Education

Education
5:11 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Snyder and teachers unions agree on at least one thing: Year-round schooling

Credit jdurham / mourgeFile

  Teachers unions say they liked at least one thing Governor Rick Snyder said during his State of the State address Thursday night. The governor called for state incentives to encourage school districts to go year-round.

Under the plan, schools that volunteer would still have the same number of vacation days. They would just be spread out more throughout the year.

“Let’s try it!” said American Federation of Teachers of Michigan President David Hecker.

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Education
10:46 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Lansing school board delays decision on privatizing school bus service

Dozens of Lansing school bus drivers and their supporters showed up at last night's school board meeting to oppose a plan to hire a private company to provide bus service to district students.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing school board has put off a decision on whether to privatize the district’s bus service.

School officials say the proposal would save the district five million dollars over the next five years, primarily by not having to pay to replace dozens of aging school buses.

But the district’s unionized bus drivers raised questions about the plan.

Peter Spadafore is the school board president. He says giving the union one week to spell out its concerns is a good idea.

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Education
1:23 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Today's State of Opportunity call-in show tackles standardized testing

Michigan students may have more rigorous performance expectations on MEAP and other standardized tests.
Alberto G. Creative Commons

Update: If you missed the program, you can catch the audio on this post.

Do at-risk kids have more on the line when it comes to testing? Are low expectations playing a part in poor test performance? How does the Smarter Balance test compare to the MEAP?

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Education
8:56 am
Thu January 16, 2014

State lawmakers grill education officials on new standardized tests

Michigan students may have more rigorous performance expectations on MEAP and other standardized tests.
Alberto G. Creative Commons

Debate is underway in Lansing over which standardized test will replace the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP). State lawmakers held their first hearing on the subject Wednesday afternoon.

At the meeting, state education officials defended their decision to endorse a computer-based test known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment. They took exception to lawmakers who questioned whether the test was chosen carefully and objectively.

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Education
4:48 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Last week's snow days bring schools closer to having to make up the lost time

Credit Morguefile

Many of Michigan's public schools were closed for three days during the Polar Vortex last week.

This brings them close to the state's annual limit of five or six calamity days.

The number of days varies among school districts depending on the length of their school days and of their school year.

Michigan requires schools to offer 170 days of instruction and 1,098 hours of classes.

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Education
10:40 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Grand Rapids schools want to hear what’s working, what’s not in ‘listening tour’

Students at Creston High School talk about the closure of their school at the first 'listening tour' in 2012.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The head of Michigan’s fifth-largest school district is launching a “listening tour” this week.

Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal says the Grand Rapids school district needs to succeed in order for the city to succeed, and because that impacts the entire region, she wants to hear from everybody.

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Education
12:28 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Flint school board to discuss compensation cut tonight

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint school officials have until Wednesday to deliver a new deficit elimination plan to the Michigan Department of Education.

Flint School Board members tonight will review an agreement calling for a 19% compensation cut to school district employees. Specific wage and benefit cuts will be worked out during the next several months.

The wage and benefit concession was announced last week. The cuts would begin in July and last until 2018, when Flint School District officials project the district will have eliminated its multi-million dollar deficit.

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Stateside
8:39 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Why are women underrepresented in science and what can be done to change this?

Women should be encouraged to pursue science as a career.
Argonne National Laboratory Flickr

A young woman entered college, full of the dreams she’d been holding tight since early grade school: dreams of being a doctor. She entered college in pre-med as a biology major. The biology part of pre-med went just great. But the chemistry was tough, and, in the middle of her sophomore year, when she saw she’d gotten a “D” in organic chem lab, that was that. She dropped out of all her science classes, switched over to History and tried to forget that she’d ever wanted to be a surgeon.

Today she’s glad to be hosting Stateside here on Michigan Radio!

But even after 34 years in radio and TV, Cynthia Canty still finds herself wondering what if she had not let that one “D” chase her out of her science major? And why did no one try to encourage her to keep plugging away?

So when the New York Times Sunday Magazine recently ran a long piece by writer Eileen Pollack titled “Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?” it struck a very personal chord.

As Eileen finds, women are still underrepresented in the STEM classes and careers that are so crucial to our country’s future prosperity.

But the University of Michigan is working hard to find ways to nurture and support women students and faculty in the sciences.

We were joined today by the author of that New York Times piece. She is one of the first two women to earn a bachelor of science degree in physics from Yale. Today she teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan.

Tim McKay is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Michigan, and he directs the undergrad honors program.

Abby Stewart is a professor of psychology and women’s studies at Michigan. She directs the university’s advance program.

The three of them joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Education
3:52 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Flint school employees to take 19% compensation cut

Interim school superintendent Larry Watkins, flanked by union leaders, announces the agreement
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint school district employees are facing a deep cut in pay and benefits.

Interim school superintendent Larry Watkins announced today that the district and its unions have reached a deal that calls for a 19% cut in compensation.

Specific details about cuts to wages and benefits are still being negotiated between the district and its unions. The cuts will take effect in July. 

Watkins says the cuts are a key component of the district’s deficit reduction plan that’s being submitted to the state next week.

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8:56 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Stockbridge is closing its middle school. Could this happen to your school?

Lead in text: 
State of Opportunity reporter Sarah Alvarez returned to Stockbridge, Mich., several months after completing a series on how the schools there are excelling in providing quality education for its students. Despite success at the pre-K, elementary, and high school levels, the middle school struggled with poor student performance. Now the decision's been made to close the middle school altogether. Sarah takes us back to Stockbridge to see what factors go into deciding to close a school. As it turns out, there's more than money involved, but that's a huge part of the problem to be solved.
"This is a sleeper community. Nobody's coming to Stockbridge. So, you have to have people that are committed to putting their kids first. I see a lot of that go on." - Chris Young, Stockbridge community member
Stateside
5:19 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Michigan falling behind on school safety reporting

Public school in Detroit.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Parents want to know how safe their child's school is. How many incidents of bullying have happened, for example? How many kids caught with drugs or alcohol?

Well, it's been more than a decade since the state of Michigan required the reporting of school safety information, but it appears that requirement is failing.

Bridge Magazine writer Ron French recently dug into the extent of the problem.

*Listen to the audio above.

2:38 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Is there more than one way for a child to be "gifted"?

Lead in text: 
Every week on the State of Opportunity blog we have a feature called, "Ideas & Stuff." It's meant to give you some background into the research that informs our stories about helping Michigan kids get ahead. Today, Dustin Dwyer give us a peek into the studies he's been reading in preparation for a new documentary on high-stakes testing. The studies question whether there's a class bias in which kids are tracked into gifted and talented programs. Are children living in poverty recognized as gifted and put into the appropriate programs? Swing by our blog and see what the research says.
"Students from poverty have many gifts and talents that rarely manifest themselves in recognizable and traditionally valued behaviors…Conversely, middle-class students who know the names of all the space shuttles and every dinosaur, and can effectively articulate their ideas, are generally viewed as being very bright-and gifted." - National Association for Gifted Children
10:56 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Catch up on State of Opportunity documentaries this weekend

Lead in text: 
How are you preparing for the new year? Cleaning the house from top to bottom? Clearing out paper and files? Changing smoke alarm batteries (yes, you really should do that)? Whether you're working, relaxing, or pondering what 2014 holds, click through to State of Opportunity and catch up on our thought-provoking documentaries. 2013 saw us cover what race means to kids today, the gap in educational achievement in two local school districts, and how we as a society are defining manhood. Listen on the State of Opportunity website. Or download the podcasts from iTunes and listen while you take down those outdoor holidays lights. Listening to stimulating radio guarantees you'll wrap the lights carefully this year.
Education
6:00 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Traverse City public schools seeking more international students

Sharon Drummond Flickr

Traverse City public schools are getting ready to welcome about 55  students from Dalian, China, in January. They will attend high school for two weeks and stay with local families.

In May, about 25 Traverse City high schoolers will do the same in China at a high school attached to Dalian University of Technology.

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Education
5:13 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Why the quality of life for Michigan's children is stagnating

The quality of life for Michigan's children is not doing so great, according to the Kids Count report.
toshibatelecom toshibatelecom

Michigan's economy may be slogging its way up the hill towards recovery, but life is not getting as good as it should for children in our state.

That's the takeaway from the latest Kids Count report.

Here to tell us more is Jane Zehnder-Merrell. She's the project director for Kids Count in Michigan, part of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
5:25 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Brighton High School students don hijabs to explore literature, religion and identity

Students at Brighton High School chose to wear hijabs for a full school day
Mark Halonen Brighton High School

An interview with teacher Diana Mason and students from Brighton High

Maybe more than any other, high school can be a time when what you choose to wear has a huge impact on your sense of identity.

As students take their first steps into adulthood, they walk a fine line between fitting in with their peers and developing a unique sense of self.

Earlier this fall, a group of AP language students at Brighton High School were asked to read a memoir by Iranian author Azar Nafisi. The book detailed the experiences of women during that country's religious revolution, including dealing with new standards of modesty in the way they dressed.

To experience the material first-hand, several girls in the class in Brighton chose to spend a full school day wearing hijabs, the head-scarves worn by Muslim women in many parts of the world.

The exercise gave students a chance to learn about an unfamiliar culture and religion. But in a school community where no students and only one teacher outwardly practice Islam, wearing the scarves was a good way to draw curious looks, questions and a few unfriendly comments.

Teacher Diana Mason and three students at Brighton who took part recently told Stateside about the experience.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Stateside
1:46 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

How are 'Common Core' standards playing out in Michigan classrooms today?

A classroom.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

An interview with Naomi Norman.

Back in 2010, the State Board of Education approved the Common Core State Standards for Michigan — a set of math and English goals for K-12 students.

School districts across the state have spent the past three years integrating the standards into their curricula. At the same time, we've heard a lot of political debate about Common Core, mostly about the involvement of the federal government in our classrooms.

But in October of this year, state lawmakers OK'd funding for Common Core, and now it is becoming a reality in Michigan classrooms.

We wanted to find out: What does this mean — day-in, day-out — for Michigan's students?

What does a school year under Common Core really look like?

Joining us is Naomi Norman, the executive director of Achievement Initiatives at Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Livingston Educational Service Agency.

Listen to the full interview above.

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Education
3:51 pm
Sat December 14, 2013

Michigan to have tip line to prevent school violence

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan is creating a confidential tip line for students designed to prevent school violence.

A law signed Friday by Gov. Rick Snyder authorizes the creation of a hotline accepting tips by phone, text message, email or through a website or mobile app. The state attorney general's office and other agencies will cooperate to establish the OK-2-SAY program being modeled after one Colorado created after the Columbine shootings.

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Education
12:27 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Michigan's student homelessness problem is growing

More than 43,000 Michigan students are homeless. According to the Detroit Free Press, many live in tents like these.
Nicole Salow Flickr

The number of K-12 students in the U.S. without a home is on the rise.

More than 1.1 million children in the U.S. were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Department of Education.

Suzi Parker at takepart.com looked at the numbers and found that Michigan has one of the fastest-growing homeless student populations in the country.

In Michigan, 43,418 students were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, compared to 30,671 in the 2010-2011 school year:

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