Jan. 20, 2017
to: CNS Editors
From: Perry Parks and Sheila Schimpf
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Welcome to our first regular file of the spring semester:
RURALSCHOOLS: Rural schools face unique challenges that don’t affect urban and suburban districts. Small staffs and big geographic areas lead to big responsibilities for school leaders, like Mason County superintendents who get up at 4 a.m. on winter mornings to drive their districts and determine whether it’s safe to take kids to school. Transportation, teacher retention and internet access are all special challenges for rural educators. We talk to superintendents in Mason County and the MEA president. By Isaac Constans. For LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, LAKE COUNTY, OCEANA AND ALL POINTS
TITLEIXK-12: The nomination of Michigan’s Betsy DeVos to be U.S. secretary of education has focused new attention on equity issues in public schools. There already appears to be confusion in many school districts about their responsibilities under Title IX, and some activists and senators worry that it will get even less attention if DeVos is confirmed. We talk to MEA president, Anna Voremberg, managing director of End Rape on Campus and several school districts, including Three Rivers, Manistique, Marquette and Gladwin. By Caitlin Taylor. For HOLLAND, BLISSFIELD, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, GLADWIN, MARQUETTE, ST. IGNACE, THREE RIVERS & ALL POINTS
DEVOSEDUCATION: The nomination of Grand Rapids native and billionaire lobbyist Betsy DeVos for U.S. secretary of education has provoked plenty of opposition across the state, with the majority of criticism coming from public school educators and advocates who have sparred with DeVos’ lobbying efforts. But some educators who have worked in Michigan charter schools, for which DeVos has been an aggressive advocate, argue that school competition has helped the state. We talk to educators, including ones from Evart and Reed City. By Laina Stebbins. FOR BIG RAPIDS, LAKE COUNTY, OSCEOLA, GLADWIN, GREENVILLE, OCEANA, AND ALL POINTS
SCHOOLSUPPLIES: Michigan’s school districts face a constant supply problem caused by lack of funds, but advocates and state agencies are working to fill the gaps. More than 250 schools in 34 counties benefit from the Department of Health and Human Services Pathways to Potential program, where caseworkers go to the schools and work with students and families in need. Districts like Grand Rapids Public Schools don’t have textbooks in some cases and are forced to use free resources. Other districts are in Mason, Ottawa, Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego and Presque Isle counties. By Laura Bohannon. FOR ALCONA, CHEBOYGAN, HOLLAND, MARQUETTE, LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, MONTMORENCY, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, GREENVILLE, OCEANA, BIG RAPIDS, AND ALL POINTS.
EDUCATIONLEGISLATION: Michigan’s controversial School Reform Office announced its updated list of “failing schools” on Jan. 20, even as legislators move to eliminate it. Each year the Department of Education releases a “top to bottom” list, which ranks schools on student performance in mathematics, English language, arts, science, social studies and graduation rate data. The bottom five get particular scrutiny. The process has many critics. A St. Clair senator has introduced a bill to repeal Michigan’s law regulating underperforming schools. We talk with the MEA president, the School Reform Office, and school administrators in Lansing. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.
FORESTS&CLIMATE: Great Lakes forests will get warmer and suffer more frequent short-term droughts, say scientists, including a U.S. Forest Service climate change expert based in Houghton. Researchers discuss their studies that examine what tree species show the most impact from climate change in forests in the region. By Marie Orttenburger. FOR MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, SAULT STE. MARIE, CHEBOYGAN, CADILLAC, BIG RAPIDS, LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, ALCONA, OCEANA, MONTMORENCY, GLADWIN, LAKE COUNTY, HERALD STAR, CRAWFORD COUNTY AND ALL POINTS.
w/FORESTS&CLIMATEPHOTO: Red pine forest in West Michigan. Credit: Marie Orttenburger.
WINTERCAMPING: Winter camping is gaining popularity in Michigan, the DNR says. We talk to folks about Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campground, Muskegon State Park, a private RV campground in Traverse City and Mitchell State Park. By Carl Stoddard. FOR MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, CHEBOYGAN, SAULT STE. MARIE, CADILLAC, LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, CRAWFORD COUNTY, GREENVILLE, GLADWIN, MONTMORENCY, ALCONA, HOLLAND, LEELANAU, OCEANA, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, BIG RAPIDS & ALL POINTS.
w/WINTERCAMPINGPHOTO1: Winter campers next to a yurt at Waterloo Recreation area. Credit: Department of Natural Resources
w/WINTERCAMPINGPHOTO2: Cross-country skier passes RV campers. Credit: Michigan Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds
TRAILCHALLENGE: — Opponents of a 5-mile segment of the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route Trailway have lost a court challenge to the planned route. A federal judge in Grand Rapids threw out a suit claiming the National Park Service failed to fully disclose and analyze environmental impacts along the north side of Traverse Lake Road in Cleveland and Centerville townships. When completed, the trail will connect southern Leelanau County with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at Good Harbor Beach. The trail runs on Park Service land and on existing public rights-of-way. By Eric Freedman. FOR LEELANAU, TRAVERSE CITY & ALL POINTS.
EDAMAME: There’s growing interest in how to grow edamame in the Great Lakes region — and Michigan is ripe for the picking. Edamame has been an untapped crop for farmers here since its rise in demand has developed over the past decade, and Southwest Michigan has the facilities available to process them. We hear from experts at MSU, University of Illinois and the Center for Innovative Food Technology. By Carin Tunney. FOR STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, HOLLAND & ALL POINTS.
w/EDAMAMEPHOTO: Experimental crops of edamame were planted by MSU researchers in the 1990s in Southwest Michigan. Credit: Michael Staton
CONSPIRACIES: Who’s more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, the politically knowledgeable or the politically ignorant? The politically ignorant, right? Wrong, at least when it comes to conservatives, according to a new study by political scientists. In Michigan, conspiracy theories concerning the Flint water crisis have poked up their ugly heads. The broadest ones allege a racially and politically motivated plot by the governor, his appointed emergency managers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and high-ups in the departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services to poison the predominantly poor, non-white, Democratic-voting residents of Flint. Commentary for news and opinion pages. By Eric Freedman. FOR ALL POINTS.
Jan. 20, 2017