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Education

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Michigan’s public schools have moved online, following orders from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nobody wanted to conduct a school year like this, least of all Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD). Since fall, the school district offered a hybrid model of instruction including online and in-person. Making that decision was difficult.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan is paying more than nine million dollars to settle complaints of sexual harassment and misconduct by a former top official with the university.

Eight women, former or current university staff and students, accused former Provost Martin Philbert of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Flint Community Schools

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is granting $1,051,000 to Flint Community Schools with the intent of increasing access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

FCS has been conducting remote learning for its students since August. This grant is a supplement to a $163,000 grant given to FCS in April, towards the beginning of the pandemic.

Ridgway White is the president and CEO of the C.S. Mott Foundation. He says the money will be used to purchase over 600 iPads and 1200 Chromebooks.

School bus
Bill McChesney / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A state senator from the Upper Peninsula wants to change state law to require more “geographic diversity” on the state Board of Education.

Senator Ed McBroom’s bill would require political parties to nominate candidates for the board from different regions of the state.  The candidates would still run in a statewide election.

Subterranean / Wikipedia Commons

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on a challenge to Michigan’s ban on taxpayer funds to support private and parochial schools.

The fight is over a $2.5 million appropriation tucked into the $55 billion 2016 state budget.

The money was earmarked to reimburse non-public schools for the costs of complying with health and safety mandates. But its real purpose was to set the stage for a legal fight over the parameters of a 1970, voter-approved amendment. It says taxpayer funds cannot support non-public schools – including religious schools.

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Today on Stateside, Homeland Security officers arrested a former University of Michigan professor yesterday in Ann Arbor, on charges of bringing a minor across state lines for sex. A reporter talks us through what we know so far—and how we know it. Also, the president of the state’s largest teacher’s union on the need for masks in schools. Plus, a man whose job takes him to Michigan’s most haunted places.

books with mask
Adobe Stock

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced this week that teachers and support staff who worked through the pandemic will be eligible for state grants.

The state’s budget set aside $53 million for teachers and $20 million for support staff to receive payments recognizing their work in the spring.

THOMAS PARK / Unsplash

Two universities in Michigan are now each reporting more than 1,000 cases in ongoing COVD-19 outbreaks, according to weekly data released Monday by the state health department. Meanwhile, pre-K-12 schools in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are being hit especially hard as those regions remain hot spots for the virus. 

 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A commission has released the 47,000-student Detroit Public Schools from more than a decade of state financial oversight, restoring full control of the district's finances to the city's elected school board.

Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job.

A sign of the University of Michigan Central Campus
Anna Schlutt / Michigan Radio

On Friday, the University of Michigan's quarantine and isolation housing was at 46% capacity — a rapid increase from 22% the Monday before, but still a little less than half of the units that house students who have tested positive for COVID-19, had been exposed to someone who had tested positive, or were waiting on test results.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Community Schools has scored a victory in a fight to get more money for special education.

A state Education Department official is recommending changes to a funding formula that could mean tens of thousands of dollars in additional special education funding for the school district.  

District officials asked for a review of the current funding formula that the Genesee Intermediate School District uses to distribute funding for special education in the county. In the 2019-2020 school year, GISD distributed more than $3 million in special education funding.

Orange County, Fla., has 8,000 missing students. The Miami-Dade County public schools have 16,000 fewer than last year. Los Angeles Unified — the nation's second-largest school system — is down nearly 11,000. Charlotte-Mecklenburg in North Carolina has 5,000 missing. Utah, Virginia and Washington are reporting declines statewide.

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

The Detroit teachers union has ratified a one-year contract with the state's largest school system.

The short term of the contract is due to uncertainty over state funding for schools in future years, according to Detroit Public Schools Community District.

The contract boosts starting salaries for new teachers to $51,019, which the district says is the highest starting salary of any school district in Michigan.

It’s Count Day for Michigan’s schools.

But this being 2020, it’s a little different this year.

Twice during the academic year, Michigan schools count the number of students in class. The resulting number determines how much state aid schools receive.

But with many students spending class time at the kitchen table instead of in the classroom, Count Day is going to be different this year. 

Child reading
User Melanie / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The package of four bills (S.B. 1172, 1173, 1174, and 1175) would mandate a statewide strategy for identifying and intervening to help students with dyslexia. 

The focus on dyslexia is needed to improve childhood literacy in Michigan because it's the most common learning disability that affects reading and writing, according to the bills' sponsors, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia), Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), and Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton).

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

A K-12 school employee has died from COVID-19, following an outbreak at a Montcalm County elementary school. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported the outbreak on Monday, September 28. 

The Mid-Michigan District Health Department confirmed that a woman in her 50s died due to COVID-19, but declined to give any identifying information. William DiSessa of the Michigan Department of Education confirmed that it was a school employee. 

The past seven months have been a big strain on families like Mandi Boren's.

The Borens are cattle ranchers on a remote slice of land near Idaho's Owyhee Mountains. They have four kids — ranging from a first grader to a sophomore in high school. When the lockdown first hit, Boren first thought it might be a good thing. Home schooling temporarily could be more efficient, plus there'd be more family time and help with the chores.

Back of a school bus
Pixabay

Today on Stateside, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death last week sent shockwaves throughout the nation, both emotionally and politically. We talk to one of her former clerks about Ginsburg's legacy and what the future makeup of the Supreme Court means for Michigan. Plus, a former Michigan football player talks about the abuse scandal surrounding former sports doctor Robert Anderson, and the breadth of access our state institutions provide to abusers.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization at the University of Michigan, along with other student groups, gathered last night to express their disappointment in the university's administration. They held a candlelight vigil outside of President Mark Schlissel's house, which they say was to mourn their lost faith in the administration.

Lucy Peterson is a graduate student in political science and a member of GEO. She says the evening was a great way for GEO members to affirm their support for their cause, even if they were no longer on strike.

As the fall semester kicks into gear, college campuses have become the pandemic's newest hot spots. The New York Times reports there are more than 88,000 coronavirus cases at the nation's colleges and universities.

Scott Carlson, a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education, isn't surprised by those numbers.

A young Black child with curly hair writes in a notebook while sitting in the grass
Adobe Stock

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.

geo members on strike
Catherine Nouhan / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan have voted to continue their strike for another week. The university has called the strike a "profound disruption" to students' education, and has asked the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to order striking GEO members to return to work.

U of M filed a restraining order and preliminary injunction against GEO with the Wastenaw County Circuit Court. GEO leadership assured members that no individual is at risk because U of M filed an injunction, and promised to update its members as it has more information.

gretchen whitmer sitting at table
michigan.gov

Today on Stateside, a petition aiming to curb the governor's executive powers is nearing the number of signatures it needs. And, graduate students at the University of Michigan are continuing their strike against the school over concerns about COVID-19 regulations and precautions. Plus, a conversation with the director of Michigan Opera Theatre about how he plans to add to Detroit’s illustrious musical legacy.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan voted to renew their strike in protest of the school's COVID-19 reopening plans. The union has been on strike since Tuesday of last week, and that strike expired on Friday. The renewed strike will last five more days, and expire on Friday, September 18, unless an offer is put forward by the university and approved by union members.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union representing graduate student employees on campus. The Graduate Employees' Organization, or GEO, has been on strike since Tuesday, protesting the university's COVID-19 reopening plans. The union's list of demands include the universal right to work remotely and greater transparency from U of M in terms of the models it used to create reopening plans.

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At this point, nearly all Michigan students are back in class for the fall semester, through Zoom meetings, physically distanced instruction, or shepherding from grownups at home. As the COVID-19 pandemic forces teachers and families to navigate a new world of education, Stateside checked in with parents feeling their way through the first days of a back-to-school season unlike any other.

Robert E. Anderson pictured in 1967.
University of Michigan / Bentley Historical Library

A retired University of Michigan administrator told lawyers that he was "furious" to learn in the late 1970s that a doctor was sexually abusing students. But Tom Easthope also acknowledges that he failed to ensure that Robert Anderson was kicked off campus.

Andrew Neel / Unsplash

June Teisan isn't a fan of national standardized testing for K-12 kids under the best of circumstances.

During a pandemic, when many school districts are offering remote instruction, she says it's unconscionable. But U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos says she will not grant waivers to states like Michigan that want to skip the testing this year.

a sign for GEO that says UM works because we do
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Undeterred by heavy rain Tuesday morning, protesters gathered around the University of Michigan’s campus, chanting and marching in protest of the school’s COVID-19 reopening plans. Today was the first day of a strike organized by the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, the union that represents graduate student employees at U of M.

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