New initiative boosts computer science training in schools

By ZARIA PHILLIPS
Capital News Service

LANSING– Kindergarten students are learning how to create and share their own computer games. An influx of computer science teachers are teaching teamwork, problem-solving and internet safety to students across Michigan. The new computer science movement in K-12 schools is making the subject more accessible to everyone, says Shelly Baumann, a middle school teacher at Rockford Public Schools, who has been teaching computer science classes for the past two years. “I’ve been using Code.org for my middle school coding class. [Teachers] are the lead learners.

FCC rule changes and senate bill threaten to cut funding for HOMTV and other stations

When Deborah Guthrie and Brandie Yates started the communications department in Meridian Township in 2012, they predicted that cable companies were going to switch their model from cable to satellite. This model would mean stations like theirs, HOMTV (Haslett, Okemos and Meridian television) were going to lose money. Now it looks like their prediction is coming true. The dark future they saw is coming true due to the legislation that has been passed and is on its way to being passed that will have a large effect on their funding. The FCC is working to push through rule changes that will affect the relationship between local access stations and cable companies.

Computer tablets boost inmate education and behavior

By JEREMY WAHR
Capital News Service

LANSING — Prisoners are better behaved and more of them get high school equivalency diplomas when they use computer tablets, according to the Department of Corrections. Prisoners tend to behave better to avoid having their tablet privileges revoked and because they are occupied by their contents, said Heidi Washington, director for the Michigan Department of Corrections. “These tablets also serve as a great way to manage prisoners,” Washington said. “Overall, the use of the tablets has led to a drop in misbehavior.”

And they have significant educational value which can reduce the likelihood of a return to prison. The program targets young prisoners, women and prisoners in maximum security, Washington said.

Michigan districts receive federal grants to improve school success

By LANCE COHEN
Capital News Service

LANSING — Nearly $4.5 million in federal funding will be provided to 72 Michigan school districts to increase academic performance. Districts plan to use this money to address large scale problems regarding teacher retention and the recruitment and hiring of new teachers, said David Crim, a communication consultant for the Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest union of school personnel. “There is a historic number of teachers leaving the profession in the first five years and teaching colleges and universities across the state are producing 50 percent less graduates than 10 years ago,” Crim said. School districts also plan to use money from this grant to fund professional development training for administrators and teachers, according to Rebekah Emmerling, a manager for the educator evaluation unit for the Department of Education. The 72 grant-receiving districts were chosen in three separate rounds from a pool of 182 applicants and the first round of 12 school districts were academically struggling partnership districts, Emmerling said.

Ex-MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon arraigned on charges connected to Larry Nassar scandal

As MSU freshman Zach Willoughby spends his afternoon bowling in the basement of the MSU Union, he reflects on the state of the university. “I think that it has kinda fallen into the shadows a little bit after the whole sentencing of Larry Nassar,” Willoughby said. Former Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon appeared in court, facing charges related to the Larry Nassar scandal. Simon stepped down as president in January, just hours after the Nassar sentencing concluded in Ingham County. “They want her and the whole thing to just disappear and it shouldn’t happen like that, you can’t just make stuff like this disappear because it’ll create a stigma around your university,” Willoughby said.

Education Corps funding bill unlikely to pass, lawmaker says

By JEREMY WAHR
Capital News Service

LANSING — A bill that would require funding for outside tutors in elementary and middle schools is unlikely to pass, but the group will continue to receive funding from the state on a year-by-year basis. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, would have guaranteed an unspecified amount of funding to reading and mathematics instructors from the Michigan Education Corps, an initiative that uses tutors to help struggling students. The bill passed without opposition by the Senate, but it is unlikely to see further action, said Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw, who chairs the House Education Reform Committee where it was sent. The program already receives appropriations and it doesn’t need to be put into law, Kelly said. The Education Corps is a group of trained professionals who assist teachers, Hansen said.

MSU alums start booming travel company

A company started by two former MSU students, Matt Carroll and TK Kubvoruno, is changing the college experience. “University Viral is a one stop shop, concierge travel events and entertainment, even for everything college,” said Kubvoruno. In just under a year, the company has helped give over 100,000 students the ultimate college experience. The company started by planning events for spring break. They sent over 2,000 students to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.