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Today on Stateside, new data finds that colleges and universities are now Michigan's biggest COVID-19 hot spots. We talk to an epidemiologist about the challenges of containing campus outbreaks. Meanwhile, to make in-person learning safer, one Detroit school is moving all of its classrooms outside. Plus, one of the Detroit activists leading protests against police brutality talks about how the game changed this summer.

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Some Detroit school teachers are not happy with a plan to return to the classroom this month during the COVID-19 pandemic. They took part in a car caravan protest on Monday.

Last month, members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers voted to authorize a “safety strike” if the Detroit Public Schools Community District didn’t “implement basic science-based safety protocols before schools reopen during the continuing coronavirus pandemic.”

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Today on Stateside, hospitals and health workers are still looking for ways to safely interact with patients following the first COVID-19 surge in Michigan. We check in with an epidemiologist who’s researching how plasma from recovered patients might help those at high risk of infection. Plus, we continue to look at what school might look like in the fall as the governor's Return to Learn Task Force wraps up its work and recommendations next week. 

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A federal appeals court has dismissed a motion seeking to undo a ruling in a literacy lawsuit from Detroit.

All 16 judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed to deny the request to review a ruling by a three judge panel of the appeals court in “Gary B. v. Whitmer.”

The 2016 lawsuit was filed against the state of Michigan on behalf of students from several of Detroit’s worst performing schools.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal appeals court has handed a victory to Detroit public school students suing for the “right to literacy.”

One of the attorneys in the case called the ruling “historic.”

The 2016 lawsuit was filed against the state of Michigan on behalf of students from several of Detroit’s worst performing schools.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools Community District officials are changing the way the district provides free meals to children in response to the governor’s order to “stay at home” during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Children in a classroom
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Public school students in Detroit will soon have access to new mental health care services.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is teaming up with a University of Michigan program called TRAILS, or Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students.

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A new referral system sends Detroit schools an automatic alert when one of its students enters a homeless shelter. Advocates say it’s a simple but critical step, because they believe Detroit is drastically undercounting the number of students who are homeless. 

a young black boy raises his hand at a desk with a book on it
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, General Motors is suing rival automaker Fiat Chrysler. We’ll hear about how corruption charges against the UAW and Fiat Chrysler are at the heart of the lawsuit. Plus, a case before a federal appeals court looks at whether some Detroit students’ constitutional rights were violated by subpar learning environments and instruction.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos used a visit to a Detroit charter school on Friday to push one of her policy mainstays—more school choice.

DeVos visited the Detroit Edison Public School Academy as the final stop on her national “back to school” tour. It was her first visit to a Detroit school as Education Secretary.

DeVos says DEPSA is an example of the benefits school choice can provide. Its students perform better on statewide tests than most comparable schools, and more than 95% graduate within four years.

DeVos’ choice to appear at a charter school was not coincidental. The DeVos family has been instrumental in reshaping Michigan’s school landscape to include more charters and school choice, and she appeared at the event alongside Dan Quisenberry, of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA).

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This is the first week of school for many Michigan kids. Most classrooms share some basic features – desks, chairs, a blackboard or dry-erase board, but what makes for a good classroom? That’s a question Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer has been asking different people in education for years. She recently got some new answers from Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Nikolai Vitti. Kaffer spoke to Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about what she learned. 

storycorps airstream trailer parked outside the Flint Institute of Art
Cristina Zamarron / Michigan Radio

 


Today on Stateside, a Republican state representative says the way to reduce mass shootings is by strengthening the mental health system, and toning down rhetoric on "all sides." Plus, how nonprofits are picking up the slack in some of Michigan's cash-strapped cities.

Back of a school bus
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In the presidential campaign, Democrat Joe Biden’s past positions on school busing have become an issue. Growing up in Alabama, Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer was bused as a result of a desegregation lawsuit. That experience has left her with questions about the legacy of those busing policies today.

poster on a classroom wall
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

 

African proverbs and pictures of Harriet Tubman line the hallways at Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy in Detroit, one of Detroit’s few remaining schools that uses an African-centered curriculum.

Welia Dawson is teaching a sixth grade class about post-World War II America. Unlike most lessons about that time period that you might hear in a traditional public school, it’s focused on how black people were treated at the time.

Samples of various drinking water pipes.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council expresses concern over the city of Flint's approach to replacing lead and iron water pipes. Plus, what we can learn about education in Detroit from the sudden closure of a charter school in the city just three weeks into this school year. 

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Detroit education officials are working to address shortfalls in the school district's special education program after audits found it's failing to meet student needs.

The Detroit News reports that the Detroit Board of Education on Tuesday approved Superintendent Nikolai Vitti's plan for sweeping reforms to its special education department. Two audits identified that the district lacks an effective system for identifying and evaluating children who may be eligible for special education services.

Grow Detroit's Young Talent Website

More than $11 million has been raised to support Detroit's youth summer jobs program.

Mayor Mike Duggan announced Monday that 8,210 young people ages 14 to 24 will receive six weeks of training, on-the-job experiences, professional contacts, and exposure to potential career paths as part of Grow Detroit's Young Talent.

The city says most participants will work 20 hours per week at more than 500 sites with companies of various sizes. The companies include auto suppliers and law firms.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week could be pivotal for a massive class action lawsuit connected to the Flint water crisis. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit demanding literacy rights for Detroit children.

Filed in 2016, the suit attempted to force the state of Michigan to improve the condition of city schools. A week ago, Detroit school officials released a report pegging the cost of repairing the city’s school facilities at half a billion dollars.  

But in an opinion issued Friday night, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III dismissed the suit.

The Mackinac Policy Conference is held at the Grand Hotel
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The 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference kicks off today.

Big names in Michigan politics, business, philanthropy, tech, education, and more will be on Mackinac Island for the annual event put on by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

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Quicken Loans is introducing computer coding to 5,000 Detroit students.

The mortgage lender says Code(D)etroit will teach modern coding fundamentals to 1,250 students each day, beginning June 18, during the Techstars Startup Week Detroit.

Quicken Loans is partnering with Detroit-based technology training institute Grand Circus. Grand Circus will work with Quicken Loans to find and train volunteer instructors for the code training.

The Spoke Folks, a Grand Rapids non-profit, wants to put "More Butts On Bikes" and help people maintain them.
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Nearly 500 Detroit second-grade students have received new bikes, helmets, locks and bells after completing a bicycle safety program.

The bikes and other items were given Tuesday to the students by the Detroit Red Wings, Chevrolet and the Detroit Public Schools Foundation during a special assembly at Little Caesars Arena.

The students attend 10 schools in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. They have been practicing riding and learning road safety since April in their physical education classes as part of the Road & Bicycle Program.

The washing machine at A.L Holmes Academy of Blended Learning
Courtesy of Tammy Mitchell

 


 

It's no secret that kids who aren't sitting in class aren't learning, and Detroit has the highest rate of chronic absenteeism in the country, according to a 2016 Associated Press report

 

We hear policy recommendations and deep-dive discussions about how to boost school attendance, but, as first reported in Chalkbeat Detroit, one Detroit school has a different solution: a washing machine. 

Palmer Park Preparatory Academy.
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One Detroit school that’s shut down because of building problems will be housed in another school building for the rest of this year.

Palmer Park Preparatory Academy was shut down because of a leaky roof and mold problems. The Detroit Public Schools Community District closed the building for the rest of the year to replace the roof.

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Getting kids to school in Detroit can be a real hassle. Some parents drive their kids nearly 30 minutes to get them to their school of choice, whether that’s a public school or a charter school.

In his State of the City address this week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan outlined a plan: Pick an area, then offer bus service from school to school, public or private, and to a center for daycare.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has proposed a city-wide education commission, but lots of key details are still in the works.

The commission would be “convened” by the mayor’s office, and include teachers, parents, and other representatives from both traditional public and charter schools. It would mainly serve in an “advisory” role, and would lack the power to do things like open or close schools, according to Duggan’s office.

Pension paybacks for Detroit district employees may show up in March

Feb 27, 2018
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Thousands of Detroit district school employees may reap the benefits of a lawsuit over pension funding as soon as March.

School employees who worked for Detroit’s main district between 2010 and 2011 can expect refund checks in their mailboxes soon, district leaders say, but making sure the money ends up in the right place will be difficult.

The reimbursements are the outcome of a controversial move during Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration to withhold additional money from employees’ paychecks to pay for retiree health care benefits.

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There are a lot of bright, accomplished high school students in Detroit who see college as out of reach. They’re never told about student aid. They’re not aware of courses to help them do well on SAT or ACT tests. They might not be aware of the Detroit Promise, a program to set aside tax dollars to fund two-year college scholarships.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers passed a bill today that would make it harder for school districts to prevent former school buildings from being used for new education purposes.  

The deed restrictions are often meant to keep competitors from opening schools that would siphon students away from the district.

Virginia Gordan / Michigan Radio

Enrollment in Detroit Public Schools Community District is up for the first time in 15 years. The recent fall count is 50,100 students, up ten percent from last year's 45,500. 

According to Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, this year saw the lowest departure of students to charter schools in four years, with fewer students leaving for surrounding districts and more returning. 

Vitti said enrollment is one of the most important indicators of the health of a school district.

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