Education

Education
3:15 pm
Wed June 29, 2011

Lansing teachers agree to layoffs, benefits cuts and a pay freeze

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.   

Education
5:29 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Michigan Merit Exam shows improvement in some, not all, subjects

Nearly half the students who took this year's Michigan Merit Exam tested not proficient in math and writing.
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.

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Education
4:10 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Michigan woman gives a face to the Dream Act

Ola Kaso, (right), poses with Michigan U.S. Senator Carl Levin.
(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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Education
3:16 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Fourteen private colleges getting ready for fall campaign

User: Jayel Aheram Flickr

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.

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Education
11:35 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Teachers' union is trying to change the direction of the legislature's push to alter tenure laws

(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.  

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Detroit Public Schools
6:43 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Roberts holds public hearing on Detroit schools

Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools, Roy Roberts.
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.

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Education
2:16 pm
Mon June 27, 2011

Democrats calling on Snyder to send more money to K-12 schools

State Representative Roy Schmidt (D-Grand Rapids) joins parents, teachers, and school board members Monday. Other democrats held similar news conferences across Michigan today.
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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Commentary
1:56 pm
Mon June 27, 2011

Community College Degrees

A new battle over education is shaping up in Lansing -- and this time, it’s not over funding. It has to do with whether community colleges should be able to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees.

Traditionally, this has never been the case. Community colleges, or as they used to be called, junior colleges, had two roles:

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Education
1:37 pm
Mon June 27, 2011

Free dental services at Flint Community Schools

User: Limbic Flickr

Fifteen Flint Community Schools will offer free preventative dental services this July.  The services are a part of the Smiles Program, a mobile dental office that provides care to low income students. 

Bob Campbell is Community Manager at Flint Community Schools.

"These are all schools where we have summer programs. So these schools will be already active, and it’s also a good time for the organization because they service the entire state."

Education
2:53 pm
Sun June 26, 2011

Summer food program gets new website

Free meals are available this summer for kids 18 & younger
Flickr user bookgrl

Millions of kids eat free or reduced-price meals at their schools during the school year. But during the summer, those numbers drop dramatically. Last year Michigan schools served 144 million free meals. But during the summer the state only served 2.6 million meals.

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Education
5:17 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

A conversation with Former State School Superintendent Tom Watkins (audio)

flickr / iboy_daniel

Governor Rick Snyder outlined a plan to try to turn around the lowest performing schools in the state.

The Education Achievement System would start in the 2012-2013 school year with the lowest performing schools in the Detroit Public School System and would eventually spread out to underperforming schools across the state.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Tom Watkins, Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction about the potential pitfalls and benefits of the EAS plan. Watkins  is currently a business and educational consultant in the US and China.

You can hear the interview here:

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Education
3:52 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Detroit schools chief: Unions need to get on board or out of the way

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts
Detroit Public Schools

Update 3:52 pm:

Roy Roberts' budget plan submitted to the state today calls for cutting wages by 10 percent. It would also trim expenses by $231 million, and reduce contracts by $48 million. As Roberts already announced, the proposal calls for floating $200 million in bonds to help erase the district's $327 million deficit.

_____________________

The emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools says he wants to work with the district’s unions.

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Education
3:49 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Teachers' union sees a tenure reform plan it likes

A tenure reform plan in the state Senate has the stamp of approval from Michigan’s largest teachers’ union.

The Senate proposal is very different from a tenure reform plan approved by the state House earlier this month.

Doug Pratt is with the Michigan Education Association. He says the legislation would eliminate a state tenure commission, and instead assign arbitrators to school districts that want to dismiss tenured teachers.

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Education
2:08 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

House bill may make student achievement a big part of teacher evaluations

Tim Melton (D-Pontiac) introduced a bill to make 50% of teachers' evaluation based on student performance.
Tim Melton Tim Melton

All teachers in Michigan may be evaluated based on the success of their students.

That’s the goal of legislation introduced by state representative Tim Melton this week. He wants student achievement to be 50 percent of a teacher’s annual evaluation.

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Education
10:57 pm
Tue June 21, 2011

Detroit is the laboratory for state school reform effort

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio
  • An error occurred ingesting this audio file to NPR

Governor Rick Snyder says the state will take a dramatically new to approach to its worst schools--starting in Detroit.

Years of turmoil and power struggles over the Detroit Public Schools have left a polarizing legacy in the city. That history has left many Detroiters absorbing Snyder’s plan with a cautious sense of déjà vu.

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Education
4:45 pm
Tue June 21, 2011

Fixing Michigan's failing schools, what Detroit can learn from New Orleans

flickr/ iboy_daniel

Michigan will try a drastic new approach to fix its failing public schools. The state will put what it designates as “persistently low-performing schools” in a special, statewide school district.

The effort will start in Detroit. The city’s public school system has gained national attention for its rock-bottom test scores and budget deficit. In fact, the school district is currently under an emergency manager.

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Education
3:00 pm
Tue June 21, 2011

Eastern Michigan University to oversee lowest performing schools in Michigan

Eastern Michigan University has been picked to oversee the lowest performing schools in the state.

The “Education Achievement System” will assist the lowest 5 percent of performing schools in Michigan. The new statewide school district will start in Detroit and eventually expand across the state. 

Jeoff Larcom is with EMU. He says Governor Snyder chose EMU because of its strong education program and proximity to Detroit.

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Education
12:11 am
Tue June 21, 2011

Parents talking about future of Grand Rapids school's leader

GRPS School Board President Senita Lenear and Superintendent Bernard Taylor held a press conference after Cleveland Metropolitian Schools passed Taylor up for a job on June 7th, 2011.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A decision on the future of Grand Rapids Public Schools’ superintendent has been delayed again.

Despite no comments from the school board, several residents and parents talked about Taylor’s future. Tyrone Bynum admits he has not always gotten along with Taylor.

“My focus is what’s good for the kids. And I think we’ve got a winning team. And we can’t afford right now a new superintendent with paying that one and him too…this brother is expensive,” Bynum chuckled.

If they chose the option - it would cost Grand Rapids schools around $1 million dollars to buy out the remaining four year of Taylor’s contract.

The school board met twice Monday, once in a private morning meeting and a public one later in the evening. They did not approve Taylor’s evaluation for last school year or discuss the fact that’s he’s applied for jobs at other school districts.

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Education
4:01 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Michigan takes drastic approach to fix failing schools

Governor Snyder wants to reform Michigan public schools, starting in Detroit.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Michigan will try a drastic new approach to fix its failing public schools.

The state will put what it designates as “persistently low-performing schools” in a special, statewide school district.

The effort will start in Detroit. The city’s public school system has gained national notoriety for its rock-bottom test scores, and is already run by a state-appointed emergency manager.

That manager will jumpstart the effort to put some Detroit schools in what the state is calling an “Educational Achievement System” starting in the fall of 2012.

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Detroit Public Schools
6:21 am
Mon June 20, 2011

School reform announcement scheduled for Detroit

Governor Rick Snyder, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan and Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts are scheduled to make an announcement regarding school reform later this morning in Detroit. The Detroit Free Press reports:

Gov. Rick Snyder will create an authority to run several failing Detroit public schools as part of sweeping changes to be announced today for the city's struggling school system, sources said Sunday.

The plan would restructure the failing Detroit Public Schools, which has a $327-million deficit on an operating budget of about $1.5 billion, by moving its underperforming schools under an authority to be run by the district's emergency manager, Roy Roberts, according to sources. Schools would qualify for the new system if they are deemed below certain academic standards by the Michigan Department of Education…

It's unclear exactly how many DPS schools would be transferred to a new authority. DPS already has a program under way that would close or convert to charter about half its schools.

Under the plan to be announced Monday, DPS schools not labeled as underperforming would remain under the authority of Roberts, a former top executive at General Motors, in the same manner as they are today. There are no plans to dissolve the school board, sources said.

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, is scheduled to take part in the announcement via a live feed from Washington, D.C..

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