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Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the doors to school buildings are locked for the rest of this school year. This is not a surprise. It just makes permanent an earlier order that temporarily closed schools. That was to buy time to come up with plans to address the rapid spread of the coronavirus. But the governor says it won’t be safe anytime soon for students and teachers to return to school. 

gretchen whitmer sitting at table
State of Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Thursday morning that ends all face-to-face K-12 schooling for the 2019-20 academic year. 

Instead of meeting in person, the order establishes guidelines for distance learning, which will continue.

people at the detroit auto show
Corvair Owner / Flickr

Today on Stateside, it's hard to keep up with the daily rush of news about COVID-19 in Michigan. We talk with two reporters about some stories you might have missed.  Plus, writer Desiree Cooper offers perspective and advice about coping with uncertainty and loss. 

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.

Johnny McClung via Unsplash

Kelly Mickel is alone, in her office, at four p.m. on a Tuesday.

 

It’s a freaking miracle. 

 

Most days, the principal at Erickson Elementary in Ypsilanti barely gets a moment to breathe, much less eat lunch (unless she’s eating a school lunch with a student, “either as a reward or sometimes as a consequence”). Usually, lunch is a piece of fruit, or something from home that sits on her desk most of the afternoon.

 

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

Michigan is not on track to be a top ten state in K-12 education by 2030, according to a report from the Education Trust-Midwest found.

The annual report Opportunity For All says that Michigan is currently 35th in the nation in fourth grade reading and 33rd in eighth grade math.

Teacher standing in front of a classroom of children.
Unsplash

This week, the public can start weighing in on the latest draft of revised social studies standards for Michigan's K-12 schools.

The standards lay out guidelines on what content should be covered in social studies classes and lessons for different grade levels. State officials have been working on revising them for the past five years. 

children sitting on floor
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new University of Michigan study finds African-American boys are three times as likely as whites to be suspended or expelled from school before the fourth grade.

The study suggests a lack of alternatives to suspending or expulsion may be a reason.

Detroit schools chief: District can now pay for counselors, art classes, and gym in every school

Mar 14, 2018
Boy in classroom with his hand raised
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

After months spent talking about expensive new programs he’d like to see, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says he’s found money in the Detroit district’s budget to hire a slew of educators who’ve been missing for years from city schools.

The budget framework he presented to a school board committee Friday calls for every city school to have a guidance counselor, an arts or music teacher, a gym teacher, and a “dean of school culture” who would be in charge of student discipline and creating in-school suspension programs.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state House committee has approved a bill creating an “A thru F” grading system for Michigan schools.

The bill approved by the House Education Reform committee would use existing criteria to create a letter grade system for evaluating schools. HB 5526 now moves to the full state House.

Sarah Kerson / Michigan Radio

Seventeen-year-old Madison Horton is a student at the International Academy of Macomb. She’s also endured multiple surgeries to remove skin cancers.  As a result, sunscreen is a big part of her life.

But Horton says she was surprised to learn other Michigan students are not allowed to apply sunscreen at school.

When she testified last week before the House Education Reform committee, Horton equated sunscreen with Epi-pens, which are allowed.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has approved the state of Michigan’s plan to meet new federal education standards.

Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 to replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.  The new law gives states more authority in overseeing public schools.  

Michigan originally submitted its proposal in April. The state’s most recent revisions to the plan were filed two weeks ago. 

Michigan’s plan includes less student testing, focuses on student academic growth and gives schools more flexibility.

Empty classroom
Brad Wilson / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What happens to a school's biggest so-called troublemakers when they get lengthy suspensions or are kicked out altogether? Where can they go?

One place is Lighthouse Academy in Kent County. It's mission statement: "Creating hope through academic success in spite of life's storms."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan: We are failing black college students. We can do better.

That's the warning from Kim Trent, a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors. She laid out her concerns in a piece for MichiganFuture.org where she's a policy associate. It's titled "How Michigan fails black college students."

The state says 38 schools with persistently low test scores might not have to close by the end of the year. At least, not yet. These schools now have 60 days to come up with a turnaround plan using what the state calls a "partnership" model. We wanted to know a little bit more about what that partnership strategy might entail, so we took a trip to Dearborn to find out. 

Rafael Soto / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan's K-12 students are among the weakest academically in the U.S., and they're falling even further behind, according to a report released today by Education Trust-Midwest, a Michigan-based non-partisan research education and advocacy organization.

The report predicts that if things don't change, Michigan will rank 48th nationally in fourth grade reading scores by 2030, far from the state's goal of becoming a top ten state in education by that year. 

Broken piggy bank
Images Money / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ranks Michigan 12th worst in the country when it comes to education funding cuts.

The report says Michigan has cut per-pupil K-12 funding by 7.5 percent since 2008.

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Legislature has approved budgets for the coming fiscal year.

The K-12 schools budget was enthusiastically endorsed by Republicans and Democrats. Every school district in the state will see a funding bump of $70 to $140 per student under the new K-12 budget the Legislature just sent to Governor Rick Snyder.

classroom
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Most people in a Michigan Radio/Public Sector Consultants poll would give Michigan a "C" when it comes to the state's education system.

Six-hundred likely voters in Michigan were polled from February 2 through February 5, 2015. Thirty-five percent gave Michigan's school system an A or a B - 49% gave Michigan a C, D, or an F (16% were unsure or didn't offer an answer).

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

KALAMAZOO – Gov. Rick Snyder is more forcefully countering what he calls "the big lie" in his re-election bid – charges that he cut $1 billion in education funding in 2011.

His opponent, Democrat Mark Schauer, isn't shying away from the claim.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report gives Michigan failing grades for student academic progress.

During the last decade, Michigan’s fourth-graders lost ground in math and reading, according to a new report out today from Education Trust-Midwest.

Amber Arellano is with the trust. She says Michigan now ranks among the bottom five states in student academic progress.

She says the state must raise the bar for students and teachers.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

The Michigan State Board of Education hopes public school funding will be a top priority for voters when they head to the polls in November.

The board on Tuesday kicked off a series of discussions meant to publicly critique the way the state pays for public education. The talks will continue at its monthly meetings until November.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder is taking on "misinformation" over his record of funding public schools before putting forward his next budget.

Since the Republican governor took office, he says, state aid to K-12 districts is up an average of $660 per student. But House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel says the figure is "simply untrue."

Until a few years ago, the primary marker of school funding was Michigan's per-pupil grant. Now Michigan is picking up some of the ballooning retirement costs instead of including the money in districts' traditional aid.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Two in every three Michigan public school districts contract out at least one major service, like custodial, transportation or food service. That’s according to a yearly survey of districts.

The Midland-based research institute Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which supports privatizing services, has published the survey every year since 2003. Here’s a summary of the center’s survey:

School student in Japan reading a book outside
Mehan / Creative Commons

Lawmakers are working out the details of a proposal that would flunk Michigan students who can’t read at “proficient” levels by the end of the third grade.

Many in the education community are opposed to the legislation, including The Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers.

The Michigan Association of Public School Academies supports it.

Homeless camp
Nicole Salow / Flickr

The number of K-12 students in the U.S. without a home is on the rise.

More than 1.1 million children in the U.S. were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Department of Education.

Suzi Parker at takepart.com looked at the numbers and found that Michigan has one of the fastest-growing homeless student populations in the country.

In Michigan, 43,418 students were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, compared to 30,671 in the 2010-2011 school year:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

On average, students under the state’s first fully privatized public school district are learning at a faster rate than under the old system. That’s according to data released Monday night by the charter company running the Muskegon Heights district.

Muskegon Heights schools’ emergency manager set up the charter system in the summer of 2012, when the existing district couldn’t afford to open. Highland Park Public Schools is under a similar arrangement.

outside of Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor Area Schools is already campaigning to get students enrolled in the fall. That’s because the district hopes to dig out of a major budget deficit by attracting more students.

Benton Harbor schools narrowly avoided a state appointed emergency manager a couple of years ago.

Superintendent Leonard Seawood says since then, they’ve balanced the budget for two years in a row.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

With a little luck and another loan from the state, Muskegon Heights Public Schools’ Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon is predicting the district will pay of its debt the year 2041.

Don Weatherspoon told a small crowd gathered in the high school auditorium Monday night he hopes to hand local control back to the district’s elected school board in one year.

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