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The Michigan Department of Education is offering an option to help school districts deal with what State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice calls a "critical shortage of special education teachers in many Michigan school districts." 

The MDE will allow a time limited waiver that enables a district to temporarily fill a vacancy in a special education classroom with a special education teacher whose specialty area - formally called an endorsement - differs from the classroom with an open slot.

The goal is to reduce reliance on substitute teachers in special education programs.

Robert Gordon at a press conference wearing a mask
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s former cabinet-level health chief confirmed Thursday that he left over differences about the state’s response to COVID-19. That was part of former Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon’s testimony before the state House Oversight Committee.

Gordon said he was asked by Whitmer to quit because she wanted to “go in a different direction.” That was at the same time the administration was easing some COVID restrictions.

Bruce-Michael Wilson, who owns Groundswell Farm, a USDA Certified Organic Farm in Zeeland, says he wants to help teach the next generation of Black farmers how to be stewards of the land.
Courtesy of Bruce-Michael Wilson

Today, on Stateside, we revisit our conversation with a Black farmer who grows organic produce in west Michigan, and our conversation with Former U.S. Senator Carl Levin about his new memoir, Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 years in the Senate.

out of focus soldiers stand in front of a raised american flag
Bumble Dee / Adobe Stock

A congressional committee will hear testimony next week on the need to speed up health care benefits for service members exposed to toxic burn pits overseas. 

Two Michigan representatives are behind the "Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act of 2021" to accomplish that.

Gretchen Whitmer wearing black mask in pink coat receives shot from doctor in white coat.
State of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced a plan to tie the lifting of coronavirus restrictions to Michigan's vaccination rate, setting four specific benchmarks that must be reached to return to normal. As more people get shots, she says, the state will allow in-person work for all business sectors, relax indoor capacity limits and ultimately lift them.

A nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine during a drive-thru clinic.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Detroit is offering a new incentive for people to get their friends and family members vaccinated against coronavirus. The city will offer a $50 pre-paid debit card to any individual who drives a Detroit resident to their appointment. Mayor Mike Duggan says while he doesn’t support directly paying people to get vaccinated, the policy should help improve Detroit’s inoculation rate.

“I don’t know any place else in the country that’s doing this, so we made up a set of rules and we’re going to try this. We’re in uncharted territory here.”

a nurse holds a vial of one of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Spectrum Health

Not all COVID-19 vaccine programs in Michigan were designed with people with disabilities in mind, says Jim Moore, the executive director of Disability Network Northern Michigan.

But his group is working with local health departments to make vaccines more easily accessible for people with disabilities. Moore says it’s a process that will help everyone.

governor gretchen whitmer standing at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer plans to get her second Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at a vaccine clinic in Grand Rapids.

newborn baby
unsplash

Michigan has achieved its lowest infant mortality rate in the state's recorded history, according to an announcement this week by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before reaching the age of one. 

The newly released data shows an infant mortality rate of 6.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2019. That's down from a rate of 8.5 per thousand in 2003.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, we revisit how one year of pandemic life has changed our relationships — from close connections, to pod problems, to loved ones lost. A funeral director discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted mourning in 2020. Then, a counselor and psychologist talk us through how pod life, solitude, and mental health challenges during the pandemic have affected the ways we interact with other people.

courtesy U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan

A federal grand jury issued a new superseding indictment Wednesday over the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The indictment charges three of the men with “conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction” in the plot. It also adds new weapons charges against two of the men.

Flooding tells 'two different stories' in Michigan

Apr 28, 2021
Courtesy: Mike Bach

Access to ample water supplies could make Michigan a climate refuge. That scenario is attracting considerable attention in the Great Lakes State.

But climate change also is disrupting the earth’s meteorological cycles. Which means more fierce Great Lakes region storms and more floods.

The consequences are not evenly distributed. Or, in the words of Jeremy Porter, the head of research and development at First Street Foundation, a Brooklyn-based research group, flooding tells “two different stories.” 

illustration of president Joe Biden
Chelsea Beck for NPR

President Joe Biden is addressing a joint session of Congress on the eve of 100 days in office. Watch his remarks live. Events are scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET.

If you're having trouble viewing the live feed, please try refreshing the page.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

They say that you know it’s spring in Michigan when the roads start sprouting orange barrels.

You might also notice a lot more Michigan State Police patrol cars in some areas.

“Historically, we’ve seen a lot of speeding even when there are reduced speeds posted for construction, so we really wanted to take the opportunity to have MSP focus their attention on those locations,” said Jocelyn Hall, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There was action Tuesday in Lansing toward setting stricter ethical standards for legislators and the support appears to be bipartisan.

Republicans and Democrats on the House Committee on Elections and Ethics approved a bill to forbid lawmakers from voting on bills that would benefit themselves, family members, or business associates.

It’s not clear what the penalties for violating the standard would be. That bill now goes to the House floor.

Michigan State Police

An event for local police chiefs featuring a controversial law enforcement trainer scheduled to take place in Novi next month has been canceled, following a series of complaints to the church where it was to be held, as well as the organization that planned it. 

EMR Industry / Flickr Creative Commons

Now that 35% of eligible Michiganders are fully vaccinated, health officials say efforts need to focus on groups that are borderline-hesitant. (Think your cousin who hasn’t gotten their shot yet because it’s “inconvenient,” or your pregnant friend who’s getting mixed messages from her social media feed.) 

The U.S. Capitol
user kulshrax / creative commons

The final numbers are still on their way, but initial data from the U.S. Census Bureau offers a glimpse at population trends across the country. In Michigan, the state’s population has grown at a slower rate than that of states in other parts of the country. And that means the state is set to lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Abdul for Michigan

Today on Stateside, the 2020 census results are in and Michigan has lost a congressional seat. What this means for the state’s political landscape. Plus, the story of a Filipino Michigander serving in the Civil War. And, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed on why now is not the time to let up on the pandemic.

Peninsula Solar

Despite the pandemic, it’s been a good year for small-scale solar developers in the state.

“We've been super busy. This is the busiest year we've ever had,” says Ben Schimpf, a sales representative with Peninsula Solar, based in Marquette and Cedar.


Spectrum Health

Leelanau County has vaccinated 52% of its 16-years-and-older population, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Lisa Peacock, the health officer for the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department, said she and her staff achieved the milestone with community support.

census.gov

The Census Bureau’s apportionment report has been sent to the President.

Michigan will lose one seat in Congress. That brings it to 13 Representatives in the House, the lowest number since the 1920s. Michigan has been losing seats in Congress since the 1980 Census.

The official resident population for the nation is 331,449,281. That’s up by nearly 23 million (up 7.4%) from the last Census held in 2010.

Selfie picture of Jane, wearing glasses and hair tired up in pigtails.
Courtesy Photo

We’ve heard a lot about schools and the pandemic this year. We’ve heard about how some schools stayed in person and how some didn’t. We’ve heard from teachers and parents about what’s working and what isn’t in this strange school year.

a gloved hand holding a vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Mohammad Shahhosseini / Unsplash

Health care providers in Michigan have been given the go-ahead to administer the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. That’s as Michigan faces some of the worst coronavirus hotspots in the country.

Michigan health officials lifted a pause on the J&J vaccine based on advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC determined getting more people vaccinated outweighs the very remote risk of developing a blood clot.

Sturgeon for Tomorrow

If you've ever seen a lake sturgeon, you know that there's something really mystifying and beautiful about this ancient fish. They’ve been around for more than 100 million years, but their numbers have dwindled in the past century and they’re now considered a threatened species. But state officials and sturgeon enthusiasts are committed to helping the species bolster its numbers. 

Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

Marion King said her hesitancy about the vaccine turned into urgency only after she lost both her mother and aunt to COVID-19 last month. 

“When I found out my mom was positive, I know my aunt had to be because whatever air my mother breathed, you breathed it too,” King said, noting that the sisters had what she described as an “inseparable bond.” 

arm of a person receiving an infusion in a hospital bed
smolaw11 / Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, a look inside a hospital ward caring for a bunch of younger COVID patients. Plus, a Detroit council trail-blazer Raquel Castaneda-Lopez talks about why she’s leaving politics to go back to advocacy. And, we get up close and personal with one of the biggest fish in the Great Lakes, the sturgeon.

Inside a Michigan COVID-19 ward: Younger patients, familiar sadness and politics

Apr 26, 2021
Mandi Wright / Detroit Free Press

Andrea Kanerva sat on the edge of the bed with her hair pulled up, exposing the ties of her blue hospital gown. Fuzzy green socks with white treads covered her feet.

She spoke deliberately, breathing deeply as the lines on the monitor behind her danced up and down, graphing fluctuations in Kanerva's pulse, blood-oxygen level and respiratory rate. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Biden administration is reversing Trump administration cuts to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Payments to farmers to set aside land were reduced by the previous former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. With lower payments, some farmers left the program and plowed under land that was once set aside for conservation.

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