"This is why I hate Ann Arbor's bigotry," one Whitmore Lake parent whispered to her neighbor at an information meeting today to discuss whether Ann Arbor schools should annex the Whitmore Lake school district. 

So yeah, things got a little heated towards the end. 

But the first chunk of the meeting was spent tackling parents' questions about how the logistics and numbers would play out.

Ann Arbor Board of Education President Deb Mexicotte kicked off the event with her argument for annexation: right now, the Whitmore Lake district is barely operating in the black.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan testing scores are treading water. Ron French and Chastity Pratt Dawsey of Bridge Magazine traveled across the country to study states that are getting education right. They say they discovered what it will take to pull Michigan's schools out of the mire of middling-to-poor student achievement.

Stopping in both red and blue states –  Massachusetts, Tennessee, Florida, and Minnesota – French and Pratt worked to avoided bias. 

While Massachusetts is widely known as the gold standard in education, the reporters found that Minnesota, a mid-western state comparable to Michigan, ranks No. 1 in math scores and in the top 10 in every other category.

Ten years ago, Florida and Tennessee scored lower than Michigan. In the last decade, both have ascended in the ranks and surpassed Michigan.

Jake Neher / MPRN

The state superintendent of schools is refusing to weigh in on the debate over school funding ahead of the November election. That issue has been a central talking point in the governor’s race.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he has increased education funding every year he has been in office. He includes money that went to shore up teacher pension funds. Democratic nominee Mark Schauer says Snyder has cut funding by about $1 billion.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says he is not interested in getting involved in the debate this close to the election.

T.D. Ford / Flickr

The only scheduled joint appearance between Governor Rick Snyder and former Congressman Mark Schauer wrapped up last night. One of the top issues of the debate was education. If you turn on a television, there's no escaping the "dueling teacher" campaign ads for Snyder and Schauer.

Schauer's ads feature teachers saying Governor Snyder slashed $1 billion from school funding. Snyder's ads feature teachers who say Snyder's been great for schools, that he's increased K-12 state funding every year he's been in office.

John Bebow is president of the non-partisan Center for Michigan. Bebow says let's stop talking about the past and, instead, look ahead to the future of education spending.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - East Lansing and Michigan State University's Center for Language Teaching Advancement say they're trying to open up local services to non-English speakers with a program that provides translations of materials into Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean and Spanish.

  The university says the project goes by the name "MELTing POT, MSU East Lansing Together: Promoting Outreach through Translations."

Eastern Michigan University isn't the only school in Michigan bucking funding incentives
flickr user krossbow /


Black men have some of the lowest graduation rates among college students.

Nationally, just 33% of them finish their degrees within six years.

At Eastern Michigan University, it's even lower: around 18%, according to their numbers from 2004-2006.

“We have [about 1500] black males. We can’t connect with all of them, but we can cast a wide net.”

EMU likes to boast about their diverse student body – one of the “most diverse in the Midwest,” according to the school’s website.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This fall, thousands of college students in Michigan are going through a new kind of training aimed at stopping sexual assaults before they happen.

It’s called "bystander intervention training,” which is exactly what it sounds like: trying to get students to feel comfortable stepping in when they see a potentially shady situation.

It’s ambitious, when you consider what kind of bravery it might take for an 18-year-old to put themselves in the mix when some stranger at a party heads off with a very drunk young woman.

Detroit Public Schools

Detroit’s elected school board has lost its bid to oust the district’s emergency manager immediately.

Board members voted to get rid of Jack Martin this week.

And they sued to enforce that, citing a portion of state law that allows elected officials to remove emergency managers after 18 months.

Martin hasn’t yet been in office for 18 months, but the Detroit Public Schools have been under some form of emergency manager for years.

The question is whether that 18-month limit applies to all emergency managers, or just individual appointees.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school district once again fell short of its student count day forecast.   

90% of a district’s per-pupil funding from the state is based on the fall count day number.    

Flint fell about 150 students short of its projection for this year. Flint gets roughly $7,500 from the state for each student.  The district will now have to redo its plan to eliminate its $20 million deficit. 

Larry Watkins is Flint’s interim superintendent. He’s not disappointed by the number.

One of the assignments in the Big History course is to have students use their personal narratives to understand the importance of scale.
User: Big History Project / facebook


If you had a typical American high school experience, chances are you trudged through the day, going from one period to another – maybe starting with algebra, then over to American lit, then chemistry or biology, on to history, and so on.

History in particular gets a bum rap, with grumbling about memorizing dates and names.

What's missing? A sense of all of this knowledge being connected.

Enter the Big History Project. Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has become a champion of this new way to teach history, and he's using his own money to develop this new history curriculum for high schools.

Neil deGrasse Tyson / Facebook

Tomorrow, Sept. 30, the world-renowned science educator and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will deliver a keynote speech at the Wayne County Community College District Chancellor's Banquet. 

The event will be held at 6 p.m. at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. Event proceeds will benefit the Wayne County Community College district scholarship fund. 

Alpena Community College / Facebook

In an effort to raise employment through increased job training, the Obama administration has distributed $450 million to nearly 270 community colleges across the country.

Among these recipients are two community colleges in Michigan: Alpena Community College and Wayne County Community College District in Detroit. The community colleges were selected for their partnerships with employers on job training. Together, they will be receiving nearly $5 million in federal funding.

User: The Gouger / flickr

Students in Michigan schools can now report potential threats through a confidential tip line.

The “OK-2-Say” line allows students and concerned citizens to report anonymous tips via a 24-hour hotline, web, text messages and a mobile app.

Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, sponsored the bill to create the 24-hour, confidential tip line. She hopes the program will become a safe way to prevent violence in schools.

Inside Mountain Town Brewing Co., one of the sponsors of CMU's program.

CMU's College of Science and Technology announced this week that it's working to create a certificate program in fermentation science.

The college says the program would be "the first of its kind in Michigan to provide a hands-on education focused on craft beer."

Classes in biochemistry, chemistry and microbiology combined with a 200-hour internship at a production-scale brewing facility would be required.

More from CMU's press release:

“As of 2013, Michigan ranked fifth in the nation in number of breweries, behind only California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington,” Ian Davison, dean of the College of Science and Technology, said. “This growing industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy, supporting jobs in breweries as well as in farms producing barley and hops. In 2012, the Brewers Association calculated that Michigan craft brewing contributed 11,666 full-time equivalent jobs and had about a $1 billion economic impact.”

Here's how the Brewers Association breaks down Michigan's numbers:


She was the first in her family to go to college, but the head of the nation's largest teachers' union fears many Michigan children won't be able to accomplish the same goal if something isn't done about the cost of higher education.

As part of a nationwide tour, Lily Eskelsen Garcia visited Michigan State University this week to meet with future educators and deliver a message she calls "Degrees, Not Debt."

John Pollack says it's important to tell true analogies from false ones.
user: RCB / Flickr

We use analogies every day. Yet we rarely think about them. They're just part of our vocabulary and our speech. 

But for John Pollack, analogies are not something to be ignored.

Pollack is the author of the new book Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connection, Spark Innovation and Sell Our Greatest Ideas. He believes analogies often have big consequences on how we view the world.

For example, Pollack says there are a lot of analogies that ring true that actually turn out not to be true. 

Pollack mentions the case of the "domino theory" President Eisenhower used in 1954.

The analogy convinced Americans that if they didn't intervene in Vietnam, democratic governments across Southeast Asia would topple like dominoes.

While the analogy translated something complex and far away into everyday language, it falsified the situation: When U.S. forces withdrew from Hanoi in defeat, the neighboring countries didn't topple like dominoes.

Barbara Webb (left) sitting with wife Kristen Lasecki
User: I Stand With Barb Webb / facebook

The congregation of nuns that manages Marian High School in suburban Detroit said it will review the policies that led to the controversial firing of a pregnant gay teacher in August.

That's according to a letter sent Monday to the Marian High School community and its alumnae on behalf of the leadership council of the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters.

Sister Mary Jane Herb wrote the letter. It says the IHM sisters will work with Marian Catholic Board of Directors' executive committee to re-examine policies and procedures in light of Catholic identity and IHM values.

Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

For years, kids have been leaving Benton Harbor schools in droves.

Meanwhile, per-pupil money from the state has been flat. 

Now the school district has signed a consent agreement with the state to wipe out a $15 million deficit.

Ask school board member Joseph Taylor how Benton Harbor schools got here, and he says, simple:

"It's what's called debt. You know, we had an $18 million deficit. We knocked it down some, but the state only gives you so much time. And when that time ran out, we had to consider other options."

Cass Tech High School in Detroit.
DPS / Flickr

The Michigan Education Department and four of the state's school districts have been awarded nearly $3 million in federal grants to improve school safety and learning conditions.

The U.S. Education Department announced the grants as part of its effort to improve school safety around, reduce gun violence, and improve mental health services.

More from the U.S. Department of Education’s press release:

To help keep students safe and improve their learning environments, the U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $70 million to 130 grantees in 38 states…

“If we can’t help protect kids and staff, and make them feel safe at school, then everything else that we do is secondary,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “If kids don’t feel safe, they can’t learn. It’s that simple. Through these grants of more than $70 million, we are continuing our commitment to ensure that kids have access to the best learning experience possible.”

Here are the grants awarded in Michigan:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Benton Harbor Board of Education may take a step this evening toward getting its financial house in order. 

Benton Harbor Area Schools faces a $15 million deficit.

Last month, a state panel determined the school district is in a "financial emergency."

Monday, the state Treasury department announced that an agreement has been crafted that will “restore financial stability to Benton Harbor Area Schools as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

As part of the agreement, a consultant will assist district leaders in implementing the plan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - There are many bumps in the road to social and economic mobility in the U.S., and 11 large research universities are taking steps to level one of them.

Michigan State University and 10 other schools have launched a program they say seeks to boost the graduation rates for students from low-income families or from groups that are historically underrepresented among college graduates.

Last week, the University Innovation Alliance announced it's raised $5.7 million from six major funders.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a new national push to address the problem of sexual assaults on college campuses.

President Barack Obama says campus sexual assault is "an affront to our basic humanity." The president  unveiled a new campaign to change the way people think about campus sexual assault.

A new public service announcement features Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other familiar faces telling viewers they have a responsibility to stop sexual assault.

Kalamazoo College campus
user: Kalamazoo College / facebook


When it comes to recruiting and graduating low-income students, one school that is clearly getting it right is Kalamazoo College.

The New York Times ranks Kalamazoo College No. 12 in the nation among elite colleges that enroll a large percentage of PELL-grant eligible students.

The PELL grant is a solid indicator, since many students in families above the poverty level do not qualify for these grants.

Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran is president of Kalamazoo College. She says attracting and keeping low-income students have been a priority of the college and part of its institutional mission: 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for a halt in new charter schools until there are rules that ensure more transparency and accountability.

They say the rules should require private, for-profit charter operators to reveal more about how they spend their per-student state aid payments.

“They’re not willing to tell us how they’re spending taxpayer dollars and, unfortunately, we’ve just seen too many cases of the temptation to make money getting in the way of providing the best quality education for our children,”  said state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores.

User: COD Newsroom / Flickr

As college students explore their campuses, they're likely to find a wide array of student groups that pertain to race: The Black Student Union, Asian-American groups, or Hispanic and Latino groups.

Universities say they're spending time and money on trying to increase the number of minority students, especially since the Supreme Court ban in 2006 on affirmative action.

But Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution says the challenges for American colleges should be not only racial diversity, but also economic diversity. 

Especially when universities, including elite schools, haven't upped their percentage of low-come students in generation. 

Haskins says that's what happens when colleges maintain admission standards.

Half of all college students in the U.S. drop out, according to Michigan State University, and another 25% wind up on academic probation.

It’s part of the research MSU is doing with 10 other big schools to better understand why so many students don’t make it to graduation, and what colleges can do about it.

For low-income and first-generation kids, getting to graduation is harder

Students who are from low income families or the first generation in their family to go to college are more likely to struggle, says MSU provost June Youatt.

Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to public universities in the U.S., the University of Michigan is truly the leader and the best, according to QS World University Rankings.

U of M was named the No. 1 public university in the U.S. In the worldwide rankings, U of M came in at 23. 

It is one of 14 U.S. schools that made the top 30, and, along with the University of California, Berkeley (ranked 27th), is one of only two public universities to make the top 30. 

Senator Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Twp, introduced Senate Bill 727.
Michigan Senate Republicans

New legislation in the state Senate would close Michigan’s teacher retirement system to new teachers. Instead, all new teachers would get a “defined contribution” 401(k)-style plan.

Under a partial overhaul of teacher retirement approved by state lawmakers in 2012, new teachers can choose between that or a “hybrid” plan, which combines elements of a defined contribution plan and a traditional pension. The new legislation would end that choice, giving new teachers only the 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Moderate to vigorous exercise in the morning may help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder be better prepared for the school day.  

Michigan State University researchers studied 200 kindergarten, first and second grade students for 12 weeks. They found children at-risk for developing ADHD were more attentive in class after exercising.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The emphasis on “high stakes testing” in America’s schools may be having an unexpected side effect.

A Michigan State University researcher says teachers are citing the testing as their reason for quitting the profession.

Alyssa Hadley Dunn is a professor at the MSU College of Education.  She also was once a high school teacher in Atlanta, Georgia.   

She says she decided to quit after years of pressure to “teach to the test.”