When Christopher Luea, a middle school Spanish and robotics instructor, teaches a lesson, a robotic device, called a SWIVL, records him while rotating to follow his movements. “Our Spanish language instructional theory is based heavily on comprehensible input and focused immersion,” he said. “Therefore, when students are absent or would do well to revisit lessons, these recordings offer a high-quality audio and video recording for them.”
During a Haslett School Board Meeting on Nov. 12, teachers from Haslett Middle School and Haslett High School showcased how they are incorporating modern technology into the classroom. Chelsea Pennington, a high school math teacher, records her algebra outlines using a different kind of device.
Instead of the harsh white light of the fluorescents, the light pouring from Alexa Weatherwax’s second grade classroom is the soft glow of old-fashioned incandescent string lights and paper lanterns she purchased for her classroom. This year, the only money Weatherwax spent out of pocket was on a travel Q-tip container for her students’ vocabulary words.
Weatherwax’s experience, however, is atypical and illustrates the starkness in realities between suburban and urban public schools, mostly White versus mostly Black school districts. According to the non-profit AdoptAClassroom.org’s national survey, 91 percent of teachers purchase school supplies for their students. The report goes on to say, on average, teachers in the United States spend $600 out of pocket each year on classroom supplies.
Help wanted: are you looking to teach? Good news, Grand Ledge is looking to hire. Over the last few years Grand Ledge Public Schools has been consumed with a new problem, a lack of substitute teachers. The district is struggling to fulfill their need of 25-30 substitutes a day. “The lack of subs is causing a lot of problems in our building.
By Katie Dudlets
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter
HASLETT — Teachers at Haslett High School will go to any length to assure that the students in their classrooms are engaged and have the highest potential of meeting academic success. “I do a lot of pop culture references. I have Bart Simpson in the room for Simpson’s Rule in [calculus],” said Haslett High School teacher and Michigan Teacher of the Year recipient Kevin Tobe, pointing at a drawing of the popular cartoon character next to his math notes. “I’ve even convinced my classes that I love Kesha.”
With a graduation rate over 10 percent higher than the national average and a dropout rate of less than 5 percent, Haslett High School’s Principal Bart Wegenke accredits the school’s academic success to student engagement. “One of the expectations here is 100 percent engagement of students 100 percent of the time,” said Wegenke.
By JASON KRAFT
Capital News Service
LANSING – Teachers who strike illegally –or participate in sick outs– could lose their teaching certificate or be fined a day’s pay for each day that they didn’t teach, under recently proposed legislation. The bills, sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, Sen. David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, and Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg, would change the definition of a strike to include a situation when multiple teachers call in sick. The bills were approved by the Committee on Education and await action by the full Senate. “By and large, there’s a concern whether strikes are legal or illegal in Michigan,” said Brad Biladeau, associate executive for government relations at the Michigan Association of School Administrators.
By Paige Wester
Living In The Ledge Staff Reporter
As the school year started in September, concern grew throughout the city of Grand Ledge due to the loss of teachers and the lack of funding from the previous year. Since last year, 19 teachers in Grand Ledge have left the district and 12 of those teachers retired. Molly Markel, a Grand Ledge resident and also a parent in the school district, said that her concern for her kids’ proper education is growing more and more. “I know that my daughter had substitute teachers to start off her sophomore year because there was a shortage of teachers,” said Markel. “It concerns me that I have to question if my children are getting the education they deserve.”
Markel, who has two kids in the Grand Ledge School District, said she and many other parents are desperate to see a change with funding throughout the schools.
By STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ McGAVIN
Capital News Service
LANSING — The average salary of public school teachers in the state dropped by $360 in 2013-14 from the previous school year, which already was $84 less than in 2011-12, according to the Michigan Department of Education. Several factors, including declining school enrollment, account for the downward trend in average salaries, according to education experts. School districts having the most financial trouble are also those with the greatest decline in enrollment, said Jennifer Smith, the Michigan Association of School Boards director of government relations. “I bet if you lay them side-by-side, you’re going to find the ones that are having the most trouble are the ones that have the highest loss of students,” Smith said of funding problems. “Because we fund our schools per-pupil, that decline in enrollment is a huge problem for some districts.”
Jennifer Dirmeyer, an assistant professor of economics at Ferris State University, said the decrease in average salaries is also strongly driven by the age and experience of teachers. Dirmeyer said, “It doesn’t appear as though new teachers are making any less than new teachers have made in the past — it’s just that there are more new teachers now, as a percentage of total teachers, than there have been in the past.”
Dirmeyer said that while downward trends may continue, once recently hired teachers’ salaries increase annually with experience, average salaries will also rise.
While constant debates surround the finances and tested measurements that contribute to student success, the teachers and students themselves sat down to talk about what actually goes on inside school walls. Everett High School senior Matthew Mercado said that any education, despite a lack of resources or new technology, is successful because of teachers. Mercado said success is based on student aspiration which, he said, is the result of receiving an equal education in resources and teacher efforts. Mercado said, “I don’t think students value education because of the distribution of the resources. If we’re getting raggedy books and the teacher is not really engaging us, of course I’m going to have an attitude.
In the barrage of budget proposals, school funding bills and teacher retirement benefit reforms, Michigan residents help explain the current state of Michigan education. The Proposed Budget
Although Gov. Rick Snyder proposed a $75 per pupil increase in his budget, Okemos Public Schools director of finance Robert Clark said the fixed cost of foundation allowances does not account for natural cost increases in schools. The foundation allowance, which combines local and state funds and allocates a per pupil amount to each school district, is $8,099 per student in Okemos schools. Clark said that if the enrollment in Okemos schools did not continue to increase, as it currently is, the schools could not remain “above water.”
Clark said that dependance on foundation allowances leads to the inability to offset natural increasing costs like inflation, insurance premiums and contractual teacher pay increases. The Okemos school district was already facing budget cuts that forced it to freeze teachers’ salaries and pensions, search for less experienced—and cheaper—teachers and reduce health care quality and coverage.