LANSING – Budget struggles have forced many K-12 public school districts to make sacrifices over the last decade – and the steady disappearance of music programs has hit a sour note among some parents and educators.
You could even say it struck a discordant chord.
About 77 percent of teachers and 64 percent of parents rated music and arts education important or extremely important in a nationwide survey dubbed “Striking a Chord” andconducted by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. The foundation supports research and develops public service programs to improve music participation. Continue reading →
LANSING – The Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) is setting new records – and not in a good way.
The pension system is underfunded by $26.5 billion – the biggest hole ever, according to the Midland-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
MPSERS serves K-12 public school districts, community colleges, intermediate districts and a handful of libraries and public universities. As of last year, it had 227,756 active members and 204,512 retirees. Continue reading →
LANSING— The number of English language learners in Michigan’s elementary and secondary schools has increased 15,784 since 2011, according to the Department of Education (DOE).
And with more immigrants settling in Michigan, more actions need to be done to help immigrant students with their English, according to the department.
Michigan has 99,500 immigrant students this school year, a significant increase from the previous year, according to the DOE. Troy, Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Farmington and Warren Consolidated Schools have a larger number of newly arrived immigrant students than other districts.
Dearborn and Detroit Public Schools have the largest proportion of English learners, DOE statistics show. Continue reading →
LANSING — The number of Michigan school districts contracting out at least a part of their transportation services increased 150 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to a think tank survey.
The survey by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland recorded 78 school districts opting for some privatized transportation services during that time, in addition to 53 already contracting out.
There are about 540 districts in the state, according to the Department of Education. And while some districts are contracting out only a portion of the service, such as employment, most are privatizing their whole bus operation, said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the center. Continue reading →
LANSING—Public school retirees would retain their full pensions and health benefits while going back to work at schools with a critical shortage of teachers in their discipline or as substitutes for teachers and other instructional positions, under a bill before the Legislature.
The House and Senate have passed similar versions of a proposal to change the current law that reduces pension and health benefits for some retirees who are back teaching, depending on their retirement data and the circumstances of their new position.
The measure awaiting final legislative action lays out requirements to determine if a district has a “critical shortage” and if a retiree qualifies. Continue reading →
LANSING — Although some schools teach students about Internet dangers, a recently introduced House bill would require it.
The bill, spearheaded by Rep. Robert Wittenberg, D-Oak Park, and co-sponsored by Reps. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, and Aaron Miller, R-Sturgis, among others, would mandate public schools teach an “age-appropriate” Internet safety course in grades 1 through 12 at least once per year.
By the time students graduate, they would be taught to recognize and report cyber bullying, sexual predation and copyright infringements, along with how to protect private information.
Wittenberg said he saw a need for Internet education in Michigan’s curriculum after speaking with superintendents in his district who were distraught about student behavior online and the lack of support materials for teachers. Continue reading →
LANSING— Numerous studies show that poverty and income are the two best predictors of a student’s success in school. This has been proven in Michigan recently, according to education experts.
The average scores of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) are low, with 12 percent proficient in science at the bottom and 50 percent proficient in English at the top, according to the Education Department. Meanwhile, 16 percent of Michigan children live in school districts with concentrated poverty, one of the largest percentages among the states, according to a Kids Count in Michigan report by the Michigan League for Public Policy.
Gretchen Dziadosz, executive director of the Michigan Education Association (MEA), the state’s largest teacher and school personnel union, said the increase in poor students and poor school districts hurts students’ academic performance. She attributed that increase to the fact that Michigan hasn’t fully recovered from the recession. Continue reading →
By STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ McGAVIN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Patrick Lamb is the son of a welder and a nurse. When he graduated high school in 1976, there were three definitive lines of work for him to enter: university, military or trade.
He was only familiar with one line.
Lamb is now the principal at the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center and is working with about 1,100 high school students to make sure they know all of their options. Continue reading →