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Education

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).

Citizens Research Council of Michigan

Any growth in state education spending over the past five years is being eaten up by greater teacher retiree system costs, according to a new report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

Since 2012, school districts have had to return per-pupil funds to the state to cover unfunded liabilities in the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS). According to current projections, those liabilities won’t be paid off until 2038.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Benton Harbor School Board says it supports the concept of a new advisory committee with the state to turn around the district. But the board says it will take more time to create the committee.

The idea for the committee is the latest in a back and forth between the leaders of the district and the state over how to turn things around. In May, the Whitmer administration proposed closing Benton Harbor High School to help the district cope with its debt and low performance on standardized tests. The school board unanimously rejected the plan.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Benton Harbor school board could vote this week to create a new advisory committee with the state to turn the district around.

The idea was floated by state officials last month, after the school board rejected an earlier proposal for the district from the Whitmer administration. The committee would include staff, teachers, and other community members, as well as state education leaders.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan high school students could potentially opt out of Algebra II. That’s thanks to a proposed bill in the state Senate.

Michigan laws currently require students to take four credits of math, including Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, as well as other elective classes that can be integrated in. The proposed bill would allow students to complete the required four math credits with a course other than algebra II, including a personal finance class or basic statistics. 

Michigan State University sign
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

One day after the Department of Education issued a historic $4.5 million fine against Michigan State University, the school’s trustees announced they would stop pursuing an independent investigation. 

The school violated a federal law that requires clear and prompt reporting of crimes, including sexual assault and harassment.

University of Michigan sign
Anna Schlutt / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan should change its interim student sexual misconduct policy. That's according to a letter sent on Thursday to U of M from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the American Civil Liberties Union Women's Rights Project.

A new report from a government watchdog, first obtained by NPR, says an expanded effort by Congress to forgive the student loans of public servants is remarkably unforgiving.

Congress created the expansion program last year in response to a growing outcry. Thousands of borrowers — nurses, teachers and other public servants — complained that the requirements for the original program were so rigid and poorly communicated that lawmakers needed to step in. But, documents show, even this expansion of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program isn't working.

Corner of a library with bookshelves and a study table
Blue Mountains Library / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Visitors to any of the 22 branches in the Detroit Public Library system will no longer be charged fines for overdue items. The new policy also clears all past overdue fines.

“What it really does is go back to the initial purpose of the library, which is to provide access,” said DPL spokeswoman Katie Dowgiewicz.

She says the change does not eliminate fees for lost or damaged items.

students in classroom raising hands
gpointstudio / Adobe Stock

A new report lays out the specifics behind a widely-acknowledged problem in Michigan school districts—they can’t find enough substitute teachers, and the problem is only getting worse.

The report, from Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, details just how bad and widespread the substitute shortage really is, with around two-thirds of 177 school districts reporting they have trouble finding enough subs on a regular basis. 64% reported that multiple sub positions go unfilled every week.

Children raising their hands in class.
Unsplash

Today on Stateside, how is Benton Harbor High School faring after months of scrutiny from the Whitmer administration over the school’s low test scores and high debt? Plus, how will negotiations between UAW and the Big Three be impacted by the looming threat of a recession and an ongoing FBI probe into union leadership?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Legislation regulating free speech policies on Michigan’s university and college campuses moved forward this week.

House Bill 4436 directs college and university administrators to develop free expression policies that allow students and faculty to discuss anything. It would also require that campuses be open to any speaker invited by students or faculty members.

The legislation is in response to past events where liberal student groups disrupted speeches by far-right speakers.

test with bubble answers
mehmet / Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, we talk to Republican state House Speaker Lee Chatfield about the ongoing negotiations between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature over road funding and the state budget. Plus, the forgotten history of how a Grand Rapids high school became the birthplace of vocational education.

Students at desks writing
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Results for the 2019 M-STEP were released Thursday.

That's the statewide test designed to gauge how well students are mastering state standards. It tests students in grades 3-8 in English Language Arts and math.

kids raising their hands in a classroom
Nicole Honeywill / Unsplash

Thousands of Michigan schools are starting a new year under a cloud of uncertainty as they wait for state lawmakers to hammer out the final K-12 education budget. 

School districts have been waiting since the end of June to learn how much state funding they’ll get this year.

An architect's sketch of floor plans for the new Fruitport High School
Courtesy of Bob Szymoniak

In the midst of the ongoing national discussion over mass shootings and school safety, one district in West Michigan is taking a new approach to protect its students.

Fruitport High School in Muskegon County is undergoing major renovations designed, in part, to reduce the impact and potential damage from a mass shooter.

 


Mental health treatment has changed drastically in the past century. But it wasn’t that long ago that many people with severe mental illnesses were permanent residents at state-run psychiatric hospitals.

There were once 16 psychiatric hospitals across Michigan, including Traverse City State Hospital. An oral history project in Traverse City is shedding light on what life was like in those institutions.  

Corner of a library with bookshelves and a study table
Blue Mountains Library / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

This school year, districts in Michigan will start holding back third-graders who are more than one grade level behind in reading.

Michigan students have been sliding down the national rankings of test scores for reading.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Junior High was closed Wednesday because of high temperatures inside the school.

Other Flint public school students are getting some relief from the heat.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Less than three months ago, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration made an announcement that stunned the community in Benton Harbor.

The city’s school district was in a financial and academic crisis, the state Department of Treasury said. The district was $18.4 million in debt. Governor Whitmer said the district would have to close Benton Harbor High School for the 2020-21 school year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Education is getting an “incomplete” on its assignment to assign a letter grade to every Michigan school.

The state Department of Education will miss a September first deadline to provide "A to F" grades on Michigan schools.

The law requiring the new accountability system was passed during last year’s lame duck legislative session. But education department officials have struggled to compile all of the necessary data to meet the legislative timetable.

Samuel Stanley smiling ina blue suit in front of a brick building and trees in the background
Michigan State University

 


On August 1, Samuel Stanley Jr. officially became Michigan State University's 21st president. Stanley is a medical doctor and a former president at Stony Brook University in New York.

He is the first permanent leader at the university since former President Lou Anna Simon resigned at the height of the Larry Nassar scandal. After her resignation, former Michigan Governor John Engler, and then MSU Dean Satish Udpa, served as interim presidents.

Red bus parked in front of school bujilding
Adam Rayes / Michigan Radio

Swartz Creek Community Schools in Genesee County has come up with a creative way to tackle student hunger during the summer: a bus-turned-food truck called the “Dragon Diner.”

Like many other school districts across Michigan, Swartz Creek offers students lunch and breakfast in various school buildings throughout the summer.

But as the district’s Food Service Director Micheal Wensel came to realize, kids whose families don’t have access to transportation can’t take advantage of those meals.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

On Tuesday, voters in Washtenaw County approved a $53 million bond proposal to renovate a school for students with special needs.

The High Point School serves students with medical needs and challenges. That includes many students in wheelchairs.

children sitting on floor
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Kids in Flint are heading back to school Wednesday, as the district transitions to a year-round calendar.

It’s an increasingly popular model with a mixed track record, but school leaders in Flint say they’ve had some success with the “balanced calendar” already in one of the district’s elementary schools. And it’s worth trying, says Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez, if it can reduce summer brain drain and help instructors reach struggling students sooner. 

Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The ACLU of Michigan is asking Governor Gretchen Whitmer to let local leaders in Benton Harbor decide what happens in their schools.

The ACLU delivered that message in the form of a letter to the governor’s office on Friday.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan will have two accountability systems in place for K-12 schools this fall. The state system, passed during a lame duck session, puts in place a different system of accountability for schools than the one mandated by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. 

Here’s the rundown on the two systems: 

Michigan State has a new president on campus

Aug 1, 2019
Michigan State University sign
Michigan State University

A new chapter in Michigan State University history begins Thursday with the arrival of President Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr.

Stanley was unanimously chosen to be MSU’s next president by the Board of Trustees on May 28th. He’s been president at Stony Brook University in New York since 2009.

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

 

The school year is quickly approaching. But just one more month of summer may not be enough time for Sunset Lake Elementary School in Vicksburg. Thirty teachers at the school released a statement this week in which they said they cannot “in good conscience” return to school this September without making parents and the public aware of the various health issues the staff has suffered over the past year. They believe these health issues are the result of what they describe as poor air quality in the school building. 

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