Online courses offer students second chance


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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Children’s play highlights Great Lakes shipwreck


Capital News Service

LANSING — Jeff Duncan wrote short stories for years but they never went anywhere. Until one day, a friend at a literary magazine told him the dialogue in his stories was great.

That’s when it hit Duncan – he should write plays.

Twenty years later, Duncan finished “Shipwrecked,” a Great Lakes maritime tale for children. It’s his 23rd play.

The plot is about a family caught in a storm while transporting Christmas trees in 1893.

“They’re a family that owns a boat and does Great Lakes shipping,” said Duncan, who lives in Ann Arbor. “November is a good month to have a wreck, and in 1893 there was a bad recession, so that’s why they were doing it.” Continue reading

Push on to pump up physical education in schools


Capital News Service

LANSING – A recent federal study echoes concerns by Michigan health professionals that link the lack of time set aside for physical and health education classes in K-8 schools to increasing childhood obesity.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of public schools indicates that while sports opportunities for students have generally increased, the frequency of physical education classes has decreased.

Noting the “federal government’s role in promoting the health and welfare of children,” the study aims to assist congressional consideration of strategies to increase physical activity among students. Continue reading

Community colleges innovate to stay competitive


Capital News Service

LANSING – Community colleges are finding new ways to compete with for-profit colleges to enroll and retain more part-time and working students.

Those efforts, including one at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, come at a time when community college enrollments are dipping while for-profit enrollments are rising.

Over the past year, enrollment at community colleges dropped for the first time in several years, from a high of 260,179 in 2010 to 250,399 now, according to the Michigan Community College Association.

However, enrollment in the state’s degree-granting, for-profits rose from 21,185 in 2004 to 30,193 in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Continue reading