Calley calls for improved special ed programs

Capital News Service
LANSING—Schools should provide what children need and not expect children to conform to old structures, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said in a report to the state Board of Education, asking it to increase access, scope and quality of special education. Calley wrote, “I have been traveling the state, holding informal town halls with parents and educators who face the challenges and triumphs of working every day with students in need of special education services. ”
Calley said several hundred people were at some of these events. He also hosted an online survey that had around 2,000 responses. Based on the feedback he received, Calley presented the most often cited issues and concerns in five categories.

Teachers see need for more computer courses

Capital News Service
LANSING –There’s no doubt: a computer science career can be a lucrative one. Just last year, 248 new technology companies cropped up throughout Michigan, amassing $770 million in private investment, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Check Michigan’s job boards and you’ll find more than 15,000 openings looking for a set of computing skills. Not all of those jobs belong to technology companies. In fact, more than half are found across various industries.

Schools crack down as cellphones proliferate

Capital News Service
LANSING – Most school districts in Michigan continue to confiscate electronic devices used in classrooms, although 78 percent of U.S. teens now have a cellphone, almost half of which are smartphones. That means 37 percent of all teens carry access to social networking sites in their pockets, purses and backpacks, up from just 23 percent in 2011, according the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Peter Broderick, assistant director of communications at the Michigan Association of School Boards, said district policies primarily determines the penalty for using cellphones in class, followed by individual school policies and teacher policies. There is no statewide law regarding cellphones in classrooms.

West Ottawa High School’s student handbook notes, “Cellphones are personal media devices that may be used on campus, but are prohibited from being on or used during class time, unless deemed educationally appropriate by the teacher.”
Students can use cellphones between classes and during lunch. High schools in the Big Rapids and Grand Rapids districts have the same policy.

Report calls for more, better afterschool care

Capital News Service
LANSING– Michigan is making progress in expanding afterschool programs but it still has a high percentage of children who take care of themselves after school, a new report shows. Only 12 percent of children in grades kindergarten to 12 participate in afterschool programs, according to the Michigan Association of School Boards. Another 31 percent are responsible for taking care of themselves after school. Thirty-five percent of those not in afterschool would be likely to participate if a program were available in their community, according to America After 3PM, which surveyed nearly 30,000 households across the U.S.
Today, 15 percent of middle school students and 7 percent of elementary school children in Michigan are have afterschool care. “The largest obstacle of afterschool programs in Michigan is always the funding.

Experts say federal law not enough to curb sexual harassment in schools

Capital News Service
LANSING—Sexual harassment is a problem in Michigan schools and experts say little is done about it. Under Title IX, the federal law that deals with sexual harassment, schools are required to have a policy that covers such discrimination, said Brad Banasik, legal counsel for the Michigan Association of School Boards. Schools have reporting requirements and a legal obligation to end the harassment. Banasik said suspensions and expulsions are common ways sexual harassment is dealt with in schools. Despite the federal law, a national study found that 48 percent of students in grades 7 through 12 experienced sexual harassment in the 2010-2011 school year.