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Education

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

kids reading. one sitting in the grass and the other sitting in a tree
Libby Johnson

For a lot of Michigan kids, the first day of school this fall means another day at home. And if the spring was any indication, even parents who have kids in a fully online school program will still need some home-schooling skills.

While COVID cases have been increasing in dorms, the University says the biggest increases are coming from group housing off-campus.
Katie Raymond

Members of the graduate student employee union at the University of Michigan have voted to approve a strike in response to the school’s COVID-19 re-opening plan. According to the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, 79% of its membership voted to approve the work stoppage.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Michigan colleges and universities have reported more than 930 COVID-19 cases since the start of August, according to publicly available numbers compiled by Michigan Radio.

That number is likely an undercount because many private universities do not post regular coronavirus updates on their public websites. One of the largest outbreaks in the state is at Adrian College, where college president Jeffrey Docking confirmed 131 positive cases as of last Monday. The Adrian Daily Telegraph reports the number rose to 200 cases by the end of last week, though the college hasn’t confirmed that total.

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The health department in Lenawee County is recommending that Adrian College stop in-person classes after more than 150 people at the college tested positive for COVID-19.

The county also issued an emergency order to limit the size of gatherings in and around the college. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people. Indoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people. Anyone who violates the emergency order could be charged with a misdemeanor.

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Many Michigan schools are open for in-person learning.

But even those schools look very different from normal. There are a host of state requirements schools must comply with to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But one private Christian school is defying some of those safety mandates. And a former teacher said he was fired after he pushed back.

University of Michigan
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

Faculty members at the University of Michigan are considering a vote of no confidence in response to the university’s plan to reopen.

This comes after a memo from the school’s Ethics and Privacy Committee circulated online. The memo expresses concern that the school’s reopening plan does not meet a reasonable safety standard and notes that vulnerable populations would be the most hurt by the current plan. 

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