WUOMFM

Education

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.

Mapping the options for kids in failing Detroit schools

Jan 25, 2017
map of Detroit with possible closures marked
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

There are 25 schools in Detroit waiting to hear whether they’ll be closing their doors at the end of the school year.

So, where would all those students end up if those schools did close?

Click on the map to see the nearby options for each possible closure and how they stack up academically.

Matt Katzenberger / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It wasn’t one thing that put Litchfield Community Schools’ elementary school on a path to becoming a “priority” school.

When Mary Sitkiewicz started teaching at Litchfield in the mid 1990s, she remembers there being more than 800 students. According to state data from last school year, the student count was down to 248.

There are so many people, places and things in Michigan that are mispronounced, like Mackinac Island.
Josh Grenier / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Do you know the proper way to pronounce the community of Presque Isle and the county of Presque Isle? (Hint: they are different). Or how about the cities of Charlotte or Milan? How many non-Michiganders have you heard mispronounce Mackinac Island?

There's no shortage of Michigan towns, locations and personalities with, let's say, challenging pronunciations. If you're a Michigander, a visitor, or anything in between, there is now a definitive guide for these tricky words or names. 

The Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library now gives people audio and phonetic pronunciations for more than 2,200 places, people and things in or connected to Michigan.

Detroit school leaders point to Coleman A. Young Elementary School as a successful turnarond effort led from within the district.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit school leaders say they’re ready to take on the task of transforming some of the state’s lowest-performing schools.

But first, they’re inviting counterparts from around the country to a “learning summit” next week, to discuss and formulate a broader school turnaround strategy.

Courtesy of Aaron Robertson

President Bill Clinton, astronomer Edwin Hubble, singer and actor Kris Kristofferson, ABC journalist and former White House spokesman George Stephanopoulos, Senator Cory Booker and former Senator and basketball Hall-of-Famer Bill Bradley.

That's just a shortlist of people who've won the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships. 

Now, you can add Aaron Robertson to that list. 

Robertson was born in Detroit and currently calls Redford Township home. The Princeton undergrad is one of just 32 Americans awarded a 2017 Rhodes scholarship, and he joined Stateside to talk about it.

MOTOWN31 / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

On Friday, Michiganders learned that state officials are preparing to shut down as many as 38 under-performing schools in Michigan. Twenty-five of those schools are in Detroit.

What, if anything, could keep the School Reform Office from closing the schools? And how should we, as a state, deal with schools that are turning out unprepared students?

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

The Michigan Department of Education released the state’s School Score Cards and the “Top to Bottom” list today. The Top to Bottom list is used by the School Reform Office to identify low-performing schools.

The “Priority List” is made up of the lowest-performing five percent of schools in the state, and schools that were previously in the five percent and haven’t improved enough to get off the list.  Schools on the list for three years could be subject to closure.

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

About a week ago, as attorneys and staffers helped Betsy DeVos prepare and file paperwork required as part of her confirmation process to become the next U.S. education secretary, somebody asked her about her ties to her mother’s foundation.

“She said, ‘Well wait a minute. I’ve never been on that board or never been involved with that foundation.’ Nor did she ever give consent for her name to be used,” DeVos family spokesman John Truscott said. “Best we can figure it was an error on behalf of the foundation staff and was never run by her.”

Besty DeVos during her hearing.
SCREENSHOT / C-SPAN

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S Department of Education went before the Senate education committee yesterday for her confirmation hearing.

Senators asked many questions of Betsy DeVos – some about her Michigan family’s donations of millions of dollars to Republican candidates, others about whether she would mandate that public schools become charter or private schools.

Yet, it was an exchange between Minnesota Senator Al Franken and DeVos that caught our attention.

Take a listen:

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

School choice advocate Betsy DeVos answered a wide range of questions during a three-hour confirmation hearing in Washington D.C. Tuesday night. The billionaire from West Michigan could head the U.S. Department of Education soon.

You can watch the hearing here or below:

Courtesy of Tashaune Harden

 

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

Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is a long-time Republican donor. DeVos is an advocate of charter schools, school voucher programs, and tax credits for businesses that give private scholarships.

Her likely appointment excites many in Michigan’s charter schools.

But not everyone.

There hasn't been a more controversial pick for secretary of education, arguably, in recent memory than Donald Trump's choice of Betsy DeVos. The Senate confirmation hearings for the billionaire Republican fundraiser and activist from Michigan start today.

Pages