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Education

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. 

Multi-colored books.
Kimberly Farmer / Unsplash

A new report maps out which neighboring Michigan school districts are the most segregated by race, poverty, and revenue. It comes 45 years after the U.S. Supreme Court told white families in Michigan (and by extension, the nation) if they wanted to avoid mandatory school integration, all they had to do was move to a whiter district.

“As if quarantining students of color, we have forced them into racially dense and underfunded systems, and then built walls around them,” reads the report from EdBuild, an activist group aimed at disrupting “the status quo of illogical and inequitable school funding.”

Students line up outside Harrington Elementary.
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

If Michigan’s Read by Grade 3 retention law went into effect for this fall, nearly 5,000 third graders would repeat the third grade, according to Michigan State University researchers.

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

School’s out for summer, as Alice Cooper once sang. But in Flint that summer vacation is about to get a lot shorter. The city’s public schools are switching to a balanced school calendar that will start on August 7. Those lost summer vacation days will be converted into shorter breaks throughout the year.

The goal is to reduce so-called summer brain drain. But does it work?

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

School board members in Benton Harbor say they’ll try again to reach an agreement with the governor’s office to turn the district around.

The administration of Governor Whitmer announced a tentative agreement with the school board earlier this month, but board members said there was no agreement.

At a meeting Saturday, board members said they’re working on a new proposal

Meanwhile, interim superintendent Patricia Robinson says some teachers and parents have already decided to leave the district because of the uncertainty.

Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor High School could stay open for the next year, if the school board votes on Tuesday night to approve an agreement with the state.

State officials had proposed closing the high school because the district is more than $18 million in debt and students are struggling academically. That created a community outcry to keep the school open.

Flickr user Frank Juarez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Teachers from a closing Detroit charter school are relieved to find out they will be paid, after being told there wasn’t enough money for their final paychecks.  

Hamilton Academy is run by Education Partnerships Incorporated, a charter school company that took it over from Detroit Public Schools because of the school’s low performance.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Grand Valley State University is one of nine universities and colleges across the country that are receiving recognition for serving Latino students' needs.

Excelencia in Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to Latino students' success. GVSU is part of the organization's first-year recipients of the Seal of Excelencia.

To earn the seal, universities and colleges must show evidence of success in practices pertaining to Excelencia in Education’s standards.

drinking fountain
jasongillman / Pixabay

Ann Arbor Public Schools has released more information about lead found in the drinking water at local public schools. The district tested 1,426 drinking water sources at 32 different schools, and found that 91.6% met or exceeded AAPS standards.

The district standard for lead in drinking water is 5 parts per billion, and the federal standard is 15 parts per billion. The district standard was raised in October 2018 after parents expressed concerns.

Benton Harbor Area Schools Central Adminstration building
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The fight for Benton Harbor High School is still alive.

The Benton Harbor school board rejected the state’s plan to close the high school.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Today is the deadline Gov. Gretchen Whitmer set for a deal to be reached between her administration and the Benton Harbor Area Schools board over the district’s future.

soldier holding GI Joe the pigeon
Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

 

Today on Stateside, we talk about rethinking how we measure whether a school is succeeding or failing. Plus, a conversation with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein about how people with disabilities bring unique, important perspectives to the workplace.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Board of Education approved controversial new social studies curriculum standards Tuesday.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Chanting “Save our school,” Benton Harbor parents, students and elected leaders brought their campaign to keep the city’s high school open to the governor’s office Tuesday.

The state is proposing shutting down Benton Harbor’s high school as part of plan to eliminate the district’s multi-million dollar debt.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Members of the school board for Benton Harbor Area Schools say they plan to submit a plan to Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday to try to save the city’s high school.

The governor’s office says the district is $18.4 million in debt. She says closing the high school will save money and keep the entire district from dissolving. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the Michigan Board of Education is scheduled to consider new social studies curriculum standards. 

The path these revised social studies standards have taken could be a civics lesson in itself.

Back in 2018, educators and liberal groups rallied against a proposal drafted with strong input from conservative groups. The proposal called for dropping references to “gay rights,”  "Roe vs Wade” and "climate change.” It also called for replacing the phrase “democratic values” with “core values.”

Under pressure, the Michigan Department of Education pulled the proposal.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new culinary school opened its doors in downtown Flint today.

It’s part of the effort to revitalize the city.

Mott Community College’s Culinary Arts Institute is located in the heart of Flint’s downtown. The 36,000 square foot space is the former Woolworths building.  

The clock is ticking for Benton Harbor High School. The state says the district is $18.4 million in debt and could run out of money by next spring.

On Wednesday night, Governor Gretchen Whitmer told local leaders in the Southwest Michigan city that they have until June 14 to submit a plan to keep their high school open.  If Benton Harbor Area Schools can’t reach an agreement with the state, the entire district could be dissolved.

More and more school work is being done online, but some students across the country are falling behind their peers because they don’t have internet at home.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools will get an extra week to come up with a plan to keep the district’s high school open. Whitmer took two hours of comments and questions during a town hall with residents in Benton Harbor on Wednesday.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Governor Whitmer is expected in Benton Harbor this afternoon for a town hall meeting about the city’s school district. Whitmer’s administration says Benton Harbor High School must shut down to keep the district out of financial insolvency.

Hundreds gathered in the city last night to oppose that plan.

Some drove in from around the state where schools have closed in the past.

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