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“Here’s the question that even I have difficulty with: are you having thoughts of suicide?” Frank King told a crowded room in Lansing on Tuesday. An estimated 500 students, school counselors, and other educators came in from across the state for a Student Mental Health Summit, where the focus ranged from social media to the impact of putting therapists in schools. 

Nicole Honeywell for Unsplash.com

One year into a state turnaround program, some of Michigan's lowest-performing schools are showing improvement.

a group of students raising their hands
Nicole Honeywill / Unsplash

 


Today on Stateside, the state budget needs to be approved by Governor Gretchen Whitmer tonight to avoid a partial government shutdown. But the governor has been vocal about her displeasure with the bills sent to her by the state Legislature. So what are her options? Plus, how can Michigan do more to recruit and retain a diverse teaching staff? 

A black woman teacher stands at a white board in front of a group of young children
Adobe Stock

There’s a distinct lack of diversity among Michigan’s educators. In districts across the state, just 6% of public school teachers are black. To fix that, you'll need more black students choosing to pursue education degrees in college. So, what is keeping them from doing so? And how can we change that?    

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. 

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.

classroom
M Space / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

In the past decade, American education has gone through some major changes. Parents are sometimes shocked by how different schools look from when they were there, and that can lead to friction between parents and teachers.

 

Stateside’s education commentator Matinga Ragatz joins us to discuss how to bridge the gap in understanding between parents and teachers.

child coloring with crayons
Unsplash / Aaron Burden

Today on Stateside, we hear from Kalamazoo’s city manager about the response to protests over homelessness in the city. Plus, parents aren’t the only ones with long lists of school supplies to buy before the year starts—teachers are spending their own money on classroom essentials, too.

City manager addresses protests over homelessness in Kalamazoo

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

 


Summer is winding down. Parents and kids are out doing their back-to-school shopping. But many school districts in Michigan are still trying to find enough teachers to fill their classrooms.

The issue of understaffing seems to be impacting almost all schools — whether they are small, large, public, or charter.

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.

Blue lockers
Flickr user C.C. Chapman

As we debate solutions for gun violence in our schools, teachers and administrators continue to prepare for active shooter situations by holding lockdown drills.

Jasper Nance / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

This week alone, four people were shot and killed by one gunman in Detroit. There was an apparent murder-suicide in Southfield. A Grand Rapids man was killed after being shot ten times. And today, two people were shot and killed at Central Michigan University.

Government leaders in Washington and in Lansing are trying to come up with ways to prevent mass shootings. The main focus is on shootings at schools, such as the one last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Courtesy of Matinga Ragatz

Students returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today in Florida – their first time back after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting two weeks ago.

The Parkland shooting has seemed to galvanize students, citizens, corporations, and politicians into action. Most everyone agrees something must be done to make our schools safer.

A win for teachers, but not for Democrats

Dec 21, 2017
moare / MorgueFile

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday that the state has to refund more than half a billion dollars improperly taken from the state’s teachers.

That has to be an extremely welcome holiday present for Michigan’s beleaguered teachers, who for years have felt under siege from politicians who have weakened their unions, their pensions, and made them pay more for health care.

This should also be a political gift to the Democrats, who have in recent years become the party of choice for the state’s teachers, especially since Republicans in the legislature often seem to have declared war on teachers as a class.

Judge's gavel with books on a desk
Pixabay.com

The Michigan Supreme Court says the state must return more than $550 million to school employees who had money deducted for retiree health care.

Courtesy of Dr. Curtis L. Lewis

The Next Idea 

The teaching profession in America remains largely white and female. That means young African American males can go through school without ever seeing a teacher who looks like them.

Not only can this mean a lack of black role models, but it also means teaching doesn’t get held up as a profession that’s desirable for black men to pursue.

A small community college is suing the state of Michigan, in a fight over whether some student workers should have to enroll in the public school teacher’s retirement fund.

“Yeah, it is difficult to explain craziness, but I’ll try,” says David Mathews, President of Southwestern Michigan College. The school has about 2,600 students enrolled on campuses in Dowagiac and Niles, he says. Around half are full-time students, and half are part-time.

The Lansing capitol dome with a blue sky behind it and trees in front of it
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Republican legislative leaders remain committed to closing the pension system to new teachers and instead giving them a 401(k) after getting mixed news about tax revenues.

Money with bottle of pills
Images Money / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The stalled Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act cleared a big hurdle this week. Lawmakers in the U.S. House passed the bill -- thanks in part to a last minute addition from Michigan Congressman Fred Upton. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about Upton's amendment and what the bill could mean for Michigan.

They also discuss a state Court of Appeals ruling that teachers can drop out of their union whenever they like, another attempt by lawmakers to scrap and replace pensions for new teachers, and budget proposals that passed the state House and Senate this week. 

teacher with two students
department of education / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

More and more teachers are posting their resignation letters online and on social media.

A Google search for "teacher resignation letters" returns over 2.1 million results. 

Some of those letters have gone viral by echoing the frustrations that many teachers have with the state of public education. 

Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Women's Hall of Fame welcomed its latest group of honorees late last year.

Among the five contemporary honorees was Olivia Letts. She was the first African-American teacher hired by the Lansing School District. She started that job in 1951 and from there, Letts spent her life as an advocate for education, community service and civil rights.

Michigan Radio

We're going to go out on a limb here and say most parents want to know how their child's school measures up in terms of standardized test scores, graduation rates, demographics and so on. 

Another big question parents ask when looking at a school: 

“How many kids are in a typical classroom?”

When you hear people talk about ineffective school systems, you’ll often hear something like, “there aren’t enough desks or books,” or “there are more than 30 kids in that classroom.”

Math flashcards
Ross Belmont / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Wayne State University is getting a $1.4 million grant to prepare elementary and middle school math teachers to teach in Detroit.

The grant from the National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program will help WSU recruit and train 56 new math teachers to teach in Detroit classrooms.

moare / MorgueFile

Michigan expects there will be a shortage of teachers in certain subjects this school year. Early childhood, special education, foreign language and a variety of occupational teachers are facing a “critical” shortage.

creative commons

A new pilot program in Grand Rapids will try to raise student achievement at high-poverty schools.

Education Trust-Midwest announced Monday it's launching a program to provide greater support and coaching to teachers. Education Trust-Midwest is a nonpartisan education research organization based in Royal Oak.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

All this week we’re talking about teacher training.

But there’s one thing that’s almost impossible to teach students in college: how to manage a classroom.

Auburn Elementary

In many undergraduate education programs, students spend a lot of time in the university classroom to prepare them for their student teaching in the final year. 

Until that placement, theory sometimes has little chance to meet up with practice.

user Wonderlane / Flickr

There's wide agreement among education experts that teacher quality is the most important school-based factor in how students do in school.

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

The State of Michigan wants its next generation of teachers to know more.

But raising educational standards for teachers is proving to be a challenge.


Here's what you remember your teachers saying to you

Mar 30, 2015

The Teachable Moment Project collected remembrances from you of the teachers in your life.

By intentionally leaving “memorable words” open to your interpretation, we heard from you about teachers who inspired you, as well as teachers who derailed dreams.

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