Michigan Education

Education is a big issue in northern Michigan, whether we're reporting on school funding issues to breakthroughs in the classroom.

Jake Neher

Gov. Rick Snyder is renewing his support for banning openly carrying firearms in Michigan schools.

Right now, people with concealed pistol licenses can legally openly carry in schools. But they cannot carry weapons that are concealed.

  Snyder says banning open carry in schools is something he and lawmakers are discussing.

“I would imagine there’ll probably be ongoing discussion,” he said. “Because, again, open carry in Michigan schools is not a good thing. And most states don’t allow it.”

Aaron Selbig

The robotics team from Traverse City Central High School is headed to St. Louis this week to compete in the world championship of robotics. The Raptors earned their ticket with a surprise victory in the state championship.

Megan Kral is still processing that moment when the final scores were revealed and the Raptors robotics team knew it had won the state championship.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he’s open to the idea of the state taking over debt from Detroit Public Schools (DPS).

A long-awaited report released this week by the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren recommended the move. It urges the state to assume hundreds of millions of dollars in DPS debt.

The governor has stopped short of endorsing the plan – but says he’ll consider it.

Russ Climie / Tiberius Image

Gov. Rick Snyder has taken direct control over the state office tasked with monitoring Michigan’s worst performing schools.

The elected state Board of Education previously had control over the state School Reform Office. Snyder signed an executive order on Thursday that moves the reform office to his budget office.

“Which will give us an opportunity for me to be more proactive on educational issues,” Snyder said at an unrelated event in Dearborn.

Faculty at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City will soon begin negotiating contracts through a union. 75 percent of the faculty voted ‘yes’ to join the Michigan Education Association – the state's largest teachers' union.

A state board has approved taking on debt to come up with $50 million dollars to help 18 Michigan community colleges ramp up their career and technical training, including Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City and West Shore Community College in Scottville.

Gov. Rick Snyder Snyder (R) has made career tech training a high priority. He says that’s because employers are looking for skilled workers, and most states have fallen behind in meeting the demand.

“So we’re going to keep growing in the skilled trades,” he says. “We’re going to be Number One.”

Deputy Diane Speas, inside the art room at Leelanau County Jail.
Daniel Wanschura

Nearly ten years ago, the jail chaplain in Leelanau County challenged the inmates to participate in a drawing contest. It was Christmas and Leelanau County Deputy Diane Speas remembers the results of that first contest.

“We looked at them and found them just gorgeous, and decided to make them into cards," she recalls.

UPDATED 1:03PM

A lawmaker from Cadillac says most schools in his district have already exceeded the number of allowed weather cancelations this year.

State Representative Phil Potvin says Michigan school districts should be allowed to cancel days more often.

“So in looking ahead, trying to be prepared, I’ve looked at moving that number that we allow from six up to nine,” he says.

Schools must make up any additional canceled days at the end of the school year. Otherwise, they risk losing some state funding.

NMC greatly expands study abroad

Feb 20, 2015

Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City has more than doubled its study abroad program since 2012. Jim Bensley, director of international services, says the school plans to send 80 students to six countries this year – including Cuba.

“Obviously, it’s a country that’s been closed for so long to citizens from the United States, so just taking a step back, not only back in time, but into another dimension of government, essentially,” he says of the trip.

Faculty members at Northwestern Michigan College will soon decide if they want a union. Ballots are being mailed today to 89 instructors at the community college in Traverse City.

The faculty has not publicly stated what it hopes to gain from a union. A spokeswoman for the Michigan Education Association, the organizing unit, declined to comment on the vote.

Marguerite Cotto, NMC’s vice president of lifelong and professional learning, says the concerns she’s aware of include issues like faculty wanting more say in how employees are evaluated.

Only one in three Michiganders feels Michigan's statewide school system deserves an A or a B grade. That's according to new polling from Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants.

Rep. Adam Zemke is the Democratic vice chair of the House Education Committee and he represents Ann Arbor.

A state Senate panel will take up a bill on Tuesday that would allow college graduates to claim a tax credit based on student loan interest payments.

Supporters say skyrocketing student loan debt is causing recent grads to move out of Michigan.

“We have kids graduating Michigan universities with an average of $30,000 in debt. Because of that, they’re having a hard time being part of our economy and also are being forced to move out of state,” said bill sponsor Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing.

The Michigan Department of Education has called it the most serious federal criminal case involving a Michigan charter school since the state gave the green light to charter schools in 1994.

Traverse City optometrist Steven Ingersoll will go on trial tomorrow on seven criminal charges of bank fraud and tax evasion.

Peter Payette

The man who owes $1.6 million to a Traverse City charter school goes on trial this week in federal court. One state lawmaker called Steven Ingersoll the “poster child” for problems with charter schools in Michigan.

But his financial dealings with Grand Traverse Academy will not be at the center of this month’s trial. In fact, whether the missing money was actually stolen might not even be an issue that gets discussed.

Michigan's academic state champs

Feb 4, 2015

Raw tests scores can't give you a full picture of student academic achievement. There are many other factors that figure into how students learn. That's why Bridge Magazine has created a ranking that takes into account not only grade-level test results, but also students' household incomes.

A federal appeals court says a former assistant state attorney general owes millions of dollars for stalking and harassing a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.

The episode has already cost Andrew Shirvell his job as a lawyer for the state. Now, he also owes $3.5 million to former UM student body president Chris Armstrong.

Shirvell challenged the jury award. He said he was exercising his First Amendment right to protest against a public figure. He also said the judgment was excessive.

The state has rejected ACT’s claim that Michigan unfairly switched its free college entrance exam to the SAT starting in spring 2016.

ACT protested two aspects of the bidding process. It said the state changed the timeline of the proposed contract and penalized ACT for having a writing portion. It says both of those things unfairly benefitted SAT.

State officials say they reviewed those concerns carefully.

The ACT is appealing Michigan’s decision to switch its eleventh grade standardized test to the SAT.

The state gives high school juniors a free college entrance exam as part of their state assessment.

The ACT claims the state’s bidding process unfairly favored the SAT. For example, it said ACT lost points because it includes a writing portion.

State officials say they made an extra effort to make sure the bidding process was fair.

Governor Snyder has chosen Darnell Earley, Flint's current emergency manager, to replace Jack Martin as Detroit Public School's emergency manager.

Chastity Pratt Dawsey, who covers education issues for Bridge Magazine, talked to us about what this means for DPS.

From Foster Care To Freshman Year

Jan 5, 2015

By the time she aged out of foster care, Jasmine Uqdah had spent nearly half her life in the system. On a summer day in 2008, Uqdah grabbed her duffel bag and two small garbage bags, and she stuffed everything she owned inside.

It wasn't much — just some clothes and a few stuffed animals. She said her goodbyes to her foster family in Detroit and moved out. She was 18 years old.

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