March 27, 2015, budget

Capital News Service Budget – March 27, 2015

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks & Sheila Schimpf

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CNS ALUM HONORED: CNS alum Derek Wallbank will be honored in May when he receives the MSU College of Communication Arts & Sciences’ 2015 Rising Star Alumni Award. Wallbank, a spring 2006 CNS correspondent, covers Congress for Bloomberg in Washington.

HERE’S YOUR FILE (ALL FILES NOT LINKED ARE ATTACHED):

SCHOOLEXPULSION: A bill recently introduced in the Michigan Senate would automatically expel any student who threatens the life of a school employee or volunteer. We speak with the Grand Rapids-area senator who introduced the bill, a Sturgis superintendent who is unhappy with it, and a state official who explains Michigan’s expulsion appeals policy. By Josh Thall. FOR LANSING, HOLLAND, STURGIS, BLISSFIELD, THREE RIVERS & ALL POINTS.

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SCHOOLSECURITY: The Michigan State Police recently awarded $4 million in grants to schools across Michigan to increase school security. We speak to school officials and Sheriff’s departments across the state to see how this grant money will be spent. By Collin Krizmanich. For LEELANAU, TRAVERSE CITY, LANSING CITY PULSE, MANISTEE, GRAND RAPIDS AND ALL POINTS.

POLICEROADBILL: Proposal 1 to fix Michigan’s roads has been hotly debated, but one group is taking a strong stance in its favor: law enforcement. Automobile-related incidents are the leading cause of death among law officers, and many police officials say fixing roads will make their workplace safer. We speak to the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police about the impact the proposal could have on police officer safety. By Cheyna Roth. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, TRAVERSE CITY, LAKE COUNTY, PETOSKEY, LEELANAU, MANISTEE, DETROIT, AND ALL POINTS.
w/ROADBILLGRAPHIC — How a pothole forms, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Transportation

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12HOURSHIFTS: Many police officers prefer working 12-hour shifts because they mean more days off. But although departments appreciate the cost savings, these shifts can result in fatigued officers and decreased community relationships. We talk to members of law enforcement and a sleep experts to see the impact of working for half a day. By Cheyna Roth. FOR ALL POINTS.

STUDENTHEALTH: Good health is essential for student learning, but each of Michigan’s schools have unique resources and challenges when it comes to improving health services and education. We talk to the central Upper Peninsula regional health coordinator, the Newberry school principal, an Ishpeming school principal, and state education experts to hear about solutions to students’ varying health needs. By Elizabeth Ferguson. FOR MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, LANSING CITY PULSE, AND ALL POINTS.

FORESTPRODUCTS: Experts think Michigan’s vast forestry could provide much more economic growth by producing saleable products in addition to raw materials. A new proposal to study this expansion is being planned by the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative, headed up by a professor at Michigan Technological University. We talk to this professor about the proposal’s details and to Longyear forest management company to hear how these forest resources can be better used. By Elizabeth Ferguson. FOR MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, SAULT STE. MARIE, ALPENA, HARBOR SPRINGS, PETOSKEY, AND ALL POINTS.

GERRYMANDERINGINMICHIGAN: Every 10 years following the census, district lines are redrawn across the state. In Michigan, the legislature controls the redrawing of these district maps — and the results have been lopsided election results. We talk to political scientists and legislators and discuss the problems with gerrymandering and possible solutions. By Collin Krizmanich. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.
w/ GERRYMANDERINGRAPHIC — Michigan’s 14th Congressional District: In 2014 Democrat Brenda Lawrence received more than 77 percent of the vote. Often cited as an example of gerrymandering. Source: nationalatlas.gov

TEACHERPREP: A lack of knowledge on Common Core standards has proven difficult for prospective teaching students, since the exam required to even get into their school’s teaching program is based largely on the new standards. The entry test’s pass rate of 31 percent is not necessarily surprising: Teachers already in the field may be having similar issues as districts are spotty in preparing them to teach the new standards. We talk to the Michigan Education Association and experts in Grand Rapids and Central and Northern Michigan universities. By Brooke Kansier. FOR ALL POINTS

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MATHHELP: Studies find that many commonly used math textbooks are missing an average of one quarter of necessary Common Core requirements. With math textbooks essential to teachers creating lesson plans, teachers are faced with a problem — and MSU has a solution. Released earlier this month, the Textbook Navigator is a free, web-based program that helps teachers understand what parts of the Common Core are found where in their textbook, and what chapters can be skipped. By Brooke Kansier. FOR ALL POINTS

Gerrymandering in Michigan, explained

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — By all accounts, 2014 was a good election year for Republicans in Michigan. They increased their majority in the Michigan House of Representatives by three seats, now holding 63 to Democrats’ 47. Out of the 14 congressional races, Republicans won nine.

You may assume Republicans across the state received substantially more votes than Democrats.

However, that assumption would be wrong.

Although Republicans won nine of the 14 congressional races, Democrats received about 50,000 more votes out of 3 million cast.

gerrymandering

Michigan’s 14th Congressional District: In 2014 Democrat Brenda Lawrence received more than 77 percent of the vote. Often cited as an example of gerrymandering. Source: nationalatlas.gov


“Any time you look at a result where one party gets more votes and the other party has a large majority in the legislature, it raises concerns whether the legislature is reflecting the sentiment and goals of voters,” said Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.
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Schools, communities improve students’ health

By ELIZABETH FERGUSON
Capital News Service

LANSING — Newberry Elementary School in Luce County doesn’t have a school nurse, but it has a school health team that gets tips from hospital experts on how to teach nutrition and respond to flu season.

This coordinated school health team maximizes limited resources by bringing together health and physical education teachers with experts in the community, said Principal Stacy Price.

“Who we call on depends on what direction we are going,” Price said. For example, a hospital dietitian attends meetings when school nutrition is being discussed.

About half of Michigan’s school districts rely on coordinated health teams to meet unique needs in their areas. Charlie Yeager, who oversees health education in seven central Upper Peninsula districts as one of Michigan’s 24 regional health coordinators, believes that schools across the state could benefit from their own coordinated health teams.
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Bill would expel students who threaten teachers

By JOSH THALL
Capital News Service

LANSING — Public school students above the fifth grade who threaten the lives of school employees or volunteers could be permanently expelled under a bill introduced by Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, a Lowell Republican.

Hildenbrand said he introduced the bill as a response to a phone call he received from a teacher in his Grand Rapids district. He said she told him a student had threatened her, and every day when that student was in class, she felt unsafe.

The teacher reported the problem to school officials, Hildenbrand said, but nothing substantial was done. Grand Rapids schools officials did not respond to requests for comment.

“I introduced this bill to begin the conversation of finding out if we need to do something to make sure our teachers feel safe,” Hildenbrand said. “We go to great lengths to make sure our students are safe in school, but I think we also need to consider potential problems where teachers could be endangered, as well.”
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Common Core challenges teachers — old and new

By BROOKE KANSIER
Capital News Service

LANSING — Common Core standards are not only changing education for K-12 teachers, but for university students who want to become educators.

The new standards – coupled with a tougher entrance exam – are making it harder for college students to get into teacher training programs. Meanwhile, current teachers have to adjust their lessons to Common Core standards, which were adopted by the state Board of Education in 2010.

“This has been our concern for a while — how prepared are our schools, districts and teachers to align with the Common Core?” said Steve Cook, president of the Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union.

For college students aspiring to be teachers, one of the most difficult parts of the process might be just getting into a program.
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MSU online program helps teachers add Core standards

By BROOKE KANSIER
Capital News Service

LANSING — Many K-8 math textbooks have a crucial element missing — the Common Core.

A Michigan State University study of mathematics textbooks found that among the 185 textbooks and 34 textbook series surveyed, only seven included all materials required under Common Core standards. Textbooks studied included those in use by other Common Core states — it was published in 2010, before Michigan joined the standards — and those marketed as Common Core-aligned.

These results were backed up by a study done by the nonprofit EdReports.org earlier this year, which found similar results — 17 of the 20 textbooks studied were missing important Common Core lessons.
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Long shifts raise concerns for law enforcement

By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service

LANSING — Although many police officers enjoy the perks of a 12-hour shift, this popular schedule may not be what’s best for officer safety and for the communities they serve, a law enforcement leader says.

In many health and public safety jobs — police, firefighters, doctors and nurses — someone has to be on the job 24 hours a day. Such “shift work” is regularly divided into 10- or 12-hour shifts, often to save money.
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Michigan’s forests underused, experts say

By ELIZABETH FERGUSON
Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan could be getting a lot more out of its forests.

Most of the state’s harvested timber is sold as logs, but more jobs and dollars could be generated by turning those forests into products such as syrup, furniture and ethanol, according to the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative.

“Right now we are shipping logs out of the state, and losing a lot of potential value,” said Mark Rudnicki, a professor at Michigan Technological University and executive director of the initiative.

The forest initiative is a group of experts in industry, academia and state government looking to grow Michigan’s economy by promoting better use of the state’s forest resources, Rudnicki said.
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Roads proposal could aid officers, advocates say

By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service

LANSING — The controversial May ballot proposal that would raise the sales tax and fix Michigan roads could have an unexpected side effect: safer working conditions for police officers.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among police officers, said Terry Jungel, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. Through March 26, 12 officers across the country died in traffic accidents this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

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How a pothole forms, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Transportation


Michigan recently experienced this first hand when Ingham County Sheriff’s Deputy Grant Whitaker was killed in an automobile accident while chasing a suspect last December.
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Door ‘boots,’ 911 apps among uses for school security grants

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — With $4 million to spend in grants from the Michigan State Police, school districts across the state are opting to buy a wide variety of improved school security systems and devices.

These improvements include increased door and window security, new emergency alert applications on electronic devices and reinforced classroom doors to keep out intruders.

“Each district will take a different approach. Some will use electronics, some will use the boot, some will use video cameras — they’re not mutually exclusive,” said Mike Borkovich, Leelanau County Sheriff. “All of these things add up to more security for kids.”
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