Michigan Education

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

There's a nationwide search underway to find former students who don't know they've already done all or most of the work needed to earn a credential that might help them land a better-paying job.

In Michigan, several hundred community college dropouts were recently surprised to learn they had enough credits to qualify for an associate degree. There are also ex-students who apparently didn't know they're just a few credits shy of a two-year degree.

A teacher from Petoskey has joined a lawsuit against the state's largest teachers union. It's been filed by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy on behalf of eight Michigan public school teachers.

Ray Arthur wants to stop paying union dues. He says he was never given any information about how to opt out of the Michigan Education Association and in September he was told he missed the August window to do so.

Recent deaths from drowning in Grand Traverse County have put water safety in the high school curriculum. All freshmen in Traverse City schools will spend a few hours this year learning about the dangers of water.

Such instruction is less common that you might think up north.

If you grew up downstate, you might have taken swimming lessons at school and learned some of the basic safety mantras like, “reach or throw, don’t go” if a swimmer is in trouble. But few schools up north have swimming pools. Harbor Springs is a notable exception.

Michigan education officials say the state risks losing more than a billion dollars of federal school funding as the state Senate debates a set of nationwide school standards.

The state budget that took effect this week bars the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) from spending any money to implement the Common Core standards.

MDE officials say the federal dollars are only awarded to states that have adopted acceptable standards. Michigan chose to implement Common Core three years ago, with relatively little fanfare.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has asked to have its website taken offline.

The state budget that took effect Tuesday bars the department from spending any money to implement a set of nationwide school standards known as the Common Core.

"By the mere fact that we have information and assistance to local districts infused throughout our website, we felt - and we believe - that we would be in violation of the state law," said MDE spokesperson Martin Ackley.

A record number of Michigan schools are struggling to stay in the black and a law put in place this summer allows state officials to dissolve and consolidate small schools with big problems. So far the headlines have been from some of Michigan's more populated counties, but some schools in the north that are paying close attention to changes from Lansing.

A Success Story

Tri-District Virtual School To Compete This Fall

Aug 16, 2013

Three small northern Michigan school districts are teaming up next year to form a new cyber school. Suttons Bay, Manistee and Crawford AuSable all had their own online programs before joining forces for the Great Lakes K12 Virtual School. The consortium will serve all of the northern Lower Peninsula but it will have to compete with two statewide cyber schools.

  

This story continues our summer series looking back over the last 50 years in northern Michigan as we celebrate IPR’s birthday.

Few events reverberated as loudly as a decision made in Kalkaska in 1993. Then, as now, public schools were making cuts to get by. But Kalkaska decided it would be better to close early than do without band, buses and art. The decision sparked dramatic change in the way schools are funded in Michigan.

Traverse City Area Public Schools ran afoul of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act during the last election, according to a letter issued Thursday by the Secretary of State. It says a district mailer advocated a “yes” vote for a school bond proposal. The district is not allowed to do that with taxpayer funds and other resources.

“We didn’t intend to violate the act or mislead folks and I think I need to apologize to Mr. Gillman, to our parents and our staff and community for any confusion the mailer caused,” says TCAPS Superintendent Steve Cousins.

svadilfari/Flickr

School districts across Michigan are making cuts again as lean times continue for public education.

Yet this week also marks the anniversary of a revolution in education that started in Kalkaska. Twenty years ago, Kalkaska Public Schools started their summer vacation in March. It was a protest against cutting more programs to stay open.

The decision led to dramatic change in the way schools are funded in Michigan. But now there’s a feeling that schools are back where they started.

Traverse City's "Gun Safe Mom"

Dec 21, 2012

With every school shooting, Missy Smith is reminded of the tragedy her own family once suffered at the hands of a child with a gun. Her 12-year-old brother was shot and killed decades ago while visiting the home of a classmate.

Years later, as a new mom in Traverse City, Smith was uncomfortable sending her children to play in homes where guns were left unlocked. But there was an irony; Smith had married into a hunting family and there were unlocked firearms in her own home. She left gun safety to her husband at first.

The Blues Just Can't Be Beat

May 23, 2012

The Blues haven't lost a game in 3 years. And scores like 40, 50 or 60 to nothing aren't unusual. Jim Kehrer and his wife coach the Blues. Jim says that the Blues are drilled – and drilled hard – in the basics of rugby. And that they're relentless in moving the ball.

Jim says, “And the other team, you’ll see them just crumble, they’ll keep the pace for a little bit but they get so frustrated that they’re not able to do anything. They never give them a chance to breathe, never give them a chance to get any space and they eventually just crack.” 

IPR News: Baldwin Cafeteria

Apr 30, 2009

This week IPR has taken a peak at Baldwin from inside the classroom. Even in good times, unemployment is consistently high in Lake County, as is illiteracy, and poverty. But this is also a community with a rich sense of identity tied to a special history – as a once-booming vacation spot for wealthy Black Americans. Listen in to the high school cafeteria, a racially diverse place with a bit of an inferiority complex, and a whole lot of school pride.

IPR News: Baldwin Early Education

Apr 30, 2009

Times are tough all over Michigan, but times always seem to be tough in Lake County. This week IPR travels to Baldwin, to a community school where nearly all the students are poor, and one-in-five adults in the community have no high school diploma. The dream in Baldwin is to make the school district the exception: a school that’s both high poverty, and high performing. There are no silver bullets – just high hopes, and well-researched trial and error. IPR’s Linda Stephan produced this report.

IPR News: Baldwin Adult Education

Apr 30, 2009

Times are tough all over Michigan, but times always seem to be tough in Lake County. This week on Interlochen Public Radio we travel to Baldwin, a community with literacy rates estimated to rival Detroit. In Lake, the number of people in poverty mirrors the number of people who don’t have a 12th grade education. IPR’s Linda Stephan starts the series by visiting a group of adults determined to rise above those statistics. They’re going back to school.

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