Education is considering tough new performance requirements on the MEAP and merit exams.

Joseph Martineau is with the Michigan Department of Education. He says this is the last step in a plan the state’s been working on for the last seven years.­

“It really is time for us to look at the end result of K-12 education being readiness for college and career, and not readiness to perform in what we might term the old manufacturing economy.”

Michigan is in need of more volunteers, especially men / State of Michigan

Plenty of kids in Michigan need an adult mentor.  That’s according to Paula Kaiser VanDam, executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission.

“This year the network of mentoring organizations that we work with are serving about 24,000 children. What we know is that there are thousands more kids that want a mentor that currently do not have one.”

Kaiser VanDam says the time commitment is one hour per week. Mentors are expected to spend time with their young person and listen to them.

user motown31 / wikimedia commons

Update: 3:23 p.m.:

The Detroit News has changed the number of schools it reported in the DPS school closing plan -  going from 100 schools to 70 schools.

2:38 p.m.:

Facing a deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars, a new plan calls for closing more schools in Detroit.

The Detroit News reports:

A proposed deficit-elimination plan for Detroit Public Schools calls for shuttering 100 additional schools by 2013 and increasing class sizes from 35 to 62 for high school students by 2014.

The plan was submitted to state education officials by the Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager, Robert Bobb.

DPS and Robert Bobb are in the midst of a current school closing plan. It calls for closing 45 schools over three years. Here's a map of the current closing plan:

View Michigan School Closures in a larger map

Public forums on bullying will be held this month in Detroit and later this year elsewhere in the state.
But not everyone agrees that more school or government programs are needed to curb bullying.
Glenn Stutzky is with Michigan State University's School of Social Work. He says the solution lies in the home.
"I believe that parental involvement is actually crucial, and it's often the most overlooked aspect of this," Stutzky says. "I think that the home, and in particular the parents, may be one of the biggest resources that should be being used, but aren't."

Detroit Public Schools officials are getting ready to submit their latest plan for shoveling the troubled district out from under a crippling deficit.

The plan could include a proposal to split the district in two. It’s an idea Michigan Radio first reported last April, and the concept is similar to the way General Motors restructured.

Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb says he’s reduced expenses by more than $500 million in the last several months, but there’s still a “legacy” deficit that tops $300 million:

"We’re whittling away at it, but we have to create a long-term plan so that we’re not in this situation 12 months from now or two years from now."

 DPS officials say another option is a New Orleans-style overhaul that would convert many schools to charters. A third option is to use the state’s tobacco settlement money to erase the district’s debt, or the state could opt for some combination of all the above options. Lawmakers rejected a proposal last month to use the state's tobacco settlement to pay off the district's debt.

Detroit Public Schools is recruiting businesses to adopt schools for academic and beautification projects. Angela Hoston heads the program:

"The goal is to have every school have a partner, and not just one partner but multiple partners. We want to raise the academic achievement levels of the bottom one-third of every classroom, and get them to the highest achievement level possible."

Hoston says each business can work with a principal to craft a unique program based on what the school needs and what the business can offer.

The initiative was announced at Gompers Elementary, where staff from the Doubletree Fort Shelby Hotel have built a garden and mentor students.

jimmiehomeschoolmom / flickr

An experimental school in Detroit is trying something new with its seventh and eighth graders.

Palmer Park Preparatory Academy is the first “teacher-led” school in Michigan. It’s instituted a program that puts students into customized reading and math classes based on their abilities instead of their grade level.

Ann Crowley is one of the school’s founders.

"We had to get the schedule set up so that the three teachers in those subject areas taught side-by-side at the same time, and also have a common planning period together," said Ann Crowley, one of the school's founders. She added:

"The logistics of it, with over 250 kids, was pretty intense."

Crowley says students are constantly monitored for improvement so they don’t get stuck in an instructional track for low-performing students.

An official with the school district says the program could be a model for other schools in Detroit.

Detroit Public Schools classrooms will be getting almost $50 million worth of technological upgrades through federal stimulus funds.


The district’s Emergency Financial Manager, Robert Bobb, calls the effort an “unprecedented” technological “infusion.”


Every Detroit middle and high school-student will get netbooks to use in the classroom.


District spokeswoman Kisha Verdusco says teachers will also get netbooks, and an array of other technologies to facilitate learning.


Kindergarteners on their first day of school.
Woodley Wonderworks / Creative Commons

This spring, parents across the state will enroll their kids in kindergarten. In the Montague Area Public School district, parents will be asked to list 5 colleges they’d like to see their 4-or-5-year-olds eventually attend.

 “Before their children walk through our doors for the first time, we want to plant that seed. We want to create an excitement with parents so that they are considering college from day one.”

Robert Bobb with a student
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb “has a busy few months” ahead.   Bobb’s contract with the schools expires in March. Governor-elect Rick Snyder has said he’ll extend it through June.   Bobb was dealt a defeat last month when a Wayne County Circuit Court Judge ruled Bobb overstepped his duties by implementing academic plans.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan has one of the worst success rates when it comes to turning around failing schools, according to a new report.

The study by the Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank, looked at the lowest-performing public schools in 10 states, including Michigan. The goal of the study was to see if a failing school could improve its test scores over a 5-year period.

Mike Petrilli is the think tank's executive vice president:

"What we see in the study is that Michigan, compared to other states, was reluctant to close low-performing schools, and didn’t have much success in improving these low-performing schools either."

Interior of EMU Science Complex

EMU calls it the largest single construction project in the history of the University.

Today the school put the interior of the Science Complex on display. has put together a slide show of the complex.

The AP reports the $90 million Science Complex was paid for through the sale of bonds and through a 4% tuition increase that was approved in 2005.

The Mackinac Center’s for Public Policy’s Legal Foundation is filing a lawsuit against 10 Kent County school districts and their teachers’ union.

The suit is to be filed Wednesday on behalf of five taxpayers living near Grand Rapids. It claims the school districts are breaking state law by approving a contract that agrees not to privatize any services during the one-year agreement.

Patrick Wright directs the foundation. He says they want to make sure privatization remains a viable option for school districts across the state.

Michigan's deaf community to turning to Governor Jennifer Granholm in a last ditch effort to stop the sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint.   Today in Lansing, the state senate corrected a problem in the bill authorizing the sale.  It's now up to the governor to decide if the sale will go through.The Associated Press reports:

The sale of the Flint site of the Michigan School for the Deaf is expected to move forward after a procedural vote of the state Senate. 

Senators gave the bill immediate effect Wednesday, meaning the legislation authorizing the property sale to a developer will be enrolled and forwarded to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The Legislature had approved the bill earlier and the state also has approved a tax credit to aid the redevelopment. 

The developer expects to rebuild the school and keep it open. But the sale is opposed by some alumni of the school who say the sale process was not inclusive. They rallied to oppose the bill Wednesday outside the state Capitol.

Michigan lawmakers are wrapping up final votes before ending their 2009-10 legislative session.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan state senators will briefly gavel themselves back into session Wednesday morning, so they can fix some minor language problems in a few bills. 

But, they will likely hear from people opposed to one proposal to sell Michigan’s School for the Deaf. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Robert Bobb, the state appointed Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools, will stay on the job through the end of the school year.  Bobb was appointed to the position by outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm.  Bobb's one-year contract ends in March.

According to a spokesman for Governor-elect Rick Snyder, a deal has been worked out to keep Bobb on the job through June.

The Associated Press reports:

Detroit Public Schools spokesman Steve Wasko says the extra 120 days gives Bobb more time to work out a "fully smooth transition" to the next emergency manager or a new superintendent.

Tom Watkins of Northville Michigan has been given the Upton Sinclair Award for education from

Watkins is the CEO of TDW and Associates, an educational consulting firm, and a former Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Michigan from 2001 to 2005.

In their release, writes

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There appears to be rising opposition to the planned sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint.     Meanwhile, a legislative mistake threatens to delay the sale.    

A private developer wants to buy the 85 acre campus for one point three million dollars.    He’ll then build a new school and lease it back to the state for two million dollars a year.  

Robert Bobb
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Update: 5:13 pm:

Emergency financial manager Robert Bobb and his team have already put in place several classroom reforms. Some of the reforms include two hours of math and reading instruction every day for elementary students, requiring all 7th graders to take pre-Algebra, and conducting "quarterly assessments" of students' skills.

Robert Bobb with a student
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Update: 5:15 pm:

Anthony Adams, president of the Detroit Board of Education, spoke with Michigan Radio about Judge Baxter's ruling. Adams says the ruling "isn't a victory per se":

"The only victory that we’ll have in the city of Detroit is when every child can read, can write, can learn to the best of their abilities, and we as adults have to sit at the table and make sure that we work together in a cooperative fashion."

Students at computers
User: Extra Ketchup / creative commons

Michigan State University students received more than 700 complaints of illegal downloading since September. That’s up from the nearly 200 complaints MSU received this time last year.

Here's how it works:

If a group like the recording industry or a movie studio thinks someone is downloading files illegally, they contact the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and issue what’s called a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint.

The Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint may soon be sold.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, as the legislature prepared to adjourn its 2010 session, state lawmakers approved the sale of the 153 year old school to a private developer for $1.3 million.

The developer plans to renovate some buildings on the 85 acre site and build a new $15 million complex for the school for the deaf.  The state will pay $2 million a year to lease the site.  

Ridgway White is the developer.  He says the current facility needs to be replaced. 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Want to open up a charter school? A new report says Michigan has one of the nation’s friendliest laws when it comes to allowing charter schools to open.

The Center for Education Reform, a charter advocacy group in Washington, DC, says Michigan has the 5th best charter school law in the country.

Time is running out for state lawmakers in Lansing.     The current legislative session is scheduled to end today. They are hoping to pass a change that will effect Michigan's teachers.  

MPRN's Rick Pluta filed this report on what's happening now at the state capitol: