“Schools of Choice” and modern segregation

Zachary Barnes explores the roots of segregation during the early part of the 20th century in Lansing area schools, and how it compares to modern-day segregation — meaning those who have the privilege to, can transfer to another school, leaving a larger number of minority and economically disadvantaged without funding for resources. Segregation — “the separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area, by barriers to social intercourse, by separate educational facilities, or by other discriminatory means.” — Merriam Webster

Although it may not be segregation in the traditional sense, policies such as “red lining,” where minority neighborhoods were outlined in red on a city’s master plan meaning “high-risk” under rules laid out by the Federal Housing Administration. Both direct and indirect racism has lead to major inequities in the classroom. According to MSU education professors and non-profits that work to better education for minority students, these inequities have lead to resource gaps and unequal opportunity. A main reason for this, “Schools of Choice,” the process where families can choose to apply to another school district within the same region. It could be time to revisit the 1994 legislation as schools become increasingly segregated.

Okemos Public Schools serve school of choice students, but focus locally

Alena Zachery-Ross is the Superintendent of Okemos Public Schools, hired just this year. She explains that Okemos Public Schools, while serving school of choice students, primarily focuses on serving the Okemos community. School of choice is a district optional program that allows students from one school district to chose another. This allows students and their families the option to choose what education they’re receiving, regardless of residency. “Our philosophy regarding school of choice is that there will be limited seating opportunities for non resident students,” Zachery-Ross said.

Williamston Board of Education approves 8011 Policy

WILLIAMSTON- Williamston public school parent Sandy Dufrin walked up to the microphone. Nearly 200 people crowded in the Williamston Middle School cafeteria. All eyes are on Dufrin as her hands shake beneath the paper that declares her opposition to the 8011 policy, a topic that has catalyzed conflict in the school district. Tension fills the room as she asks, “If this policy is approved are you seriously going to look at an elementary student who can barely tie their shoes and affirm that he has the capacity to choose what gender he wants to be?”

Through months of deliberation, emotional unrest and controversial debates between opposing sides, the Williamston Board of Education has approved the 8011 Equal Protection of Transgender and Non-Conforming Students Policy at their meeting on Nov. 6.

Williamston school board approves gender identity policies

On Nov. 2, the seven members of the Williamston Community Schools Board of Education approved two policies related to gender identity and access to gender-segregated facilities

After several months of current and former students, as well as Williamston community members meeting at the local middle school, the school board reached a decision as to how they will assess their transgender students and gender identity concerns. The decision came after months of meetings and public comment after the school board took on the issue of gender identity in its schools. “Over the summer, the seven board members decided to draft some proposals for how the district should handle or deal with the needs of a number of gender-identity type issues,” Williamston High School Principal Jeffrey Thoenes said. “The school board went through their normal process of discussing and then voting on what is placed on their board agenda.”

Thoenes said the transgender issues were handled the same way that any other school board issue is.

Talking with Teachers, Episode 3. Guest: Jeff Thomas

On the third episode of “Talking with Teachers,” I’ve gone outside MSU to interview Jeff Thomas, Sweet Home High School’s business education teacher. Thomas has been at Sweet Home High School in Amherst, NY (a suburb of Buffalo) for over 20 years and has taught a number of different business and media courses. In the interview, Thomas talks about how he got into teaching, and the differences between business courses and typical core high school classes. He highlights the importance of business education in high school, how it can help kids going into college, and what business classes are offered at Sweet Home now. Thomas also touches on his personal struggles of teaching an elective course in high school.

Entrance to Lansing Catholic High School.

Four local high school students Skype with Colin Kaepernick

Back in October, four high school football players at Lansing Catholic Central High School kneeled during the national anthem. The players say head football coach Jim Ahern benched Michael Lynn III, Matthew Abdullah, Kabbash Richards and Roje Williams for their actions. But these students never thought taking a stance would end with a Skype from one of their idols. “I just got off a Skype with Colin Kaepernick, any negative comments that are thrown at me, literally, it couldn’t affect me,” Lynn III said. The video chat was on Dec.

Graphic depicting a "no peanuts" sign against an orange, polka dot background.

Teachers face the pressure of student allergies

Early education instructor Dayle McLeod was prepped this fall to begin her new position as Head Start’s lead teacher at Potterville Elementary School in Potterville, Mich. With six years of professional experience under her belt, she knew just how to ready her classroom for her newest batch of preschool students: Her lesson plans were organized, her classroom supplies purchased, her bulletin boards constructed. She was prepared for everything — or so she thought. Not long before the first day of class, McLeod was informed she would be responsible for a student with maple syrup urine disease, a rare genetic disorder in which the body cannot break down certain proteins. “At first, it was really stressful,” McLeod said.

Coach Steve Finamore, from Brooklyn to East Lansing High School

Finamore’s road to coaching has been long and a bit different than most coaches’ paths. The Brooklyn, New York native came to Michigan in 1996 and ironically served on Tom Izzo’s staff at Michigan State from 1999-2001.

Since then he’s coached at Jackson Community College, St. Peter’s University in New Jersey and has worked one-on-one with numerous college and professional players from all over Michigan.

Illustration with white lesson plan and green, polka dot background.

Veteran teachers in Michigan express angst over standardized test prep

For the past two decades, David Atkins has pursued his passion for teaching with excitement. As an Advanced Placement and eleventh-grade English teacher at Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Mich., he has looked forward to coming to work each day and playing a part in educating the nation’s youth. Lately, however, he’s noticed something has changed. Over the past few years, the literature, poetry and humanities lessons that once held the spotlight in his classroom are increasingly being cast aside to make room for a new star – standardized test prep. As American classics such as “In Cold Blood” and “The Grapes of Wrath” gave way to article analysis and college readiness practice exams, he says school days have become less progressive, less interesting and ultimately, less satisfying. “Twenty-five years I’ve been teaching, and in the last couple of years, it’s just reached this point where I ask, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ It’s not really teaching anymore,” Atkins said.