WUOMFM

school closures

(courtesy of KQED)

State Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston plans to ditch an idea to use grades to describe the performance of individual schools in Michigan, under the state's draft plan to comply with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

That's after many groups protested the grades idea.
 

Chris Wigent is with the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

He says grades don't give much detail, and they can be misleading. But he likes the idea of presenting information about schools on what he calls a "dashboard."

The state says 38 schools with persistently low test scores might not have to close by the end of the year. At least, not yet. These schools now have 60 days to come up with a turnaround plan using what the state calls a "partnership" model. We wanted to know a little bit more about what that partnership strategy might entail, so we took a trip to Dearborn to find out. 

SARAH CWIEK / MICHIGAN RADIO

Life Remodeled is a group pouring money and effort into fixing up Detroit Schools. It’s worked on Detroit’s Cody High School, Osborn High School and Denby High School.

All three of those have either individual schools or the entire campus that are on the list of 38 schools in danger of closure due to poor performance. (The state has offered schools on that list a chance to stay open.)

Life Remodeled has spent $15 million in the last three years on projects to benefit the Detroit community.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
user alkruse24 / Flickr

The state is giving 38 of Michigan’s worst-performing schools 60 days to come up with a turnaround plan, and avoid closure – at least for now.

Under the so-called "partnership model," schools would get support from the state, district and outside groups to help them address weak areas. 

The schools would have to meet benchmarks at 18-month intervals, or they could still face closure after three years.

The plans would have to be approved by the state Department of Education and the School Reform Office.

chairs stacked on a desk in a classroom
Flickr user janine / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Republican-backed bill to rollback Michigan's income tax died on the floor of the state House early Thursday morning. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about fallout from the bill's failure, including a leadership change in Lansing.

We're also talking about the Trump administration's withdrawal of Obama-era guidance on transgender students' rights in schools, the state's delay on announcing which low-performing schools will be closed in the fall, and a new "fake news" course at the University of Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

First, Michigan Republican legislators proposed phasing out the income tax over a 40-year period, then that was changed to reduce it from 4.25% to 3.9% over four years. This week Michigan Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt Township brought it up for a vote and in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, it failed.

Last month, the state School Reform Office (SRO) announced that 38 schools could be closed at the end of this school year.
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some parents may have to drive their children ten, 20, even 30 miles to school next year. But those parents still aren't sure if that's the case yet, or if any of their options will be much better than their current schools.

All the confusion is because last month, the state School Reform Office (SRO) announced that 38 schools could be closed at the end of this school year.

Parents, students and community activists holding signs at a press conference in front of Osborn High School in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

In a letter to Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan's Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives asked that he stop the Michigan School Reform Office from closing 38 schools.

U.S. Reps. John Conyers, Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee, Brenda Lawrence, and Sander Levin requested that the governor not close any schools without input and support from local communities.

The representatives cited the negative impacts of school closings, such as the burdens placed on working families that may face longer commutes.

Protestors urge state lawmakers to not close 25 low-performing Detroit schools.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Parents and teachers of Detroit public schools students believe closing down schools won't improve education in their city.

The state released a list of 38 Michigan schools that could be shut down for low test scores. Twenty-five of them are in Detroit.

Robin Jennings, a Detroit public school teacher, said the state hasn't given the newly created school district enough time to improve.

“They promised that if they opened up this new school district, they would allow us time to get us on track, and they lied to us,” Jennings said. “They outright lied.”

Well, it’s Friday, and I thought I’d mark the end of the week with a particularly absurd joke.

Did you know there is something in Lansing called the School Reform Office which can actually close down failing public schools. Get it?

Well, there is, in fact, something named that. And, for the second year in a row, it indicated it was thinking about closing a group of schools statewide, only to have to beat a hasty retreat and say the equivalent of “Ah, just kidding, we really didn’t mean it.”

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

The Michigan Board of Education wants Governor Snyder's School Reform Office to call off closing any schools this fall. It joins a growing chorus of protest by parents and school administrators against possible school closures.

Last month the School Reform Office announced that 38 schools are at risk of closure because of persistently low standardized test scores. The office said it was reviewing whether a closing would create "unreasonable hardship" before it reaches a final decision on closing a school.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
user alkruse24 / Flickr

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.

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."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Administrators at Benton Harbor Area Schools are preparing for an audit from the Michigan School Reform Office to see if three of the district’s five schools will be closed.

Benton Harbor Area Schools had three buildings on the School Reform Office’s recently published list of 38 low-performing schools that could be closed this summer due to poor standardized test scores.

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.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

What happens to students and neighborhoods when a school closes?

That question was thrust into the spotlight with word late last week that Michigan's School Reform Office has put 38 low-performing schools on notice they could be shut down. Twenty-five of those schools are in Detroit.

Tomorrow, Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity team will look at school closures in a new documentary called We Live Here.