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Education

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Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fourteen Michigan schools received a total of $40 million in the fifth and final round of federal School Improvement Grants. The grant program was authorized under the 51-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The ESEA is being replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the grants will not continue.

EAA chancellor Veronica Conforme.
via Education Achievement Authority

Does the Education Achievement Authority still owe the Detroit Public Schools about $12 million?

The two districts seem to have distinctly different ideas about that, in what’s become a very odd dispute between the two state-run school districts.

And for now at least, it seems the state is unwilling to step in and help resolve the dispute.

The EAA took over fifteen former DPS schools when it launched as an attempt at a stateside turnaround school district in 2012.

Terrapin Flyer / Flickr

The first day of school probably isn't the best day to miss, but that's what plenty of students in Ypsilanti experienced on Monday.

Holmes Elementary School and Ford Early Learning Center in Ypsilanti both started school last Monday, but roughly a third of students were absent. 

Both schools have waivers from the state to start earlier than September as a part of the balanced calendar, which is more effective than longer summer vacations.

Yen Azzaro is with Ypsilanti Community Schools and she says the schools gave parents plenty of notice for the start of school.

Dan Bach / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Michigan State University and Wayne State University have joined a growing list of schools that are no longer requiring college algebra to earn a degree. Engineering students, and the like, will still be required to take plenty of math, but if you are a history or an English major who doesn't like algebra, then you can rest easier.  

Flickr user Dave Conner/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Business leaders of all kinds have talked about needing more skilled workers in their ranks. But they’re not the only ones. Law enforcement agencies also require more skilled employees.

Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma recently issued a report calling for additional support for community colleges. Those schools are home to most of Michigan’s police academies.

Apple with books
Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The CEO appointed by the state to take over four low-performing East Detroit schools can start working, but with some limits.

Under an agreement in court Thursday, CEO Gary Jensen can act as a consultant in the district, but he doesn't have authority over decisions on academics, curriculum or finances.

The state's decision to hire a CEO has faced months of backlash from teachers and administrators in East Detroit schools, who say they're already working to turn things around in the struggling district.

Open Books

A state panel will be named soon to look into improving Michigan’s dismal literacy rate. Governor Rick Snyder signed an executive order Wednesday creating the new PreK-12 Literacy Commission.

Michigan has one of the nation’s worst literacy rates. It’s ranked 40th when it comes to student literacy in the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Allen Academy is unimstakably a former Catholic church.
Allen Academy / via Facebook

How do you decide if a so-called “failing” school should shut down, and is there a right way to do it?

Three Detroit charter schools shut their doors forever at the end of this school year.

One of them, Allen Academy, was one of the city’s very first charters. And its closure leaves a wake of upheaval.

"The kids are going to be better off"

The ornate, red-brick complex on Detroit’s west side is unmistakably an old Catholic church.

The Saint Theresa of Avila parish closed in the 1980s. Since 1999, it’s been Allen Academy.

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

 

Michigan school boards are facing a dearth of candidates in the November election. Nearly 1,600 seats will open up in 540 districts across the state. Yet, in the 2014 elections, approximately 70 seats remained empty. Why are people so reluctant to serve on their school boards?

Pre school classroom
FLICKER USER BLOOMBERRIES / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

For working parents with young children, child care is not a luxury. It's a necessity. But for many low-income families in Michigan, it's out of reach.

Consider this: it costs around $10,000 a year to send a toddler to high-quality child care.

That is almost as much as it costs to send a kid to college at a public university.

A student inmate reads in class
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

For a convicted felon, getting a shot at an education might begin in prison.

Typically that means job training or a GED.

But a new program offers something more often associated with quiet campuses and ivy-covered walls.

The Calvin Prison Initiative is bringing the liberal arts and theology to inmates at a west Michigan prison.

"If the prosecutors were picking one person and saying, this is the rare one, that would be very different. But they're picking 250 people and saying, they're all rare, without exercising the discretion," Labelle said.
flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are 2.2 million people now incarcerated in American prisons. 

Each year, hundreds of thousands of those inmates are released.

One of the most important ways of keeping them from re-offending and winding up back in prison is education. 

College graduates
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

According to a new report, it’s taking Michigan students more than four years to get a four-year degree.

The state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information has released its first report on postsecondary success rates for students at Michigan public universities and community colleges.

Children
Credit Flickr user Herald Post/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

Who are Michigan's homeless students? And how does being homeless affect their education?

These are crucial questions for the state, as education plays an important role in homeless students' ability to escape the chains of poverty and homelessness.

Joshua Cowen is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. He recently published a study examining these important questions. His study reveals exactly who Michigan's homeless students are and where they come from. It also reveals how homelessness affects a students performance in schools.

Photo courtesy of Sean Ahlquist, University of Michigan

The Next Idea

For a child on the autism spectrum, there can be challenges to learning and engaging with the world.

Our latest contributors to The Next Idea are Sean Ahlquist and Leah Ketcheson. They're on a team from the University of Michigan that's developing exciting new technologies to help autistic children tackle those challenges.

Dorothy Aldridge and Sylvia Morgan in front of an exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum​ in Memphis​ showcasing Detroit activist Viola Liuzzo, who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while driving black voting rights activists between Selma and Montgom
Eric L. Hood

How do you get students to really appreciate history?

One powerful way is to get those students out of the classroom and take them to historic sites, bringing that history off the page and making it real.

That's the idea behind the Freedom Tour. 

According to the International Dyslexia Association, as much as 20% of Americans have some symptoms of dyslexia.
pixabay user picjumbo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

By the time they leave kindergarten, kids are supposed to have learned the building blocks of literacy. 

They should be able to connect letters to sounds and spell simple words like "cat" and "book."

But for an estimated one in five children with dyslexia, those basic skills aren't so easy to master.

Flickr user Brian Turner/Flickr
HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A group says free speech is threatened on college campuses.

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, rates colleges and universities based on how they restrict free speech.

Its mission is “to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities.”

That includes protecting freedom of speech, freedom of the press, due process and more.

Shelby Emmett, Legal and Legislative Policy Advocate for FIRE, said she views the group as an “empowerment organization for students.”

DPS EM Steven Rhodes, center, takes notes at a meeting with Detroit's elected school board.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools’ board of education met for the final time ever on Thursday.

The board has very little to do now as part of the "old,” debt-ridden DPS.

It will be replaced by a “new” district, run by a “transition manager”—currently the district’s last emergency manager, Judge Steven Rhodes.

Gov. Snyder just signed bills setting up this bankruptcy-style restructuring just last week.

Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A long-awaited, state-sponsored study has put a minimum price tag on what it takes to educate the average Michigan public school student.

The Michigan Education Finance Study set out to answer a simple question: How much money does it take to educate a student that’s proficient by state standards, every year?

Finding the answer, it turns out, is complicated.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Three Michigan colleges will participate in a program to give inmates a chance at higher education.

Jackson College, Delta College and Mott Community College were selected to participate in The U.S. Department of Education's Second Chance Pell Pilot Program. 

It hopes to give prisoners a college education.

Chris Gautz is a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections and he says Michigan has been on the forefront of educating its inmates. 

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

Three Detroit charter schools are closing and two are merging this year, adding to the school turnover and churn families in that city are seeing.

One of the larger charters, Allen Academy, is being shut down because of poor academic performance.

“The test scores over the last several years, they’ve been outperformed by the resident district, Detroit Public Schools,” says Ron Rizzo, director of the Charter Schools Office at Ferris State University, which authorized Allen Academy.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Members of the Detroit Board of Education have voted to reject a set of state-proposed loans to help bail-out the struggling district.

Last week, Governor Snyder signed off on a $617 million package to create a new, debt-free Detroit school system. The two rejected loans are part of the state's bail-out plan and total $385 million.

Board president LaMar Lemmons says the interest rates on the loans are too high.

Kids at a public school in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder traveled to a middle school in Oakland County to sign a $16 billion education budget for the coming fiscal year. He approved it despite questions over a provision that sends money to private and religious schools.

FLICKR USER ALBERTO G./FLICKR / HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/91DHSU

 

It was not long ago that serious questions were raised about how well Michigan's education schools were preparing their students to be teachers.

 

Critics pointed to the teacher certification test, which had a pass rate of 82 percent statewide. Prospective teachers were passing their exams at the same level as those seeking a cosmetology license.

 

A workshop of Mayan women learning about solar power.
Courtesy of Appropriate Technology Collaborative

 

The Mayan population in Guatemala is one of the largest indigenous population in the Americas. Yet many of the Mayan families don’t even have basic electricity.

The Appropriate Technology Collaborative is trying to bring light to rural Guatemala. Their Mayan Power and Light Project hopes to empower Mayan women to develop sustainable energy solutions and help them create small businesses. The program teaches Mayan women about solar energy and how to install solar energy panels, along with assistance in business development.

Does an oxford comma clutter up a sentence? The debate rages on.
Rasmus Olsen / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Whether you love it or hate it, the oxford comma evokes some pretty strong feelings – both among people who study language and the rest of us. 

Why?

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Around 90% of a child's brain is already developed by the time they are five years old.

And that means the learning that takes place before a kid even reaches kindergarten can have a lifelong impact.

DPS emergency manager Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

At a public meeting Thursday, Detroit Public Schools leaders tried to reassure still-nervous teachers and parents there should be a “seamless” transition to a new school district in the city.

Governor Snyder signed bills splitting the old Detroit school district in two this week.

Those bills create an “old” district, which will remain a legal entity solely to pay off existing debts; and a new, yet-to-be-named entity that will take over running schools and educating children.

DPS website

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a $617 million bailout of the Detroit Public Schools – which he says represents a fresh start for the financially and academically struggling district.

The plan creates a new debt-free Detroit school district, which will focus on educating the district’s 46,000 students while the old district pays down the old debt. 

The bills signed by the governor also return control of the district to a locally elected school board following seven years of state control that saw it sink deeper into debt.

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