The state House has approved a measure that would allow the state to dissolve school districts that don't have enough money to open their doors in the fall. The legislation would immediately affect the Buena Vista and Inkster schools. The schools and students would be absorbed by adjacent districts. It would not apply to districts of more than 25 hundred students.
Republican state Representative Pete Lund said the districts affected are guilty of grossly mismanaging their finances.
"We are talking about schools not that have to shut down a few weeks early. They can't open their doors in September. Don't go telling me that if we had more dollars in there, they'd be better off, they'd be able to stay open, and they would all get A pluses," Lund said.
Many Democrats voted "no." They said the legislation should also do something for displaced teachers and other school employees. They also said it does not address the larger funding problems facing schools.
This weekend the Big Rapids high school band rolled its way into an unofficial world record by keeping a constant drum roll for more than 28 hours.
The final beat clocked in at 28 hours 19 minutes and 3 seconds more than hour longer than the previous record held by Rock Hill High School in South Carolina.
The Drum-a-thon was used to raise money to buy new drums for the marching band.
Brian Balch is the Director of Bands at Big Rapids High School.
"This is probably the most creative way to come up with money. We could just go around and ask but putting something in the public eye like this that has a lot of energy and excitement surrounding a world record this was probably the most creative thing we could have done," Balch said.
Donations are still being counted, and an official number has not been announced, but the band has exceeded its goal of $5,700.
Now that the band has unofficially broken the drum roll record the next step is to get the record confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.
The evidence and paperwork will be compiled and mailed to London where it is reviewed.
The process to verify the record takes two to three weeks.
Most students try to avoid school on the weekends. But some young percussionists from Big Rapids are spending their weekend at school anyway as they try to break the world record for longest group drum roll.
The current world record stands at 27 hours, set by Rock Hill High School in South Carolina in 2009.
Big Rapids students are attempting to break that record and set a new one at 30 hours. 20 students have been taking 15 minute shifts since 8 a.m. Saturday morning to keeping a continuous roll going.
A lot of preparation goes into breaking a world record, the school had to register their attempt with the Guinness Book of World Records. Then the rollers had to start practicing.
Kramer Milan is a Big Rapids band Alumnus, and came up with the idea to attempt to break the record.
"We've had a couple drumline training sessions actually in the last couple weeks where I put on some Beatles or Led Zepplin and we've just rolled," Milan said.
It takes a whole community to break a world record. In order for their attempt to be considered the record must be recorded and streamed live on the internet and both a prominent community figure and a music expert must witness all 30 hours.
Brian Balch is the Director of Bands at Big Rapids High School and has been organizing the event.
"We have many witnesses that are both prominent figures in the neighborhood and also professional musicians, we have a number of MSBOA judges and college professors coming in to assist," Balch said.
The band is using the "Drum-a-thon" to raise money to buy new drumline equipment.
A complaint filed in February against Michigan schools with American Indian mascots was dismissed this week by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights was notified of their complaint's dismissal this week.
Currently, American Indian mascots are allowed if they don't create a "hostile environment." People filing complaints against schools with such mascots must also prove there is an intent to cause harm.
Leslee Fritz is the Director of Public Affairs for the MDCR.
She said some mascots may have the ability to hold students back from their full potential.
"Essentially it becomes a limiting image. That's all the students can see themselves as. Because there are not a lot of competing images of Native Americans in our popular culture, it becomes very limiting; and therefore, it limits self-perspective, self-understanding and what individual students believe what they are capable of doing. As a result, their academic performance suffers," Fritz said.
Fritz said her department presented a number of studies to the Department of Education that showed such mascots negatively impact students' academic performance.
The state Senate has approved an education budget that would boost public school funding by about three percent.
Colleges and universities would also get an increase of around two percent.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville praised the schools budget, saying it addresses issues like teacher retirement costs while giving more money to districts.
"The education budget this year may be the best that I've seen since I've been up here," Richardville said.
But many Democrats say the plan does not do enough to make up for cuts to education over the past couple of years. They're also criticizing Republicans for adding language related to social issues like embryonic stem cell research.
The education budget now goes to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said Michigan should pursue more charter schools and online learning as part of the state's efforts to improve education.
He also asked state lawmakers to stick with common national standards to measure student performance.
The Michigan Legislature's Republican majorities just approved a school aid budget that forbid spending to enact the Common Core standards developed by the nation's governors. Some conservatives say the standards hand over Michigan's education policy to a national consortium.
Jeb Bush helped come up with the standards as Florida's governor, and made an impassioned plea for Michigan to stick with them.
"Do not pull back! Please, do not pull back from high, lofty standards," Bush said.
Bush was addressing the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference. Governor Rick Snyder also supports the standards. He said there is still time to change some minds in Lansing before the state's new fiscal year begins in the fall.
Today the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting to vote on further planning and funding for Phase 1 of the CMU College of Medicine facilities in Saginaw.
The project has a cost of about $25 million and includes a 48 thousand square-foot medical education center to be built on the campus of Covenant Healthcare.
Sherry Knight is the associate vice president for CMU Communications. She said this has been in discussion for over a year.
The board has been highly involved throughout that year so nothing is ever a done deal but certainly these are facilities that have been planned and discussed and there's been planning money allocated for them along the way.
Knight said CMU needs to have close ties to a hospital clinical care facility for students to get "hands on" clinical training.
If the project is approved, construction is slated to begin this fall.
Buena Vista schools will re-open soon after a two-week shutdown.
The state has approved the district's deficit elimination plan and will resume making aid payments.
Classes are expected to begin again next week. Buena Vista will be able to pay its bills, but the state will control the checkbook.
Jan Ellis is with the state Department of Education.
"The district is still in a state of financial emergency, however, our immediate concern was to find a way that students could return as quickly as possible back to school." Ellis said.
400 students were displaced by the shutdown. Buena Vista has lost hundreds of students over the past couple of years, which means less money from the state.
The district has requested an official review, which starts a process that could wind up with Buena Vista joining the three other Michigan school districts being run by state-appointed emergency managers.
The Buena Vista school board has approved a plan to tackle its deficit. That could clear the way for the state to resume payments to the district and allow about 400 students to finish out the school year.
The state cut off payments because the district is too deep in debt.
Mike Flanagan is the state schools superintendent. He said the department will act quickly to get Buena Vista's students back to school. But he said Buena Vista is still a district that's falling short both academically and financially, and that needs to be dealt with. He said one solution might be for Buena Vista to combine with another district.
"This begs the question a little bit of should we have 500 and some districts, probably not. But I don't have a way to force them to do something different." Flanagan said.
The deficit plan will not halt a state financial review that was requested by the school board. The review could lead to a state takeover of the district.
There could be a solution in sight to allow 400 students in Saginaw County's Buena Vista district to finish out the school year after classes were abruptly cancelled. The plan will be presented Tuesday evening to the local school board.
Classes are officially over in Buena Vista. But eligible seniors will graduate, and other students will advance a grade. And students and teachers could still return to classrooms next week.
That's under a plan to use federal funds to run voluntary "skills camps" that focus on reading, math, and writing. The Buena Vista superintendent said it's a creative solution that would allow students to finish out the school year.
Kirk Floyd graduated from Buena Vista high in 1987, and said his district's plight is heartbreaking.
"Anything will help, you know, right about now." Floyd said.
Classes were scrubbed after state aid payments were stopped because the district owes too much money. The district has also requested state intervention to help fix its finances.
The state could release funds as soon as Monday to avert a cash crisis in the Pontiac school district.
A letter last week from the state warned the district in Oakland County that it would fail to meet payroll this Friday.
Over the weekend, the state accepted a quickly re-worked deficit reduction plan crafted by the Pontiac school board.
As of this morning, there is still no plan to get the roughly 400 students in the Buena Vista district in Saginaw County back to school. District officials say they can't re-open unless the state releases its school aid payments. Governor Rick Snyder and state superintendent Mike Flanagan say there's nothing they can do.
Shawn Ramsey is a mother who said the whole situation is frustrating and unfair.
"So, they're ruining it for a lot of kids." Ramsey said.
The Buena Vista district has asked for a financial review that could result in a state takeover.
The state schools chief said he'll lift the attendance requirement for 25 graduating seniors in the Buena Vista school district.
That will allow them to graduate even though the district closed its doors a month before the end of the school year.
Superintendent Mike Flanagan said mismanagement by the local school board is why the Buena Vista district is out of money, and there's not much he can do to get its 400 or so students back into classrooms. But, he told WJR radio in Detroit that one thing he can do is waive the 180-day attendance requirement
"I plan to do that so at least the seniors can graduate." Flanagan said.
In the meantime, the Buena Vista school board has voted to request a formal state review. That review could result in a state takeover of the district. Also, the Pontiac school district, which is in the middle of a state review, is expected to run out of money in one week.
Summer might be starting early for Buena Vista students. They've been out of school since May 7th, when the school ran out of cash.
The state is withholding payments to make up for a grant the district should not have received.
Parents were hoping for answers during a school board meeting last night, but got few. The board failed to announce a reopen date for the school.
Instead, the board voted to submit a revised deficit elimination and consolidation plan to the state. That's the first step toward the appointment of an emergency manager.
Board President Randy Jackson said the state would have to act for the students to be able to return to school.
"It's going to take some money to do that and right now we don't have the funds, we don't have the revenue to do that and any state aid that comes in will be intercepted by the treasury department unless they can make an exception, they have the power to do that." Jackson said.
Jan Ellis with the Michigan Department of Education said it's not the state's responsibility to ensure the children are in school.
"We at least in the department of Education to not have the ability to go in and change immediate things that are happening in a school district." Ellis said.
There has been legislative action to allocate emergency funds. Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes' district includes the Buena Vista school district. She's begun work on a bill to fund the school for the remainder of the year.
"We have a rainy day fund and I submit to you it is storming in Buena Vista Township. We need to tap into the rainy day fund or wherever but we need to make sure these students finish out the school year, they deserve that." Oakes said.
The governor said a bailout for the district is unlikely.
As the district and the state duke it out over who is responsible for getting kids back in school, students are left without a classroom and with no word on their grade standing.
Carrie Seal Spencer has an 11th grader at the school and attended Thursday's meeting.
"I came tonight because I thought I was going to get some answers, you know more answers so we could better know what to do, which way we'll have it but at least they did say they'll have summer school over at Bridgeport for the kids who need credits but we still don't have transcripts." Spencer said.
The board did confirm that the district's 25 seniors will have a graduation and a prom.
A second Michigan school district could be on the cusp of cutting classes short before the official end of the school year.
The state Department of Education has warned the Pontiac school district it won't make its May 17th payroll.
A letter from state Superintendent Mike Flanagan to the Pontiac schools said the district is out of money, and appears to have exhausted its options.
Last week, the Buena Vista school district in Saginaw County shut its doors after its state aid was cut off because of unpaid debts. There is still no plan to return the roughly 400 students to classrooms before the end of the school year.
Governor Rick Snyder said that's troubling.
"We have a wide variety of options on the table and a lot of active discussions are going on." Snyder said.
Snyder said a financial bailout from Lansing is almost certainly not one of those options. Both the Buena Vista and Pontiac schools could eventually be taken over by a state-appointed emergency manager. But that's a process that takes many, many weeks.
A Saginaw Valley State University student has been recognized for her international nonprofit organization. She's one of only six people in Michigan to receive the Outstanding Community Impact Award.
Sarah Lewan's nonprofit raises money and awareness on the effects of malaria in Africa. In 2011, she began selling t-shirts out of her dorm room. So far,she's raised enough money for 700 mosquito bed nets.
Lewan says there is good reason behind the name of her organization, Project Sunset.
"I got the name because mosquitos general transmit Malaria at night and so I got the idea of Project Sunset because I wanted to raise money for mosquito nets, so that people could go to bed at night and not fear getting Malaria," she said.
Only six students from across the state received this prestigious award for service.
As part of the award, Michigan Campus Compact donated $200 to Lewan's nonprofit.
The Obama Administration's top education official said public schools in Detroit are improving.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Governor Rick Snyder visited a traditional public school and a school in the state's Education Achievement Authority.
The EAA is a controversial entity meant to turn around some of the state's worst public schools. From his visit, Secretary Duncan said he sees promise in the EAA.
But just outside one of the schools, Democratic state Senator Bert Johnson said Duncan wasn't getting an accurate picture of what's going on in the EAA.
"I won't call it a dog and pony show, because, since it involves kids, I don't want to reduce it to such. But we do know that they have cleaned up their living room and they are prepared to have company." Johnson said.
Johnson said the EAA lacks transparency, strips local control, and has not been proven to work.
Lake Superior State University has created a new website for business-to-business sales to attract an international market to the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
The website connects users to businesses through the products they search for.
Professor Ralph Wilhelms is with LSSU and helped launch the website. He said nothing like this has been done before.
He said an engineering and business student first developed the prototype.
"What we done from there was worked with students in international marketing to say ok, we want to now market the website to businesses in other countries. We got support on this concept as well as from Michigan State who provided some funding." Wilhelms said.
Wilhelms said the funding allowed students to create a marketing plan that attracted companies from eight different countries to join the website.
Drop off rates are up but so are adoption rates at the Humane Animal Treatment Society of Isabella County.
Moving to a new place can be scary and for some college students and adopting a furry friend for companionship can help ease the transition.
But, as the semester winds down for Central Michigan University and students move home for the summer, what happens to the animals that aren't welcome at mom and dad's? They get dropped off at HATS.
And while drop-off rates increase in the spring, adoption rates are at an all-time high.
Jill Irving, marketing director for HATS, said that the pros of being a part of a college town outweigh the cons.
"We love being a part of a college town, and I can tell you our volunteers are outstanding, we have a fantastic group of volunteers that come from the university we love to have students out." Irving said.
Spring also marks the annual "HATS off to the Arts" gala, featuring an auction for artwork that raises money and awareness for the non profit.
Funds raised will go toward care of animals in the shelter and for funding projects like the new spay and neuter clinic including assistance for pet owners who cannot afford the services.
The fundraising auction is on May 17.
The health clinic is due to open in the next few weeks.
Republicans in the state Senate say it's time to go back to the drawing board on a bill that would facilitate state takeovers of struggling schools.
They're not happy with a version that passed in the state House last month.
Lawmakers in the House added several things Republican Senators don't like to the bill. For one, they capped the number of schools the state's Education Achievement Authority could take over at 50. They also put in language that would let regional public school officials take control of the schools instead of the state.
Phil Pavlov chairs the Senate Education Committee. He said he won't take a vote on the bill until at least some of those things are taken out.
"We need to get support for it. So we're taking a look at the changes the House made and coming up with some potential solutions." Pavlov said.
Critics of expanding the Education Achievement Authority say it hasn't been proven to turn around struggling schools and strips away local control.
Detroit and other Michigan cities are turning to businesses to help pay for schools that offer a wide array of services for students, their families, and surrounding neighborhoods. Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta tells us how three schools in Detroit will use corporate support to expand what they offer.
Governor Rick Snyder was at Western International High School in Detroit to accept a one and a half million dollar donation from JPMorgan Chase. The idea is this: Students won't succeed without a supportive environment in and out of the classroom.
"And when you look at a neighborhood that may have challenges, the best place to start is the local school." Snyder said.
Snyder said schools can be used to provide parenting training, advice on managing household finances, help finding a job, and counselors who are available around the clock.
It's also being tried at schools in Pontiac, Flint, and Saginaw. The governor said he's looking for more businesses to step in and help with the financing and to demand results.
Mid Michigan Community College broke ground Friday on a new Center for Liberal Arts and Business.
The new building is an addition to MMCC's current campus. it will house classes currently taking place at the outdated and crowded Pickard Building.
Matt Miller the Vice President of Community Outreach for Mid expressed the great need for an upgrade from the facility on Pickard.
"We've been over at the Pickard Campus for 20 years now and it worked well for us when we were about half the size but we've doubled in size in the last ten years and so what we had over there while it was adequate wasn't really serving students as well as we could." Miller said.
The new building will house mainly liberal arts and humanities classes that are generally taken at Mid then transferred to a university.
President of the College Carol Churchill sees the new building as very exciting for the college and the community.
"I may cry, no seriously I may! This is a dream. This is exactly what Mid needs, this is exactly what the community needs." Churchill said.
The new building will be LEED certifiable and is scheduled to open for the Fall 2014 semester.
The state superintendent said he's forming a public group to come up with ways to improve public education. Mike Flanagan's announcement comes days after a report exposed a secret work group that includes top aides to Governor Rick Snyder.
Flanagan said he wants to create his own group, which would be open to the public.
He said there's movement toward more student choice in public education. He said the group's goal would be to apply those changes carefully and fairly.
"How do you match that up with the implementation, and people really knowing where is there quality, and not choice for choice sake." Flanagan said.
Flanagan talked about the group in front of Michigan teachers and education leaders in East Lansing. He said he wants it to be "very inclusive," with representatives from a wide range of political ideologies and backgrounds.
Governor Rick Snyder said Michigan is competing with every region of the country to re-tool schools to teach the skills employers are seeking. Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta tells us it was part of his remarks to a summit of the state's education leaders.
Governor Snyder said he wants to get businesses more involved in Michigan's schools so educators, parents, and students can get a clearer picture of what's needed to get a good job after graduating from high school or college.
"Whoever does it best and earliest is going to have the strategic advantage. Other people will follow. Once it gets figured out, other people will follow, but in my estimation, it's going to be a 10 to 20 year strategic advantage." Snyder said.
The governor said that estimate is based on his own experience in business and economic development. Some education experts warn against over-specialization since it's impossible to know what every employer needs, or what the hot careers of the future might be.
New legislation has been introduced to permit college students to postpone jury duty.
The bill would allow full-time college students to postpone jury duty if the service would interfere with their school schedule.
Republican Representative Kevin Cotter introduced the legislation.
He said students should be allowed to focus on their education and finish the school year without the added interference of jury duty.
Cotter is the Representative of Michigan's 99th district.
"I'm proud to represent a university town in Mount Pleasant, but this is something that applies across the state. As our young people are going to attend a university, whether it be a university or a community college. It can certainly be a challenge when they're attending schools at a full-time basis and are selected from jury service. Because quite often they are selected in their home district or home community." Cotter said.
Cotter said jury service is an important requirement, but for college students their education should come first.
The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Issues with Michigan's public education sector will be the main topics during a series of upcoming public forums hosted by the Michigan Board of Education.
The forums are designed to help answer people's questions on potential changes to the school system. And to lay out the board's opinion on the direction it would like to see the state go.
John Austin, board president, says there are many issues being considered including budget reforms and expanding school of choice.
"It really is important for people to tune into the education debate. People care about their neighborhood schools, education is the most important ingredient for our young people to have a bright future and for our state to succeed economically." Austin said.
Austin said a more informed public will put pressure on state lawmakers to make decisions that are right for Michigan children.
Governor Rick Snyder is expected to call for more business involvement in public schools. The governor will speak Monday to a summit of education leaders.
Governor Snyder's been looking for ways to more closely align what schools are doing with what employers are looking for.
Bill Rustem is the governor's senior policy advisor. He said there are thousands of jobs in Michigan that go unfilled because employers can't find people with the education or training they need.
"So, the problem that we're trying to resolve, the problem we're trying to take a look at is, how do we let parents and young people know what the jobs of the future are going to be." Rustem said.
Rustem said some ways that businesses could interact more closely with schools could include pairing students with professional mentors, or the promise of a job or internship after graduation from high school or college.
The Snyder administration said an education work group is not seriously discussing a voucher-like system for public schools. The Detroit News reported Friday that top aides to Governor Rick Snyder have been secretly meeting with private sector officials for months.
The report outlines a plan that would create so-called "value schools." They would cost five-thousand dollars a student every year, compared to around seven-thousand for traditional public schools.
Democrats and school union groups said the plan would amount to a voucher system, and would only serve to divert tax dollars to private corporations.
But Snyder administration spokesperson Kurt Weiss said it is just one of many ideas the group has heard.
"This was really early discussions. Nothing has been provided to the governor yet. So I think that reporting about vouchers was really inaccurate." Snyder said.
According to the Detroit News report, the group wanted to present a plan to the governor before he holds an education summit next week. But Weiss said the group has faced a number of "false starts."
The planets will be in closer orbit to mid Michigan this Friday when Mount Pleasant's Discovery Museum unveils a 16 foot by 8 foot replica model. It was made by the 5th graders at Mary McGuire elementary school.
The idea stemmed from Central Michigan University senior Nicole Barragato, a student teacher at Mary McGuire elementary school.
Barragato said she did a similar project last spring with a class of fourth graders in Dewitt, they made animal models for the Potter Park Zoo.
The solar system is made of 5,300 recycled bottle caps, nailed onto panels of plywood in shapes of the planets.
"I had people everywhere collecting bottle caps for me. All the students were collecting them, and then the museum was collecting them, and then some of my professors at S-C-4 collecting them for me. So for about two months time I would have bottle caps in my pockets, just random people handing me bottle caps. And just pulling them all together and we actually collected by our best estimate over 10,000 caps." Barragato said.
Barragato said, her 5th graders are excited for their field trip to the museum on Friday and the first public "skywatch" of their solar system display.
The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees made several key decisions during yesterdays meeting.
Including approving funding for the largest capital expenditure in the University's history.
The board approved a new biosciences building. It will cost upwards of 95 million dollars. Ian Davison is dean of the College of Science and Technology. He said the facility will keep Central at the cutting edge of science technologies and help facilitate additional grant funding.
"That money is a means to an end, it's the research that we do which will be in a whole variety of areas from human health to research that's related to understanding the natural environment such as the Great Lakes." Davison said.
Davison said the building is scheduled to open in 2017.
A Michigan university is being recognized for a consistent display of dedication to the service of others in their community.
Central Michigan University has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the seventh consecutive year.
CMU is affiliated with several initiatives on campus, such as: the Office of Residence Life, Special Olympics Michigan and the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center.
Shawna Ross is the Director of the Volunteer Center on campus.
"It really is something we're hoping is indicating that our students are on the path to becoming engaged citizens. It's really quite an honor that since the program started back in 2006, that we can tell their stories through a program like this." Ross said.
Ross said CMU is proud to share stories from students, faculty and staff around campus engaging in service projects helping others.
Ferris State University is on the national map for one of its undergrad programs.
The Digital Animation and Game Designs program was recently ranked in the Princeton Review as one of the top undergraduate schools to study video game design.
The Princeton Review is based on a survey of 150 programs at institutions in the U.S. and Canada. Ferris State's DAGD program made the "Honorable Mentions" list.
Sandy Gholston, spokesperson for Ferris State University, said the program continues to grow, keeping both student and faculty standards high.
"Because they continuing to grow their own skill set, that allows them to better to be able to instruct the students that we have. So it really is a matter of the faculty continuing to grow,to continue to stay on the cutting edge of what's being done in animation and game design." Gholston said.
Gholston said too that the program at Ferris will continue to grow along with the game design and animation industry.
Central Michigan University Emergency Medical Services Fellowship has been granted accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
The announcement makes CMU one of two schools in Michigan to offer this program.
This is CMU's first EMS fellowship. The program trains physicians who want more training to become a licensed EMS physician.
With only twenty-one such programs in the country, College of Medicine officials say CMU will now rank with prestigious schools nationwide. .
Dr. Noel Wagner is the medical program director for CMU EMS Fellowship.
"We're one of the first 21 programs. There's some programs in that list that are very well established institutions in EMS training. Boston, Houston, Denver programs like that which have a very long history of providing EMS training. For us to be in a group like that and have equivalent accreditation is very reward and very impressive I think." Wagner said.
Central Michigan University is participating in a national discussion to create awareness for veterans on-campus.
The "Supporting Veterans on Campus" series is a result of recent studies done by the National Center for Veterans Studies.
Steve Rellinger, the Director of CMU's Veteran's Resource center said the campaign is structured like a triangle.
"The base of the triangle is the point of contact. The point of contact for all those individuals is the Veteran's Resource Center here on campus. Then on one side of the triangle are students veterans of America, our recognized student organization here at CMU. We are their point of contact, so if they have questions comments concerns, they can come to our office and that's the other side of the triangle, those outreach activities." Rellinger said.
Rellinger said he cannot stress the point of the campaign and the webinars enough; he said their purpose is to educate.
The next event in the campus vets discussion will be a webinar, scheduled for April second. It is open to the public.
Faculty members from CMU will be traveling halfway around the world this week to study water quality issues in China.
The trip is viewed as an opportunity not only to improve freshwater research capabilities in the U.S. and in China, but also to enhance the reputation of CMU in what will soon be the largest economy in the world.
Ian Davison is the Dean of the College of Science and Technology at CMU.
He said six faculty members and one student from CMU will partner with biologists from Jiangxi Normal University to conduct research on Poyang lake; the largest freshwater lake in China
"We see this as a real partnership where both sides are bringing something important to the table. We're not going to be able to do this on our own, even if we had the required permits in China, we need the Chinese expertise, and they, I think, frankly need our help as well." Davison said.
Dr. Davison said a long-term partnership in China will create opportunities for CMU students to be involved in what he calls "interesting and important" research.
A battle is brewing in Lansing over a plan to drop a set of curriculum standards for public schools. A House panel heard testimony Wednesday on a bill to opt out of the Common Core Standards Initiative.
The Common Core standards are meant to evaluate schools across the country.
Michigan adopted the standards in 2010.
State Representative Tom McMillin said Common Core takes away the state's ability to decide which standards to follow.
"If we don't like them, we can't change them here in Michigan. We're going to have to lobby national groups or the federal government to change it." McMillin said.
Supporters of Common Core say it's an effective way to make sure Michigan students are ready for college and careers.
They say the state ultimately implements the standards, not the federal government.
A state budget panel has voted to cut state funding to schools and universities that agree to new long-term union contracts before the end of the month.
That's when the state's new right-to-work law goes into effect.
Universities would lose 15 percent of their state funding, and school districts would not be able to get performance or technology grants, unless any new contracts signed before right-to-work takes effect include cost savings of at least 10 percent.
Republican state lawmakers say contracts that are good for several years are unprecedented and could hurt taxpayers.
Representative Al Pscholka said schools knew what they were getting into.
"There should be no surprise here. Folks knew we were looking at these contracts and there could be some ramifications to them." Pscholka said.
Wayne State University and the University of Michigan could both see cuts under the proposal.
Democrats say the schools broke no laws and should not be punished.
Tuition-free preschool applications for Federal and State programs are now available for families in Charlevoix, Emmet and Antrim counties.
In the past, parents would have to fill out several applications to different programs for their children.
In a collaborative effort with Head Start, Great Start Readiness and other tuition-free programs, the joint application allows parents to apply for all programs at the same time.
Marcia Campbell is the Program Manager of the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District.
"We collaborate together. Not all areas do collaborative applications. Some areas do Head Start applications and the Great Start Readiness applications separately. For Charlevoix-Emmet and northern Antrim, we've collaborated and condensed two applications into one. That way when parents apply, they're considered for all the tuition-free preschools." Campbell said.
Parents residing in those counties with children age three or four by November first are encouraged apply.
Application appointments are being scheduled throughout March and April.
Yesterday 23 Mt Pleasant fifth graders took a tour around the studios of CMU Public Broadcasting.
They played a round of Quiz Central with the TV crew, and they met with David Nicholas Amy Robinson to learn about radio news. We turned the recorder on the kids and asked them to talk about a news event in their lives.
They chose the upcoming Fancher fifth grade PineWood Derby.
What a bright, talkative group. In the end Amy and David learned all about the derby compliments of Mr Sponseller's ten-and-eleven year olds.
We decided to share this Audio post card with you.
Those comments came from fifth graders of Mr Sponseller's class at Fancher School in Mt Pleasant. We heard from: Robin B. , Jodi B. , Nole C. , Salma A. , Jocelyn S.
Daniella C., Justin G.. Tannor F., Jenessa J., Morgaine K., Hannah S., and Amber S.
The Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Education for a consolidation project.
Officials say the grant will cover the full cost of the project.
Dianne Litzenburger is the Director of Communication Services with the Charlevoix-Emmet ISD.
"We're getting quite a bit of it awarded through the 25-thousand-dollar grant, so this is great. We were going to do this project regardless because we believe in it so much and it will help all of our 11 out of 12 districts, to just have a more efficient business operations and eliminate a lot of the duplication of services that happens out there." Litzenburger said.
Litzenburger said the ultimate purpose of the grant is direct more time and money into their district's classrooms.
Central Michigan University's Child Development and Learning Lab has earned its accreditation for another five years.
Earning that accreditation, director of the Learning Lab Margaret Desormes said, is no easy feat.
She said it took a lot of preparation, teamwork and creativity to keep the recognition.
"We have a curriculum called creative curriculum that has a set of goals and objectives that we follow and there are Michigan standards for early childhood that we follow too and meet and exceed those and again that's important for our students in early childhood development to see." Desormes said.
Desormes said the lab does things a little differently and she said, the National Association for the Education of Young Children recognizes that it's working.
CMU Public Radio News reported last month on the expansion of a program called Pathways to Potential.
Launched last August, it is now operating in more schools in Flint, Saginaw, Pontiac and Detroit.
This week, the National Association of Social Workers is coming out in opposition to that expansion which is placing Department of Human Services case workers in schools to offer a variety of support services to students.
Maxine Thome with the national union that represents social workers said bringing in unlicenced staffers into schools is not the right place to be investing. She said they are not properly trained to help at-risk kids.
"At the same time school social workers are being cut from some districts, they're being laid off, hours are being cut down and the workforce is slowly eroding for school social workers." Thome said.
Sheryl Thompson with Pathways to Potential said, although the caseworkers are not licensed they are still able to enroll kids and parents in programs that offer services such as financial, food and medical assistance.
A new book uses monologues, written by Alma College students, to share the stories of female biblical characters, from a feminist perspective.
Some biblical stories have sexist and misogynistic overtones, said Kate Blanchard, a associate professor of religious studies and co-editor of the book, Lady Parts: Biblical Women and The Vagina Monologues.
She said because some of her students were disturbed at the treatment of women in some biblical stories, she created an assignment to help them cope. She said her students rewrote those stories from the point of view of the woman, essentially creating the new book.
One of her student's addressed how a rape victim had been portrayed in an old testament story.
"Bathsheba is a seductress, she somehow caused this to happen to herself, she made David invite her in and then she tempted him like Eve tempted Adam and ruined everything. Whereas in this monologue the woman wanted to work through some of her own issues with sexual trauma."
And essentially combat the common misconception that if a woman is provocative, like described in the story, she invited or deserved the rape.
The book, Blanchard said, allows her students to share their take on the stories of biblical women, while working through some their own experiences.
Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol have some harsh words for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The department has filed a formal complaint that names 35 school districts that have American Indian mascots.
The complaint was filed last week with the U.S. Department of Education and it could cost school districts federal education funds. Republican lawmakers like Representative Anthony Forlini say the complaint is an abuse of the department's authority.
"I think to file against our own school districts, you're with our state, with the federal government, just seems nuts." Forlini said.
Leslee Fritz is with the civil rights department. She said the department filed the complaint because research shows the nicknames and mascots hurt American Indian student performance.
"And so it is no longer a question, a subjective question, about what is offensive, but what is harmful." Fritz said.
That exchange was from a hearing about the department's budget. Republicans want the department to withdraw the complaint.
Less than 16 percent of Michigan students are proficient in science. That's according to results released Monday from the 2012 Michigan Educational Assessment Program.
But as Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher reports, state education officials are touting across-the-board improvements in other subjects.
The science scores are a big concern for the state Department of Education. But officials say the numbers don't tell the whole story. They say the standards for passing that subject are higher than others.
Standards for passing the MEAP have gotten tougher in every subject in recent years. But students in all grades are doing better in math, reading, and writing.
Joseph Martineau is with the Department of Education.
"We had hoped that we would see educators rising to the occasion, and it appears we are. We're pretty happy about that." Martineau said.
Martineau said there's still plenty of room for improvement, especially in science and math.
Students in grades three-through-nine take the standardized MEAP exam every year. It's meant to gauge how prepared they are for college and careers.
A literary honor has been given to an Algoma University professor.
Professor Michael DiSanto recently received the Adam Gillon Book Award in Conrad Studies for his book, Under Conrad's Eyes: The Novel as Criticism.
The book, DiSanto said, analyses Conrad's work as being conversations with his literary predecessors: Dickens, Carlyle and Elliot.
"I think he felt himself inheriting a tradition but also wanting to question that tradition, seeing himself revisiting the many great writers of the 19th century who made it possible for him to write and yet he wasn't altogether satisfied with what they had to say or how they went about saying it." DiSanto said.
DiSanto said Conrad used his writing to illuminate those who had influenced him.
Some of Conrad's most famous work includes: Almayer's Folly, An Outcast of the Islands, and Heart of Darkness.
A journey from central Michigan to the Galapagos Islands is putting Alma College on the map, and will soon draw worldwide attention to the school.
The excitement revolves around an Alma College professor, a robotic lizard, and famed documentary filmmaker Sir David Attenborough.
Let's start with the professor. Dave Clark has long had an interest in visual communications, especially when it comes to animals.
His PHD work focused on how a species of jumping spiders responds to visual stimuli.
"Jumping spiders respond to video images, and my colleague George Uetz and I worked on video image recognition in jumping spiders. And got a lot of experience working with visual communication in animals, and beginning to think about other ways to present more naturalistic stimuli to these animals." Clark said.
That led Clark to start working with lizards, and specifically, looking at how different species communicate with their own species, and with other lizards.
He said the Galapagos Islands are the perfect laboratory for his experiments.
"The Galapagos is a series of many islands, with each of them having their own unique species of lizard that lives on each of the islands. The lizards have basically evolved there in isolation. They have their unique, own unique kind of display that they do, called a push-up display or head bob display, where males will rove around their territory and use this visual display to keep other males out of their territory and to attract females." Clark said.
"It offers us a great opportunity to test lots of questions about the evolution of various display patterns, various adaptations to the habitats that they might live in, because they're so varied. And with my interest in visual communication, be able to test some questions about that." He said.
And that's where the robotic lizard comes in.
Clark needed a way to interact with the Galapagos lizards. And he needed to be able to interact with them in an identical way for each trial. A real lizard wouldn't do the trick. So he created a robot.
"With the robotics, you have the benefits of a 3D model that looks much more realistic to the animals than say, even a good quality video. Video is always going to be flat screen and two dimensional, and has significant benefits, but it's difficult to do in a field environment. Whereas robots are something you can take, and you can put directly into the animals' habitat, into their territory." He said.
And that's exactly what he did. Clark, along with his research collaborators John Rowe of Alma College and Joe Macedonia of Florida Southern College, programmed the robotic lizard to move and react like the real thing.
He then placed it in the field, and recorded how other lizards reacted, both if the robot was displaying the behavior of that particular lizard species, or a species from another one of the Galapagos Islands.
He said the robot has been used with two species of lizards so far.
"One species, which is very drab in its coloration, it's very gray looking, it looks like lava rock, it's not a real exciting lizard to look at, they're not really discriminators. They respond highly to anything you show them. If you mix up the head bob, if you mix that up with another species from another island, they don't care, they respond to it. That's not true of another species that we were studying, where the males are very flashy in their coloration." He said.
It was over the course of these experiments that our third character, Sir David Attenborough, enters the picture.
Attenborough is known worldwide because of his nature documentaries, the award winning "Planet Earth" and "Life" films among them.
He heard about Clark's work in the Galapagos, and wanted to feature it in his latest film, "Galapagos 3D" That lead to a long, hot day of filming with Attenbourough.
"It was a thrill. And I say it was really sort of the thrill of a lifetime, for me to be able to work directly with him. Very nice gentleman, and very knowledgeable. He knows a lot about biology, and is truly a naturalist." He said.
It took almost ten hours of filming to get a two-minute clip that will be used in Galapagos 3D.
The documentary is already out in Great Britain. It will be coming to I-MAX theatres, and possibly Nat-Geo television in the United States.
With Martin Luther King day a week away, one community is using a unique approach to help residents and honor Dr. King.
The Great Lakes Bay region will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. by collecting unwanted cell phones.
The phones will be sold for recycling and the money raised will benefit the Underground Railroad Inc. It's a nonprofit that serves victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
J.J. Boehm is a spokesperson for Saginaw Valley State University, one of the universities that's collecting cell phones.
He said since becoming a regional collaboration in 2010, the Great Lakes Bay region has always incorporated a service component into its annual MLK Celebration.
"The Underground Railroad by collecting cell phones can then turn those in to a recycling program and will receive a reimbursement for each phone that they turn in and that will help their organization." Boehm said.
Boehm said drop off sites are at the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations.
He said Chemical Bank will also collect phones at its branch locations in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties.
Michigan ranks sixth in the nation for education policy in a report released Monday by a controversial national advocacy group.
The group Students First said Michigan gets high marks for legislation pushed by state Republicans in recent years. They're applauding measures creating a state-run district for struggling schools, and making it tougher for teachers to get and retain tenure.
Some state school advocacy groups are bashing the report. Doug Pratt of the Michigan Education Association said it downplays many serious problems facing schools in the state.
"I'm not sure what measurements they're using to come up with this, but it sure isn't anything that the educators of the state believe in." Pratt said.
Students First was founded by controversial former Washington D-C schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.
The group based the results on state policies, and did not factor in student test scores.
State legislative leaders said a push to overhaul public education will be a top priority in the new year.
Sponsors said they plan to reintroduce bills that stalled in the lame duck session.
The bills sought to increase school choice by offering things like corporation-sponsored schools and more online classes. They would have also expanded a state-run district meant to turn around schools with low test scores.
Some Republicans have joined Democrats in opposing the measures.
Republican state Representative Lisa Lyons said many of those concerns have been addressed.
"We need to make sure that our members are able to be education on what the bill is, now that it's been changed, and get back to their communities." Rep. Lyones said.
The latest version of the legislation to expand the state-run district still met a fatal level of resistance in the closing days of the legislative session.
School superintendents in Genesee and Lapeer counties have shuttered their schools Thursday and Friday, over swirling rumors tied to last week's school shooting in Connecticut, threats of violence made locally and concern among students about the end of the Mayan calendar on Friday.
"It is clear that last Friday changed all of us. As educators, we acknowledge, and we believe our communities would agree, that schools are at the center of concern right now. As school district Superintendents, we have been in constant communication with one another and there are too many unique factors that have influenced our unanimous decision to cancel school and all school activities for Thursday, December 20 and Friday, December 21."
"Given the recent events in Connecticut, there have been numerous rumors circulating in our district, and in neighboring districts, about potential threats of violence against students. Additionally, rumors connected to the Mayan calendar predicted end of the world on Friday have also surfaced. These rumors of violence have been thoroughly investigated and determined to be false. There have been no credible threats made against any of our students. However, these rumors have been a serious distraction for students, teachers, administrators, and parents.
Therefore, given the significant disruption to the teaching and learning process, I have decided, along with my fellow superintendents of Lapeer County, to cancel school for both Thursday, December 20th, and Friday, December 21st. This includes all after school extracurricular events, programs and athletic contests and practices. Although we in the county are reluctant to cancel school because the rumors are unsubstantiated, we feel it is the most appropriate decision given the gravity of recent events and our present circumstances.
On behalf of the Board of Education, teachers, administrators, and support personnel, I wish each of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We look forward to working with your children when school resumes on Monday, January 7th. Have a wonderful and enjoyable break!!"
Other Lapeer County schools made released similar statements this evening. For statements from other districts, visit their website via this directory: http://www.lcisd.k12.mi.us/las.htm
The most trendy restaurants always boast their local fruit and vegetable selections and now that local schools are doing it, their line might also be out the door.
The USDA approved a 100 thousand dollar grants for a Farm to School program, where farm fresh foods go straight to the lunchroom.
This grant funding seems to benefit everyone involved.
Diane Connors is the senior policy specialist in food and farming with the Michigan Land Use Institute.
She said farmers will get money for new equipment, schools will get high demand vegetables and kids will get the nutrition they need to focus.
Connors said, there is one other perk.
"We've had a positive response from the food service directors about the impact this has had. The are two Food Corp members in six school buildings and now we're going to be able to get two additional people working so we're going to be able to double that." Said Connors.
Connors said the farmers she's spoken with say they'll also be doing some hiring to keep up with the greater demand.
State lawmakers are mulling over a number of bills that would overhaul public education in Michigan. One measure would expand a new state-run district meant to turn-around schools with test scores in the bottom five-percent.
The idea has many public school officials pitted against each other.
This tenth grade civics class at Denby High School in Detroit is researching Congressional powers using online sites like YouTube. For most of these students, it's their second year at Denby.
But something is very different about their school this year. Last year, it was one of the lowest-performing schools in the Detroit Public Schools system. Now, it's one of 15 Detroit schools the state oversees through its Education Achievement Authority.
"That's an 11th grade class, and they are going through the application process for college." Wilbourn said.
KC Wilbourn has been the principal at Denby for four years. She said the EAA has meant more autonomy for her and other school administrators. For example, she said it used to take months to get funding approved for programs like professional development. Sometimes she said it wouldn't happen at all.
"This year, when we want something, if we had the funds in the budget, we're able to get it paid for in less than 30 days. In some instances I've seen where it has occurred within 48 hours which is great when you working with vendors who are leery about doing business in Detroit." She said.
Some parents of students in EAA schools say their kids are more engaged, teachers are more involved, and the school is safer. That's why supporters of the EAA want Michigan lawmakers to expand the district statewide.
But some opponents of the legislation paint a very different picture of what's happening in those schools. Steve Norton is with the group Michigan Parents for Schools.
"Most of the people that I'm talking to had hopes that there would be some sort of wonderful change. And so far, they're not only disappointed in what's happening, but they're also realizing that they've lost any kind of voice in what does happen at their schools." Norton said.
Norton said parents don't have a local elected school board to take concerns to. Instead, the schools are governed by state political appointees. Norton said it's a recipe for disaster.
It's hard to know who to believe. That's because neither side has any data to back up their claims. The reason: The Education Achievement Authority has only been operating for three months.
Many opponents say it should not be expanded until it's proven to work. They say there's too much at stake to experiment with students.
State Board of Education President John Austin also opposes the legislation. But he said it's not because there's anything wrong with the concept of the EAA.
"We need a state turnaround district that works. But it can't be loaded up with new school creation mechanisms, super-authorizing ability anywhere in the state to create new charters apart from its mission of turning around failing schools."
He's talking about language in the bills that would require districts to lease or sell school buildings to the state. Under the measure, the EAA would have the option to directly run the schools, create charter schools, or they could bring in private education companies to run them.
Austin said that would be a direct attack on Michigan's public school system. He said bill supporters in the legislature haven't been willing to add any quality controls on new schools or charters.
"We don't need more new bad schools, and we don't need more new bad schools that take money away from our current schools and hurt their ability to perform."
Critics of the plan also want more details about how schools can leave the EAA. They say the legislation doesn't include specifics about how the schools will be evaluated.
Governor Rick Snyder and state legislative leaders say the measure is a priority before the end of the year. They say students, parents, and schools need as much time as possible to prepare for any changes before next fall.
Republican state lawmakers are not backing down from plans to pass major changes in education by the end of the year.
That's despite concerns from both sides of the aisle.
The measures seek to increase school choice and expand a state-run district for schools with low test scores.
Opponents say the legislation leaves communities no control over their schools. Among other things, they're worried about a requirement that districts lease or sell school buildings to the state-run district. They say legislative leaders should hold off on the bills until next year.
House Education Committee Chair Lisa Lyons said there's no reason the two sides can't come together before then.
"I will continue to look into their concerns. We've been working with them closely on, especially the building issue and things like that." Lyons said.http://www.mprn.org
Lyons said schools, students, and parents need as much time as possible to prepare for any changes.
Opponents of bills to reform the state's education system are urging lawmakers to hold off until next year. A group of public school officials Monday gathered at the state Capitol to make their case.
One of the measures would expand a newly-formed state-run district that oversees some of Michigan's poorest performing schools. Right now, it's made up of 15 schools in Detroit. Under the bill, it could include schools all over the state.
Another bill looks to increase school choice by providing new types of schools. They would include corporation-run schools and more online options.
William Mayes is with the Michigan Association of School Administrators. He said the bills are flawed and should not be rushed through before the end of the year.
"We're not afraid to change, but we want it to be in a thoughtful and a very positive way."
Supporters of the measures say they are the best way to drive improvements in education.
Governor Rick Snyder said the legislation is a priority before the end of the year.
Schools may not be getting a gold star but the ones that outperform state expectations are being recognized in a different way.
Schools in rural and urban areas that deal with challenges in unique ways are being recognized on the "Beating the Odds" list put out by the Michigan Department of Education.
This year 58 new schools were recognized. One of them was Gladwin Elementary.
Principal Marcene Damitz said making the list keeps teachers motivated.
"You know we're really proud of the fact that we're listed. We've received notices from them stating that we were there. Our staff has worked really hard over the last few years to bring our students achievement up that it's nice to be recognized." Damitz said.
Damitz said the school made the list by uniforming its curriculum, and ensuring students are truly understanding the material.
She said she'll have a chance to share the programs details throughout the next year at state and local education events.
The 2011 high school graduating class and the first under Michigan's Merit Curriculum, saw mixed results in performance.
The Michigan Merit Curriculum implemented more rigorous high school graduation requirements; including four years of math and two years of foreign language.
Sue Dynarski is with the University of Michigan and worked with the Michigan Consortium on Educational Research on the evaluation. She said the curriculum is designed to make students eligible for admission to a four year college.
"And the idea is that you don't want a young person be cutting off options for themselves when they're in their freshman or sophomore year of high school. So I think the theory behind it is sound but like any new policy you've got to get the kinks out."
The "kinks" include higher dropout rates for lower achieving students under the new standards.
House Representative Joel Johnson said public schools should offer those kids other options.
"Allow students with permission of their parents and administrators to replace some of those high level, college prep classes, that Michigan Merit Curriculum calls for, with a vocational class."
Representative Johnson said he supports vocational schools as another path toward earning a diploma.
College is a major, and often times difficult, milestone in many people's lives. With that idea in mind, the state has awarded some state universities with grant money, targeted at improving college success for a specific group of students.
Saginaw Valley State University has received a multi-year grant from the state to aid former foster children at the university.
Vanessa Brooks Herd is in the department of social work at the university...
"We have a number of students here at the university who are identified as having been in the foster care system and we want to ensure their success. Being in college now presents a number of challenges on many levels and without a safety net or social support, the students would not be successful."
The grant totals more than 310 thousand dollars. They'll provide life skills training to foster youth--things like managing relationships, money and time.
Herd said the staff is required to be available on call after hours...
"We will be there at 10:00 on a Friday night or 11:00 on a Saturday morning if they need some support."
Herd said the program will also recruit student volunteers to serve as mentors.
Central Michigan University and Michigan State University have established an academic partnership. The schools will be teaming up to conduct research at a planned research facility, called the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams in East Lansing.
Three CMU faculty members have been chosen to conduct research with students at MSU.
Experts say FRIB will be the premier nuclear physics laboratory in the world. It's expected to be completed by 2019.
Research at the lab will promote better understanding of the diagnosis and cure of diseases, advance homeland security efforts through radiation and help uncover the origin of matter.
Dr. Alan Jackson is a professor of physics at CMU.
"We hired these people to be CMU faculty. We are not hiring people to essentially be MSU employees. They have labs here in the Dow Science Building at CMU. They are, each of them, working on types of experiments that will hopefully be ran someday at the FRIB facility."
Officials say the faculty members will supervise doctoral students at MSU, while still working with students at CMU.
Midland was recently honored for being one of the 100 best communities in the nation for youth.
This is the fifth time the community has won the award.
Consuelo McAboy visited the area to learn what makes Midland a great community for young people.
"United States population is approximately 310 million people. Okay so you guys let's put that into perspective..."
Cheering for a fellow student, engaging in deep conversation and enjoying each moment of class, those are the sounds of Monique Albright's sociology class at Midland High school.
Albright has been teaching there for 16 years. She said the thing the school does the most is...
"...we encourage, encourage, encourage. We also encourage that it's not just four year degrees. It is go to technical school, go to cosmetology school, you need to go beyond high school. There are things out there for you and education is going to be key to the success in your life."
The graduation rate for Midland High School is around 90 percent, well above the national average of 72%.
Amy Hutchinson is the Assistant Principal. She said the school has programs in place to curb dropout rates.
"There are lots of reasons why students don't stay in school. A lot of it has to do with home, a lot of it has to do with attendance so those are areas of intervention as well. We monitor attendance closely. We work with our court system and our probation officers and our youth intervention specialist as partners to help these kids get through."
The school has created specific career pathways to encourage students to continue learning after they receive their diploma.
Walking through the halls of Midland high school, I passed a number of students, all involved in different clubs, organizations and seeking different career paths.
"There's a wide variety of things you can do from drama club to sports to programming club, and basically like there's a thing for everybody here."
"There's a big sense of community here and my group of friends in my class especially is really close knit and another thing that I like is it's kind of cool to be smart."
The "cool to be smart" idea that senior, Gracie Potter described, is why the school offers the IB diploma program.
It's a two year program that is recognized around the world for its challenging and rigorous curriculum.
But, providing an intriguing community for youth goes beyond the high school walls.
The community of Midland has a number of community outreach programs, designed especially for kids.
Jennifer Heronema is the C.E.O of the Legacy Center for Community Success.
The foundation works with youth to combat the challenges they face.
"We also have a youth development component that looks at some of the challenges youth face. Adolescents don't think like us adults and that's true because their brains aren't as far along as ours. They may be willing as they try to deal with the challenges of growing up and they take risks. What we're talking about is the risk of doing drugs or turning to alcohol or having sex at a very young age and violent behavior and those things that we're trying to look at..."
Heronema said the city also offers the Youth Action council and Community Center, providing kids with more outside opportunities.
Kevin Heye is the Executive Director for the Community Center. He said the facility is family focused.
"There's something for everyone whether it's just dropping in for the day for a family getaway or more of a recreational program or even some of our competitive programs that we offer too."
Heye said Midland's success throughout the years is the result of community collaboration and the unique leadership opportunities the city offers to its youth.
The Charlevoix-Emmet County Intermediate School District coordinates an after-school program for at-risk students in 11 schools called the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The program, funded through a federal grant, raises students' attendance as well as their grades and MEAP scores. But the two grants the ISD has earned are set to expire over the next two years.
Caiden Watkins and his friends, twins Michael and Matthew Rafter are second graders at Boyne City Elementary School. They have a pretty typical reaction to homework.
"Uh, boring. Yeah, boring."
And like a lot of second graders, they all have the same favorite subject: gym. Here's Caden.
"The reason I like gym is because I love basketball."
Michael also said he likes gym and basketball.
"But if it's free day, I would pick basketball."
But the difference between the gym class Michael and Caiden are talking about and the gym class most children attend is that their class takes place after school.
The boys are part of an after-school program called the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The program is funded by grant through the federal Department of Education, which the Charlevoix-Emmet County Intermediate School District won, twice. First, the district was awarded the grant in 2008, then more schools were funded through the same grant won in 2009.
Since then, 11 schools across the two counties have been able to offer the program to academically and economically disadvantaged students.
Christy Cloud-Webb is the ISD coordinator for the 21st Century Program. She oversees all 11 schools. She said one goal of the program is to integrate children's learning with their community.
"The farmers made local peanut butter. Some of the photographers came in and showed the process of taking the pictures and editing those. Some of the artisans have come in and shown how they started from a beginning white board and created their beautiful masterpieces that they have. It allows the kids to see not only what's going on what they're doing at school and how it relates to what's outside in the real world."
Ahni Elzinga is a third grader at Boyne elementary.
"Our teacher is Mrs. Hall and she makes food and we get to decorate it. She brings in strawberries and we get to cover it in chocolate and we make pizza bagels."
Milton Grubaugh, a fourth grader, says his favorite part of the program is getting his homework finished right after school.
"I don't think I would have as much fun as if I did if I just went home after school."
The program is more than a daycare, though, says Cloud-Webb. As part of the grant program, the ISD must have its success assessed by an outside evaluator. That evaluator has found that the grades and MEAP scores of at-risk students who participate in the program have risen. Too, attendance rates are higher, in some schools by half, for students who attend the program versus at-risk students who don't.
Mark Fralick, a retired teacher who taught eighth grade history for 30 years in Petoskey, coordinates the Boyne elementary program. He calls his position the perfect "grandpa job."
"I just happen to have some pictures, yes I have four. Three grandsons and a granddaughter. Because my background was with eight graders, having grandchildren was certainly a good thing in order to take this job because as a grandparent and as a site coordinator you have to be able to get down on the floor with the kids. And you have to be able to have fun with the kids and that means you have to kind of let go some of those barriers of, ok, should I get down there should I laugh, should I play, and with grandkids you do it, and with elementary students you do it. I think it creates a pretty good bond."
For Michael, one of the second graders, having that extra time with his homework and teachers is helpful, too.
"If I don't know a words on that book, then she could say it and then I could know."
His friend Caiden agrees.
"I kind of sometimes like my teacher to read books because if you don't know a book, it's not a good fit."
Matthew Rafter, Michael's twin brother, explains this further.
"If it's not a good fit, you can not get to be a better reader."
But because the grant has only a five-year lifespan, the programs are in danger of being cut. Cloud-Webb, the district's program coordinator, expects the application process to take up to six weeks. The Charlevoix-Emmet County ISD will start its grant application process in early 2013.
The Grand Opening was held friday on the building that will house CMU's new School of Medicine.
The 24-million dollar building will house not only advanced laboratories, and high tech classrooms and clinics, it will also house part of CMU's hopes for the future. The university is positioning itself as part of the solution to a pending doctor shortage in Michigan.
CMU President George Ross said, "Critical illnesses that are going untreated across middle and northern Michigan, across the state. That's why a college of medicine. But also because of the mission of our University; serving the needs of our community and of our state."
The new school of medicine building came with a 24-million dollar price tag. Private donations are still being raised. CMU plans to welcome its inaugural class next summer.
Free access to information and knowledge, that's what the Michigan E-library has provided to residents for two decades.
The service will celebrate its 20 year anniversary this upcoming month.
Businesses, schools, and individuals rely on the Michigan E-libary or MEL to connect them with databases that provide things like: millions of full-text articles, digital images, business and job information, and homework helpers.
Using MEL saves residents thousands of dollars in subscription fees.
The service is used and promoted by all libraries in the state.
Donna Alward is the library director for Houghton Lake.
"With the economy so bad, that is a great service and it's free of charge so anyone looking for information and that can be for improving job skills, it can be hobby related, education oriented, just whatever your need is for information you can get it free."
The E-Library is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A bill requiring public schools in Michigan to make time to recite the Pledge of Allegiance is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder's desk.
The state Senate just approved a final version of the measure. Another bill in the package mandates all public school classrooms have an American flag on display. State Senator Roger Kahn sponsored the legislation. He says he wished it could have taken higher priority for the Legislature this year.
"It took longer than I wanted it to take. It ran into summer recesses. I didn't want it to take a back-burner, but it ended up taking a back-burner."
But a few Democrats say the bills should have never moved at all. They say the measures are a distraction from more important things. They also say it could be a burden for some schools. The VFW of Michigan said it'll encourage local posts to donate flags to schools.
Law enforcement leaders are switching it up this week, instead of fighting crime they're working to prevent it. They're visiting pre-schools and reading to children, highlighting the importance of high-quality early education programs.
This week began the seven city tour of Fight Crime Invest in Kids campaign. The tour started in Petoskey.
A new report released by the organization, Fight Crime, Invest in Kids Michigan, shows that high-quality early education programs prevent crime and lower incarceration costs.
According to the report, Michigan taxpayers are spending a little over $2 billion a year to incarcerate prisoners and about $153 million on early care and education for young children.
Kathy Pelleran is the state director of Fight Crime Invest in Kids. She said the report is entitled Quality Matters.
"In that report what we do is we outline that not only is early childhood care and education important to have kids get the quality start in life. But high-quality early care and education is the key to reducing future crime in Michigan. We're advocating for these quality programs that are provided with publicly funded investments."
Other cities on the tour include Traverse City, Cadillac, Sault Ste. Marie, Alpena, Cheboygan and Saginaw.
For the first time in years, there's a change this year in a staple to students' school day. School lunches in Michigan are getting an overhaul aimed at making them healthier.
Students at Farwell High school fill the cafeteria every school day around noon. Love them or hate 'em, school lunches are an integral part of the school day.
Ryan Simmons is a student at Farwell High school.
"This is pizza and they require you to get fruit, and I get the soup on the side."
Simmons said he likes the required fruit that comes with the meals. He doesn't like the smaller portions, and he said selections of certain foods have gone down.
"School lunches it seems have always proved the adage that you can't please all the people all the time."
Howard Leikert is the supervisor for the School Nutrition Program for the Michigan Department of Education.
School lunch for a long time to a good degree has taken unfair amount of blame to the child obesity issue.
Leikert said, this marks the second year of Michigan participating in what's called the community eligibility option.
The program allows qualifying schools to serve all students free breakfast and lunch, regardless of income. The criteria is set by the USDA. The program has no effect on what students bring to school for cold lunch.
Jacob Sullivan is the business manager at Farwell schools.
He said since the program was launched, participation in the hot lunch program has gone up.
"The kids that were kinda borderline as a reduced now pay nothing. That next section of students that may not qualify for free and reduced but are very close, now they're benefiting by not having to pay for lunch as well. In turn the district because of that increase participation we brought in more revenue than what we were bringing in with charging for lunches."
According to the Michigan Department of Education schools are eligible to be reimbursed up to 6 cents for each lunch served. This helps offset the additional costs of fruits and vegetables.
Dee Yarger is the principal for Farwell High school.
"It's fantastic for our students to be able to get free lunch, free breakfast and if they do the after school program they can also qualify for free dinner."
Yarger said students may feel their choices have gone down but, she said, it's the unhealthy choices, like french fries, that are offered less often.
Leikert said the community eligibility option is part of the healthy hunger free kids act that President Obama signed in 2010. This year the national school lunch program is focused on making meals more nutritious.
"A significant increase in the portions and variety of fruits and vegetables as well as a lot more whole grain bread and pasta products served. It's the first major changes in several years to the national school lunch program meal pattern. An it's all designed to address the dual issues of childhood obesity and low food security for students."
Leikert said about 400 schools and nearly 200 thousand students are being represented by the community eligibility option.
He said so far the program has been successful. Four new states were added to the program this year. Next year another four states will be added. In 2014, the program will be nationwide.
"We hope that many school districts will introduce students to new fruits and vegetables that maybe they haven't tried before. Especially at the lower grades of students can get used to those meals at a young age as they go thru life hopefully they'll make healthier choices throughout their life."
As high school dropout rates continue to rise across the nation, one Northern Michigan city has received national recognition for addressing the concern and promoting a safe environment for its youth.
America's Promise Alliance is honoring Midland as one of the 100 best communities in the nation for youth.
The alliance is made up of non profits, businesses, communities, educators and policy makers.
The annual 100 best competition aims to end the dropout crisis and prepare students for the workplace.
Chris Epps is the senior director of communications for the alliance.
"We select our communities based on working the cross sectors, their community collaboration, how they work together to deliver what we call the 5 promises and what they're doing to decrease their dropout rate."
The five promises he's referring to are safe places, caring adults, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to help others.
Jennifer Heronema is the C.E.O of the legacy center for community success, a foundation in the Midland area.
"What we're trying to do is come together as a community, support our kids, help point them in the right direction, give them choices, give them programs, that help them really have better outcomes overall."
Heronema said this is Midland's fifth year winning the award. The city will receive access to community development resources through the alliance and a $2,500 grant.
The return of children to classrooms Tuesday coincided with Governor Rick Snyder approving some big changes to how teachers will save for retirement.
Supporters say the overhaul will put Michigan in the forefront of efforts to get teacher pension costs under control. But teachers unions say a lot of the projections about deficits in the system are exaggerated. They say that's an excuse to enact changes that will cost school employees a lot of money. They've filed a lawsuit to block the law.
Governor Snyder said he's not surprised by the litigation, but the new plan was carefully crafted to comply with the law and with teachers' contracts.
"So I think we'll be fine from the judicial point of view, although I would expect a number of challenges that will go through the normal process."
The governor also said the state will file a legal challenge to a court ruling that struck down a plan to withhold a portion of school employees' paychecks to pay for retirement health care.
Teachers unions are already in court trying to block legislation to be signed into law Tuesday by Governor Rick Snyder. It will change how public school employees save for retirement and pay for health coverage after they're done working.
The lawsuit was filed Friday. Teachers unions say the new plan breaks contracts, and they want a judge in Lansing to hold up the new law while their legal challenge plays out.
Governor Snyder said this plan is necessary to whittle down unfunded liabilities adding up to billions of dollars, ensure teachers will get their retirement benefits, and that taxpayers won't be forced to shoulder a bailout years down the road.
"It's really making us much more fiscally responsible for the short and the long term."
If the law is upheld, school employees will have to pay more for their retirement benefits, and new hires will no longer get retirement health coverage. They will get savings accounts that will help buy that coverage after they are done working,
A handful of teachers from central Michigan will be heading back to their classrooms this fall with new ideas for teaching engineering to students. This thanks to a national grant and some expertise from Central Michigan University.
The teachers come from Alma, Bay City, Midland and Saginaw. They were part of a collaboration with CMU to improve their knowledge level and teaching skills in the area of Engineering.
The project was funded through a $450-thousand dollar grant from the National Science Foundation.
"So this is a National Science Foundation grant and it's a research experiences for teachers. The project allows us to bring high school teachers from rural Michigan and do research with them with the hopes that they will translate their knowledge and experiences they got here to their classrooms."
Dr. Kaya said new state science standards for high schools are demanding more applied science in the curriculum, and he said, that means engineering.
The NSF grant runs for three years. Dr. Kaya said he hopes that this year's cohort of teachers returns for the full run of the project.
Kettering University has been named "Best Midwestern College" for the ninth year in a row.
Kettering is one of the 153 institutions to receive the designation in the Princeton Review's 2013 Best colleges: Region by Region.
Colleges and Universities were selected based on their academic programs.
Kettering is known for its STEM programs, that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Pat Mroczek is the Public Relations Officer for Kettering University...
"This particular designation is determined by students, we've been on this select list each year since 2004 thanks to our students. So any designation related to being best midwestern college is thanks to our students."
Mroczek said Kettering is what she calls a "work readiness university." She said the main goal is to ensure that students have a job at the end of their college career.
Mroczek said students at Kettering have been excited to know that theirs opinions quote, "really do matter and can make a difference."
A local school district is one of many AmeriCorps programs in Michigan to receive recent grant funding.
The Corporation of National and Community Service awarded Michigan AmeriCorps programs over six-million dollars. The funding will create over one-thousand new positions.
The Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District will place 10 new AmeriCorps members in local K through 5 schools with funding from the grant.
Each member will teach around 15 students who are below the average reading level.
Dennis Halverson is the Program Director for the AmeriCorps program in the school district.
"A bunch of things are tied to reading and again that's why we have chosen as the Intermediate school district to put this program into place for members to hope we can make an impact on young people's lives."
Halverson said the members are required to participate in volunteer programs along with their duties to the students.
Michigan will change how it grades schools and teachers when students return to classrooms this fall. The state Department of Education has a waiver from federal rules that will let Michigan try some new things.
State schools superintendant Michael Flanagan said some aspects of the federal No Child Left Behind Act were too punitive. Schools that don't show enough progress will still face consequences, such as a takeover by a charter school. But Flanagan said schools and teachers will get a better shot at reaching goals set in turnaround plans.
He said teachers will be expected to show a year of student progress, regardless of where a student starts out.
"That's a fair system. That's one that teachers can own up to. They've been beat up a lot under the old system and this changes that."
Flanagan said the new system will also focus more on what successful schools are up to. He said that helps build community support for public education, and allows those schools to serve as examples to others.
Mid Michigan Community College is ready to launch an 18-million dollar building project. The college is based in Harrison. It's adding a new academic building in Mt Pleasant.
The college has had the Academic and Business Studies facility in the planning stages for four-years. Recently, the state passed an 8.85-million dollars appropriations to help fund the project.
The building will help consolidate Mid's Mt Pleasant operations into one geographic area. A move that college president Carol Churchill said will serve students well.
"Well, during the times of really high unemployment, we were bursting at the seams on both campuses. We do tend to have a very robust enrollment down in Mt Pleasant. Well over half of our students are attending at that location."
Churchill said in one ten-year period, Mid saw an enrollment increase of 122%
She said the state appropriation will cover half of the construction costs for the new building. The college will fund the other half.
Groundbreaking is expected next March with expected completion in the fall of 2014.
The Rape Aggression Defense, or RAD program at Ferris State University has trained hundreds of women since its inception in 1999. Recently RAD was awarded a grant for $7,200.
The grant money for the RAD program came from the Ferris Foundation. It's earmarked to purchase new equipment.
The program teaches, what supporters say are realistic self-defense tactics and techniques.
Sergeant James Wing is with the Ferris police department and a instructor in the program. He said the program gives women confidence to defend themselves.
It's a wonderful feeling knowing you can contribute and help make the community safer and these women safer. Knowing that you made a difference and kept them from being a victim or going through some traumatic event. That's really rewarding and empowering feeling for us to do that as police officers.
The program is a 12-hour course and is offered free to anyone in the area. The next class begins September 29.
A workgroup that's supposed to come up with a plan to overhaul how Michigan pays for schools held a public hearing Tuesday. The state's top schools official asked the group to also overhaul how the state delivers education services to students.
Mike Flanagan is the state superintendent of public instruction. He says Michigan needs to expand public education to reach younger children and students who need to keep learning after high school.
"Early childhood and early college are two opportunities to kind of re-think the way we do this."
Flanagan said that also means re-thinking what a school is.
"Are we building Taj Majal high schools that we're never going to be able to fill in 20 years, and 20 years will be here before we know it. So, there are tremendous implications here and I see them as opportunities."
Flanagan said the opportunities include more cyber-learning. Governor Rick Snyder said he wants a school funding system that's based less on per-pupil grants and more on rewarding proficiency.
Two Michigan universities, four-hundred-30 miles apart, are partnering to bring new opportunities to physical therapy students.
Central Michigan University and Michigan Technological University are partnering to bring physical therapy students to the U.P..
The program uses lectures from CMU and clinical studies at Michigan Tech.
Herm Triezenberg is the director of the Doctoral of Physical Therapy program at CMU.
"The partnership was developed to meet a need for physical therapists in the Upper Peninsula. We saw this as a good way to have more students from the Upper Peninsula have access to a program that's in their general geographic area, and be trained in that area."
Triezenberg said the students will be admitted in May of 2014, as CMU students. A group of 12 will be housed at Michigan Tech's campus.
Michigan Tech is preparing facilities now for the students and CMU is looking to hire new staff for both campuses.
An overhaul of Michigan's school funding system is in the works. Governor Rick Snyder wants to include school funding reform in his budget proposal next year.
Governor Snyder's outline of the project's mission includes creating a system that gives students more opportunities for online learning, college courses and taking specialty classes offered by other districts. He also called for a system that better rewards performance, and not just attendance.
The governor asked Lansing attorney Richard McLellan to lead the project. McLellan said the current per-pupil funding system was created in 1979 and is overdue for a shakeup.
"People are demanding more options than they did in '79."
McLellan said private tuition school vouchers will not be one of those options, that's not allowed by the Michigan Constitution.
School funding has been a topic of controversy during the first year and a half of the Snyder administration, especially the governor's plan to use the School Aid Fund to pay for universities and community colleges.
CMU is getting a spring cleaning in the summer. Custodial workers buckle down to clean the twenty-two residence halls by August.
Kaitlyn Camilleri met up with a couple of the workers, to see what it takes to clean up a university.
New and old students will enter into their nice clean dorms in the fall. They won't be thinking about what it took to keep those dorms clean.
Donna Haggart, a custodian in Celani Hall at Central Michigan University knows exactly what it takes.
"We have 1672 rooms, and 2033 bathrooms campus wide, just in the resident halls, so it takes quite a while to get everything prepped from when the students move out, cleaned up and sanitized good enough for the groups to start to come in."
Donna, and a group of three temps: Leann, Denise, and Kim; were prepping for a new group to come in. With the four of them, it takes about 8 hours for one floor to get done.
"Well our last group that left was special Olympics and we had to go back through the rooms for the second time this summer and re-sanitize and clean; mop and sweep and all that, get the rooms ready for the next group coming in."
Donna has worked at Central for almost thirty years.
The interaction with the students I'd say, is probably the best part. And in the summer, I love working with the temps. We get a good group of people who come in and help us out. Without them we wouldn't be able to get it all done.
One of the temps, Leann, is on her sixth summer here.
We clean the rooms, we do the windows set up the beddings, mop the floors, wax the floors get them ready for the school year.
A lot goes into getting the university ready for students to come in. Whether they are new students, old students, or a visiting group; they can count on these woman to have their room clean, and the university prepped
Ferris State University's Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia is receiving worldwide attention.
Australian academics visited the museum during an excursion to the United States after learning about the facility online.
The instructors and students are using the Big Rapids' museum as a model to build a museum of their own featuring racist objects that target Aboriginal people.
A professor in indigenous studies said, the Jim Crow Museum shows similarities between the oppression of African Americans in the United States and indigenous people in Australia.
Sandy Gholston is the social media manager at Ferris State University.
It feels great to impact another country through the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia because our mission is to educate people here and whether it's here or locally or people from another country the fact that we can do that and reach out to another country and reach out back to us. Really shows the kind of collaboration Ferris State University really takes pride in.
Gholston said the professors from Australia were awarded a research grant to analyze racial memorabilia and the oppression of indigenous people. They say the Jim Crow Museum and what it's teaching can apply to their research.
Students with special circumstances are getting a break from education costs from a grant awarded to Ferris State University.
The Ferris Youth Initiative is a scholarship and mentoring program for students who live on campus and are a former foster child or orphaned.
The grant for three hundred and ninety-seven thousand dollars was given by the Michigan Department of Human Services.
Sandy Gholston is the News Services and Social Media Manager for Ferris,
"The grant is going to help to not only fund some scholarships that we're going to make available to the students that would be coming through to this program, but it's also going to really help with what would be funding a life coach which is going to be very important to helping kind of oversee some things and really help facilitate things and make things easier for the students that are going to be coming through the program."
Gholston said the program has twelve students who are currently pursuing degrees. He said they will learn skill sets that will help them succeed in college and afterwards.
The life coach will be a full-time mentor in the program and will develop plans to teach these skill sets to the students.
Lake Superior State University has hired a new dean to lead a collaborative effort between the school and local business ventures.
LSSU has decided to link the colleges of Business and Engineering with its Economic Development Center.
David Finley is beginning his tenure as the new dean for the joint venture at the Sault Ste. Marie school...
"We're really excited about the linkage between our school of Business, Engineering and our product development center. We see the synergisms there allowing us to do some very unique economic development activities, really looking to grow student enrollment to participate in that as well as community involvement, and regional economic development involvement."
Finley said one of the key things that will help grow student enrollment is the new $12 million business accelerator building currently under construction.
The state House has approved one of the final pieces of the new state budget. It's a combined spending plan for K-through-12 schools, universities, and community colleges.
The measure did not pass without some heated debate.
The budget will require the University of Michigan to report annually on its embryonic stem cell research, and Michigan State University could lose out on money if it follows through on a plan to require every student to carry health insurance or buy it through MSU.
Schools, universities, and community colleges will qualify for funding boosts if they meet graduation targets and other performance standards.
"We have listened to our taxpayers, and they have said to us, spend our hard-earned dollars wisely." Said Republican Representative Earl Poleski.
"This budget smells funny. It actually reeks. Please vote no."
Democrats like Representative RashidaTliab complain the budget does not restore earlier cuts to schools, and its incentives do too little to help schools that are struggling.
Central Michigan University took time this Memorial Day weekend to honor veterans. CMU hosted a screening of The Welcome, a documentary that depicts the difficulties faced by service members returning home. The university also partnered with the Great Lakes Loons for a special celebration Monday honoring Michigan's veterans.
Steve Rellinger is Director of the Veteran's Resource Center at CMU. He said CMU has a worldwide presence, including locations on 22 bases and installations. And he said all of Michigan's public universities will be seeing a renewed focus on veterans.
Right now with the advent of the newest GI bill, which is Chapter 33 Post 911, we're going to see as academic institutions, a huge influx of students. We already have.
Rellinger said CMU also organized a statewide consortium to help Veterans navigate higher education. He said currently all 15 public universities and many community colleges are consortium members.
Central Michigan University honored former Governor John
Engler yesterday, putting his name on its Center for Charter Schools.
Legislation that created charter schools as an alternative
to existing public schools was signed in 1994 while Engler served as the
state's 46th governor.
Speaking at the dedication ceremony, he said that charters
came about after years of fighting for what he said was a educational and
philosophical debate centered on kids...
"It's an idea that
represents some of the, I think, strongest values we have as a society and as a
country.I think competition and
choice really do matter, and I think it's been very successful in our
private sector since the beginning of the country and I think it's important
and I think especiallyin times of
needing superior performance and with constrained resources to have those same
options in the public sector and I think when you look at Michigan today, it's
pretty remarkable to see Central Michigan University over fifty charters,
thirty thousand kids in schools chartered by this university."
Many speakers, including the former governor, talked about
the idea that the nearly two decades since the charter legislation and the
funding reforms created by the passage of Proposal A represent only a so-called
"We're really just
underway. We've got to have a nation where we educate our children, all of
them, they've got to be prepared to contribute, to be part of a twenty-first
century economy which is gonna be a knowledge economy, it's an information age
and we've got to make it work.As a
nation, we spend over $600 billion each year, and to the extent that
charter schools can help lift aspirations and give people hope, break the
cycle of poverty, we're doing a big important thing, and the idea that gets
the university, Central Michigan University,here in Mt Pleasant, in this rural area of the state was taking the lead
on what is one of the most urgent urban challenges that we have...not just urban
by the way, I mean, there's plenty of rural poverty out there to be found as
well, but it doesn't matter.Today, with
connectivity, we're all carrying our iPhones or iPads or we've got access to
technology, information when we need it on our time, well we can do that in
Delivering the keynote at the dedication ceremony, Jeanne
Allen, President of the Center for Education Reform, praised Engler and
former State Treasurer Doug Roberts for their reforms in education and school
funding, and as she stressed, ahead of their time...
"This is something
that people around the country still don't understand.At the time, there were people from the right
of Governor Engler saying, is he crazy?I though he was a local control guy. I thought he was a republican. And
yet what's he doing to our funding base?And yet what he and Doug Roberts did with school finance at that time
was brilliant! It took the sting out of moving money and prepared the state to
recognize and operate in an environment of choice and accountability.Because when money follows kids, accountability
follows adults. In 1999."
CMU was the first university in the country to issue
charters for schools, and today, it remains the single largest issuer of
Earlier this year, legislation was signed by Governor Rick
Snyder that lifts the cap on the number of charter schools in the state and
also paves the way for more cyber schools.
Pension changes to Michigan public school teachers that were intentioned to save schools money will actually cost more. This according to a spokesperson for the Coalition for Secure Retirement.
Spokesman Todd Tennis said Senate Bill 1040 will double out of pocket health care costs for people who are already retired from the school system.
For active school employees, he said, the bill will take a minimum of five percent more out of their pay with no increase in benefits.
"It also will have the impact of costing schools billions of extra dollars over the next 20 years to essential pay off the current system in a accelerated manner. The office of retirement services estimates that next years additional cost alone due to this change will be 400 million dollars to the school system and that's a huge hit."
Under the bill, school employees hired after January 1, 2013 would be enrolled in a defined contribution pension system, instead of the current defined benefit system.
The bill was passed by the senate and is awaiting a vote in the state house.
A state House committee goes to work this Monday on a plan that would force teachers and other school employees to pay more for their retirement benefits. Governor Rick Snyder and Republican leaders say that's necessary to ensure the long-term solvency of the retirement system.
There are a lot of details to work out, but the bottom line for public school employees is, one way or the other, they will pay more for retirement benefits and retirement health care.
Governor Rick Snyder said, overall, he supports the plan...
"Cause it's striking the right balance about taxpayer long-term liabilities and employees who have benefits...."
"What's going to happen next year? What more can they take from teachers next year?"
That's retired teacher Thom Houseman. He said Republican leaders at the state Capitol have targeted teachers time and time again to address budget troubles regardless of promises that have been made to school employees.
Renovations at Lake Superior State University's dining hall continue this week. The three-quarters of a million dollar project is supposed to be completed by mid-August, before the fall semester starts.
LSSU spokesman John Shibley said they have been using a big-top tent as their dining hall during the renovations.
"We do have a lot of summer camps that are going to be occurring between now and that time. So we've erected this 14 hundred square foot temporary dining tent. And it's going to accommodate several hundred diners at once. It's climate controlled. Its weather proof, and plus it gets people out for some fresh air while they're enjoying their meals."
He said the Quarterdeck Dining hall has been worked on for years, but feedback showed students wanted more.
The new improvements, Shibley said, allow students to dine next to the food preparation stations. He said the stations make it possible for the students to pick what food they want, when they want it, without having to go back into a main food line.
panel will decide Wednesday how much money the Legislature has to work
with as it wraps up the state budget. Early reports suggest the state may be in
for a windfall adding up to tens of millions of dollars.
revenue will be down next year because of last year's major business tax
rollback. Improving auto sales will generate more money for schools, and, for
the balance of this year, lawmakers will have a small surplus to work with.
state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said his preference would be to
put that money into savings, or pay down debts.
"I think we'd lose financial
accountability if as soon as we get some kind of a windfall- whether it's major
or minor, and then started spending the money."
Democrats say at least some of the new money should go to schools to help restore
money cut from K-12 education in recent years. Legislative leaders say they are
on track to meet a June first target for wrapping up the budget.
Rick Snyder has approved legislation to allow more families to sign up for
cyber-schools. A new law will also make it easier for students to start their
college careers in high school.
governor says students will save money and could shave as much as a year off
their time in college by taking college classes that can also be credited
toward their high school graduation. The governor says cyber-schools will also
provide needed flexibility to students and their families.
concept of cyber-schools is critically important when you look at the future."
The Michigan Association of
Public School Academies says there are 10 thousand students on waiting lists to
get into one of the state's two cyber-schools. The new law limits cyber-school
attendance to no more than two percent of the school-age population of
Critics said cyber-schools are still
largely untested and students will pay the price if online academies don't live
up to expectations.
Some state lawmakers want to give returning veterans a break on tuition at public universities and community colleges if they settle in Michigan.
State Representative Holly Hughes said a tuition break is one way Michigan can help returning veterans as the country winds down operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"And I think we should just, when they come home, welcome them home and waive the residency requirement whether they are going to a community college or a university."Hughes says that would also encourage more veterans to settle in Michigan once they conclude their military careers. She says a tuition break would also help reduce the high rate of unemployment among returning veterans.
Universities and community colleges say there are already federal programs to help vets with the costs of education and career training. They say the legislation should also make up for the revenue that would be lost to higher education institutions.
It's that time of the year where high school students around the nation are saying their goodbyes and preparing for the next chapter of their lives.
But, one Mount Pleasant high school does not know if it will have a speaker at graduation or a principal next year.
Sacred Heart Academy in Mt Pleasant invited alumnus Dominic Sheahan-Stahl to speak at the school's graduation ceremony on May 20th.
Sheahan-Stahl's younger brother is a graduate this year in the Catholic School.
Soon after discovering that Sheahan-Stahl is gay, the Catholic Diocese told the academy to revoke the invitation.
Sacred Heart principal, Denny Starnes delivered an emotional speech to faculty, students and the community Friday, making it very clear that he did not agree with the decision from the diocese.
"This is my community. Of course I'm going to have a different feeling about this whole issue, about a young man that I've known since he was 'Mikey' across the street."
Sheahan-Stahl was also a part of the speech via Skype. He said his graduation speech would have had nothing to do with his sexual orientation.
"My speech has never had any gay issues in it. It's never been anything about my loving of another man. It has nothing to do with that."
As a result of the ruling from the diocese, Academy principal, Starnes said he plans to resign.
Alumni student, Sheahan-Stahl said he is shocked by the principal's resignation.
"I was shocked. I am not on here to ruin anybody's life, to get anybody fired, anything like that. We're all human, we all make mistakes. He apologized, I forgave him five minutes after the decision was made. I don't agree with him being fired, but I'm thankful for his support."
After the event, I spoke with Cristina Supuleda. She is a parent and said that she sent her son to a Catholic school to uphold her religious beliefs.
"I'm gonna speak for myself, If I choose to be Catholic freely I'm gonna follow the teachings. I'm going to be faithful. I'm going to be congruent. The catholic church is not against the people, but the lifestyle that some homosexuals are spreading, that lifestyle is not good for humanity, it's not good for people."
I also spoke with Sheahan-Stahl's brother, Willi who is part of the academy's graduating class. He said he appreciated the principal's speech.
"I felt a lot of compassion for him. I felt like it took a lot of guts for him to stand up and show what he believes."
After being asked to speak at commencement again, Dominic Sheahan-Stahl declined. He said he is satisfied with the situation and would say just one thing to the diocese if he got the chance...
"I would say that growing up in a Catholic school and going to church two times a week every week for 19 years of my life, I was taught God is love, and right now, I'm being told that God only loves certain people and not me."
As of now, the academy has not booked another speaker for graduation.
The Saginaw Diocese released a statement that said they were unaware of the decision to invite and rescind the invitation to the alumni student.
More information about the Saginaw Diocese can be found here.
Over 400 Flint area students will be searching for a new school this summer.
That, after Center Academy of Flint had its charter revoked by Central Michigan University because of poor performance.
Cindy Shumacher is the executive director of CMU's Center for Charter Schools.
She said it will be up to the parents to find their kids a new school.
"There are other schools in the area, other charter schools in the area, there is approximately, there are three charter schools within three miles of Center Academy. And there is actually one charter school that is within walking distance, just a block or two away from Center Academy."
Shumacher said CMU will be working with the Michigan Association of Public School Academy to provide families with additional information on other schools.
Oppression has deep roots in our country. One university is hoping to encourage discussion about tolerating cultural differences with a new museum grand opening.
After 16 years in the making, the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University holds its grand opening this week.
Since 1996, the museum has been housed in a small classroom that could only fit 15 people at a time.
Now, the expanded facility with 3,000 plus square feet will allow the museum to display more artifacts from the Jim Crow era.
Curator David Pilgrim said the museum will be a great addition to the university...
"Obviously in a university, we deal with issues of racism, sexism and issues of homophobia and so this becomes for us, just another example of the university taking an eyes on hands on approach to learning and I think it's an incredible teaching and learning tool for our students and even with all of the national and international attention, it's still primarily an academic resource for our students"
Pilgrim said the museum is the largest free accessible resource with segregation memorabilia in the nation.
He said the museum features an African American achievement section, objects that symbolize the Civil Rights Movement and a space for dialogue.
State officials, teachers, school administrators and researchers will mingle Monday at a day-long education conference in East Lansing. This will be the 17th annual Governor's Education Summit.
Last year, Governor Rick Snyder called for an overhaul of education and how teachers do their jobs.
A lot of the sessions will focus on flexibility in classrooms and helping teachers and students meet new performance expectations. Also, strategies to create an education system that starts with pre-school and continues through college or job training.
Democrat John Austin is the president of the Michigan State Board of Education. He said Michigan needs to do a better job of making education past high school accessible and worthwhile.
"We said everybody needs a post-secondary degree, not a high school degree, and we've been disinvesting in our community colleges and our universities in this state for a dozen years."
Republican Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley will also address the conference on different strategies for improving Michigan schools.
A Central Michigan University student is starting her teaching career right where she's always wanted to be, in Poland.
Stephanie Jaczkowski, a senior at CMU. She's majoring in Political Science and Public Relations. and now she's being given the opportunity to teach abroad through the Fulbright award. This international educational exchange program is designed to increase mutual understanding between cultures.
Jaczkowski said she'll be teaching English at the University of Gdansk in northern Poland.
"So I'll be helping Polish students learn like the idioms of the English language and slang and some of the cultural aspects, like maybe teach them how to play ball or even how to enjoy watching a game of baseball. Things that are American but not necessarily something that somebody who is learning English in a different country would pick up on if they were just learning it from a textbook."
Jaczkowski said she plans to learn Polish and rediscover her family history while she's there.
For nearly two decades, Michigan has allowed charter schools to operate in the state.
Now, a report from the Center for Education Reform said that Michigan is among the top five charter school systems in the country.
The report analyzes each state's charter school system against nationally recognized benchmarks.
It evaluates factors like the creation of multiple charter authorizers and fiscal equity.
Cindy Schumacher is with Central Michigan University's center for charter schools.
"While Michigan's law has earned a B grade in the past, the recent move to increase and eliminate the cap on university charter schools has moved Michigan to an A grade along with just four other states and CMU is fortunate enough to work in a state that supports the foundation for charter schools."
Schumacher said now that the cap has been lifted, CMU will be able to authorize additional charter schools.
She said prior to the change, universities were only allowed to have 150 charter schools.
Kindergarten is the first step of a child's journey to becoming a lifelong learner.
It's the place where children learn their ABC's and social skills.
Michigan is now considering new legislation that will require some kids to stay at home another year before being eligible for that first step.
When you think of kindergarten, learning how to stand in a straight line or share with your partner in class may be the first memories that come to mind.
In recent years, Shepherd Elementary School as well as all kindergarten classrooms across the nation have placed more focus on academics in the kids' early years.
That shift toward a more academic kindergarten has led to a proposal for kids to be older when they start school.
The bill would change the current cutoff date for kindergarten enrollment. Currently kids have to be five by December 1st.
Under the new proposal, they'd have to be five by September 1st. Supporters said the move will give children more time to develop.
The new legislation would also require every child to be at least 5 years old before attending Kindergarten.
What the measure would essentially do is phase out the kids whose birthdays fall between September 1st and December 1st. They'd have to start the next year.
Amy Salogar is the principal at Shepherd Elementary School. She said the new starting date would be a positive change.
"My initial reaction is that I think it's a good thing. When I taught kindergarten, I saw some students, especially if they were four when they started school and they didn't turn 5 until October or November, sometimes it was hard for them and they were old enough to be there, but it was tough because they just weren't mature enough, they weren't ready and that's not a bad thing."
Currently, Michigan is one of only two states that allows children to begin school when they're 4.
Jan Ellis is with the Department of Education. She said the new legislation will give Michigan students more time to compete with other states.
"Beginning in 2014-15, Michigan will move from accessing students on the MEAP and MME to the smarter balanced assessments. These assessments are aligned with the common core standards and these are very rigorous standards and given that 85% of states have an early cut off date of September or earlier as far as when students can enter, over 25% of our students taking this assessment would have less time than students in other states to develop cognitively and emotionally and this would place Michigan at both a competitive and economic disadvantage."
Ellis said last month the Michigan Department of Education passed the legislation under certain conditions.
"For those children between that bubble of September 1st and December 1st, they want to ensure that there's a place for those students to continue to learn and so they supported a generic statement that basically encourages the legislature to provide adequate funding for early childhood experiences and those would be through like a great start readiness program, it could be through a developmental kindergarten. There are multiple different ways that that could happen"
The Education Department also proposed phasing in the change over the next three years.
That means if the legislation passes, kids beginning in the fall would have to be 5 by November 1st. The next year, the cut off would be October 1st and the year after that would be the September 1st cut off date.
Amy Salogar said phasing in the legislation raises concerns.
"I am concerned a little bit about how they are going to implement this. I've heard that they're going to phase it in or that they're going to for this fall do November for the first date and next year will be October 1st and then the following year September. That concerns me because we've already done our kindergarten screening process for this fall and we haven't heard one way or another if that's how it's going to shake out.
A spokesperson from the Senate Education committee said the legislation still has a long way to go.
The committee passed the measure last month. Since then, the bill has been on the Senate floor awaiting a vote.
As the trend for increasing educational and workforce demands continues, a new report shows that student's reading and writing skills are not keeping pace.
A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education found that more than 60 percent of 12th grade students leave high school without advanced reading and writing skills.
In Michigan, 23 percent of 8th grade students have not mastered grade-level knowledge and skills. That deficit puts students at a higher risk of dropping out.
Mariana Haynes is with the Alliance. She said the good news is that Michigan along with many other states adopted new common core state standards.
"These international benchmarks present the kind of advanced skill levels that are needed for students to be successful when they leave a high school and enter either the work place or colleges and it requires with a progression of increasingly complex information and text that couple these task demands so that students develop a deep understanding and are able to provide well reasons oral and written arguments."
Haynes said Michigan and 45 other states received federal funding to develop literacy programs in 2010.
However, she said additional funding has only been granted to a few states to keep the programs running.
Today, the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees approved a modest increase in tuition and room and board rates at its regular meeting.
Trustees set undergraduate tuition at 365 dollars per credit hour, a 7 dollar per credit hour increase from the current tuition rate of 358 dollars.
CMU normally sets undergraduate tuition in July, but President George E. Ross said acting in April has several benefits for current and prospective students...
"Traditionally, undergraduate tuition has been set at the July board meeting."
Ross also recognized the faculty and staff at the university...
"Our tuition rates over the last three years have been very modest, and we don't know what's going to happen with the 14 schools that follow us, but our faculty and staff have made sacrifices to allow us to be here with you today talking about this 1.96% increase."
Trustees also approved a 2 percent increase in room and board rates.
Room and board for a standard room with a 14-meal plan will increase 156 dollars a year from 7,880 dollars to 8,036 dollars.
The cost of food, supplies, contracts and equipment coupled with increases in employee salaries and benefits were factors considered in making the recommendation.
Teachers turned out by the hundreds Wednesday to pack a hearing room in Lansing. As we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, they showed up to oppose a measure that would force them to pay more for their retirement health care and pension benefits.
Some people stood up to shout, others cheered and applauded the teachers who testified against the legislation at the state Senate committee hearing. About two dozen teachers picketed outside. One of them was Mimi Katakowski.
"When I came into the profession, I was promised a pension after so many years of service and now those promises are being broken."
"Simple economics: You can't spend more than you're taking in."
Republicans like state Senator Bruce Caswell said the liabilities of the public school employee retirement system are so great now that it risks insolvency of nothing is done.
Teachers say the state bears part of the blame because budget cuts to schools have made it harder for districts to make employer contributions, and forced teacher layoffs, which means fewer employees paying into the system.
A lot of schools tap into new technology to help students learn.
But for kids with autism, the latest must-have electronic gadget is proving to be almost a necessity of life.
Special ed programs are finding that iPads allow autistic kids, who often have problems talking, to finally be able to communicate.
The special ed preschool classroom at Sherwood Elementary school in Saginaw looks like any other preschool; bright, cherry signs around the room, those little tables and chairs that are just the right size for five year olds, and of course small children being herded by a teacher.
But in this classroom of mainly autistic boys, most of the kids don't talk. That's a classic feature of autism. Instead these kids are finding a way to reach out through technology.
"Make the O, ooo, make the fish go round, fish. Where is the fish? Fish. Why isn't he moving? ooo. Oh, go to a different letter, he is stuck. Oh there he goes. Oh the fish is stuck today, hmm. O is your favorite letter isn't it. There he goes, there he goes. Do you see Ms. Kelly? What did we make, O. What is next? P. P is next, that's right, you're going to make the letter P."
Kelly Kiss has been teaching special needs kids for over a decade.
She introduced iPads last fall. She said this little device opens the world of communication to bright little boys who, due to a neurological disorder, had been shut out.
"He can't make any sounds. He can't talk at all. He was getting frustrated because he understands everything. He wants to tell us a million things, but he can't. So our speech therapist downloaded an app called proloquo to go. And it has, you can make it individualized. It has his picture on it, he can tap on it, he can say his name. It allows him to communicate his wants and needs without getting frustrated."
Kiss said there are so many apps that it's easy to find one that feels almost custom made for each child. She said the tablet style computer is easier for her students to use than a desktop mouse.
Sherwood Elementary special ed owns two iPads now. Kiss said she'd like to have one for every student. She said these devices are so engaging, that it's hard to pull kids away.
"They almost need an iPad that is only for the communication piece and then an iPad for the games. The kids will get on it and they will communicate and they'll want to play angry birds or they want to play another. We've taken angry birds off of a lot of iPads because they want to play it so much."
Kiss said students learn more than language skills with iPads. They also learn patience and sharing. She said the device is a great motivator. Kids that won't respond to encouragement or privileges or food, will work to get time on the iPad.
Kara Mohr is the speech therapist. She's found the same thing.
"I absolutely love it. It has been my most favorite therapy tool ever. Because, it is so engaging. That is what they love. They will do so much for me on the iPad. I mean they like the fun stuff too. But they are so easily engaged even with work too."
Mohr said at a cost of about $500 each, she considers them cost effective as an educational too. And she said they're sturdy in a roomful of preschoolers the iPads have been dropped and come up still working.
Amy Schlegel's son Sam is one of the kids in this preschool class. She purchased an iPad for him last year with proceeds from a garage sale. She said the difference in his receptive language is huge.
"He had maybe, 10-20 words. He probably now has over 200, 300 words I would say. I use to keep track of them, and I just quit keeping track because I can't keep up."
It's unclear just how many iPads are being used in special ed classrooms in Michigan. The teachers at Sherwood Elementary say they hope to write grants to purchase more.
They say a few hundred dollars is a small price to pay to open up a world of communication to a child.
Evaluations in recent years have highlighted deficiencies in Michigan's public schools when it comes to college readiness.
Gear Up, a program that has targeted urban schools to work toward improvements, is now extending its efforts to rural schools.
The nationally funded initiative offers tutoring, mentoring and workshops on college preparation for students.
Central Michigan University's Gear Up program has now partnered with Harrison Middle School in the Clare-Gladwin school district.
Mary Henley is the Gear Up Director at CMU...
"We received a new gear up grant from the state of Michigan and its called 'My Gear Up' and in looking at the schools that we could work with, Harrison middle school, it's about 35 minutes away. We've traditionally worked with the urban schools down in the Flint area and so we took a look at Harrison and decided hey, we're going to work with a rural school this year and we're going to service them from the campus of central Michigan university so we are excited to have Harrison middle school on board."
Henley said the program works is working with the seventh grade class at Harrison Middle School until graduation.
Many would argue that good teachers are the foundation of a strong education system and need more support. Now, Michigan schools will be receiving additional job funds for teachers.
The Michigan Department of Education recently announced that schools will receive an additional 22.2 million in federal education jobs this month.
The Education jobs program provides resources to local public school districts and Public School Academies to save or create education jobs.
Jan Ellis is a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Education. She said the funds serve a lot of different purposes.
"For example they can be used for compensation and benefits, recall and rehire employees, for health insurance for salaries for school level education and related services, academic coaches, teacher trainers, school aids, a wide variety of things that will help continue to improve the education in Michigan students."
Ellis said the federal government divides the money between schools based on the number of at-risk students in each district.
She said the grants range from a few hundred dollars up to 1.2 million.
Central Michigan University's College of Business is expanding its annual New Venture Competition.
The competition showcases 30 plus team's business ideas. The winners receive a total of 60 thousand dollars in start up funds.
Chuck Crespy is the dean of the College of Business Administration at CMU.
He said this year CMU invited students from Michigan Technological University to participate.
"By inviting students from Michigan Tech to participate we create an environment where angel investors and venture capitalists from around the state see this particular venue and this particular event as something that merits even more of their attention because not only do they see CMU students with new ideas they see Michigan Tech students with new ideas."
Crespy said inviting another school to participate will better prepare students to compete in the real world.
Many of us value higher education, but the rising cost of knowledge makes it difficult to afford.
One Michigan university is addressing the concern with a fixed tuition guarantee.
Kettering University will offer a new fixed tuition guarantee 2012 fall semester.
The fixed tuition guarantee makes Kettering the first Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics university in Michigan to offer this benefit.
Robert McMahan is the President of Kettering. He said some parents and students raised concerns about tuition.
"One of the issues that we heard over and over again was related to the predictability of college expenses and the fact that tuition not only increased but it increased in ways that could not be predicted so that parents and students only really saw a glimpse, a one year snip it of the total cost that they were going to bare for a college education. "
McMahan said students are guaranteed a single tuition price for up to 5 years.
From 2005 to 2008, Central Michigan University was the only state funded college to offer a similar guarantee.
The program was discontinued due to a decline in state appropriations.
The students still under the guarantee will graduate in summer of 2013.
Michigan has over 500 school districts in its public education system.
Central Michigan University's Center for Charter Schools is continuing in its role of offering parents other choices.
Currently students in charter public school make up almost 8 percent of all of the K-12 students in Michigan.
Central Michigan University will open 4 new charter schools in the Fall, and has authorized charter schools since the option was first offered in the state.
Cynthia Schumacher is the newly appointed executive director for CMU's center for charter schools.
She said the organization is reviewing applications to add more schools to the program...
"We want the best of the best, we're looking for schools that really provide better quality, schools where the students currently are so its not just about schools, its about ensuring a better education. We want them to be pillars of the community. We are looking for someone who has the ability to sustain the program over time and become an institution of their communities but the bottom line is they gotta provide a better quality education for the students."
Schumacher said enrollment for charter schools has grown over 20% in the past 5 years.
A new law passed that will change the number of charters that universities can authorize from 150 to 500 through 2014.
Central Michigan University is using its educational platform to battle bullying. Tonight the College of Education and Human Services is hosting national expert Elizabeth Englander to talk about recent research on bullying and cyber-bullying.
Dr. Betty Kirby is on the faculty of the College of Education.
She said over recent years, bullying has become more vicious, because it's become more persistent through the use of technology. She said in the past, if someone made an awkward mistake in school, it would eventually be forgotten. Now with cell phones and the internet the moment can be magnified.
Sometimes these events are played out over and over and over again for a student. And when they're out there on the internet, they are there, for an infinite audience to see. So not only is someone perhaps embarrassed or humiliated, they're humiliated and embarrassed over and over and over again.
Elizabeth Englander's presentation on bullying is scheduled for 7:00pm tonight in the French Auditorium in CMU's College of Education and Human Services building. It is free and open to the public.
Native American portrayals in the media will be the topic of discussion at Central Michigan University Monday night.
Dee Ann Sherwood is the Denison Visiting Professor of Native American Studies at CMU. She said she has been holding a series of seminars previewing her Native American contemporary issues class planned for this summer.
She said Monday's seminar will work to combat the negative images of natives in the media.
"We'll be trying to kind of broaden the picture peoples understanding is often very narrow and is shaped by these media images and when you don't have friends that are native or you don't go to pow-wows or community events or things of that nature and you don't have any interaction with native people then your impressions are going to be based on what you see on television or in a movie and that's often very inadequate and incomplete."
"Widening the Circle of the Lens Native Americans in the Media" will be held in CMU's Anspach hall Monday night from 5:30 to 7pm.
The effects of bullying on families, workers and educators will be discussed during a public forum this Thursday in Traverse City.
Education on which groups are more susceptible to bullying and what the effects are will be a focal point in the event.
The forum is being hosted by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission in conjunction with Northwestern Michigan College.
Mike Zelley is the Commission Chair. He says the forums will be used to help influence state legislation but forming legislation is not the main goal.
"At the end of the day you can't legislate behavior. And as important as it is, and is important to have laws on the books that prevent discrimination we need to educate and train the public on the consequences on that kind of behavior."
Zelley said the way to beat bullying is through changing the hearts and minds of the aggressor.
The State Department of Community Health is hosting an event in Flint this weekend aimed at showing kids the joys of science; Laboratory science to be exact.
Angela Minicuci is with the Department.
She said the event will give K-12 students the chance to enjoy hands-on experiments that are uniquely planned to take advantage of the festive weekend.
"...especially with this upcoming one in Flint, being that it's St Patricks' Day, we're going to have a couple of activities that are specifically themes around St. Patrick's Day such as making green snow or making green worms. We're also going to offer the opportunity to isolate children's DNA from their own saliva and they can put it in a necklace and take it home with them. And they can also learn about rare diseases that are identified when babies are born."
The Flint event, called Explore Lab Science, is scheduled to run from 11am-2pm Saturday on the U of M Flint campus.
Pre-registration is suggested, but walk ins are also welcome.
A technical center in Cadillac is one of four Michigan schools to receive the 2012 Excellence in Practice Award for Career and College Readiness Initiatives.
Jill Baker-Cooley is the counselor at the Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center. She said her school invites elementary schools around the area to spend time in their non traditional classrooms.
She said students learn scientific concepts at their home classroom. And when they come to the technical center they're able to apply what they've learned.
"We bring 4th graders in and they learn how to solder a circuit that has to be put together properly and soldered properly in order for the device to work. And it's called a chirp chirp and it's kinda like a fire alarm type circuitry and if the students do it properly when you attach a nine volt battery it'll chirp a very annoying sound."
Baker-Cooley said the program helps expose children to different career paths at a young age.
The tri-cities will be hosting the author of Touching Spirit Bear as part of an anti bullying initiative.
Titled the Great Lakes Bay Great Read, the program is targeted at 80 middle school classrooms in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties.
After reading the book, students will attend a presentation with the author.
Ben Mikaelsen, author of Touching Spirit Bear, says he has played the role of both a bully and a victim.
"You know I knew what it was like to be called a dummy and how long it takes a child, a person, a human being to get over that self perception. And what I would like to have happen is I'd like to have a student walk away with a sense of empowerment. That they look in the mirror and they see a different person."
Mikaelsen said he will talk about the reason kids bully and how a forgiving attitude can be the best defense.
Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that allows students in Highland Park to transfer to another district or to a charter school now that the Highland Park district has run out of money. The Legislature approved the measure Thursday.
The district was unable to meet this week's payroll, although teachers still showed up for work.
The new law allows several hundred Highland Park students to make a mid-year transfer to another district or a charter school, paid for with a four thousand dollar state grant. It's not known how many students and their families could or would take the opportunity. Highland Park schools were under the control of a state-appointed manager. But the manager had to step down after a judge ruled the review team that recommended a state takeover violated Michigan's open meetings law. It will be next week before the governor can re-appoint the emergency manager.
After that, the new law also allows the emergency manager to use the per-student stipend to pay another district or a charter school operator to hold classes in Highland Park schools.
Lawmakers at the state Capitol have approved a proposal to make sure students from Highland Park schools are able to attend classes next week. The district's state-appointed emergency manager was removed after a circuit court judge ruled the district's financial review team violated the state's open meetings law.
Democratic House Minority Leader Rick Hammel said the Republican plan that would provide money for kids to attend other public or charter schools in the area will hurt the students of Highland Park. Hammel thinks a local intermediate school district should be allowed to take over Highland Park schools until a more permanent solution is found.
"The number one thing is those kids stay in that school, that's the number one thing for us. Now, the devil's in the details. And we have taken an opportunity to just fund Highland Park schools through a responsible source, and created law with lots of stuff that goes in there that doesn't have anything to do with taking care of Highland Park."
Republicans say the Highland Park School district will not receive any more state funds and teachers will either have to teach without pay or students will have to go to other schools until an emergency manager is back in place in Highland Park.
Ferris State University is working with Google to remove personal student information from its search engine.
Just under 300 students have been affected.
Students who submitted readmission applications via the internet had their information made available on Google's search engine.
Sandy Gholston is with Ferris State University. He said access to the information is no longer available. And affected students have been notified.
"The university really does not know if this information has been used but we have not received any information that it has. So at this point we're working under the assumption that no one has been able to view this information or no one has viewed this information."
Gholston said students can contact the communications center with any questions or concerns.
While workers around Michigan are trying to reinvent themselves for the changed economy, colleges are also taking a new look at what they do and how they do it.
North Central Michigan College in Petoskey is leveraging the 'community' part of its tile of community college. it's introduced a new program in health care. it's a very specific program; carefully tailored to meet the needs of a handful of local hospitals and eight local students.
The approach in the Surgical Tech program is hands on
It's in the medical field. its a very specific job.
"A surgical technologist is a person that stands next to the first assistant, who stands across the table from the surgeon who helps prepare the instruments and gets the in the proper order in the proper time to hand them to the first assistant who hands them to the surgeon."
Pete Olson oversees the Surgical Tech program. He said for anyone who appreciates small classes; this one fits the bill. Eight students are enrolled in this program.
The program was launched at the request of five local hospitals. They worked with North Central to determining their hiring needs for the next 5-6 years. Then final tally; eight people.
The college crafted the curriculum. The hospitals provide the facilities; operating rooms and surgical equipment. It's a fair amount of resources for a handful of students, but Olson said it's the right thing to do.
"I think that community college by their very name have at least a partial if not a primary responsibility to create students who are of benefit to their local communities.
"And we all face budget restricts, we all face drops in enrollment or budget problems. So we're all looking to expand in enrollment. But I'm not sure if it's fair to take a students money and require them to relocate somewhere else."
Olson said offering a program that channels students into jobs close to home is particularly important for community colleges. And particularly important for certain students.
"In specifically in the allied health field we understand from experience, our students are not typically mobile. They're maybe career changes, maybe older students they maybe be people who look at the aging population as an excellent job opportunity when their job in the manufacturing sector has ended for some reason. Those kinds of students are not the ones that will pick up and relocate three hundred miles, they're the students typically with families, they have kids in school, they've got support structures and the rest of their lives, they're the ones who are going to be here."
Olson said, employers have told him they prefer to hire local people; people who know the area, have roots here and are likely to stay.
He said students who complete a two-year associates degree in surgical tech will likely walk into a job that pays between 15 and 17 dollars an hour, without having to relocate.
He said this sort of micro curriculum will likely continue to play a role in the future of community colleges.
North Central is already looking at more.
"We're in talks with again Northern Michigan Hospital and other sleep centers in the area on exactly this pattern. What other people do you need, what other people would you like to train as other sleep technologists or polysomnographic technologists and what are your anticipated hiring needs for that. And that helps drive our decisions about program size.
Olson said health care will always be a strong sector. The trick for colleges and job seekers will be to find the right individual unit that's currently in demand.
He said a nimble curriculum and, when necessary, small programs can help meet that need.
Teachers in Highland Park schools could be asked to work without pay while a standoff between the state and the school board is resolved.
The district is broke, and a legal challenge has forced Governor Rick Snyder to remove a state-appointed emergency manager.
The emergency manager could be reappointed as soon as this week, or as late as next week but, in the meantime, there's no money to make Friday's payroll.
Democratic state Senator Bert Johnson represents Highland Park. He said teachers may be asked to show up for work anyway because it's critical that students don't miss classes.
"Kids have to be in school and we don't want unintended consequences to occur like parents taking their kids out of school, taking them home, and not bringing them back for the remainder of the semester and that is a very real possibility."
Republican leaders say there will be no more money for the district until the emergency manager is reappointed. Contingency plans could include money for Highland Park families to move their kids to another district or to a charter school.
Driving through snow can be difficult enough, but bad infrastructure can make it even more of a hassle. Now, a Central Michigan University student developed a new proposal to present to the Michigan legislature.
Lauren Grotkowski (Grit-cow-ski) is a freshman at Central Michigan University. She won the second place prize of 5,000 dollars in the Students Reinventing Michigan Competition.
The competition is aimed at developing solutions for state infrastructure needs.
Grotkowski collaborated with a faculty mentor.
Together, they brainstormed ideas and created what she dubbed the "Michigan Infrastructure Improvement Fund."
Grotkowski said it's a way to redirect money to rebuild roads and bridges.
"One of the ways is for used car sales tax to go for the fund and also sales tax from money going into fixing cars goes to the fund. There's also a slight gradual increase in vehicle registration that will go to the money and different changes to the tax laws"
Grotkowski said the fund would give tax breaks to groups like non profit organizations and Native Americans.
She'll present her proposal to the State lawmakers on Tuesday.
Twenty-nine percent of eighth graders in Michigan are proficient in math. That's according to new test results from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, or MEAP. Proficiency levels for kids in grades three through eight also fell this year. The bleak results were expected.
MEAP scores are now being evaluated for so-called "college readiness," which means the standards for proficiency are more rigorous. This year about a third of kids tested as proficient in math and about two thirds were proficient readers.
"This is a more accurate representation of how well we're preparing students for this new economy in which we're working."
That's Joseph Martineau with the Michigan Department of Education. He said he thinks these scores should serve as a wake-up call to the state. But Martineau also notes he is pleased that if the new test score standards are applied retroactively then there is an incremental improvement in proficiency this year.
Michigan Public School districts say they are glad to hear Governor Snyder plans to reinvest some of the state's budget surplus back into K-12 schools.
But the Michigan Education Association said it would like to see last year's 1 billion dollar cut fully reinstated.
Carl Seiter is the superintendent for the Farwell school district. He said schools who meet five of the six "best practice" requirements will receive the most state funding.
He said Farwell already meets that benchmark.
"Which is good but it takes a lot of time and effort and documentation to ensure going through the hops that you have to jump through n order to obtain the funding. It's what educators kind of talk about as being unfunded mandates."
Seiter said he is glad that Governor Snyder will continue funding for a retirement and health care offsets.
Governor Rick Snyder calls for a slight boost in spending in his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, with more money for police, schools, and universities.
The governor said this year's spending plan is built on tough decisions made last year.
Governor Rick Snyder was flanked by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Budget Director John Nixon as he took a seat in front of a packed house. He presented his budget plans to a joint meeting of the House and Senate appropriations committees.
The governor started out with a short history lesson, reminding lawmakers of how things have changed since his budget presentation from a year ago.
"It was a mess."
In 2011, the governor called for taxing pensions; taking 400 million dollars from the School Aid Fund to help pay for universities, which still saw a cut in funding and concessions from public employees.
"We had to address a billion and a half dollar deficit. We addressed that. We had to ask for shared sacrifice from many people, a lot of difficult decisions and I appreciate a lot of understanding by a lot of people."
This year, the economy has improved, and so has revenue. The governor called for modest increases to money for schools and universities, much of it linked to improving student performance. Local governments could also see more if they find ways to become more efficient.
The governor called for more money for law enforcement, but said details will wait until next month when he delivers a special address on public safety. And he said the state should drop 130 million dollars into the state's "rainy day" savings, which were practically non-existent a year ago. He said that will also help convince Wall Street to upgrade Michigan's bond rating,
All of that was good news to lawmakers, especially Republicans, who can run for re-election this year without worrying about the chagrin caused by a new round of spending cuts.
State Representative Eileen Kowall said this year's budget was a welcome change.
"I don't think we're quite at the point where the future's so bright that we gotta wear shades. But we're getting there."
In fact, the change in tone from a year ago was enough to inspire people to applaud once the governor wrapped up his presentation.
Democrats, too, welcomed the fact that the governor's new budget does not call for more sacrifice from schools and local governments. But state Representative Ellen Cogan-Lipton said the modest boost to school funding does not make up for what happened last year.
"A budget that fails to fully restore that 400 million dollars and then some is a failed budget as to education, no cause, no cause for celebration, in my opinion."
The governor also wants to extend insurance coverage to pay for autism treatments. He wants that to be part of his new Medicaid budget, and he's called for private insurers to also cover autism treatments. The governor also called for expanding dental care for children in low-income families, and a modest boost for arts and culture programs.
It's unusual for a budget presentation to be met with applause. But that's exactly what happened as the governor wrapped up
The governor said the main goal of his budget proposal is fiscal stability, and making Michigan an attractive place to live and to work. He also set a goal, but with no timeline, of having Michigan's employment rate beat the national average.
A state House panel has approved a measure that would allow more online K-through-12 schools to operate in Michigan.
The state House Education Committee approved the cyber school expansion, and Republican state Representative Tom McMillin said it would give students and parents more options.
"You know, we're giving choices to parents, so it's just a parent empowerment package."
But Democratic state Representative Lisa Brown said parents who use online learning to help their children succeed usually devote many hours a day to their studies, such as with home schooling, while online schools only collect money from the state. And she said she is not so sure a cyber-school expansion will be popular if it comes up for a vote on the state House floor.
"I think that there's concerns on both sides of the aisle, I do."
Governor Rick Snyder has called on lawmakers to increase cyber-learning in traditional public schools as well.
Learning about history may not be a favorite pastime for many students, but how about 100 dollars for an incentive?
The state is sponsoring an essay contest on the impact of the War of 1812 in Michigan.
The contest is open to any 3rd-thru 12th grade student in public, private, charter, parochial and home school settings.
The essay has a 1,000 word limit and each entry will be grouped according to grade.
Phil Porter is the chairman of the Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.
"The purpose of the essay contest is to encourage students grades 3-12 to do some original research and to study and write an essay about the impact of the War of 1812 on the United States generally speaking but more specifically on the people of Michigan and to really delve into how that war affected our state."
Porter said cash prizes for the contest start at 100 dollars for the first place winners and 50 dollars for the second place winners.
Community college students may soon be able to get a bachelor's degree without transferring to a four-year college or university.
A bill before a state Senate panel would allow community colleges to offer the degrees in a few fields.
The measure would allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees in culinary arts, maritime studies, concrete technology, energy production, and nursing.
State Representative John Walsh said the state needs more highly trained nurses.
"We do at present have a shortage, and it's only going to increase according to every study, including ones conducted by our own government."
Those who oppose the measure say it would create unnecessary competition between community colleges and universities, especially in the field of nursing. But supporters of the bill say many people are not within a reasonable driving distance of a university, and community colleges could offer people in rural areas more opportunities to pursue four-year degrees.
Ferris State University has received a grant to help single parents attending the school.
Sandy Gholston is with Ferris State University. He said the money will be used to provide recreational activities that may be financially out of reach for some families.
"This is going to help provide opportunity for those kind of activities such as going bowling or horse back riding or other activities in town or in the Big Rapids area that might be appealing to students and to these families."
Gholston said the program will help the Big Rapids community by re-investing the grant money into local businesses.
He said providing fun activities for non traditional students and their families will connect single parent students to others who are in similar situations.
Governor Rick Snyder is encouraging municipalities to make their books more transparent. One Michigan University is offering to help governments do just that.
Birch Run is the most recent community to work with Eastern Michigan University accounting students to make its books more transparent.
The students began offering the help as a class project a year ago. David Mielke is the dean of EMU's college of business. He said the project was so successful it's been expanding across the state.
He said, under state law, municipalities are required to have audited financial statements.
He said the problem is those statements are often difficult to understand. So the EMU students are converting the reports into a simpler format.
"Two of the headings used in the converted financial report are where did the money come from and where did money go? It was part of an initiative that was started by Governor Snyder to improve transparency and to improve really information flow to all citizens in the state."
Birch Run plans to post the documents to their government website by the end of February.
The debate over the effectiveness of cyber K-through-12 schools is ramping up at the state Capitol. A state House panel is considering a measure that would allow more cyber schools to operate in Michigan.
There are currently two cyber schools authorized in Michigan. Supporters of online learning say kids and parents should be afforded more education options and opportunities in the digital age.
Former state schools Superintendent Tom Watkins supports allowing more cyber schools to operate in the state. But he cautioned lawmakers to take careful consideration of how well individual schools are performing.
"I would invoke an old Chinese saying; that once you open the window, all the flies can come in."
Those opposed to more cyber schools in the state say not enough is known about their success rates.
Governor Rick Snyder said he wants traditional public schools to incorporate more cyber-learning. But he has not called for more online-only schools.
For many parents knowing where to draw a line with their kids, and more importantly, knowing how to enforce rules, can be more of a challenge than they might have thought.
One Traverse City therapist is launching a program this year to help parents tweak their skills. In the final part of our "Reaching out in 2012", Amy Robinson takes a look at a New Year of parent coaching.
Joe Sanok has big plans for 2012.
In 2012, we're offering a new approach to teaching parenting, and it's really meant to be short term, and it's meant to be really precise, in helping parents be able to evaluate three key areas of their parenting, through a parenting-coaching method.
The three key areas are; describing the behavior that the parent would like to see in the child, evaluating consequences, both positive and negative, and making the right decision the easy decision for their child.
Sanok said sometimes when it comes to shaping a child's behavior, encouraging them to do the right thing, parents get in their own way.
Often times parents will put up unnecessary barriers to their kids, and they'll expect them to do things that are not age appropriate for them. Kids, often need a lot of guidance to be successful. So scheduling in exactly what time they are going to be working on their homework or when their going to be doing chores, so you can't leave the child right up to that behavior that you expect and then expecting them to take that step into the good behavior. Rather then having them have to organize every aspect of their schedule on their own, to really set that schedule for the student to be able to make those good choices.
Sanok said in order to make it easy for a child to do the right thing, parents first have to describe what the right thing is. They have to be able to articulate to the child, especially when they're young, what behavior mom and dad want to see.
"I want you to clean your room," if that's not worked for children, uh, at certain ages where they don't know what that means to the parent, uh, it's the parent's duty to say this is what cleaning a room is, and so if we can start by really clarifying that well for the child and then holding them accountable to what we described to them, then over time, of course, we can step back in that described thing, as in depth.
Sanok said this kind of parental-narration isn't as easy as it sounds. He said it's often the thing he spends the most time on.
"What I find is when that clicks for a parent, what it means to genuinely describe what you're child's doing; When parents get that, it's like a door that unlocks all the rest of it."
The "rest of it" he said involves setting consequences. He said the important thing to remember is that consequences work with older kids as well as they do with younger ones. And consequences aren't just negative, they can be positive.
"And for older children, it may be things like: extending a curfew, or you know, middle school children, if you go to bed on time each night, then on the weekends your bedtime is going to be a little bit later. So having those positive consequences, all tied into the description of the behavior, and living up to those positive expectations.
Finally, Sanok said he coaches parents to find ways to make it easy for the child to do the right thing.
So, doing as much as you can, to lead that individual, kind-of right to the edge, so they can step forward and make that good choice.
Sanok said most parents are doing the best they can with the tools they have. He said he wants to give them new tools. He said the coaching classes are all about tweaking parenting skill.
And that's what this is meant to be is kind of a short term, really focus on the issue, let's not get into the whole history of the family. But let's focus on what are the behaviors we want to work on now, and let's move forward on those. Now with some people that may turn into long term counseling, but for other people it may be kind of like an oil change when they come in every three months or once a year and they kind of want to tweak a few things.
Sanok said he began his career working with what he calls angry kids at a runaway shelter. He said these days has a passion for helping parents learn new skills to bridge the communication gap with their children.
For Michigan parents who would like to know the quality of their child's school, a new report on the nation's education performance and policy may help.
The report used scores from five categories: chance for success, k-12 achievement, school finance, standard assessments and accountability and the teaching profession.
Michigan placed 19th in the nation with an overall grade of a C+. The state's score of 78 is slightly above the national average of a 76.5.
Sterling Lloyd is the senior research associate for the group, Editorial Projects in Education. That's the organization that conducted the study.
"Michigan fares well in the standard assessments and accountability category where it earns an A- with a score of 91.6. It's 17th in the nation in that category. Michigan also fares well in the report transitions and alignment category where it's ranked 11th nationally with a score of 85.7 or a B, but it struggles in our K-12 achievement category."
Lloyd said Michigan received a D in the K-12 achievement category. That placed that state forty-first in the nation. He said the low score raises concerns about the future preparedness of students for the global economy.
Some health advocates say Governor Rick Snyder was not bold enough in his State of the State speech on fighting childhood obesity. Governor Snyder mentioned a program in his speech last week that would teach parents about proper nutrition for young children to help combat childhood obesity.
Katherine Knoll is with the Midwest chapter of the American Heart Association. She said kids need direct instruction on how to control their weight, and that should take place in school.
"Just as we don't expect them to know how to read when they enter school, we don't expect them to know how to balance that calories-in-calories-out equation, and we need to work with them on that."
Knoll said she hopes the state Legislature will approve a measure that would require all kids in elementary and middle school to have physical education twice a week. A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder said the governor wants to take a comprehensive approach toward tackling obesity. She said the administration expects to hear soon from the Department of Community Health on details of an obesity-fighting plan.
Governor Rick Snyder will follow his State of the State speech Wednesday with another speech Friday to business leaders. Immigration policy is expected to play a prominent role in his talk.
Governor Snyder announced in his State of the State address that he's forged an alliance with unions and businesses to lobby Congress to relax some immigration laws. Snyder wants to keep educated immigrants in the country.
Mike Finney is the C-E-O of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and one of the governor's top advisers on business issues. He said right now immigration rules force out many potential entrepreneurs after they earn advanced degrees from Michigan colleges and universities.
"It seems only logical that we would at least create opportunities for them to offer up that intellect to help grow businesses here in this country and, of course, in the state of Michigan."
Finney said the governor also wants to improve efforts to match workers with the skills they need to land a good job.
Senate Democrats at the state Capitol say students who graduate from high school in Michigan should have their tuition's paid for if they go to colleges in the state.
The Democrats unveiled their education plan Thursday.
Under the plan, all students who grow up in Michigan and graduate from high school in the state would be eligible for a grant to cover the median cost of tuition.
Democratic state Senator Bert Johnson says he thinks Governor Rick Snyder would support the idea of creating a more highly skilled workforce in the state.
"I would think that the governor, particular since his focus has been on jobs and job-creation, that he would understand the wisdom of this and would want to see it done."
The proposal would eliminate billions of dollars in tax breaks to fund the grant program. A spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans says they are open discussing the proposal, but are cognizant of the cost to implement such a big plan.
We're a few days into the new year. Long enough to have taken your resolution out for a test drive. Maybe your commitment was to eat better in the new year or to exercise. Maybe to finish that project that you procrastinated on through 2011.
We've found some organizations that are taking New Year's resolutions to a new level; not just helping themselves, but helping the community.
Today we begin our New Year's series: "Reaching out in 2012" on a ship.
The Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay is pledging, and looking forward to, getting more students out on the water this year. This is very important, they have the money to do it.
The school ship "Inland Seas" has seen a lot of students cross her deck in two decades of classes. But its a program that's on a ship in northern Michigan and can take 32 people a day. Attendance is inherently limited by space, weather and cost. The Inland Seas organization said this year, for the first time cost is becoming much less of an issue.
"We've been lucky enough to get this grant from the Herbert and Grace Dow Foundation to provide scholarships and some bus funding for schools that wouldn't otherwise be able to attend."
Tom Kelly is Executive Director of the Inland Seas Education Association. He said the group received a grant of $140,000 a year for three years. That covers 50 classes a year plus up to one-thousand dollars per school to cover transportation costs.
"With economy the way it is and with school budgets, this is a great opportunity for students that wouldn't be able to go otherwise, so it's a wonderful thing for the State of Michigan."
Kelly said the school ship program is structured to compliment what students learn in their Science classroom. Everything is taught with a hands-on approach.
Most of the stuff we do on the ship you just can't reproduce in the classroom.
Kelly said in the half day program, they try to look at all parts of the aquatic ecosystem.
It's just non-stop.
They do water testing, which you might expect, and then hit some areas you might not expect.
We do a little physics actually using the boat as our laboratory.
Kelly said students look at the microscopic animals living in the lake. They take a sample of the mud from the bottom of the lake and then they sieve that and see what kind of animals are living in there.
"And we also collect fish from the bottom of the lake and have a look at those. We emphasize the connections between all different parts of the ecosystem so the kids get an understanding of the food webs and the impact of invasive species, pollution and those types of things on the Great Lakes."
Kelly said some 90,000 students have taken the school ship program in its 23-year run. Kelly said he hopes the new grant money will not only bring in new faces but also make it possible for his repeat visitors to continue to return.
"We've have schools where we have a very committed teacher and she's been bringing her classes for years and years, sometimes 10, 12, 15 years in a row. And then all the sudden they tell us we just can't come next year because there's just no funding at all. So that's been a really sad situation and we're hoping to address that head-on and provide these funds."
Kelly said he hopes students leave with the school ship program with a basic understanding of how the Great Lakes work and a feeling of commitment to help protect the lakes.
He also hopes they're awed by what they see during their all-expense paid trip aboard the school ship.
From budgeting time to budgeting money, there's no shortage of challenges for college students. But those issues are magnified for foster youth who don't have the same safety net to fall back on.
Western Michigan University has built a network of campus coaches that provide round-the-clock support for foster youth. Now thanks to a 700 thousand dollar grant from the Kresge Foundation, they plan to launch a statewide initiative to launch similar efforts on all Michigan college campuses.
WMU Professor of Social Work Yvonne Unrau said the goal is to build on what is already working on campuses in Michigan.
"Some schools have already begun that effort and so we want to help share the lessons learned here."
Unrau said traditionally, the odds have been stacked against foster youth and their college aspirations.
National statistics show that while 70 percent of foster youth express a desire to attend college, fewer than three percent eventually earn a degree.
Schools can't do it alone and that's why Detroit, Ann Arbor and more than 150 cities around the country will make early literacy a priority for 2012.
Statistics show that two-thirds of U-S students are not proficient readers when they finish the early grades, and research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation indicates once children miss that benchmark, they're far more likely to drop out of school later.
Toni Hartke is with Wayne County's Great Start Collaborative. She said experts now know that the focus on literacy needs to start long before children start school.
"Making sure that they are healthy and then ready to succeed in school, getting them ready for kindergarten, that that's going to increase that third-grade score."
Five Michigan communities have joined the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. They're competing for All-America City Awards that recognize quality literacy projects.
Ralph Smith is leading the campaign nationally for the Casey Foundation. He said he sees plenty of places where creative opportunities have yet to be tapped.
"Recreation centers, churches and congregations, libraries, and athletic programs communities can create literacy-rich programs."
While many early childhood education groups focus on kindergarten through age five, Hartke said her group focuses on prenatal needs through age 8.
"You have to start even before the child is born, to make sure that they are going to be born healthy."
And if they have special needs, Hartke said early intervention often prevents failure later on.
A Casey Foundation report shows that poor children who don't read proficiently are 13 times more likely not to finish high school, compared to good readers who never lived in poverty.
Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law a measure that lifts the limit on how many university-sponsored charter schools are allowed to operate in the state. Opponents of the law say the traditional public school model is a proven success, while the record for charters is spotty.
But Governor Snyder said more charter schools can be a valuable part of Michigan's K-through-12 system.
"If it's done right, we should be raising the bar for all schools. Again, I want to see better performance out of every school, whether it's charter or public, all variations. And we need to do a better job. Too much of our school systems have historically gotten carried away with the topic or where the dollars are going and money, and I believe we didn't focus enough on the kids' education."
The cap on charter schools will be lifted over a few years. An unlimited number of university-sponsored charter schools will be allowed in the state by the year 2015.
The state has lost a competition for federal funding for education programs for the third time in three years.
The third time was not the charm for the state's application in the federal "Race to the Top" program.
The state Department of Education touted what it believed to be strong applications for three separate shots at "Race to the Top" federal funds for education reform. Right before Christmas two years ago the state Legislature even met on a rare weekend session day to approve major education system changes so the state could make a stronger case for the federal money. Michigan's application for "Race to the Top" funds was rejected then, and it was rejected again this time as the state applied for a program aimed specifically at bolstering early childhood education programs.
State Superintendent Michael Flanagan expressed his disappointment, saying Washington D.C. "needs to support states like Michigan that have great need; a record of change and reform; and committed leaders."
A proposal to get rid of the limit on the number of university-sponsored K-through-12 charter schools in the state is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder's desk. The state Senate gave final approval to the measure Thursday at the state Capitol. Democratic lawmakers said it will hurt traditional public schools.
Republican state Senator Phil Pavlov said the final version of the bill should be more acceptable to everyone.
"There were some additional transparency measures included in this legislation, as well as a gradual lifting of the authorizers on the public school academies."
The bill would allow unlimited university-sponsored charters in the state by the year 2015. And it would require charters to report back to their authorizers on whether the new schools are meeting their academic goals. The bill does not require the charters to meet exceptional performance standards.
The cap limiting the number of Charter schools allowed has passed in the House and Senate.
CMU Public Radio spoke this week with State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. He said he is supportive of the move to lift the cap. He said there is 15 years of data to show the schools can be successfully managed.
"The reason I'm less concerned about the Charter schools is they're public schools and Central Michigan and others are good charter authorizes. I have the right to take away their authority to charter if they don't do a good job and we feel that they've stepped up. The fact that it caps off doesn't suddenly mean there is going to be another 500 schools, the universities are going to do this in a smart way."
Flanagan said he is skeptical about lifting the cap on Cyber schools because he said there is little data to show if K-12 online learning is successful.
The state House has approved a measure that would allow an unlimited number of university-sponsored K-through-12 charter schools to operate in Michigan by the year 2015.
The proposal would lift the cap on university charters over a couple years, eventually eliminating the restriction on the number of charters altogether.
Democratic state Representative Steven Lindberg said that could lead to more failing public schools if charter schools are allowed to interview and hand-pick their students.
"It saddens me, because I see us going back to a time when we're going to have separate but unequal education in this country."
The measure would require universities to consider county populations and the number of kids in an area that are on charter school waiting lists before opening a new charter school. The measure now heads back to the state Senate for final approval.
State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan made a trip to Clare county Tuesday to tour Farwell Schools.
He began his day being serenaded by a classroom of 4th graders.
"Welcome Superintendent Flanagan... we beat out all the rest"
Flanagan traveled to Farwell because the school had been named a "Re-imagine District" about a year ago. His trip was aimed at introducing him to some of the unique programs the school district offers. Things like Chinese Immersion classes, online classes, and a five year high school program where students graduate with a high school diploma and an associates degree.
Flanagan said this approach of thinking outside the typical four-walls of the classroom is a model for education in Michigan.
"Eventually all these re-imagine districts, we're just going to use this as ammunition to take away rules for everyone."
Flanagan said by offering multiple options for students, schools can better help them learn in multiple ways.
Ferris State University non-tenure track faculty members staged a "grade in" Monday, to raise awareness about their on-going contract negotiations.
The faculty members were demonstrating outside Ferris president David Eisler's office, said Alice Bandstra. She's president of the Ferris Non-tenure-Track Faculty Organization.
"It is final exam week here at Ferris State University, and a number of our faculty members have come here to sit and grade, exams, papers and so on, and try to get the President to notice that we're here, we're serious about our bargaining, and that we're at work and on the job."
The two sides have reached agreements on several non-economic issues, but things like health care, wages and job security remain on the table.
Shelly Armstrong is a spokesperson for the university.
"Negotiations have been moving forward in a very professional and respectful manner, and we would hope that they would continue to do that, even with the demonstration today. You know, we certainly are always disappointed when negotiations are taken away from the bargaining table, because that's where negotiations should take place."
Armstrong said the university hopes to wrap up negotiations before the end of this year.
The two sides are next scheduled to meet on Wednesday.
More university-sponsored charter schools would be able to operate in Michigan under a bill in the state House. A vote on the measure has been slowed because some lawmakers are skeptical.
Those who oppose the proposal to get rid of the charter school cap said they are not surprised it failed to gain enough support to come up for a vote in the House, which is controlled by a G-O-P majority.
Democratic state Representative Lisa Brown said the measure should include a requirement that charter schools meet performance standards before opening in Michigan.
"I'm for quality education and every child should have a right to high quality education. There's nothing in this bill that provides that."
Supporters of the measure said lifting the cap on the number of charter schools that can operate in Michigan will provide more options to students in failing school districts.
It's unclear if the charter school bill will be approved before the end of the year.
More charter schools may soon be allowed to open in Michigan. The state House is expected to vote this week on a measure that would get rid of the cap on the number of university-sponsored charter schools in the state.
Peter Spadafore is with the Michigan Association of School Boards, which opposes the proposed changes. He said most of the testimony lawmakers heard was from representatives of high-performing charter schools.
"But what's not being talked about is that one third of failing schools in the state of Michigan are charter schools, and one third of all charter schools are on the bottom 20 percent of the Michigan Department of Education's list of persistently low-achieving schools."
Spadafore said the proposal should include requirements that all charter schools perform well as a condition of staying open. Supporters of the measure say parents and students, especially in neighborhoods with low-performing public schools, deserve more options.
Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for an amendment to the Michigan constitution that would outlaw for-profit schools. Four out of five charter schools in Michigan operate as for-profit schools.
Democratic state Senator Rebekah Warren said only 17 percent of charter schools out-perform traditional public schools. She said school aid money should not go toward profits for businesses.
Warren said her amendment would not ban charter schools, but it would reform how they operate.
"If those companies are doing such a great job and they want to come in and they want to educate our kids they can reformat their business model and become non-profits. This isn't saying they can't operate here."
Voters must approve amendments to the state constitution.
A Republican proposal in the legislature would remove the cap on charter schools, allowing more to operate in Michigan. Warren said approving the Republican measure would make the problem worse.
November 10 will mark the 36th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the largest vessel to go down in the Great Lakes.
Filmmaker Ric Mixter is showing his film, "Edmund Fitzgerald Investigations" Tuesday night at Saginaw Valley State University.
David Nicholas spoke with Mixter last week and asked him how he became so involved with the on-going story, and lore, of the doomed freighter.
Ric Mixter's documentary "Edmund Fitzgerald Investigations" will be presented at Saginaw Valley State University on Tuesday November 1 at 7:30 PM. The film will be shown in the Ott Auditorium of the Regional Education Center.
Mixter will answer questions and also sign copies of his most recent book, "The Wheelsmen" that evening.
More internet-based K-through-12 schools may soon be available to Michigan students. The state Senate approved a measure that would allow more cyber-schools than the two web-based charter schools already in the state.
Cyber-school supporters said there are thousands of kids on waiting lists to get into the state's two internet-based charter schools. They said parents and students, especially those in failing school districts, deserve more and better choices.
Democratic state Senator Rebekah Warren said the state should know more about how well the current cyber schools are doing before opening up the state to more.
"Michigan, to this point, really has no good data on how those two cyber-charters are doing on the educational achievement of the students that are in those programs, and on the actual cost of providing that education."
Warren's proposal to ensure the student-to-teacher ratio in cyber-schools is similar to that of traditional public school classrooms was rejected by the state Senate. The cyber-schools bill now moves to the state House.
More K-through-12 schools could soon open virtual doors online in Michigan. The state Senate is expected to vote on a cyber-schools expansion bill this week.
The bill would allow for more cyber schools in Michigan. Peter Spadafore with the Michigan Association of School Boards said the cyber-school model has not been around long enough to be proven successful for teaching kids.
"There's a reason the model of teachers in classrooms has been used for so long by in large it's very successful and you get individualized attention."
Spadafore said it makes sense to take a blended approach to teaching kids online and in the classroom. Parents of students who are enrolled with cyber schools say they needed more education options in districts where the traditional public schools were failing.
It's no secret that there can be many roadblocks for students from low income areas who are trying to go to college.
Some don't have the money while others think it's just not possible.
Farwell high school is trying to change that with a newly launched Early College program.
Farwell High School's Early College program allows students to complete a high school diploma and an associates degree at the local Community College; all by taking five years of high school.
Under the program students earn their associates degree for free. There are similar programs in Clare, Flint, Saginaw and 12 other communities
The program is paid for with Full Time Equivalent funding, that's the state aid that schools normally receive. Although Farwell is at the lowest funding level, officials said they still have enough to pay for students' books and tuition for students.
That's because, they said, the five-year high school represents not a funding increase but a funding shift. Farwell teachers are trained to instruct college courses. And the money the school would normally use for high school classes they re-direct to the college courses instead.
Dee Yarger is the principle of Farwell High school, she said although there are other similar programs, Farwell's is distinct.
"There's not any out there that are exactly like ours. Our program sets them up right in the setting that they're comfortable with right in our Farwell campus with teachers that are" said Yarger.
Early College manager Lynette Leslie said at first students didn't like the idea of staying in school for an extra year, but with support from the staff and the community they came to see it as a good thing.
"More and more students are coming to me they're getting really excited they pass me in the hallways and talk about it a lot" said Leslie.
Leslie says besides the positive feedback, the program is giving some students an avenue to realize their full potential.
"What we're also noticing is that a lot of our students that struggle in their high school career starting out their GPA might be lower, a lot of times this is kids who are not always pushed to their limits when we see them taking college classes their GPA has risen they've shown a lot more success, and they're just rejuvenated, its really good to see."
Students like Tyler Thayer who will have his associates degree this time next year.
"It was more of a second chance for me, because people have always told me that I had potential and I need to apply myself and I never really looked at it like that. But this college program has really given me to really apply myself and pursue my dream" said Thayer.
The Early College program at Farwell high school may be the future of education. Yarger said it will be around for years to come, because the need will continue to exist.
A northern Michigan school is being nationally recognized for its health and wellness initiative.
First Lady Michelle Obama and the USDA awarded a gold distinguish award to Roscommon Middle School. The school received the award for offering healthier foods in their cafeteria and increasing students physical activity.
Ron Alden is the former principle of the middle school. He said kids are responding well to the changes because they were a part of the process.
"So we did things like have taste surveys, where kids could come in and taste certain things and then put the one with the most support or most votes, we'd serve that on Friday."
Alden said the school offers a free breakfast which is popular among the kids.
Students are also utilizing a rock wall recently installed in the gym, hiking trails and a Wii dance-off hosted once a week at the school.
He said the funding for the initiative has come from private donations, federal grants and the schools general fund.
Allden is now working as principle for the high school. He said he will be introducing the same changes there.
Students struggling with the demands of higher education will soon find
extra supports at CMU. The college is launching two new retention
programs aimed at low-income and first-generation students.
Colleen Green is the Director of Native American Programs at CMU. She
says sometimes this demographic of higher risk students needs extra
support from outside the home, "We see students that do not have the
support system, they're not sure how to work the University system.
They are new to the University. They're also first generation students
for the most part, so they don't have anybody at home to rely on to give
them that additional information of tutoring services, supplemental
instruction, advising and mentoring."
The new college retention
programs will be funded by one-and-a-half-million-dollars in grants from
the Michigan Strategic Fund and the King- Chavez- Parks Initiative.
The Michigan Senate approved eliminating a cap on the number of chart schools, but not before a heated debate broke out about bullying.
The conversation turned over how to best protect kids from being harassed by other kids.
Senator Glenn Anderson tried to tack an amendment onto the charter school bill that would require charter schools to adopt anti-bullying policies. His proposal required lists of reasons kids could not be picked on including weight, gender, race and sexual orientation.
Republicans have traditionally railed against similar bullying lists, and Anderson said that's not acceptable.
"The sad fact is is that there are some people that believe that there are some kids that should be protected and not others."
Republican state Representative Tory Rocca said making lists of who can and cannot be bullied is a terrible idea to protect kids.
"You literally exclude children, and by law say to discriminate some and bully some, but not others."
In the end, all anti-bullying proposals were turned down, and the Senate approved the elimination of the charter school cap by a narrow margin.
Supporters of online charter schools were at the state capitol Tuesday to call on lawmakers to make it easier to take online courses. Students are currently required to attend a public school before they are allowed to enroll for virtual classes. The bill would eliminate that requirement.
Artavia Ceteways is a parent of three students taking virtual classes. Ceteways said she sees a noticeable difference in her kids' progress.
"Because I really wasn't for sure if I was doing the right thing for my children, but that made me proud to know that being in this program for one year, they have learned more in one year than they have ever learned since they have been in school."
But supporters of traditional public schools said students taking all their courses online more typically fall behind academically. The state Senate education committee will continue taking testimony on the virtual schools proposal Wednesday.
Ferris State University hosted a seminar last night in an effort to spread awareness about hazing.
Danielle Leisner is a student leadership worker at FSU. She said hazing is not a serious issue on their campus, but...
"There are things that can go unreported whether or not people are aware of them or even aware that what they're doing is hazing. So it's really important that everything gets laid on the table so if it is happening it stops."
Leisner said she hopes the seminar will encourage students to come forward if they know of hazing incidences.
The seminar was scheduled for 7:30 last night on the campus of FSU.
A state Senate panel has approved a measure that would allow school districts to hire teachers through private companies. The proposal could allow districts to circumvent bargaining with unions.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Phil Pavlov said the proposal will give cash-strapped school districts more options.
"It's something they can do as a tool to contain costs, if that's what they want, if they want to take a different approach to how they hire their instructional service, they have that opportunity. It's not a mandate, it just makes it permissive."
The bill also eliminates the cap on university-sponsored charter schools. Both proposals are part of a controversial education-overhaul package before the Senate panel. The state's largest teachers union said the legislation amounts to selling the education of students to the lowest bidder.
The state Senate Education Committee will open two days of hearings Tuesday focused on a Republican plan to encourage more charter schools. Charter schools compete with traditional public schools for students and state funding.
The state Senate Republican package goes further than the education agenda outlined by Governor Rick Snyder back in April. The governor wants to encourage more charter schools in districts that are struggling. The Senate G-O-P plan would remove many of the barriers to opening new charters anywhere in the state.
State Senator Phil Pavlov chairs the education committee.
"If you inject a little competition into the education model, traditionals will start meeting some of the demand that parents and students have."
The Senate Republican package would also allow more online charter schools and make it easier for parents or teachers to ask a school district to convert a traditional school to a charter.
But critics of the proposals say without better quality controls, allowing lots of new charter schools will also open the door to a lot of poor quality charter schools.
Democratic state lawmakers said voters should be allowed to decide how the state's School Aid Fund is spent.
The lawmakers are upset that some of the schools money helped pay for universities and community colleges in the coming fiscal year.
The Republican-led Legislature approved a budget that allocated nearly 400 million dollars from the School Aid Fund to help pay for higher education. Democratic state Representative Mark Meadows said voters want School Aid Fund to be spent only on K-through-12 schools. He said it would take about 1000 signatures per school district to get that question on the ballot.
"I don't think it's such a huge mountain to climb to think that PTAs, other school organizations, can carry a petition and get those signatures pretty rapidly."
Meadows said he would like the Legislature to put the question on the ballot, but he thinks a grassroots effort could take off if Republican leaders decide not to vote on the issue.
Republicans say K-through-12 schools took a smaller hit in the budget than most other areas of government, which demonstrates their commitment to education.
The new chief of the Michigan Education Association said Republicans have only themselves to blame for the raft of recall efforts launched against G-O-P lawmakers.
Steve Cook is the newly elected president of the state's largest teachers union. He acknowledged the M-E-A has dumped thousands of dollars into the recall effort and would not rule out spending more. But he said the recalls would not be gaining traction if it were only teachers who are unhappy with what's going on in Lansing.
"Do not underestimate the mood out there in the general public with what the Legislature has done. I've never seen anything like it."
Cook was on the Michigan Public T-V show "Off the Record." He said people are mad about cuts to schools and the new tax on pensions.
So far, only one union-backed recall drive has actually qualified for the ballot, but dozens of petitions are circulating to recall lawmakers. The state Republican Party has launched a counter-effort aimed at Democrats.
The Republican leader of the state House said he would like to see a law in Michigan that allows teachers to opt out of joining a union or paying union dues as a condition of working for a school district. House Speaker Jase Bolger endorsed a "right-to-teach" law this Friday morning on a statewide public radio call-in show.
Bolger's support would appear to clear a path through the Legislature for a "right-to-work" law that applies only to teachers. The Senate majority leader has already expressed his support and said he expects to see the measure come up for a vote.
Bolger said a "right-to-teach" law is not a poke at teachers unions that have tangled with Republicans on school reforms, and have backed the recall of G-O-P lawmakers. Bolger said the measure is meant to respect teachers by giving them more control over their paychecks.
"We've heard from teachers who are not happy with how their union dues are being used. They're not happy with what's going on."
Bolger said he is not yet ready to embrace a more sweeping "right-to-work" bill, although he said that should also be discussed.
The House Democratic leader said targeting one profession for a "right-to-work" law smacks of retribution.
A Republican lawmaker wants to dock Michigan State and Wayne State universities millions of dollars in state aid for skirting the intent of a law meant to hold down tuition increases.
State Representative Bob Genetski chairs the House higher education budget subcommittee. He said Michigan State and Wayne State used a calendar trick to exceed a seven percent cap on tuition increases. Governor Rick Snyder's budget director ruled grudgingly that the two universities are in technical compliance with the law, but Genetski said that's not good enough.
"The spirit of what we wanted to protect people from has been violated."
Genetski has submitted an amended higher education budget that would dock M-S-U 18 million dollars and Wayne State 17 million dollars. Genetski said every other state university complied with both the letter and the spirit of the tuition restraint law.
Former N-B-A player and one of the "Fab Five" at the University of Michigan, Jalen Rose, told lawmakers at the state Capitol Wednesday parents need more school options for their kids.
Rose sponsored a charter academy that opened in his hometown of Detroit.
Rose said when the school opened this fall, most of the incoming freshmen could not read at a ninth-grade level. He said the school selects students based on a lottery, rather than test scores, so every kid would have a shot at getting in.
Rose said he focused his attention on education after retiring from the N-B-A a few years ago. He said as a retiree in his mid-30s he told himself.
"I have to do something, because I can't run, jump, and I can still shoot, but, you know what I mean."
Rose said though sports are a great motivator for students, not everyone can play professional basketball. He said every student should be given the opportunity and tools to work in a job they love.
The state Board of Education has
approved tougher testing standards for K-through-12 students.
Students who take the state's
standardized test called the MEAP will have to meet more stringent marks
for proficiency under the new testing standards. Members of the state board say
Michigan has to get on pace with national testing standards for math, reading,
social studies and science. Students will be expected to answer about
two-thirds of test questions correctly. That's double the previous test-score
cut-off for proficiency.
The tougher standards could result
in more schools failing to benchmarks for student achievement. But board
members say the test score standards will help better prepare students for
A state Senate panel began hearings Wednesday on a package of sweeping education reforms. This is the second round of major changes proposed to Michigan's education system this year.
The package of bills include measures that would allow more charter schools in the state, allow schools to hire teachers from private companies, and require districts to open empty seats in classrooms to students who live outside of the area. Representatives from the education community said the proposals are controversial.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Phil Pavlov said, he does not think so.
"I'm not sure I'd use the word 'controversial,' I mean we having a conversation about choice for parents and students in the state and that shouldn't be controversial."
Pavlov also took the lead on the debate over teacher tenure reform earlier this year. He said he does not have a timeline to get this round of education reforms through the Legislature.
Faculty at Central Michigan University have been without a
contract since June 30 for the first time in school history. The agreement in
place was allowed to expire without extension.
Bargaining teams for the administration and the faculty
association begin the fact finding process today in hopes of coming to terms on
a new collective bargaining agreement.
On July 14th, the university and faculty
association petitioned for fact finding through the Michigan Employment
Relations Commission. Barry Goldman will serve as the appointed fact finder.
Since then, there has been no formal bargaining. FA
President Laura Frey said the union has and does prefer to be at the table...
Robert Vercruysee is the Employment and Labor Relations
Council for CMU he will present the university's case at the hearings. He said
there was a breakdown in communication that led to a delay in moving forward
with the fact finding process...
Vercruysee adds that the fact finder tried to schedule pre
hearing conferences, but, in his words the faculty was not available.
Laura Frey said in her view, the process has been hurried
along by the university in an attempt to move negotiations away from formal
The fact finding process is not binding. Both sides
acknowledged this as we sat down for interviews for this story, but there are
at this point differing interpretations as to what will happen as the process
Robert Vercruysee said the law did not give public employees
the right to strike, but did grant the right to mediation and fact finding. He
said the report coming from the fact finder is, in effect, the basis for a new
collective bargaining agreement or contract...
Laura Frey believes the report is meant to render a
perspective on the case made by both sides. But further, bring both sides back
into formal discussions toward a new contract. She said, that was made clear to
her by the Judge Paul Chamberlain's ruling on August 26th...
The FA president believes in her side's case as does the
university, as both sides enter the fact finding process. Laura Frey's concern is
with the potential outcome, her belief that CMU plans to at some point impose a
contract on the faculty. She said, based on the terms as of July 14th
when talks broke off between the two sides...
Robert Vercruysee maintains his position in representing the
university that this fact finding process will lead to a fair and equitable
deal for both sides...
Three fact finding sessions have been scheduled. One
additional session date has been set aside for Wednesday, September 14th.
A coalition of Michigan's public university officials said a college tuition is still affordable, despite increases in tuition. A report from the Presidents Council said need-based financial aid is on the rise, and universities are covering more student costs.
Michael Boulous is with the council. He said a college education is more important than ever for workers in Michigan.
"The number of jobs for workers with high school diplomas is shrinking rapidly. In many cases, entire industries that employed these workers are vanishing. Unemployment for people who have gone to college is half the rate it is for those who have only a high school diploma." Said Boulous.
The report said merit-based scholarships have decreased slightly over the past few years. But the report said need-based financial aid has nearly doubled in that time. The report said the average student pays about 48-hundred dollars in tuition at a public university. School officials said about two-thirds of students qualify for financial aid.
A polarizing Democratic state representative is resigning to become a national school-reform lobbyist based out of California's state capital.
Democratic state Representative Tim Melton gained a lot of attention, for better or worse from colleagues, lobbyists and people working in education, when he was chairman of the House Education Committee.
Melton spearheaded many education reforms that have become a springboard for continued changes to the education system under a Republican-led Legislature. Melton lost his chairmanship when Republicans took control of the House, but he continued to be an outspoken member of his caucus.
"I was one of the few Democrats out of all of them that actually would work with the majority party to get some things done." Said Melton.
Melton said he is excited to work throughout the country to help other states approve reforms similar to those he pushed in Michigan. He will be a lead lobbyist for Students First, an education-reform advocacy group led by Michelle Rhee. He will not be allowed to lobby the Michigan Legislature until after 2012, when his term would expire.
Saginaw Valley State University said it is limiting the number of incoming students in the future.
University officials say campus housing and a projection of decreasing high school graduation rates are factors in the decision.
University officials said one reason they're limiting the number of incoming freshman is because they don't plan to build any more housing in the future. New construction means new debt, and with the current state of the economy, college spokesman JJ Boehm said that's something to avoid.
"We don't want to take on additional debt, but at the same time we know that the number of high school graduates in Michigan is declining. So it seems to make sense for us to pause, and say we think that we have for the past couple of years a healthy freshman class and that seems to be the right level for us to have going forward."
Admissions officials at CMU said they've imposed similar restrictions over the past three years with their incoming classes.
There are 98 persistently low-performing schools in Michigan. That's according to an annual list of the state's worst-performing schools produced by the Michigan Department of Education. Forty of the schools on the list are in Detroit.
Joseph Martineau is with the Department of Education. He said the ranking system considers many factors in student test scores and achievement.
"It includes reading, writing, math, science and social studies. We look at the percentage of students who are meeting the bar, we also look at how the schools are improving over time, and we also look at achievement gaps, and so we put all of those together into a single index on which we rank schools." Said Martineau.
Schools on the so-called "Persistently Lowest Achieving" list are required to create an improvement plan to present to the state. One of options for schools that do not improve is closure. Detroit Public Schools are exempt from that requirement because they are under the control of an emergency manager.
Some state lawmakers said businesses should be required to let parents leave work to attend parent-teacher conferences and other education-related appointments with their kids.
State Representative Lisa Brown is the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, and she's a mother of three boys. She said working full time and being invested in a child's education can be a tough juggling act.
"You know, you want to know how your child is doing in school, you want to have that relationship with your child's teacher, and it's just not always that easy to do." Said Brown
Brown introduced a bill with fellow Democrats that would require businesses to give employees eight hours of unpaid leave per child, per school year, to attend school appointments. That includes parent-teacher conferences and tutoring sessions, but not extra-curricular activities such as sporting events. A spokesperson for the House Republicans said he has not studied the bill, but he said it sounds like too broad of an imposition on businesses.
Faculty at CMU were in the classroom yesterday after a walk-out Monday when the union declared a full work stoppage.
Instructors were ordered back to the classroom when a judge filed a temporary restraining order Monday afternoon.
Now the faculty and the university are likely preparing for a number of pending actions.
Both sides will be in court Friday as the judge that ordered faculty back to work will hear arguments for and against a permanent injunction ending the strike. . Then on September 7, both sides will present their cases to a fact finder. He'll examine the evidence and make a non-binding recommendation on how negotiations may proceed.
And at some point, officials say, in the near future, the two sides will appear before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission the M.E.R.C to discuss the legality of the walk-out.
Ruth Ann Okun is director of the MERC.
She said there is a narrow parameter that may make the work-stoppage legal.
"In general strikes by public employees are illegal, that's always been the case. But there was some language in, I believe it was, a court of appeals case some time ago that left a little bit of a door open as to whether striking in protest of an unfair labor practice, whether in face that was illegal."
There were no new talks yesterday in the faculty dispute, but also no new pickets or protests.
Again, the next scheduled activity will be the circuit court appearance on Friday.
The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has filed a brief with a federal appeals court in Cincinnati. It opposes an effort by Republican state Attorney General Bill Schuette to get the court to uphold Michigan's ban on using race or gender in admissions decisions.
A panel of the U-S Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the ban on affirmative action in admissions policies last month. The Michigan attorney general is now asking the entire court to reconsider and reverse that decision. He said the court should give deference to the wishes of Michigan voters who approved the ban in 2006.
The Civil Rights Commission is an independent agency. The members of the commission were all appointed in recent years by Democrat Jennifer Granholm when she was governor.
The brief filed by the commission says universities not voters should be trusted to make decisions in the best interests of their students, and it was unconstitutional to single-out admissions policies dealing with race and gender diversity on the ballot.
There is no word on when the court may decide whether to reconsider the decision.
Around the campus of CMU, students have mixed feelings about the work stoppage.
Some are excited about the possibility of having no class, while others are worried that they may go to class this morning and have no teacher.
CMU students are gearing up for their first day of class today. But a lot of students are uncertain now of how the day will pan out. Some are debating if they'll even go to class.
Laneer Turner is a sophomore from Detroit. He said he's still undecided.
"I think it would be a waste of time to go to class and to find no teacher there, but it might be appropriate to get up and go. I think we're the ones who are really getting hurt here, because we're not getting the education that we're paying for and that we deserve."
Other students like Detroit Sophomore Jacob Carter said they're taking no chances.
He said the fact that only tenured faculty are striking may be confusing to students in terms of which classes they should attend.
"I mean it's just like you go to class, you might not have it, but we want you to go anyway. I mean I'll go just to be on the safe side."
Some students are also saying that they want a tuition refund for any class time they may miss due to the faculty walk out.
The Central Michigan University Faculty Association declared a full work stoppage this evening, hours before the start of fall classes. The University says it's going to court tomorrow morning seeking an injunction ordering the faculty back to class. CMU says the faculty walk out is illegal, because Michigan law prohibits public employees from striking over economic issues.
The union has been without a contract since June 30.
CMU Public Radio's Mike Horace and Amy Robinson report...
K-12 schools are scheduled to begin September 6th but several Michigan teacher unions are still without a contract.
Rosemarry Carry is with the MEA. She said her organization released a critical list of unions she said are struggling.
"A critical List is a listing of those who are having difficulty in bargaining, difficulty in reaching a settlements, usually they are on the list because they've been bargaining for quite a long time."
Carry said the list informs people as to what is going on in their school. And encourages other school unions to show their support.
Schools on the list include Flint and Port Huron.
She said union members will continue to work without contracts this upcoming school year.
Negotiations will continue today; the threat of a strike, still alive; as Central Michigan University will meet again with its faculty union.
Union President Laura Frey said although there are a number of issues on the table, university finances continue to be a point of contention.
"Central Michigan University is financially flourishing, at least 228-million in unrestricted surplus assets, a fund equity balance that continues to increase, total assets have continued to increase. It is extremely frustrating to me that the administration has the money to pay all employee groups a fair, comparable salaries, give them increases and has chosen not to do that. That's the stress to watch an administration disrespect faculty, disrespect employees"
University spokesman Steve Smith said CMU is interested in reaching an agreement with its faculty, but has some real financial challenges to address as well.
"I think it's important to point out that CMU took a $12-million cut in appropriations from the state of Michigan this year. It puts us back at a funding level equal to what we received in 1996 and '97. Economic times remain uncertain and it makes it important that the University continue its fiscally conservative approach. It's important in providing a superior learning environment for our students. We remain committed to working with the Faculty Association to resolve our differences"
Today will be the third day of negotiations since the two sides returned to the bargaining table this week.
On Monday, the faculty union membership voted overwhelmingly to authorize it's bargaining team to call for any job action it deems necessary, up to and including a strike.
With less than a week left until the start of classes, negotiators from
CMU and its faculty union are scheduled to return to the bargaining
table today at 11:30.
The two sides met yesterday for five hours and, in the words of the union, it was disappointing.
The Faculty union membership voted on Monday to authorize its bargaining
team to take any job action it deems necessary, up to and including a
Union spokesman and past president Tim Connors said last night that from
where he's sitting, they may not be far from calling for a job action
"This is just me, the bargaining team has not said anything to me about
this, so this is, again, I'm speaking for myself. I would imagine if
tomorrow's session goes the way that today's apparently did, that I
wouldn't at all be surprised to see some kind of activity."
Connors said if an action is called for he doesn't know what type of action it may be
In the meantime. CMU Spokesman Steve Smith had a more positive take on the current negotiating process.
"It's important that we give the collective bargaining process a chance
to work. The fact that both sides are returning to the bargaining table
should be viewed as a positive sign."
Negotiators are scheduled to return to the bargaining table today at 11:30 in Ronan Hall on the campus of CMU.
Contract negotiations between the Central Michigan University and its Faculty Administration may resume as early as today.
comes after what was largely an unexpected move. Last night, the
faculty union voted to give its bargaining team the final decision on
any future job action.
The university said last night's union
vote was a "positive development" because in addition to empowering the
7-member bargaining team with any and all job action decision, it also
formally requested that CMU once again join the union at the bargaining
table. CMU said this is the first time since mid July that the faculty
requested that negotiations resume.
The union insists that CMU is quote "financially flourishing" and should be able to afford a more generous offer.
But CMU spokesmen Steve Smith said that's not the case.
matters still remain unresolved, most significantly is a compensation
and benefits package that they have proposed that costs approximately 10
million dollars. This comes on the heels of a 12 million dollar
reduction in state appropriations." Said Steve Smith.
dollar and cents work out Smith said the good news is the two sides are
once again talking. He said negotiations are likely to begin this week;
possibly as early as today.
After negotiations stalled in July, the Central Michigan Faculty Association voted last night to allow its bargaining team to decide what action the union will take next.
Laura Frey is the president of the union. She said the contract currently offered by the administration would significantly reduce pay and benefits and thus, the quality of the teachers.
She said ultimately students will suffer the most.
"To me the administration has shown to me how little they care about faculty and how little they care about students. I have been stating in interviews since July 14th when the third mediation session ended that our FA bargaining team wants to come back to the table."
A university spokesman is calling last night's vote a "positive development". He said it's the first time since mid July the faculty bargaining team as formally requested that negotiations resume between the two sides.
He said the two sides could meet again this week, perhaps as early as today.
Central Michigan University professors remain on the job, despite being without a contract since June 30th. But they have authorized a strike at a moment's notice.
Professors are now preparing for the start of the fall semester, but whether they'll be in classrooms on Monday remains to be seen.
The faculty voted Monday night to authorize its bargaining committee to take any action it deems necessary, up to and including a strike.
"We gave them the authority tonight to call a job action," said Tim Conners, immediate past president of the CMU Faculty Association. "Not to call a vote for a job action, Not to say 'is this what you want to do?' We authorized them to say 'it's time to take a job action, and here is the job action we are going to take.'"
The union also made a formal
request for the university to return to the bargaining table.
University spokesman Steve Smith called that a "positive development."
"This is the first time since both the university and the faculty association filed for fact finding back in mid-July that the faculty bargaining team has formally requested that both sides resume negotiations," Smith said.
The faculty association is advising its members to prepare for the start of the fall semester, as negotiations between the two sides resume.
The State has launched a website today aimed at making information about public schools more accessible.
MIschooldata.org offers all kinds of information on Michigan's pre-schools, K-12 schools and colleges. It has state assessment results, the annual education report, adequate yearly progress reports and student count information, among other things.
Kurt Weiss is with the State department of Technology, Management and Budget. They helped create the site. He said today's roll out is part one of a two phase project.
In the September release, we'll have high school graduation rates, we'll have non-resident enrollment data, college readiness indicators, ACT results. So lots of other data coming out in September that we're going to add in that second roll out.
Weiss said the state has been working on developing this website for about a year. He said the site puts Michigan "on the leading edge" in transparency of its public schools.
State and Wayne State universities could face budget sanctions for violating
tuition restraints. As we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, Wayne
State officials were called in to testify Wednesday before a legislative
State officials said there was no intent to evade tuition restraints, echoing a
similar claim by M-S-U officials when they were called in to testify earlier
this summer. Most public universities increased their fall rates at or below
the 7 percent cap set by the Legislature compared to tuition set for the fall
term of last year. But M-S-U and Wayne State compared their fall tuitions to
summer rates, which had just been increased. That did not sit well with state
House universities budget chair Bob Genetski.
"They know that the very
spirit of the legislation has been violated and that our efforts to protect
kids in tuition-paying families were violated, as well."
said he hopes M-S-U and Wayne State will reconsider their tuition hikes. If
not, Genetski said he'd support going back and cutting state funding for the
two schools even more.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has requested a panel of judges reaffirm that affirmative action is unconstitutional.
As Michigan Public Radio's Laura Weber reports, the request comes after U-S Court of Appeals decision earlier this month that ruled banning affirmative action is unconstitutional.
The U-S Court of Appeals ruled that the Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in public university admissions violates the 14th Amendment of the U-S Constitution. Attorney General Schuette said the ruling makes no sense.
"And it was a nutty decision that in essence said it is racially discriminatory to prohibit racial discrimination."
Schuette has asked a larger panel of judges to overturn the Court of Appeals decision, and expects to have an answer this fall. He said universities should accept students based on achievement and the state should make sure all K-through-12 students graduate with a good education, no matter where they live or what their ethnicity.
But the University of Michigan was a major voice in the fight to protect affirmative action. And representatives from the university and the American Civil Liberties Union said they hope the panel denies Schuette's request.
The state budget director has determined Michigan State and Wayne State Universities complied with the letter of the law meant to hold tuition increases below seven-point-one percent. But, as we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, the schools may have used a loophole to get around the requirement and avoid (m) millions of dollars in sanctions.
M-S-U and Wayne State measured their tuition hikes from the summer term to the fall term and did not compare fall tuition of last year to fall tuition of this year.
Kurt Weiss of the state budget office said that is strictly "technical compliance."
"MSU and Wayne State have done that by the letter of the way it was written, but from an intent standpoint, I think that's a different matter."
But that may not be the final word.
State Representative Bob Genetski chairs the House higher education budget subcommittee.
"MSU used lawyers, accountants and whatever bureaucrats they could find to swindle students."
Genetski said he has not ruled out passing new budgets that would punish M-S-U and Wayne State for ignoring the intent of tuition restraints.
The recent Board of Trustees meeting at Lake Superior State University was more profitable than usual, thanks to a million-dollar donation and a crew of contributors.
Two new scholarship opportunities were set up at the meeting July 15th.
Tom Coates is the Executive Director of the LSSU Foundation. He said one of the scholarships comes from an eastern UP resident, Tom Considine, who is an advocate of people learning technical skills.
Coates said Considine wanted to give back to his hometown by donating over $1 million towards two annual full-tuition scholarships to LSSU.
Coates said the timing of these donations is perfect, since LSSU wants to put more attention toward scholarship opportunities.
"It's really an area that we're trying to focus on, and with the challenges students are having to fund a college education, we're just hoping that we can continue to grow and make more opportunities available for student that want to attend LSSU."
Coates said the second scholarship announced at the board meeting was an endowment fund that finally reached its goal of $25 thousand. The scholarship is named after LSSU business professor Madan Saluja. Contributions toward this fund came mostly from alumni - many of them Saluja's former students
Picture by Bobak Ha'Eri (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
The state Department of Education no longer requires people who serve on advisory panels to sign confidentiality agreements. The agreements required committee members to support all of a panel's policy recommendations - even ones they don't agree with.
The panels are made up of experts and stakeholders who help develop policy recommendations that go to the department and, sometimes, to the Legislature. People in the education community complained the signed statements seemed designed to stifle views that don't go along with the group or the department. The department says it will no longer ask advisory panel members to sign the agreements.
Martin Ackley is with the state Department of Education. He says the goal is still to get the vast array of interests in education policy to reach consensus on complex questions.
"But if they don't agree with the final consensus recommendation of the entire group, they can provide for a minority report that is in dissent."
A government watchdog says it was a good idea to reverse the policy because it undermined public confidence that government is open to all opinions.
DETROIT -- Officials in Detroit are placing nearly 40 of the worst-performing schools in the city into a new program designed to help improve student achievement. Students at the schools will be offered a two-year college scholarship if they graduate high school.
Recent performance tests found students in Detroit posting the worst scores in the nation in math, reading and science. Education experts say the city can't retain a viable future without improving those results.
The head of the Detroit Public Schools, emergency Manager Roy Roberts, said the worst schools in the city need a new approach.
"This system is broken. And I can't fix it," Roberts said. "And you can't fix it. We've gotta do something different."
The state of Michigan is creating an Education Achievement System which will effectively operate as its own district, and include schools in the bottom 5 percent in terms of performance.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined the announcement of the district by video conference. He said Detroit students' poor scores on recent national tests underline the need to address student performance in the city's schools.
"What this test is telling us more than anything else is that frankly this city has no viable future if the status quo is allowed to stand," Duncan said.
Students will have longer school days, and nearly all funding to the schools will be directed to classroom activities.
The state plans to expand the program to include other failing schools in Michigan within 5 years.
LANSING -- The Michigan Senate has approved a spending plan for K-12 schools.
The School Aid Fund bill would make additional cuts to per-pupil funding. But Republicans say much of those cuts would be offset by money used to encourage schools to consolidate services and cut costs.
According to Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, money promised to K-12 schools is being drained from the School Aid Fund to fill other budget holes.
"Now it's no secret to anyone in Michigan what this budget is or what it represents," Whitmer said. "It's a budget that robs our kids' future; taking 400 million dollars out of a fund that was supposed to be set aside for K-12 education, and spending it instead on tax cuts for business."
Republican Sen. Howard Walker said an unexpected gain in projected tax collections will help reduce the cuts if schools find ways to consolidate services and cut costs.
"I really need to stress that these best practices that are put in the budget are designed so that the school district can offset these cuts and not affect programs and education opportunities for our children," Walker said.
Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative Republicans expect the budget will be complete by early next week, and they will move on to other issues and priorities in June.
Dow Corning and the UK-based Centre for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW) say they plan to combat a shortage of eye-care professionals in developing countries. The partners plan to improve children's vision using innovative, cost-efficient eyeglasses.
The adjustable eyeglasses let users fine-tune the amount of silicone fluid inside the lenses, to tweak the glasses' strength.
Officials from the partner organizations say the glasses can improve children's vision. Lindsay Kuhnle, Global Marketing Communications Leader for Dow Corning Healthcare, says the initiative has implications beyond simply improving vision.
"The aim is to increase the effectiveness overall of classroom-based education by improving the child's ability to see the blackboard. Can you imagine being in a classroom, and not having the appropriate or any vision correction, and the challenges you would have with being able to see the blackboard? So what we're ultimately hoping to do is by improving and increasing vision correction for these children, that ultimately we'll be impacting their education."
Kuhnle says the adult glasses are relatively inexpensive.
"The glasses that are out there cost about $20, but in order to make this mass production and to get this to more children, we know that we'll need to bring the cost of the overall glasses down. So the overall goal is to significantly decrease that $20 cost of the current pair, and make them much more cost-effective to hopefully increase distribution of the child-specific glasses."
Kuhnle says the CVDW has already distributed adjustable glasses to 40,000 adults in developing countries. She says the children's glasses are based on that design.
"Picture putting on these glasses that have syringes and tubes on the side, and these little adjustment wheels. And by adding or removing the fluid, via the removable syringes and the dials, the wearer can modify the power of the lens. So the glasses are designed to provide vision correction, and they don't need to have an eye-care professional there to actually do that."
Dow Corning has committed $3 million of funding and materials-expertise to the project.
Kuhnle says the partners plan to distribute 50,000 pairs of glasses to kids in developing countries within 12 to 18 months. The partners still have to determine where exactly the glasses will go.
Photo: A snowman burns last year on the campus of LSSU in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Lake Superior State University.
Setting something on fire may be one of the clearest ways of illustrating frustration with it -- so when folks at Lake Superior State University set a ten-foot snowman on fire, you can bet they're ready for winter to be on its way.
LSSU Public Relations Director Tom Pink says the snowman-burning has become quite the event.
"There's free hot dogs and pop; our student radio station is playing music. When Bill Rabe started it, there were several English professors in the group, so there was always poetry. Lately I should say there's not as much poetry as there used to be; it seems people are more shy. They just want to see the bonfire."
Pink says the snowman is generally eight to ten feet tall, made of paper and a wire frame. He says it usually burns pretty quickly.
"We try to have a little introduction at the beginning, and tell people about the history, and within a couple minutes of getting into that, there are usually some people telling us to just burn it."
Pink says the snowman has occasionally been made to resemble goalies from opposing hockey teams, and once, during the Iran Hostage Crisis, it resembled the Ayotollah -- although he says they wouldn't do that again.
He also says a German tradition inspired LSSU's celebration.
"It was started in 1971 by Bill Rabe, the same guy who came up with our list of banished words, and he and his group, the Unicorn Hunters, came up with the snowman burning. He was aware of it through a German tradition, and he thought it would fit in here, because by the time spring arrives, people around here are usually pretty sick of winter."
University presidents, retirees, and students have all gotten to light the snowman in the past. LSSU's physical plant crew builds the snowman, and experiments with different methods of igniting it -- from matches and lighters, to model-rocket engines, according to Pink.
He tells us LSSU says goodbye to winter a few days early this year, since the first day of spring actually arrives on the weekend, on Sunday.
In today's economy it can be argued that it's tougher for college students to make ends meet. Many students resort to obtaining a state issued bridge card for food assistance.
However, it was announced yesterday that the state Department of Human Services will no longer offer food assistance grants to college students unless they have children.
The Department says it's attempting to thwart the current misuse of the system. College students receive cards regardless of whether they have a real need for assistance. The Department has decided that student status doesn't always equal need.
The new policy does not go into affect until April, but students at Central Michigan University were abuzz with feedback about the issue yesterday.
All over campus, students were talking about the new bridge card provisions. Quite a few strong opinions were thrown around.
Lauren Haas was sitting in a corridor of Anspach hall waiting for her next class when she heard the news. The senior from Farmington says college students shouldn't be allowed to have bridge cards because most of them don't really need one.
Haas says her roommates all have their own cards and the fridge is always bursting with food they don't eat. She says she's glad college student status alone won't qualify a person for a card.
"I'm for it, I'm okay with that. I think they should ban them anyway, for college students. It makes me upset when it's just kind of cheating the government."
Katie Laskowska was walking to her class in Pearce Hall when she heard that her own bridge card may be discontinued in April. The junior from Clarkston says that her card makes paying her rent and bills so much easier, especially when she doesn't have to worry about setting money aside to feed herself.
"I understand that they're trying to crack down on people who are abusing the cards, but I think that they're taking them away from the wrong people."
Laskowska says it should be non-college students who should be punished, like people who are not contributing to society or people who illegally sell their cards to others to use. She says she would have a difficult time adjusting if she no longer had her card.
"I guess I would just eat less. But, I mean, I would obviously figure something out, but it would just make things harder on me."
Jackson senior Lindsay Adams was reading in the education building when she had to think about life without her bridge card. The full-time student is putting herself through college and working a part-time job in the education building office.
Adams says she gets $200/month on her card. Although she says she is grateful for that amount, she doesn't need that much. In terms of disqualifying college students without children from receiving cards, she says she has mixed feelings.
"I agree because I feel like a lot of college students do take it for granted, especially since like everyone I talk to has a bridge card. You know, what I don't need could go to somebody else who needs it. But then I also kind of disagree because like in my situation, I don't have those extra funds to be able to buy what I need."
Ryan Ehlke and Chad Weaver heard the news in Moore hall working in a co-curricular office. Ehlke, a junior from Waterford, looked shocked as he took it in.
"I'm a little upset after hearing that news. I'm gonna raise some hell. I kind of need it, I mean I don't have all the time in the world to, you know, pay off all the bills that I need to, so to take something like this away from me would just kind of discourage me a bit. And it would be back to bologna sandwiches 24-7 for me."
Ehlke currently says he works at the Big Boy in Mount Pleasant about 30 hours per week. He says having a bridge card takes stress off of working even more hours to pay for everything a college student needs.
Ehlke says he feels the current system isn't fair. He receives $75 a month. He's a full-time student and says he's constantly working. But he says his roommates get $200 a month on their cards when they don't work and get constant funding from their parents.
Chad Weaver, a St. Charles senior, says the 200-a-month he gets on his bridge card allows him to work less and spend more time on extra curricular and academics. Things that he thinks will help him get a job after he graduates.
"You know, when you think of all the other people getting the bridge card and the amount of time they're staying on it, I think it's awful because my whole reason behind originally not wanting a bridge card is because I think it's a crutch. And that crutch allows people to be lazy, in general. So I think college students who are actually using it for a means to an end to get somewhere, to help themselves get by, you know, to get to that next step in life, I think it's an awful thing to do to take that away from them, I mean it's something they need."
Weaver says that if he didn't have a bridge card, he wouldn't be able to maintain his healthy eating because fresh produce is expensive. He says it would be back to a Ramen Noodle diet.
Whether students are truly in need of a bridge card or not, they may have to come to terms with a new reality - life without it.
If you have kids who don't appreciate the value of money, help may be just a click away.
What started out as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet became a new business opportunity for Bob Masterson. This Rochester Hills man co-founded Family Mint, a website that teaches kids how to handle money in a new, interactive way.
"The website is an online budgeting/money management tool for kids where the parent acts as the banker. They actually hold the physical money, and the kids do all the tracking of their money and their goals online with Family Mint."
Masterson said the Beta version of the website launched last June. His own nine children functioned as the early adopters and testers of the product.
In July the website was ready for public use. There are currently two versions of the website available. One is free. Masterson says the other, premium version includes more options for parents, like automating allowances, and setting up interest.
Students aren't the only ones working on their educations this spring semester. Two SVSU professors are also furthering their educations with the help of a scholarship grant.
Every year at Saginaw Valley State University, professors submit applications to vie for the Braun Fellowship. This financial award allows two recipients a year the opportunity to research and advance a particular area of study.
This year, those winners are professor Dorothy Millar in the education department and history professor Paul Teed. Millar plans to focus on special education studies, and Teed is preparing to delve into Civil War research.
JJ Boehm is the director of media relations at SVSU.
He says the application process is very competitive among SVSU professors.
"I think that all the faculty that have won the award over the years have been most deserving, and I think that Dottie Millar and Paul Teed are no exception. When you review their applications as I have, they are seeking to do some very meaningful work."
Boehm says that the Fellowship gives the recipients up to $37,500 in grant money to use over three years.
Beginning Friday, the historians at Mackinac State Historic Parks will be using a very new technology to teach us about the past. They'll be using Twitter to relay observations of Mackinac Island that were made 128 years ago, by a 10-year-old boy.
The observations were recorded in the diary of Harold Dunbar Corbusier. He followed his father to Mackinac Island in 1883.
"He was the son of Ft. Mackinac's post surgeon, Dr. William H. Corbusier," said Steve Brisson, chief curator for Mackinac State Historic Parks.
"And he was at Ft. Mackinac as a 10-year-old in 1883, for a two year period after that, and then he returned again, his father was reassigned to Ft. Mackinac, in 1892."
Brisson said Dr. Corbusier and his wife both kept diaries, and the doctor encouraged his son to do the same.
"Harold's father encouraged him to keep a diary chronicling his life and his daily events, and it was sort of an assignment of his father to do this," Brisson said. "And he indeed did do it. He kept a diary. It's the diary, in the beginning of course, of a 10-year-old boy. So it's not necessarily the most introspective type of diary you're ever going to find. He's basically recording the daily events of Mackinac Island in the Victorian Period as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy."
With the exception of the active military base, Brisson said the Mackinac Island of 1883 was very similar to the Mackinac Island of today.
"Mackinac Island had, by the 1880s, come into its own as a major Victorian summer resort," he said. "People were beginning to flock here. It had been declared a national park in 1875. So many people, as the same as today, were coming to Mackinac Island to enjoy the summer climate and the wonderful amenities that Mackinac Island has always offered."
Harold and his family lived in the military garrison's officers quarters. From there, Brisson said Harold had a front-row view of life on the Island.
The entries are not always that exciting, but they do paint a vivid picture of Victorian island life.
"He's recording exactly what he saw," Brisson said. "Often comments on the weather: it's cold, there's ice in the harbor, there's a boat stuck in the ice, it's a cloudy day today he might say. And then what they did. It's a perhaps a springlike day. We went to the literary club this evening. Men are cutting ice on the lake today. Just what he saw going around."
Harold's diaries were first published in 1994. Brisson's wife, a former park employee who now serves as a museum consultant, was involved in that effort at the time.
Brisson said she also came up with the idea of putting the entries on Twitter.
"She's just very into Twitter," he said. "And during her time here, she had worked with the diary and the publication of it, and developing curriculum activities for local school groups based on the diary. And now, it just struck her recently that boy, Harold's entries would really work well on Twitter."
Brisson said historians love using new technology to help people connect with the past, and publishing Harold's diaries on Twitter is a great example of that in action.
"It's just another example of trying to use whatever we can in the present to excite people about the past," he said, "and... forge a connection between now and those who have gone before us."
A unique lab at Lake Superior State University puts engineering students to work for economic development.
LSSU's Product Development Center, or PDC, works with clients around the state to develop production systems and equipment.
Eric Becks is an engineering project manager in the PDC.
"What we do at the PDC is perform engineering services for clients, and it's typically at sort of a bare-bones cost, because we're able to use students in the process. And the whole idea behind this is to get our students real-world experience."
Becks says students at the PDC recently developed an automated production system for producing gun sights. The client for that project was the Escanaba-based gun manufacturer Marble Arms.
According to Becks, the PDC's work enabled Marble Arms to increase gun-sight production.
"With this machine available, they didn't really displace anyone. And in fact, I think they had to hire four more people to work the machines that generate the parts to feed this machine."
Becks says the PDC helps businesses by providing cost-effective service, while offering students practical experience.
An annual list from Lake Superior State University tells us which words or phrases were among this year's least popular.
LSSU's "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use, and General Uselessness" has been released in time for the New Year every year since 1976.
LSSU's John Shibley helped compile the list this year. He says the university takes nominations from the public to determine which words should be banished.
"One phrase that's floated to the top since October, during the Senatorial race and debates out in Nevada is 'man up.' 'Harry Reid had to man up,' is what Sharon Angle said, so that's floating to the top. And a lot of nominators think that's sort of sexist, even considering that a woman said it to a man during a debate."
Shibley says election years generally provide a lot of good material for the banished words list. He says another popular nomination were some terms made infamous by Sarah Palin.
"'Momma grizzly,' related to Sarah Palin. Another word, or Palinism -- which is another word that's been nominated as well, Palinism -- but, 'refudiate.'"
Words made popular in social networking and text messaging received a lot of nominations, too, according to Shibley.
"'Facebooking,' using Facebook to keep in touch is 'Facebooking,' and the horror of horrors -- if you're ever 'defriended,' [and] 'K,' just the letter K, for 'okay' or 'I agree with you.' K, capitol K."
"Defriended" of course referring to someone severing Facebook ties, Shibley says.
Capital Bureau Chief, Michigan Public Radio Network
LANSING -- The Legislature has sent to the governor's desk a measure that would clear the way for the sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint to a private developer. The developer has promised to build a new school and then lease the property back to the state. But critics say the design is not suited to teaching deaf students.
Marty Miracle is an alumni of the school who now works in its residence hall. Speaking through an interpreter, he said the Senate made a mistake in approving the measure.
"We did not have any deaf community input into this decision," Miracle said. "What I mean by that is, the Senate is not familiar with deaf culture, or deaf needs, or deaf children's needs."
Miracle said he's also concerned that the new owners would be allowed to sell the school after several years. He says opponents are exploring legal options if the governor approves the deal.
State Sen. Tom George sponsored the bill. He said it will give the students at the school a new state-of-the-art facility, and it will save taxpayers money on an aging facility.
"If you do nothing, eventually we're talking tens of millions of dollars," George said. "The maintenance alone on it now is two million dollars a year, just to maintain the existing structure."
Supporters say the deal is a bargain for taxpayers and it would be an important step in redeveloping that section of the city.
SAGINAW -- Central Michigan University has finalized affiliation agreements for its new medical school.
The university is partnering with Synergy Medical Alliance, Covenant HealthCare and St. Mary's of Michigan to form a new medical school.
Covenant and St. Mary's currently control Synergy Medical.
But under the new agreement, they will relinquish their control to CMU, said Synergy CEO Terry Lerash.
"In exchange, CMU will designate Saginaw as the east campus of the College of Medicine," he said. "Furthermore, CMU has committed to training medical students in Saginaw, and to build a state of the art facility in the city of Saginaw to host all medical education programs."
CMU President Dr. George Ross said the new partnership will benefit residents throughout the state.
"The groundwork has been put in place that will create a fully integrated medical education program," said Ross.
According to Ross, the new medical program is "designed to meet the specific health care needs in medically under-served and rural communities in mid and northern Michigan."
The new medical school will improve health care across the entire region, said the school's dean, Dr. Ernie Yoder.
"Where there are medical schools, and where there are medical education programs, there tend to be higher quality of care, physician retention, and the ability to recruit the excellent physicians you need to the community," Yoder said.
St. Mary's CEO John Graham agreed, adding that the school would be an economic boon for the region.
"A new college of medicine is an investment in our future," he said. "Our children and our grandchildren need strong health care opportunities, as well as career opportunities here in this region. This partnership will ensure that."
Leaders in Saginaw are already excited about the prospect of a new medical school being built.
According to City Manager Darnell Earley, the school could spark a revitalization of downtown.
"The models that I've seen in Flint with the University of Michigan, and what it's done in Flint; Cooley Law School and the impact it's had on downtown Lansing, and of course Grand Valley in the Grand Rapids area. So I would like to think that Central can be a good partner with the city, and help focus on revitalizing our efforts here as well," Earley said.
The next step in the process is to earn accreditation for the new medical school. According to Ross, that's expected to happen next year.
And if all goes well, the first class of students should begin in 2012.
You know this year's trendy word that you just can't stand, any time you hear it or read it? Or the phrase that people keep using that drives you nuts?
John Shibley and Tom Pink from Lake Superior State University's public relations office want to know about it.
They're compiling LSSU's annual "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use, or General Uselessness."
John Shibley says the list is fun, and it says a lot, too, about how we relate to language.
"It's the vehicle for conveying identity, and oftentimes, it runs us. People are frustrated by that, and they take a time out, and they drop us an email or a card, saying, 'These are the words or phrases that bother me, because I feel backed into using them. They're too fashionable, too over-used.'"
He says election years often produce some great words that are just waiting to be banished.
"We're coming out of midterm elections, things become very partisan, very political, and there are a lot of talking points. That phrase has shown up on a list one year; I think it was three years ago."
Students at more than 200 universities, including Central Michigan University, are discovering an interesting way of reaching out to missed connections.
LikeALittle.com calls itself "high-quality flirting." At just barely a month old, the site has thousands of anonymous users, according to site creator Evan Reas.
"Often, people are finding the site, they think it's really interesting, think it's fun, share it on Facebook with their friends. Then their friends see it, and come take a look at it, and either spread it to their campus, or start using it at their own."
Reas says the site lets people connect in a positive way. But others have called it a "stalker's wonderland."
LikeALittle.com is pretty popular already among CMU students, despite having been on campus for only a little more than two weeks. In fact, of the more than 200 campuses with pages, Central has the second-most traffic.
Site administrators jokingly call the service a "flirting-facilitation platform."
"You know, you're sitting in class, or you're sitting in the library, and you're like, 'This guy is looking really good today,' or 'This girl is beautiful.' Or maybe you just made a great comment, and I want to say this person is really smart."
Site CEO and co-founder Evan Reas says LikeALittle.com allows users to post anonymous comments about people they interact with - or even just see. The comments are supposed to be positive, and often hint at some attraction.
"So, it's anonymous, but people get descriptive, and people will specifically say, in a certain classroom, or in a certain location. You can kind of tell that, 'Oh, it's probably me, or it's kind of my friend,' or maybe they say, 'This guy has a mohawk,' so very descriptive characteristics."
Users generally browse the site for three reasons: to submit a post, to see if there are posts about them, and simply to watch.
"It was definitely flattering. I had a friend tell me about the site. So I was just kind of checking it out, I was going through the posts, and I found this one," says Sarah Kielinen, a CMU student.
She found a post that she says she knew was about her, because it accurately described her Halloween costume.
"And I was dressed up as Tiger Woods for Halloween. You know, I knew who was at the party, and I knew there were no other people dressed up -- especially females -- dressed up as Tiger Woods, so I kind of put two and two together with that one, and figured it was probably me."
Sarah says the site's premise is fun, and it's kind of flattering finding a post about yourself. She says she still doesn't know who wrote the one about her. And although it's fun, Sarah says it could get creepy.
With so much attention recently on online harassment and bullying, some people are concerned that LikeALittle.com could easily be used for malicious purposes.
"There's a significant percentage of us that are not such good people, that would use this to degrade, harm, bully other people, and that's what I fear," says Steve Thompson, Director of Sexual Aggression Services at CMU, and a nationally-known expert on sexual aggression. He says he's worried, too, that LikeALittle.com could be a tool for stalking.
"The ability to maintain anonymity is huge, and the consequence to that is zero. So I can go on that site, or any number of sites after you or I leave, and I can say anything I want about you. And what's the consequence to me?"
Thompson says LikeALittle.com reminds him of another site -- JuicyCampus.com -- where students gossip. He says Juicy Campus quickly became a place to harass and insult people, and he hopes Like A Little doesn't become the same.
Site creator Evan Reas says there are measures to prevent that.
"There's no full names allowed. We also don't let people do room numbers, or if they're on there, we delete those, so it doesn't get too specific. Every single school has at least five moderators, making sure to take down negative, or offensive, or creepy comments. The other thing that we do, is that anybody with a .edu email address from the school that you're looking at can delete any comment immediately."
Like A Little offers an obvious appeal to people who post.
"The idea of being anonymous and posting your opinions of other people in a way that can't come back necessarily to harm you is very attractive," according to Dr. Lesley Whithers. She's a Professor of Communication and Dramatic Arts at CMU. She says the site can make it easier for people to post something that's difficult to say in person.
"It's that idea of 'I'm self-disclosing, but I can also deny it,' so if you come up to me later and say, 'Hey, somebody posted on this website, saying that they liked me, and said we were talking about snowboarding -- we were talking about snowboarding!' They can always deny it, if it seems like it's not going well. But if it seems like it is going well, then they can say, 'Well yes, actually I did post that!'"
Some say, too, that the site challenges assumptions about who is posting.
"There are these assumptions that people make when they come into it that do tend to be heteronormative," says Dr. Patty Williamson, an Associate Professor of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts at CMU. She says people most likely assume that men are commenting about women, and vice-versa -- but that's not necessarily the case.
Dr. Williamson also says it's clear that some people on the site simply like to watch.
"There's inherent entertainment in sort of the voyeurism of being able to look into other people's private lives, assuming that some of the posts are real on the site. People who are just using it as a source of entertainment kind of look at it as a way to kind of snoop on other people's interpersonal relationships."
At this point, it's hard to tell whether LikeALittle.com will stick around, but it definitely draws attention to who may be paying attention to you.
A statewide policy group is urging Congress to act on legislation that could increase funding for farm-to-school lunch programs.
Parts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act would help schools serve lunches with food from local producers.
Diane Conners is with the Michigan Land Use Institute. She says students in Onekama Schools in northwest lower Michigan approve of that district's farm-to-school program.
"Participation rates in the school lunch have skyrocketed since they changed their food menu strategy, and are using so much fresh and local food But it takes time, it takes labor to get those kinds of initiatives going."
Conners says the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the last bill this Congress could take up in the lame duck session.
Jim Bardenhagen is a Leelanau county farmer. He began selling produce to schools in 2006, offering potatoes, apples, and grapes to schools in northwest Lower Michigan.
Onekama Schools in northwest Lower Michigan adopted a farm-to-school program. Bardenhagen says the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act could help more schools follow suit.
"They had to put in a whole new kitchen in order to go this way. And most of the schools that I deal with are really limited on storage. They could take a lot more product if they had more storage."
Bardenhagen says if the legislation is passed, it will be important for schools to help each other in adopting farm-to-school programs.
The organizer of Farm Tokens for Education says that the number of tokens brought in this year tripled from last year. The grand total was more than 3000 tokens, up from last year's 908.
The school bringing in the most tokens was Concord Academy in Petoskey. Students there gathered 890 tokens. Pond Hill Farms gave out the most tokens - 942. Toril Fisher, the executive director of Farming for our Future at Pond Hill, says participating businesses and farms were pleased with how much the program helped the local economy.
"The economic impact of those tokens is based on an assumption that each purchase at that point of sale represents a minimum of about five dollars. For the Harbor Springs/Petoskey area it's over $15,000 of a conscious purchase of goods from a local farm and businesses that sell locally-grown produce. So we're very excited."
Fisher says she's very excited that people are making such an effort to buy locally, and it's working.
If a school or business is interested in participating in Farm Tokens for Education, visit farmingforourfuture.org for Toril Fisher's phone number and more details.
With little time left in Michigan's lame duck legislative session, lawmakers may consider a bill that would significantly impact the state's teacher tenure law.
Republican State Sen. Wayne Kuipers' bill ties tenure to student performance and teacher evaluations. According to Kuipers, it's intended to reward good teachers, not just those who have been in the system a long time.
Doug Pratt with the Michigan Education Association disagrees.
He said the bill makes changes to teacher tenure, solely for the sake of change.
"The issue that most people point to with tenure, when they say that it needs to change, is that school districts complain that it takes too long to remove a teacher that's not performing well," said Pratt. "If that's the problem, then let's address that. Let's address the process."
Pratt said recent reforms have improved the teacher evaluation process, but he notes administrators are often unable to maintain the time frames required for evaluations.
He said many teachers go two or more years without one.
The MEA wants the incoming governor and legislature to take up the issue without a looming deadline.
A state commission plans to produce a film documentary commemorating the role that Michigan played in the War of 1812. The group plans to release the film in 2012.
Michigan's Bicentennial Commission for the Commemoration of the War of 1812 has launched a fundraising campaign to support the documentary. The commission is looking to raise about $130,000.
Commission chairman Phil Porter says many people would be surprised to learn about Michigan's involvement in the War of 1812.
"In fact, it was a crucial battlefield, as British and American forces battled for control of this area during the war. The three major battle areas were down in the Monroe area, in Detroit, and then at Mackinac. In fact, one of the very first battles of the War of 1812 was the successful British capture of Fort Mackinac in July of 1812."
Porter says the film is expected to air on television and to be shown in classrooms.
"The project, including the curriculum materials and everything, is about a $130,000 project. The would roughly create a 55-minute film that would be suitable for use on television, but also in classrooms, as well."
In addition to producing the documentary, Porter says the commission plans to support and coordinate other organizations' efforts to commemorate the War of 1812.
St. Louis Public Schools in Gratiot County will dismiss students early today, in anticipation of severe weather. Superintendent Joann Spry says she doesn't want students to be on their way home this afternoon, when conditions get worse.
"There's travel advisories for high-profile vehicles, which would include school buses. And with the high winds, there's the danger of downed power lines and flying objects. And we want to make sure that our students are home, safe and sound with their families, prior to the arrival of any severe wind and weather conditions."
Spry says whether or not St. Louis schools are on schedule tomorrow depends on how the weather develops through tonight.
CMU Public Radio will continue to update you on severe weather as it develops across the listening area.
Disability Mentoring Day helped teach students about pursuing employment after getting their high school diploma.
Students spent time job-shadowing and having lunch with business mentors, learning about job opportunities after high school. Participants said they enjoyed the program, and would recommend it to their peers.
Sara Grivetti is the Executive Director of the Disability Network of MidMichigan. She says this event helps employers, too, by making them aware of a talent pool that's often ignored.
"People with disabilities represent the largest group of unemployed in our nation, and part of that is because employers don't necessarily understand that people with disabilities can do a job. They can still work. So it actually improves their awareness."
Grivetti also says students had a wide range of opportunities.
"They tried to match up what the students' career interests were at various locations, with the types of jobs that they could be mentored at. So at Dow, I know that some of the kids got to see video production, as well as information from the systems and administrative-type jobs. So we tried really hard to match them up with what their interests were."
Students from Midland, Clare, Saginaw, and Bay counties participated in the events at locations like Best Buy, Dow Chemical, and MidMichigan Medical Center. Businesses in Auburn will be hosting the event on Friday, and Dow Corning will host students within a few weeks.
State legislature approved a few more pieces of the deal on Sept. 28, including the once-controversial Higher Education budget, a measure that would have required universities to to file an annual report of their embryonic stem cell research.
But that measure was dropped.
Many researchers said they would have to fold-up their work if the restrictions passed.
There was also an overall cut of 2.8 percent to university funding.
State Representative Chuck Moss (R) voted against the budget. He said there needs to be reforms to rein in spending and tuition at the state's 15 public universities.
"Kids are coming out with debt levels that are ungodly, that blight their lives, their future... Higher Ed is now going to have to take a look at its costs relative to the benefits a degree furnishes. Higher Ed is good, but the Higher Ed rate of increase is unsustainable," Moss said.
State Representative Joan Bauer (D) worked on the universities budget.
"(The Republicans) apparently decided at some point that it wasn't, that they weren't going to hold up the entire Higher Ed budget over those issues. You know, we discussed it, we had differing opinions, but at the end of the day we did not include it," Bauer said.
Lawmakers still need to approve budgets for the Department of Human Services and the Department of Transportation, as they inch closer to the Oct. 1 deadline.
You may have heard or Box Tops for Education, the program where kids can collect coupons from things like cereal boxes and cake mix to earn money for their schools.
Harbor Springs and Petoskey have their own spin on this program. It's called Farm Tokens for Education. These tokens though come from farmers in their own communities instead of from a company thousands of miles away.
This is the second year for the Farm Tokens program. It encourages families to eat healthy foods, support the local economy, and earn money for local schools.
When students buy from a local vendor, they're given a five-cent token. The students turn the tokens in to their schools, and the total amount of tokens is counted at the end of the program. Then, each business that participated would write a check to the school for the amount of tokens that they gave out.
The program was started by Toril Fisher, the executive director of Farming for Our Future at Pond Hill. She says in addition to the fact that five local businesses have been added to the program, she anticipates a much higher number of students participating this year.
"Last year we had a return of approximately 3000 tokens returned back to Farming for Our Future and this year we anticipate at least between five and ten thousand tokens returned."
Fisher's ultimate goal is expanding the program to all of the schools in Emmet County. Token counting begins on October 29th.
Young adults with attention disorders tend to make more driving errors than those without those disorders, according to researchers at Central Michigan University.
Researchers say having Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) or the related Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) could make drivers between 18 and 22 as much as twice as likely to make risky decisions on the road, like speeding or running traffic lights.
CMU's Center for Driving Evaluation, Education, and Research is conducting the study. Dr. Richard Backs is the Center's Director.
"More of their problems, in at least simulated driving in our laboratory, seem to be related to these other issues associated with inability to control their emotions, anger, hostility, frustration, when they're behind the wheel, than in any of their actual operational driving abilities."
Dr. Backs says researchers plan to study ways of incorporating impulse control into driver training for young adults with attention disorders.
"Our ultimate goal is to be able to identify how to really approach this problem from the impulsivity/emotion control side, and provide some kind of remediation to help them become better drivers, either something that could be included as a part of drivers' education, or maybe as a separate program."
Dr. Backs says researchers use their AAA Michigan driving simulator to monitor the driving behavior of study participants.
The temporary faculty at CMU have voted to establish a collective bargaining unit. Nearly two-thirds of the eligible votes were in favor of representation by the Union of Teaching Faculty, or UTF.
Jim Eikrem is a member of both the temporary faculty and the union's organizing committee.
"The next part of the process will be organization of a constitution for the union, and election of officers for the union, as well as coming up with a contract. So really, the big thing that will be on the plate next will be the negotiation of a specific contract with the administration."
Eikrem says roughly 450 temporary faculty are eligible for representation by UTF. He says the union is generally open to part-time faculty members who teach at least three credit hours, although there are a number of restrictions. Eligible voters had three options: representation by the Union of Teaching Faculty or UTF, by the Michigan Education Association, or no collective representation. 108 votes of the 163 cast were in favor of establishing UTF.
The university agreed this summer to allow certain temporary faculty members with three or more credit hours to decide on establishing a union.
CMU spokesman Steve Smith says with the university will likely begin scheduling bargaining sessions within one to three weeks.
"The Union of Teaching Faculty will be certified by the State of Michigan as the representative of the temporary faculty, so that is step number one. After that occurs, then there will be a formal request to the university to sit down and bargain.
Members of the UTF say their next plans include preparing a constitution and electing officers for the group.
A student at Central Michigan University hopes to earn the title of "College Entrepreneur of 2010" from Entrepreneur magazine.
Senior Daniel Pearson is among the competition's top five finalists.
Pearson submitted plans for what he calls the "Hybrid Card." He says it would allow consumers to access multiple credit and debit accounts from one card.
"When you swipe the card at the register, the card will prompt you on which card out of all the many cards that people carry which one you should use, which is the best, based on interest rates or rewards bonuses. Depending on whether people carry a balance month-to-month, or whether they pay things off, it will give you recommendations based on that."
He says the idea came from experience running his own business.
"I'd ran a landscaping company since I was eighteen. I actually just have recently sold it. I was always trying to take advantage of all the reward programs and so many different things, and I was always using so many different cards for different things. I figured it would be so much easier for me if I could have everything on one card. It would just be way more efficient, and safe, and everything else."
The 21-year-old Pearson says he would use ten percent of transaction fees from the Hybrid Card to promote responsible credit use and combat corporate waste.
Seed money totaling $5,000 is at stake in the contest. The finalists will be narrowed down by voting on Entrepreneur magazine's website, and the winner will be announced in November.
Pearson says he plans to develop the Hybrid Card regardless of whether he wins the competition.
Michigan students could soon be able to earn school credit for learning about Native American languages and cultures, under legislation approved by the State Senate last week.
The bill would make it easier to teach Native American language and culture in schools.
It would allow tribal elders to instruct students on those topics without first becoming certified teachers.
State Senator Mike Prussi sponsored the legislation.
"The tribes have tribal elders who are very fluent in their language and culture, but they don't have conventional teacher certifications," said Prussi.
That means under current law, students can't receive credit for classes taught by non-certified tribal elders.
According to Prusi, his legislation changes current law "to allow (schools) to use the tribal elders, even though they don't have certification, but it allow them to teach Native American language and culture classes."
He said students learning about Native American language and culture woudl receive credit for a foreign or world language under the Michigan Merit Curriculum.
The State Senate passed the bill 34-0. It still must be approved by the House.
A new after-school program will serve K-8 students in Genesee County this upcoming school year.
The Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce will administer the program, called YouthQuest, at fifteen schools throughout the county.
"The program will offer support certainly with academics. We will also be providing enrichment activities - activities in the arts and culture. Also, in physical education, recreational programming, nutrition. And also, volunteerism will be a component of this program," says Rhetta Hunyady, the Chamber's YouthQuest Executive Director.
Hunyady says the program is supported by a $3.1 million grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation. It will meet four days a week after school. The Chamber plans to make YouthQuest an annual program, says Hunyady.
"This is the first year of many to come. And we're looking forward to continuing this relationship and expanding it, beyond the fifteen current sites that we're operating in. We want to continue to expand at the K-8 level."
The YouthQuest sites include fifteen schools among four districts.
Carman Ainsworth Community Schools: Dye Elementary Rankin Elementary Woodland Elementary
Flint Community Schools: Brownell Elementary Bunche Elementary Freeman Elementary Neithercut Elementary Potter Elementary Southwestern Middle School Summerfield Elementary Washington Elementary
Mt. Morris Consolidated Schools: Montague Elementary Moore Elementary Pinehurst Elementary
Montrose Community Schools: Kuehn-Haven Middle School
More information and applications can be found at www.yquest.org, or by calling the YouthQuest office at 810-442-5904.
Capital Bureau Chief, Michigan Public Radio Network
LANSING -- Governor Granholm is calling on the Detroit City Council to ask voters if they'd like to have the mayor run the schools. So far, the council has refused to approve the question for the November ballot.
"The fact that the city of Detroit, the school's test scores have been worst in the nation in the history of test-taking on a national test should demonstrate that the status quo is unacceptable," said Granholm.
Governor Granholm wants big city mayors to run their local schools - including hiring and firing superintendents. She'd like to start with the state's largest school district, Detroit. It would be up to the governor and the Legislature to enact a law allowing that. The governor says the ballot question would provide them with critical guidance on the wishes of city residents.
"These kids cannot wait," said Granholm. "It's unfair to them to be in a school district - captive in a school district where the situation is untenable."
The schools are currently being run by an emergency manager whose contract is up in March. Granholm says she expects the next governor will name a new emergency manager rather than return control to a school board that she says is dysfunctional.
The governor says the choice is mayoral control, or having Detroit's schools managed by Lansing.
A national think tank says online learning is a possible solution to teacher shortages and funding shortfalls facing K-12 education.
In a recent report, the Alliance for Excellent Education argues that online learning could also help meet an increasing global demand for skilled workers.
Jason Amos is the Director of Communications at the Alliance for Excellent Education. He says online education might even help teachers find jobs.
"For example, if there is a teacher who is very well-qualified in Michigan, who can't find a job where he or she lives, he or she could essentially export their expertise virtually, to a state that has a need for the expertise that they have. So in that sense, it could actually help people find a job."
Amos also says Michigan is the first state to require students to have an online learning experience before graduation.
Dr. Kathy Koch is the interim Dean of the College of Education and Human Services at CMU. She says whether or not online education is effective depends on its quality - as is the case with any education.
"One of the prime requirements of a good online course is that you do have close connection with the students. Students do need to have communication with the teacher, whether it be online, or in some other way. So, good teaching, whether it's online or face-to-face, some of the same things hold true."
According to Koch, online learning is one tool to provide students with an education, and it could help schools share resources. She describes online education as an evolutionary step in the field, but not a singular solution to all the problems facing K-12 programs.
The new tuition rate will be in effect for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Steve Smith, university spokesperson, says the Board adopted the most modest of three proposed increases.
"One was a 3% increase, one would be a 3.5% percent increase. The board opted to go with the lowest of the three proposals, recognizing the need to be modest, without sacrificing quality, in light of the economic climate in the state of Michigan, and making college accessible to those who are interested in pursuing a college degree. The Board of Trustees unanimously passed a 2% increase in the tuition rate for undergraduate students. That equates to a $7 increase, or $346 per credit hour."
Smith says the increase affects about 70% of CMU's undergraduate students. The other 30% are still eligible for rates that had been guaranteed under the C-M-U Promise. That program had ensured a five-year tuition rate to students who entered the university between fall 2005 and summer 2008.
At their meeting, trustees also approved a $417 million dollar operating budget for the coming academic year. An October date was also announced for the investiture ceremony for university president George Ross.
Also on the agenda was an agreement with Dow Chemical, which Trustees approved, to allow the university to provide Dow employees with Six Sigma business training.
A scholarship program that helps child care providers across the state is changing hands.
The Teacher Education and Compensation Helps program, or TEACH, awards scholarships to child care providers pursuing higher education.
The Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children will assume the program's administration, as the current administrator, the Michigan 4C Association, will dissolve by the end of September.
Karen Roback with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, which funds TEACH, says children are best served by educated care providers.
"There's a difference in the quality of care that's provided when someone has more knowledge. So it's important to support providers who are currently in the workforce. Their salary and their wages aren't very high. It's important for them to be supported to continue their education."
Since 2001, TEACH has awarded more than 7,000 scholarships to child care professionals in Michigan.
A recent fundraising campaign is the largest in Saginaw Valley State University's history. The SVSU Foundation raised $23 million in the five-year "Promise for Tomorrow" campaign.
JJ Boehme is a spokesman for SVSU. He says $3 million were set aside for student scholarships.
"SVSU, like all universities throughout Michigan, is experiencing declining state support. And so it is increasingly incumbent upon universities to be able to help those deserving students fund their education."
Boehme says two endowed chairs have been created through the fund, as well.
The university also created an Entrepreneurship Institute to assist regional businesses.
SVSU launched the Gerstacker Fellowship, too, which provides a year of leadership training to K-12 teachers from around the state. Boehme says $1.5 million will from the campaign will go to that program.
"They [K-12 teachers] come to campus for one weekend a month. And then the program culminates with a three-week trip to Asia. All of this is designed to give those educators better ideas, better skills, better tools, to be able to become leaders in their respective school districts, during what is a very challenging time to be a teacher or a school administrator."
$1.5 million was also used to establish the Braun Fellowship. Those funds will be administered by the Saginaw Community Foundation, to recognize talented faculty and staff at SVSU.
A recent agreement between Kirtland Community College and Ferris State University could help nursing students finish their coursework sooner.
Their nursing articulation pact helps students know which classes to take at Kirtland in order to transfer more smoothly to FSU's bachelor degree program.
"Then they can make good selections so that they can actually double-dip or triple-dip, and meet multiple requirements when they transfer, and then not have to take additional classes to fulfill those requirements, once they get to Ferris," says Kathleen Wray, the assistant registrar at Kirtland Community College.
Wray says, in an average year, forty-five nursing students earn their associate's degree at Kirtland.
Kirtland also has articulation pacts with several other colleges and universities, including CMU.
The Office Professionals' union at Central Michigan University rejected a contract offer today.
Karen Bellingar, President of UAW Local 6888, says union members were disheartened by the university's proposal. She says the office professionals are seeking mediation from the state.
University officials say they value their employees, including the 340 office professionals represented by the union. Officials also say they will work with a mediator to develop what they call "a fair and equitable agreement for both parties."
University administration and the American Federation of Teachers agreed early this week on the definition of a proposed union. That agreement clears the way for a vote to determine whether or not to establish the AFT at CMU.
Eligible, part-time faculty members expect the vote to take place in the coming weeks.
Ray Christie is the Vice Provost for Academic Administration. He says, with some exceptions, nontenure-track faculty who teach at least three credit hours are eligible to vote on forming the union.
"The university does and has worked well with more than half a dozen collective-bargaining units. And we do so in support of our faculty and staff, who are absolutely instrumental in students, and in particular, student learning outcomes. Should this election be positive, we certainly will work with this union as well."
According to Christie, around 350 professors are eligible to vote on forming the union.
Supporters of the union say negotiations with the university have been amicable. They gathered near the Park Library at CMU today. Jim Eikrem is an assistant professor and a member of the effort's organizing committee.
"At this point, anybody who is considered temporary faculty was not represented by a union at all. So this is the advocacy that we've been looking for. It's very important, because, up until now, temporary faculty have been one of the only groups of people on campus who have not had some form of representation."
Eikrem says if the vote passes, it would establish a new collective-bargaining unit at the university.
Members of the Michigan Education Association came from across the state to rally for increased funding for education.
Don Tilley is a Bay City Public School teacher, and the political action chair for MEA Region 12. He says it was important for members from his region to join school staff statewide.
"Public education is everyone - it is not only the school teachers, it is the secretaries, it is the bus drivers, it is the maintenance staff, it is the itinerant workers, the occupational therapists, the speech therapists. It is all-encompassing."
Tilley says more than one hundred sixty MEA members from Bay City, Essexville, SVSU, and Bay-Arenac Intermediate Schools made the trip to Lansing.
Public school staff from the Petoskey area were also among those in Lansing for today's rally to support education funding.
Bob Kitkowski is a UniServ Director from the MEA's Petoskey office. He says education is key to reviving the economy.
"The way that you work your way out of an economic morass is to invest in your people, and educate the citizens of the state. That's how it's done."
Kitkowski says the state needs to close tax loopholes to support public education.
About 75 MEA members from the Petoskey office joined the several thousand who gathered at the capital.
LANSING -- Lawmakers said they were close to reaching a deal over the K-12 schools budget Wednesday. But an apparent agreement evaporated as the House and Senate were unable to use a surplus in the School Aid Fund.
Democrats and Republicans are still hoping to wrap up the school aid budget by a July first deadline. That's when school districts begin their fiscal year.
State House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Rochester) said there is a deal on next year's school funding. But he says Senate Republicans want to tap into a school aid fund surplus to retire this year's general fund budget deficit.
"There's really no reason to hold all of the school districts hostage because they want to raid the school aid fund to go fill a gap in the current year budget," said Dillon.
State Sen. Ron Jelinek (R-Three Oaks) chairs the schools budget subcommittee in the Senate.
"If we were to use some of that education money - I won't say K-12 money, because the constitution calls it education money - for other purposes in education, if that becomes necessary that's what we really have to do. That's the responsible thing," said Jelinek.
Dillon said there are other options to fill budget gaps, and the Legislature should not use surplus schools money. This newest impasse comes as teachers prepare to march on the Capitol to demand more money for schools.
Delta College is offering a day camp next week for children with asthma. Asthma Camp includes swimming, crafts, and Latin dance lessons.
Tim Heinz is an associate professor of respiratory therapy at Delta College. He says the camp's activities will help make kids comfortable around respiratory therapists - and campers will get to interact with each other, too.
"The campers can talk about their own experiences that they've had with the other children. And so, one child may say, 'I'm allergic; I have a problem playing out in the grass.' And another camper may say, 'You know, I had that problem, too, and this is what I did to alleviate my asthmatic symptoms.' And so they can learn from each other."
According to Heinz, the camp will teach kids how to manage asthma.
"Respiratory therapy is really into education, and so we're trying to get out there and educate the public. Campers could then teach their parents, or teach their relatives."
There are two sessions - one for ages seven through nine and another for ages ten through twelve.
The Delta College program is one of three asthma camps in Michigan, according to Heinz. He says support from St. Mary's of Michigan Free Ward Association and Delta College makes the event free for campers.
This is the second year Delta College has hosted Asthma Camp.
Kirtland Community College students are running their own philanthropic operation this summer. A new program allows students to give money to different charitable organizations across the state as they see fit.
Dennis Mansfield with Kirtland says the program allows organizations that sometimes get the short end of the stick on donations to get funding.
"Students at a local level are able to have funds that they give out. And to see what the process is like of really going through and judging different applications and judging who's in need and seeing who's really worthy and experiencing that" says Mansfield.
Kirtland is one of few schools in Michigan with this type of program. Mansfield says the college is trying to open students' minds.
"We think of the big ones like the American Red Cross or the cancer society with their Relay for Life and stuff, But things like animal shelters. We don't think of them as being in need all the time" says Mansfield.
The YMCA, Ogemaw County Habitat for Humanity, and Ogemaw County Humane society have received funding so far.
Fewer teachers and school employees accepting the offer means schools will see fewer immediate savings in their payroll costs. Legislative leaders say they're going to wait and see how that will affect schools before deciding their next move.
State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says "We're in crisis-management mode. We will find solutions, and that's what we do."
But Bishop says schools may also have to do some belt-tightening. The impact will vary from district to district depending on how many teachers retire, how many are replaced, and how much the new hires are paid.
At the same time, the School Aid Fund remains flush with money, and schools will see some savings because district employees now have to contribute more toward their health and retirement benefits.
And fewer retirements means lower pension costs further down the road, which will boost schools' long-term savings.
The hotline was part of the "Race To The Top" deal approved by the Legislature last year. It would ultimately require the state to provide adequate books and supplies to teachers with valid claims.
The state would then withhold the cost of the supplies from payments to the school district.
Democratic state Representative Terry Brown says, "We need to look and make sure that teachers have the supplies they need. I mean, who wouldn't want teachers to have the basic supplies they need to teach students?"
The hotline was never popular with Republicans in the Senate, and now it's been removed from their version of the K-through-12 budget for the coming year.
Some say the hotline could be misused, and could shed unnecessary negative light on schools.
The House version of the K-through-12 budget keeps the teacher hotline, so whether the service will ever exist will be hashed out in budget negotiations in the coming weeks.
New research demonstrates a positive correlation between vigorous physical activity and GPA - which generally means the more exercise, the higher the grades.
Dr. Joshua Ode, an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Saginaw Valley State University, supervised the study. He says the association between grades and vigorous physical activity is a correlation - and more research is needed at this point to identify an actual cause.
"The beneficial effects of activity might actually increase their attentiveness in class -- they're more alert, they feel better. The psychological benefits may actually, in turn, help them in the classroom."
He also says students who exercise more might have discipline that keeps them on-task at school.
Dr. Ode says this information could help college students form healthy life habits.
"When you get into college, you're often leaving home. It's really the first time that you're becoming an adult, and so a lot of lifestyle habits, I believe, occur during the college years. This is just more evidence that shows that a healthy lifestyle - with good amounts of physical activity - may influence your academic success."
He is careful to point out that correlation does not equal causation - so future research is necessary to identify the exact cause for the relationship.
Dr. Ode describes vigorous activity as the sort that makes you sweat or breathe hard. His study shows at least twenty minutes a day correlates to higher grades.
The state allows native languages to satisfy Michigan's high school graduation requirements. Tribal leaders hoped that would help save native languages from extinction . "The Potawatami language is classified as an endangered language, it's a dying language." Ken Meshigaud is the tribal chairman of the Hannahville Indian Community in the Upper Peninsula.
He says now there's another problem - pretty much the only people left who are fluent in native languages such as Potawatami are elders who don't have state-issued teaching certificates.
"Not many schools or colleges offer Potawatami language as a major or a minor in their college degrees, so this is one avenue that we think will work."
The bill would allow tribal elders who are fluent to be certified by the state as language instructors who would expose younger generations to dying tongues. There's no word on when the state Senate might vote on the bill.
The need for spending reductions has led one school superintendent to forgo a large portion of his salary in the next school year.
Ron Farrell heads the Montabella Community Schools.
"I have been in the district as an administrator for thirty-nine years. Next year would be forty. And I thought, you know, if they've given me a pretty good living for thirty-nine years, I can do one for nothing. So that's how my first offer came - and they said, 'No, Ron, we won't let you work for nothing.' I'm blessed to have a job and to have it in an area that I love."
Farrell says letting the district keep a substantial portion of his salary will reduce the district's need for other cuts. He doesn't expect other staff to follow his lead, though.
"I really don't want the other administrators to, because they're not, you know, highly paid anyway. I probably wouldn't have done that years ago. And we have labor contracts - we actually just settled with our sports staff and our faculty. So no, I don't expect or even want others to do that."
Farrell's salary is nearly $96,000 - but in the upcoming school year he'll be paid what he describes as "minimal compensation."
Farrell says his exact compensation will be negotiated with the school board by July first.
The district is considering other spending reductions, as well, like a pay-to-play requirement for sports.
hundred young children and parents gathered on the Capitol lawn to rally in
support of funding for early childhood development programs.Julie
Samelson is with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.
She says cuts to
early childhood programs have been too deep"You know, we've got research,
we've got science, we've got data, we know this is a good economic investment
for the state. And the fact that we can't get ourselves there is very
She says Michigan was one of just 10 states last year that cut money for early childhood programs.Some lawmakers in the state House are optimistic that funding for school aid will be level in the coming year. They also say -- ideally -- schools should get more money to make up for cuts in the past.
Capital Bureau Chief, Michigan Public Radio Network
Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to sign legislation this week that would encourage thousands of veteran school employees to retire. The plan would also force those who remain to pay more for their retirement and health benefits.
The plan would save schools an estimated $700 million dollars as they face potentially big cuts in state funding. But the actual savings will depend on how many teachers and other school employees decide to retire.
The plan relies on almost 30,000 Michigan school employees opting in, and they will have to decide quickly. Fewer retirements would mean less savings, and districts with younger workforces won't save as much as those with lots of eligible teachers.
That means some school districts may not save enough to offset cuts in state aid.
Governor Granholm has said she will veto a school aid budget that reduces funding, but so far the Legislature has been cool to her ideas to raise more revenue for K-12 education.
State lawmaker worked until after 4 a.m. Friday to approve a controversial measure designed to encourage veteran teachers and school employees to retire. The retirement proposal is intended to save schools money at the local level that may face deep cuts in state funding for the coming year.
Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon said approving the measure is vital to the state's schools budget.
"It means we're going to be able to get a K-12 budget done this year that won't have an effective cut," said Dillon, "and it means that thousands of young teachers are going to be able to get a job in the state of Michigan."
Republican state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop had to wheel-and-deal with Senate Democrats around 2 a.m. to pull a few final votes.
I just can't believe that we sat here for that long to negotiate for an (immediate effect) vote," said Bishop. "That was negotiating with terrorists on something that was about $3.1 billion in savings to the state of Michigan. I just can't believe that we just went through that."
Dillon said he believes the governor will sign the legislation, "because this would save over 600 million dollars next year, the anticipated shortfall is a little over 400 million."
"So, effectively the schools have a net positive with the savings," said Dillon.
The state's largest teachers union is strongly opposed to the retirement package. The retirement bills now move to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's desk for her signature.
Capital Bureau Chief, Michigan Public Radio Network
The state House has approved a bill that would require school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies.
The measure does not outline what has to be in a school district's policy, but it does suggest districts try to combat bullying and harassment in schools, busses, on social networking sites, and mobile communication devices.
Democratic Representative Pam Byrnes sponsored the measure. She said eight teenagers in Michigan have committed suicide in the last eight years in circumstances related to bullying.
"And how many children do we have to have experience bullying before we do what is right and responsible," she said.
While the measure does not require schools to adopt any specific anti-bullying policy, it does suggest schools take into account harassment based on "actual or perceived characteristics."
State Senator Wayne Kuipers said that phrase could kill the legislation in the Republican-controlled Senate.
"I don't support that and I've been very clear that I don't support that," said Kuipers. "I do think we have to make sure that our schools are making a statement that bullying will not be tolerated in their school districts, but I find it hard to believe that today in 2010, schools don't recognize that bullying is a problem."
According to Byrnes, Michigan is one of just seven states that has not adopted some type of anti-bullying laws.
About a dozen protesters were arrested for trespassing at the state Capitol Wednesday after staging a sit-in outside of Governor Granholm's office.
Members of the group By Any Means Necessary refused to leave the Capitol after the building was closed for the night. They were calling for Governor Granholm to fire Detroit Public Schools financial manager Robert Bobb.
"We gave them multiple opportunities, we had multiple conversations, we said what exactly was going to happen," said state police Lt. Chris Kelenske, "What our job was, and gave them every opportunity to voice their opinion, which is their right. We want them to have that right, but obviously at a certain point we have to enforce the law."
About half of the protesters were arrested, and the others left by choice.
"What's happening to Detroit could happen to anybody in this state," said Joyce Schon, an organizer of the group. "We've been devastated by the unemployment, by the foreclosures, by the lack of consistent and sufficient funding for public education year after year."
Reporters were ordered by security to leave the Capitol before the police arrested the protesters.
Legislators say the requirement would help stabilize the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System.
Gary Naeyaert is the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, which opposes the measure. He says requiring charter schools to participate in the program is not a viable option.
"Most of the schools that we've talked to have said that if they're forced to do this, it's going to lead to fewer teachers in the state - but largely because they're going to have to layoff teachers that they have. I've heard two schools tell me they can't afford the between $600,000 and $800,000 hit. They would just have to let eight to ten teachers go."
According to Naeyaert, the system requires public schools to contribute almost nineteen percent of a teachers' salaries to the retirement program. If the bill is passed, charter schools would be required to make that contribution, as well.
Naeyaert says charter school teachers should be allowed to choose their own retirement plans -- but he also says the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System should be reformed.
"We need to cap the number of years of service, we probably need to cap the final average compensation, we need to increase the employee contribution to the plan, we need to perhaps delay when the medical benefits kick in for retirees. There's a number of reforms that all have been proposed by the Governor that would actually be reforms that we would appreciate."
School districts are already issuing pink slips anticipating the possibility of a new round of cuts in their state payments. Governor Granholm has said she will veto a schools budget with another rollback in K-12 spending. But there's still no agreement on retirement legislation that would help schools save on personnel costs. There's also no agreement on new revenue from extending the sales tax to haircuts, movie tickets, financial consulting and other services.
Peter Spadafore is a schools lobbyist.
"And if they don't have the revenue to back up the numbers they put into this, it's essentially funny money."
Governor Granholm says the Legislature has until the end of April to approve the retirement incentives if schools are going to take advantage of the savings. She wants the Legislature to act on the sales tax expansion no later than mid-summer.
Dr. Robert Melson is a retired professor, former president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and Holocaust survivor.
He will compare the experiences of individual victims of two genocides in particular.
"Both in the Armenian genocide and in the Holocaust, people were targeted for being who they were: Armenians in one case, and Jews in the other. And you really can't help who you are. I mean, I am who I am, and you are who you are, and if somebody decides to kill you for who you are, you're in a lot of trouble."
Dr. Melson says this trouble is common to victims of all genocides, and their survival often depends on sheer luck and the help of decent people.
He says perpetrators of genocide rationalize their crimes with a distorted sense of duty.
"The question came up, you know, what about killing women and children, and people who are really not combatants. Their answer would be, 'Well it's war, we have to do this kind of business.'"
As its name implies, Women's History Month looks at women's achievements in our past.
"We have always tried to focus on actual parts of women's history, especially the move to the vote, the civil rights movement, the backlash movement, and those kinds of things," but it's not only concerned with history, says Dr. Brigitte Bechtold.
She is the chairperson of CMU's department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, and a founding member of CMU's Network for Women. She has also served as director of Women's Studies.
Dr. Cherie Strachan is an associate professor of political science at Central Michigan University.
"People don't realize how much progress has been made. We sort of lose sight of the fact that women were deprived of an independent public status."
Dr. Strachan says those achievements include voting and access to personal credit.
Today, though, certain gender inequities persist.
"Pay equity is still far from being achieved. That's for a variety of reasons, despite the fact that we have the Equal Pay Act and we have a system that organizes litigation around equal employment opportunity. But between these two pieces, we still are lacking pay equity," says Dr. Bechtold.
According to Dr. Strachan, "Women still only earn seventy-five cents on the dollar, so men typically out-earn women."
She says pay inequity exists between men and women with the same job classification.
"There's a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart for engaging in that kind of practices. We saw the Lilly Ledbetter case that required an act of Congress to say that she had the right to sue her employer, despite issues with the statute of limitations, because she was underpaid compared to male employees doing the exact same job."
According to Dr. Strachan, the current economic downturn has left more men out of work - and more women assuming breadwinning status for their families. She says this will raise awareness of the pay gap.
In addition to the pay gap, Dr. Strachan says gender inequity is evident in the home, too.
"Women still do seventy percent of the house work, and women with small children do twice as much childcare, typically, regardless of whether both parents work outside the home. A lot of the laws have been changed, but norms and expectations of what women should be responsible for and how those roles are negotiated still need to be addressed."
She points to domestic violence as the ugliest form of this inequity.
"The leading cause of death during pregnancy is still partner abuse - being abused by your partner. I think people find those kinds of facts and figures surprising."
"There is too much violence against women, and that is a symptom of a society that doesn't see women as equals of men," says Dr. Bechtold.
According to Dr. Bechtold, though, those inequalities are gradually fading.
"I know a lot of men who help in the household and do tasks that maybe similarly-situated men wouldn't have done a hundred years ago. So things are changing."
Dr. Bechtold says some of her own experiences contribute to her concern for gender equity.
"I have obviously lived through the sixties and the women's rights movement, and at the same time, have lived in a household where a partner did not necessarily live up to an equitable distribution of work."
Dr. Strachan agrees.
"Political science is very male-dominated. I had a very high undergraduate GPA - I had a 3.96. Other people with a 3.96 GPA would get tapped, would get encouraged, 'Gee, have you thought about becoming a college professor or going on to get a doctorate.' No one ever said anything like that to me, so the ideas about who I wanted to be, and what kind of career I wanted to have, that had to come from me. And I don't think that's the case for men who had comparable experiences."
In pursuing gender equity, both women agree that men must also embrace it.
"I feel that if you're going to be a person who advocates for equality, you should also live equality in your personal life," says Dr. Bechtold.
Dr. Strachan says embracing equality gives women the chance to make their own choices.
"The goal would be that your gender does not define how you think of yourself. And it also, quite simply, doesn't characterize what other people think we're capable of accomplishing. That gender does not constrain your life choices."
Continued efforts toward pursuing gender equity include Violence Against Women Awareness Month, which takes place in October.
Students from thirteen of Michigan's public universities will be at the state capital Thursday to support increased funding for higher education. They'll be meeting with their legislators, sitting in on legislative sessions, and hosting speakers on the capital lawn. They're calling it the Lansing Blitz.
Jordan Twardy is the president of the Student Association of Michigan, which sponsors the nonpartisan event. He wants legislators to readjust spending priorities.
"They spend on average about forty-four, forty-five hundred dollars per student. But for every prisoner, they spend about forty-two to forty-five thousand. But what are your priorities when you're investing almost ten-fold in prisoners, as opposed to investing in college students."
Twardy says the rally should encourage student participation in the political process.
Colleen McNeely is the chair of legislative affairs for the Student Government Association at C-M-U, and will be attending the event. She says less state funding for higher education means more than just higher costs for students.
"Every year as the state appropriations goes down, the amount of retention could possibly decrease, and enrollment could possibly decrease. There's a lot of negative effects that will come from continued, decreased funding to Michigan's public universities."
McNeely says more funding will make higher education more accessible to students so they can stay in the state -- and be an asset to Michigan.
Students are expected from each public university, except Ferris State and Lake Superior State.
Race and gender is the next topic of discussion for Central Michigan University's Speak Up Speak Out series.
The Speak Up Speak Out series is known for tackling controversial issues, and this one promises to elicit some strong responses.
Ulana Klymyshyn is the director of CMU's Multicultural Education Center, and will moderate the event.
She will be asking panelists and the audience about how race and gender factor into the nation's political landscape.
"One of the reasons that we chose that topic is because of all of the talk about how now that we have an African American president, we're in a 'post-racial' society," said Klymyshyn. "So we're going to be looking at to what extent that's actually the case, and what a post-racial society might actually look like."
According to Klymyshyn, the Speak Up Speak Out Forum is structured to foster discussion between the audience and a panel of experts.
It runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, in the Bovee University Center Auditorium on the campus of CMU. It is free and open to the public.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment offers the Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Support, or MEECS. It's a series of workshops for teachers who want students to appreciate the environment and natural resources.
Tom Occhipinti is the Environmental Education Coordinator for the DNRE. He says MEECS focuses especially on middle-school students.
"They represent the generation that may be faced with some of the greatest environmental challenges, and it's also the generation that's probably getting the least amount of environmental exposure."
According to Occhipinti, the program is part of a national movement called "No Child Left Inside." He says the middle-school age group is too preoccupied with technology.
Occhipinti also says MEECS supplements what educators already teach.
"The Michigan Content Expectations are the guidelines that teachers need to make sure they are addressing. We have specific information for teachers on how, by incorporating environmental education, they can address specific requirements that they need to meet."
MEECS provides support for educators at the kindergarten through college levels. Over three thousand Michigan teachers have participated in MEECS workshops.
Thursday evening's workshops are in Lansing, coming just before this weekend's conference of the Michigan Science Teacher Association.
Flanagan asked lawmakers for half a million dollars to open an education reform office. He says it's important to open the office soon so it can begin working with failing schools before classes begin in the fall.
"The goal is really to try to help these districts put proposals in that we would accept - how do you do that if we don't spend the next few months saying 'here's kind of what you need to be thinking about getting into a proposal that we find acceptable.'"
The reform office would employ 14 people - including a reform officer who would have the authority to take over a school that fails to improve test scores and student performance. Flanagan says he is optimistic Michigan will win federal "Race To The Top" money, but the reforms approved by the Legislature need to be enforced with or without that money.
Schools were forced to absorb cuts of $165 per pupil or more last year. And they are facing another round of reductions totaling $250 to $400 per student this year without an infusion of money. School officials have endorsed expanding the state sales tax to services and delaying a reduction in the income tax rate to help plug a hole in the School Aid Fund.
William Mayes says schools are looking at drastic alternatives without new revenue.
"It means larger class sizes. It means programs being cut. It means buildings being closed."
Mayes says measures to contain growing employee costs also have to be part of the solution.
But business groups say finding savings needs to be the first step - before lawmakers start talking about taxes.
The coalition of school boards, administrators, and PTAs says more money is needed or K-through-12 education will be cut 255 dollars for every student - on top of the reductions foisted on schools late last year.
Tom White of the Michigan Association of School Boards says benefits and salaries for teachers and other school employees also need to be controlled. He says last year was a disaster for public education.
"We have a funding system that has failed us and we need action. Schools can't wait until October, like we did last year. We're putting our budgets together right now."
Teachers unions are expected to fiercely fight some of the proposed reforms. Governor Granholm called for expanding the sales tax in her new budget plan, but many Democratic and Republican lawmakers say they're not convinced.
Michigan's Attorney General, Mike Cox, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the Christian Legal Society. CLS and Attorney General Cox argue that a belief-based student organization has the right to accept as members only people who agree with an organization's particular beliefs.
Nick De Leeuw, spokesman for Attorney General Cox, says belief-based groups have what he calls the right to associate with like-minded students.
"College campuses across the country could potentially force their student organizations to allow anyone to join. That could mean any student groups of any type of core beliefs. Attorney General Cox says if college campuses are to be diverse institutions, then they have to recognize the rights of diverse student groups."
A spokesperson at Lake Superior State University says student groups there are typically open to anyone who is interested.
Merry Jo Brandimore, Dean of Student Affairs at Saginaw Valley State University, says their student organizations agree to a non-discrimination policy in order to register with the university. Student complaints of discrimination are handled individually by the university, although there haven't been any recently.
"If there are practices that are inappropriate, and we can solve them without creating a legal matter out of them, I think that's always desirable. I hope that they don't become issues, but if they do, I think we'd certainly try an informal approach to remedy them first."
Nathan Inks is the chairman of the College Republicans at Central
Michigan University. He says he agrees with the practice of limiting
membership, but that it could be taken too far. He says the issue has
been raised before at C-M-U by another group, the Campus Conservatives.
a while, they had a policy that, if you were a member of another
political organization, that you couldn't be a member of their
Current C-M-U policy says membership can only be
denied to individuals whose behavior obviously contradicts a group's
beliefs. The manual of registered student organizations says this
protects a political group, for instance, from being taken over and
disbanded by an opposing group.
One Northern Michigan school district has decided to cut costs by giving kids an early weekend.
The Atlanta school district in Montmorency County is cutting its week to 4 days instead of the traditional five. Doug Pratt of the Michigan Education Association says he hopes cutting school days short will not take away from the educational effectiveness of the school district.
"When looking at these kind of cost cutting measures you can structure a 4 day school week that is educationally effective" says Pratt.
The school district says shutting the building down a day early will save it over $25,000. Pratt says he does not want the students to miss out on a quality education because of budget issues. He says cutting a school day is a sound solution but it may not be the only solution.
"There are real solutions out there to our student funding crisis. But you can't make that decision based on the budget, you've gotta make that decision based on what's best for student learning" says Pratt.
Students in the Atlanta School District now begin class an hour earlier at 7:30 a.m and are released at 4:00 p.m.
Recent statistics show there are a record number of students being mentored in the state, 28,536 to be exact.
One youth center in Saginaw Michigan is using mentoring to make sure its students stay on the right track, by keeping them off the wrong one.
When I visited the Boys and Girls Club of Saginaw Michigan there were about two dozen kids- mostly pre-teens- playing in the gym.
While these kids were goofing around, Juanita Joplin sat off to the side watching. She's one of the older students in the program and she says she's too grown to play around with the younger students. Juanita says she's been coming to the boys and girls club since she was in elementary school. She says through the years, the program has kept her safe.
"It's a better place coming here, because you never know people might be in the streets killing each other and this is a good place to come here" says Joplin
The city was recently ranked by the FBI as the most dangerous city in America. Its crime rate has risen more than 50 percent since the year 2000. And to make matters worse, the city was ranked in the top ten of the nation's worst cities to work in 2009 by Forbes Magazine. A recent study shows Saginaw has lost 10 percent of its population. Over 7,000 people have left over the last decade. Some may say these rankings and statistics mean bad news for the youth of the area. The Boys and Girls Club in Saginaw is trying to make sure young people in the city don't fall through the cracks.
George Adams is the Coordinator of the Boys and Girls Club on Saginaw's East Side. Residents consider this neighborhood to be one of the rougher parts of the city. Adams says the center serves as a safe haven to protect young people from things like drugs and gang violence.
"It gives them a way to stay off the streets it gives them a way to stay off of the street corner. From what they see going on in the city with drug and abandon houses and people that don't have jobs" says Adams.
Adams says one of the most important things children get from the Boys and Girls club is a connection with mentors. People like Ronald Holmes who is a mentor and paid staff worker. He says a lot of things the kids go through remind him of what he went through at their age.
"Some don't have nobody to talk to at home and when I was younger I had problems at home. And some of the kids who I have spoke with we been through the same problems at the home. So I tell them how I dealt with things and if they could they could go from my perspective, what I was dealing with at the house" says Holmes.
Groups like the Boys and Girls club are an important factor in the lives of children living in at risk areas.
The Boys and Girls club in Saginaw is evidence that the work of a few people can affect many lives.
Anthony Martin is an 8th grader at Clare Middle School. He was one of five children in the school that were elected to be part of a mentoring program in Clare called Students of Promise. The program is a partnership between the Mid-Michigan Community College Foundation and the five school districts that it serves. Anthony says the program got him involved in things he would not have been able to do in a regular school day.
"Lots of things are like team building stuff so you get to work with people much better than you would with ordinary school most of the time" says Anthony.
Not only does Anthony get to bond and interact with other people through the program he also gets help with his school work on a daily basis. One thing his mother Kathleen Meadowcroft says he had trouble with early on.
"He has improved in his schoolwork immensely he has more of a want to be able to excel in school."
Students of Promise launched in 20006. Right now a96 students are involved. The program is aimed at helping students who are academically promising but have other factors in their lives that may interfere with school. Things like low household income, family disruptions or even health issues. T