Education

Detroit schools' budget deficit smaller than expected

Nov 10, 2015
The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A recent audit showed the Detroit Public Schools' deficit for the 2014-15  fiscal year is smaller than originally projected.

DPS officials said they had expected the annual deficit to be in the range of $70 million. But the audit puts it at $46.5 million, more than $22 million less.

Michigan kids may soon be required to learn engineering

Nov 9, 2015
Tommy Cohn, a junior at Skyline High School, teaches a few students about motors.
Gabrielle Emanuel/Michigan Radio

Biology, chemistry, physics, these traditional science classes may soon be getting a new bedfellow, engineering.

On Tuesday, Michigan’s State Board of Education is voting on new science standards that would, for the first time, require students to learn engineering. This is prompting both excitement and concern.

stevendepolo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

  A successful program that rewards students with cash for boosting their grades has expanded to a second high school in Westland, Michigan. Bill Gray, a retired school psychologist with Wayne Memorial High School, started the Champions of Wayne program in 2009 with the goal of improving performance of at-risk students.

The program offers mentorship and a $200 reward each semester to each students who successfully increase their grade point averages. 

Bills to protect K-12 student data advance in Lansing

Nov 5, 2015
Kjetil Korslian / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Legislation to safeguard the privacy of student information has passed the Michigan Senate.

One bill would bar the State and school districts from selling personally identifiable information in K-12 student educational records to for-profit businesses.  

(courtesy of KQED)

Schools districts across Michigan will have to adhere to new standards for evaluating teachers and administrators. Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill on Thursday meant to improve teacher evaluation practices across the state.

Supporters of Senate Bill 103 say it will make sure bad teachers are held accountable. But they say it will also protect good teachers.

Survey: Detroiters want more school choice

Nov 4, 2015
From a Detroit classroom
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Seventy five percent of Detroiters think Detroit parents need more school choices for their children.

That's according to a recent poll of 600 Detroit residents, nearly half of whom are parents of school-aged children. It was commissioned by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, which represents charter schools.

Grand Rapids Community College

Grand Rapids Community College and Central Michigan University have agreed to create transparent curricular paths to help GRCC students transfer to CMU. 

The institutional agreement is a first step toward program-specific agreements, which will map out what classes the community college students need to take to transfer to CMU programs.

The program agreements will appear as academic programs in the GRCC catalog and will be eligible for financial aid, according to GRCC.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Several hundred demonstrators chanted “enough is enough” at a state Capitol rally opposing Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed reorganization of the Detroit Public Schools.

  

The rally was organized by the teachers union, which brought in members by the busload to protest and to lobby state lawmakers.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan schools that are failing academically are the focus of a series of legislative hearings kicking off this week.

State Senator Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, chairs the Senate Education committee. He says the state has spent time focusing on developing an early warning for school districts facing financial problems.

Hallway in Huron High School in Ann Arbor.
user rosefirerising / Flickr

The Ann Arbor Public Schools is trying new tactics to deal with a “chronic” lack of enough substitute teachers.

Starting this month, the district will up sub pay from $75 to $100 a day. Officials also plan to raise pay rates for classroom assistants, though those rates haven’t been set yet.

The district will also try and assemble a team of “premier” substitutes, says Ann Arbor schools’ spokesman Andrew Cluley.

Lawmakers are not happy about the time it took for state education officials to release the latest round of standardized test results.

Students struggled in all grades and subjects on the new M-STEP test which replaced the MEAP.

That was expected. But lawmakers didn’t expect it to take six months to get that data.

Our host for last night's Issues and Ale, ABC Microbrewery, sits just off of the Eastern Michigan University campus in Ypsilanti. Plus, Washtenaw Community College and the University of Michigan are right down the road. 

So it came as no surprise that our audience had a lot to contribute to our Issues and Ale discussion about college access and affordability.

Buckets and sandcastles on the beach
Jerry / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A state Senate bill that would allow schools to start before Labor Day is drawing concern from Michigan's tourism industry.

Michigan schools are currently required to wait until after the holiday to start.

That's thanks to a 2006 law meant to help boost the state's tourism industry.

Steve Yencich is president and CEO of the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association.

Michigan state Capitol
User: mattileo / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The emergency manager of the Detroit school district took a trip to Lansing today to ask state lawmakers for help. Darnell Earley was hoping to win support for Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to bail out the district.

  

Earley told the state House budget subcommittee on K-12 school spending that the district’s massive debt is standing in the way of improving academic performance and fixing the business side of the operation.

There were some improvements in test results this year, but the overal picture is still rough.
Alberto G. / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan students struggled with the state’s new standardized test.

The Michigan Department of Education on Tuesday released the first results from Michigan’s new M-STEP test which replaced the MEAP.

Working World / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new report from Wayne State University says Michigan's schools need to do more to combat bullying.

The report finds more than half of Michigan students feel bullying is still a problem in their school.

Nicole Plater documents her son's injuries in a thick binder.
Gabrielle Emanuel / Michigan Radio

UPDATED on 10-27-15 at 9:00 am  

In the mid-afternoon, Nicole Plater stands by the front door of her gray-blue mobile home in Wixom. She’s watching for her son’s school bus.

Andy is 11 years old and recently started at a new school.

“He's been, you know, not getting injured at the new school,” Plater says. “I’m so excited and he’s actually happy there.”

This week, we aired a State of Opportunity special, Life after High School. The show focused on the options open to young people trying to figure out how to build a future for themselves. We spent some time talking about the challenge and expense of attending a university or college.

But for young people in the foster care system or students who have experienced homelessness, that leap to college is even bigger.

Wikimedia Commons

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel announced an ambitious new program today to increase diversity in the pool of students applying for admission.

The program, called Wolverine Pathways, will be launched in January for 7th and 10th grade students in Southfield and Ypsilanti. It will be offered in a series of eight-week sessions throughout the year, and will focus on academics and other activities like field trips, campus visits and internships. 

Ryan Stanton / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

UPDATED: 8:35 am on 10/22/2015 The federal government paid at least $1.7 million to 25 Michigan charter schools  that never opened, according to a report released this week by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

The Wisconsin-based media group "conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy," according to their website.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Gov. Rick Snyder wants the Legislature to adopt an expensive, controversial plan to overhaul Detroit’s schools by the end of the year.

Snyder outlined his plan in Detroit on Monday. The goal is to rescue Detroit Public Schools from crushing debt and dismal academic results.


Gov. Snyder at a press conference this month announcing his plan to overhaul the Detroit Public School District.
screenshot / Livestream

Gov. Snyder's plan would split the current school district in two.

Similar to the GM bankruptcy, there would essentially be an "old" Detroit Public Schools district and a new district.

The old district would pay down the school system's debt with the current school millage in Detroit.

Snyder says DPS is expected to have $515 million in operating debt by June 2016.

Snyder says that debt could be paid off over 10 years using the $70 million a year the millage brings in.

School student in Japan reading a book outside
Mehan / Creative Commons

The state House has approved a controversial bill meant to improve young students’ reading skills.

The goal is to increase early intervention for kids who struggle with reading before fourth grade. But the bill would also eventually require schools to hold back some third graders who aren’t proficient – even if those students are making significant progress.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan Flint is considering buying part of the FirstMerit Bank complex in downtown Flint, a move that university officials hope will solve some of the college’s space issues.

U of M-Flint Chancellor Sue Borrego says the building would provide 120,000 square feet of space. She says the university would like to use the building for classrooms and administrative office space.

“We have a number of programs that absolutely can’t take any more students because of space,” says Borrego. 

Jack Kevorkian's papers donated to U-M library

Oct 14, 2015
The University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library

The papers of the controversial Dr. Jack Kevorkian are now open to the public at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library.

The collection was donated by Ava Janus, niece of the widely known assisted suicide advocate, and it includes recordings of his consultations with patients seeking to end their lives.

"Kevorkian is probably the best-recognized face of the right-to-die movement," said Michigan Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry.

There are still so many questions.

On Wednesday, Leonard Seawood released a statement about his resignation as superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools.

State's new e-textbooks get harsh words from critics

Oct 13, 2015
Apple with books
Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The first set of online textbooks released under Michigan's Open Book Project is drawing criticism from some educators and experts.

The social studies e-textbooks were commissioned under a grant from the Michigan Department of Education.

F. Delventhal / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Professors at Eastern Michigan University want a bigger say and more openness in the selection of the university's next president.

In an October 7 letter, the EMU Faculty Senate urged the EMU Board of Regents to amend the search process to give the faculty a primary role and to hold open public forums for the final candidates. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Michigan education officials are moving ahead with plans to improve teacher evaluations statewide.

That’s as the state House nears a possible vote this week to overhaul the way districts assess teachers and administrators.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston says his department can’t wait around while lawmakers debate the bill.

Courtesy of MC4ME

The Next Idea

There is a lot of pressure in schools these days.

From the early grades through high school, students take tests and then more tests and shuffle from one extracurricular activity to the next, all while many are also trying to navigate instability at home.

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