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school funding

Whiskey Point, at the west end of the harbor at Beaver Island.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, we hear the latest from Lansing after Governor Whitmer met with top Republican leaders in the state Legislature. Plus, what Michigan can learn from Norway’s prison and mental health systems. 

elementary students in a classroom
Credit Tom McKee, Whitefish Township School District

Tom McKee is having some hard conversations right now. 

“Do we eliminate our elementary school? That means we put our kids on a bus for two hours one way to get to the nearest school,” says the Superintendent of Whitefish Township School District.

Spanning 270 square miles, the remote district has just 53 students, McKee says. “Do we eliminate our high school? Same thing, putting our kids on the bus, two hours one way.” 

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.”

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The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether it’s ever okay under the state Constitution for taxpayer dollars to support private schools.

The case challenges two state budgets adopted by Republicans. They include provisions that allow private and parochial schools to be reimbursed for some expenses, as long as the money is not directly related to educating students. A provision in the Michigan Constitution says taxpayer dollars can’t go to support private schools.

Over one thousand protesters gathered on the Capitol lawn Tuesday.
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan’s education advocates need to put pressure on state lawmakers. That’s in order to make sure schools are properly funded.

Whitmer joined more than one thousand education advocates that were protesting on the Capitol lawn Tuesday. The state school aid budget is still being worked out by lawmakers in the state Legislature. But protesters at the Capitol want to make sure that the final product has enough money for K-12 schools.

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.

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Today on Stateside, we hear from the president of the State Board of Education following an MSU report’s findings that Michigan leads the country in declining school funds. Plus, we talk with the CEO leading the charge on digital license plates in Michigan.

creative commons

Funding for Michigan's public schools is insufficient to meet rising education standards, according to a recent study by researchers at Michigan State University. 

The MSU researchers said Michigan tightened its total spending on K-12 public education more than any other state over a 20 year period ending in 2015.

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

 

Today on Stateside, Michigan's funding for schools has declined more than any other state, according to a new study. We get reaction from the state senator who chairs the committee overseeing K-12 funding. Plus, an exhibit by a new artist-in-residence at the University of Michigan paints an apocalyptic environmental future over nostalgic images of America's past. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Public school advocates and the ACLU of Michigan want the Michigan Supreme Court to take their case. They want the court to reverse a decision that lets the state give public money to private schools in certain cases.

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

Michigan’s public schools lost in court today. Multiple public school organizations and the ACLU sued the state over a multi-million dollar budget item.

The lawsuit is over public money going to non-public schools for state mandates; things like safety drills and health requirements. In its opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals said:

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

The Michigan Legislature approved a budget this week right before leaving for the summer recess. 

It would be impossible to go over everything in the budget, so Stateside sat down with two commentators to discuss some notable parts. 

Vicki Barnett is a former Mayor of Farmington Hills and Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema is a Senior Policy Fellow with Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in the state Senate. 

Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon
File photo / Michigan State University

Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon is facing mounting pressure to resign over how the university handled complaints against former sports Dr. Larry Nassar. The full leadership of the state Legislature, MSU's student newspaper and MSU's student government have all called for her resignation. However, it doesn't look like Simon is going anywhere at the moment.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what could be keeping Simon from stepping down.


creative commons

A report pegs the cost of properly educating a student in Michigan at no less than $9,550. That’s almost $2,000 more than the current minimum.

The report also puts numbers to the costs of transportation, special education, and educating students in small, rural districts. The goal is to create an individualized per-student school funding formula.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Attorney General Bill Schuette says the Michigan schools superintendent can't withhold state aid from school districts with American Indian mascots or logos. Earlier this year Superintendent Brian Whiston proposed cutting up to 10% of a district's annual payment. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss Schuette's opinion on the matter.

They also talk about a ruling that temporarily halts state funding to private schools, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen's federal court nomination delay, and whether the an iconic Detroit hat shop is a casualty of rising downtown rents.

church exterior
Flickr user: richevenhouse

The Michigan Court of Appeals has put a lawsuit regarding state money for private schools on hold while it decides who can be part of it.

The court will decide whether a group of Republican lawmakers and Catholic school parents can challenge Michigan’s ban on public money for private schools. And they want to join the lawsuit as defendants, not plaintiffs.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
User alkruse24 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are fewer school districts in severe financial peril, according to a quarterly report compiled by the Michigan Department of Education.

 

Last year, there were 41 school districts and charter schools with deficits. That number is down to 27 this year. And Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Whiston says that number could be down to 18 districts by June.

There hasn't been a more controversial pick for secretary of education, arguably, in recent memory than Donald Trump's choice of Betsy DeVos. The Senate confirmation hearings for the billionaire Republican fundraiser and activist from Michigan start today.

Teachers unions and others rallied for more public school funding before classes this morning in Detroit, Kalamazoo and Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Teachers unions held early morning rallies today at schools across Michigan.

Teachers and others took part in so-called ‘walk-in’ events in Detroit, Kalamazoo and Flint. Similar rallies took place in more than 70 cities nationwide. 

Before sunrise, a steady line of buses dropped students off at Flint’s Northwestern High School. As students stepped off buses, they were greeted by people carrying signs calling for more public money for traditional public schools.

Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court / court.mi.gov

Private and parochial schools in Michigan will be allowed apply for grants that reimburse them for some state-ordered health and safety programs.

That’s despite a provision in the state constitution that forbids direct or indirect taxpayer support for private or religious schools.

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

This week, the Snyder administration’s School Reform Office suggested that it could eventually close schools where students have low rankings on state tests.

Schools that rank in the bottom 5% -- with some exceptions -- would be closed under this plan, which would shutter more than 100 schools from across the state.

In an opinion piece this week in the Lansing State Journal, John P. Smith III criticized the state’s plans.

Smith is a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University and he joined Stateside to talk about why he thinks the closing of the schools, and the methodology that led to that decision is flawed.

Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A long-awaited, state-sponsored study has put a minimum price tag on what it takes to educate the average Michigan public school student.

The Michigan Education Finance Study set out to answer a simple question: How much money does it take to educate a student that’s proficient by state standards, every year?

Finding the answer, it turns out, is complicated.

Kids at a public school in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder traveled to a middle school in Oakland County to sign a $16 billion education budget for the coming fiscal year. He approved it despite questions over a provision that sends money to private and religious schools.

Last night, the Farmington School Board voted to close or consolidate three district schools, including Harrison High School, over the next four years.

Board members in the suburban Detroit district called that a tough decision, but a necessary one in light of declining enrollment – a common situation statewide.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Our state used to boast a pretty strong education system, but just about any measurement given these days suggests that’s no longer true.

Case in point: the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s report card, finds Michigan is in the bottom third of all states in fourth grade reading, fourth grade math and eighth grade math.

Wikipedia

Forty-three Michigan school districts will start this school year with a lower credit rating.

The Detroit News reports that Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the districts over the past year.

Eastern Michigan University
krossbow / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK


The battle between Michigan’s public universities and state lawmakers over funding has ramped up in recent weeks.

Both Eastern Michigan University and Oakland University have busted state-imposed tuition caps, deciding that the state’s “reward” for not raising tuition just wasn’t worth it.

The universities raised their tuition for the upcoming school year by 7.8% and 8.48% respectively.

A piggy bank, stethescope and bundle of one dollar bills
401(k) 2013 / Flickr

This week in Michigan Politics, political analyst Jack Lessenberry talks about a new law affecting school districts in trouble, college tuition hikes, a former inmate healthcare snafu, and Michigan veterans.  

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

Buena Vista voters today will decide whether to renew a millage that would cover debt still owed by the township's now-defunct school district.  

Last November, voters rejected a similar proposal to cover the former district's $725,000 debt.

FLICKR USER STEVEN DEPOLO / FLICKR

One of the most challenging issues facing the new state Legislature is school finance.

The Citizens Research Council recently released a report spotlighting shrinking school enrollment and the associated financial difficulties for districts. The report offers suggestions about how Lansing could support these struggling districts.

Craig Thiel, senior research associate with the Citizens Research Council, joined us today. He says the last time school enrollment was close to what it is now was the late 1950s.

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