Push on vocational training would ease curriculum mandate

By CORTNEY ERNDT

Capital News Service

LANSING – A proposal to lower Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) requirements for vocational training students may boost manufacturing careers, some legislators said.

Students who successfully complete one year of vocational training would be able to avoid the mandatory algebra II credit, a credit of science, one credit of the arts, and the online/learning experience requirement.

Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, said, “I really feel that we need to make sure those who have an interest in a vocational skill have an opportunity to learn those skills without being penalized.”
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Tablet computers springing up in more classrooms

By MICHAEL GERSTEIN

Capital News Service

LANSING – How do you keep students interested? Novelty.

As the burgeoning tablet market reaches into the under-tapped field of education, iPads and other tablets are finding a happy home in tech-starved schools across the state. And some teachers say they may have the sought-after solution to the problem of student engagement as their districts appropriate millions of dollars for new technology.

Dozens of schools in Michigan have already purchased iPads for students, and many more are considering the same, according to the Department of Education.

Sturgis High School and Ludington’s Franklin Elementary School bought enough for every student.
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Core curriculum changes deter career training

By CORTNEY ERNDT

Capital News Service

LANSING – High school students are locked into a tougher core curriculum, leading to a drop in vocational program enrollment.

Students have less time to leave their high school building to attend a career tech center program that provides career-oriented courses.

Career tech center enrollment decreased 30 percent the first year the new Michigan Merit Curriculum became effective for the Class of 2011, Michigan Association of School Boards Deputy Director Don Wotruba said.
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Online courses offer students second chance

By ANJANA SCHROEDER

Capital News Service

LANSING – School districts in the northern Lower Peninsula and West Michigan are offering credit recovery programs to allow students to make up classes, work for better grades and stay on the right track to graduate from high school.

The goal is to promote student success, Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Flanagan said.

Credit recovery is a way for students, who failed or haven’t finished a course, to take the courses during or after school to catch up and prepare for high school graduation.
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Community colleges, manufacturers team up to fill middle-skill jobs

By YANJIE WANG

Capital News Service

LANSING– With the state’s manufacturing industry facing a talent crisis, the Michigan Manufacturers Association and the Michigan Community College Association are collaborating to meet the demand for middle-skill workers.

As technology advances, a lot of jobs require people with the right skills, said Delaney McKinley, director of human resource policy for the Manufacturers Association.

And the shortage could get worse as the workforce ages and skilled workers retire, according to the association.
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Support grows for more preschool education

By CELESTE BOTT

Capital News Service

LANSING – A $130 million initiative for pre-kindergarten education is in the early stages of development, according to the Department of Education.

The initiative calls for more funding for the Great Start Readiness Program, which provides state aid to public school districts and charter schools for pre-K programs.

Through Great Start Readiness, intermediate school districts receive grants to provide preschool education for 4-year-old children from low-income families.
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Bill would replace national school standards with local ones

By YANJIE WANG

Capital News Service

LANSING– Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, has introduced a bill to throw out a new national set of standards for K-12 education adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010.

His bill would replace those standards with local ones.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a set of standards in English-language arts and mathematics, were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The national standards aim to give K-12 schoo children the knowledge and skills they need for colleges and careers, and outline expectations for students at each grade level.
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Achievement gap widens between poorer, richer students

By EDITH ZHOU

Capital News Service

LANSING – Michigan has 1.2 million families, with 2.3 million children, 42 percent of them live in low-income families, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.

And an achievement gap between them and wealthier children is widening, according to new research.

That achievement gap is measured primarily by scores on standardized tests, said Pamela Davis-Kean, director of the Center for the Analysis of Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood at the University of Michigan.
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Partnerships help students earn two degrees

By LAUREN GENTILE

Capital News Service

LANSING – Many students are finding a new way to get a four-year degree for a lower cost through degree completion programs at their local community colleges.

“Degree completion or transfer programs are run by a community college with the help of a four-year institution,” Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association, said. “Most programs are either two or three years at the community college, then one at the university.”

Campuses all over the state have partnered with colleges to make “big university dreams” come true at an affordable rate, Hansen said.

“These programs allow students to pay the community college tuition rate, sometimes for up to 90 credits,” he said.
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Lawmaker presses for easier recall of ISD board members

By CELESTE BOTT

Capital News Service

LANSING – A financial scandal in the Genesee Intermediate School District (ISD) has reopened a broader political discussion about the recall of ISD board members.

A recent forensic audit report by Southfield-based Plante Moran revealed that tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars were misused for district administrators’ personal expenses. The State Police is conducting a criminal investigation.

The ISD board unanimously voted to terminate one administrator after Superintendent Lisa Hagel filed charges calling for her dismissal, claiming “a misuse of public funds through travel, inaccurate records, misuse of ISD equipment, directing inflation of an invoice and falsifying records.”
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