Education news briefing for Wednesday, May 22, 2019.


Must reads


Report: Michigan not on track to be a top 10 state in K-12: Michigan is not on track to become a top-performing state in K-12 education and won't be any time soon, according to an educational nonprofit that studies school achievement and progress. On Tuesday, Education Trust-Midwest released its 2019 annual report examining the state of K-12 education in Michigan, saying the state ranked 35th in fourth-grade reading and 33rd in eighth-grade math in 2017 and is projected to drop further in the rankings by 2030 — to 45th and 37th, respectively — if stays on its current education course. Detroit News




Michigan is investing heavily in early reading. So far, it’s not working. Despite at least $80 million spent on improving early literacy and one of the largest expansions of state-funded pre-K in the nation, reading skills remain stagnant or declining across most of Michigan. Half of Michigan third-graders were proficient in English Language Arts on the state’s standardized assessment, the M-STEP, in 2014-15. Three years later, 44 percent were proficient on the same test. Only three intermediate school districts out of 56 in Michigan showed gains over that time period. Bridge


Michigan launches $3M campaign to meet gap in skilled trades jobs by 2026: Michigan employers will need to fill half a million skilled trades jobs by 2026, and state officials are investing $3 million to get the word out. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Lansing-area leaders in business, education and workforce development announced the state’s largest advertising campaign to raise awareness of Michigan’s skilled-labor shortage. Employers gathered at Lansing Community College Center for Manufacturing Excellence Monday said skilled trade jobs are in high demand as Baby Boomers are retiring, but there aren’t enough new workers with the training to replace them. MLive


Discussion shifts to district reconfiguration in Tecumseh schools: With a new interim leader in place, Tecumseh Public Schools forged ahead with its most pressing current issue -- reconfiguration of district buildings. Just one week into the job, Interim Superintendent Greg Lewis presented plans for district reconfiguration at the Monday, May 20 school board meeting. One plan is for the 2019-20 school year and two others are for the 2020-21 year. The district must still address a $1.3-million budget shortfall due to declining enrollment, but Lewis said reconfiguring the district’s buildings wouldn’t result in dramatic savings. MLive

• MLive: Tecumseh Schools hires fifth superintendent in five months


Metro Detroit


Lake Orion school district cancels additional days after 'snow day' legislation passes: The Lake Orion Community Schools will not need to add days to the school calendar this year. The district issued a statement late Friday, May 17, that said the 2018-19 calendar will return to its original concluding date of June 14. The only exception is Carpenter Elementary, whose families will be notified separately when its final date is determined. Carpenter had more cancellations than the rest of the district because of building issues that only affected that school. Oakland Press


Farmington Public Schools to hold retirement reception for Superintendent Heitsch: Farmington Public Schools is hosting a retirement reception in honor of Superintendent George Heitsch on Tuesday, June 11. The reception will be held at the Longacre House from 4-6 p.m., with a short program at 4:30 p.m. The Longacre House is located at 24705 Farmington Road, Farmington Hills. Heitsch has been in public education as a teacher, building administrator and superintendent for more than 40 years. Heitsch began working for Farmington Public Schools as superintendent in July 2014. Oakland Press


Clarkston schools approves open enrollment for kindergarten and young fives: The Clarkston Community Schools Board of Education unanimously approved the district’s plan to create open enrollment kindergarten and young fives opportunities for the 2019-2020 school year. Under the plan, which was approved May 13, students who reside outside of district boundaries are now eligible to enroll in Clarkston Community Schools and continue with the district throughout their Y5/K-12 academic career. Oakland Press


Livonia, Wayne-Westland, 6 other Michigan school districts to get new school buses: Eight school districts in Michigan have been awarded grants to replace older diesel school buses. Michgan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy officials today announced $626,573 in grants awarded to eight school districts in Michigan – Fennville, Fowlerville, Hamilton, Hillsdale, Hopkins, Livonia, Ludington and Wayne-Westland – to help purchase 28 new school buses. ClickOnDetroit


College and university


Madonna University breaks ground on $9 million welcome center in Livonia: Madonna University has broken ground on a $9 million welcome center for its Livonia campus. Once finished, the 28,000-square-foot center will serve as a hub for recruiting students and celebrating the history of the Catholic liberal arts university, according to a news release. University leadership expects the building to be complete by mid-2021. Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, Madonna President Michael Grandillo, donors and others were scheduled to attend the Sunday groundbreaking event, the release said. Crain’s Detroit Business


Does USC Need More Housecleaning? Over the past two years, as scandals and controversies have plagued the University of Southern California, the institution’s divided and, some argue, unwieldy Board of Trustees has been afflicted with its own array of problems. While the university’s difficulties played out in public, the board turmoil largely took place behind the scenes, as is the norm in the usually staid culture of private university boards. But internal disagreements on the board -- replete with biting insults, leaked emails and accusations of conflicts of interests and ethics violations -- have spilled into public view in recent months. Inside Higher Ed




Counselors Blast College Board's Plan to Assign Students a 'Disadvantage' Score: The College Board's plan to expand a program that’s designed to help colleges see students’ SAT performance more fairly, by scoring students’ high schools and neighborhoods by “level of disadvantage,” has rattled college counselors and reignited decades-old debates about how college admission decisions are made. As soon as news broke last week that 150 colleges and universities would pilot the testing organization’s “Environmental Context Dashboard” next fall—three times the number that used it in 2018-19—counselors were juggling phone calls from parents and jumping into debates on Twitter and Facebook. Education Week



Education news briefing for Tuesday, May 21, 2019.


Must reads


Poll: parents don’t know 3rd-grade reading law, love A-to-F school grades: The majority of Michigan parents don’t know about a law that could cause thousands of third-graders to flunk because of poor reading test scores, according to a new poll. The finding raises concerns because the policy has such potentially far-reaching impact on third-graders, and because the policy presumes parental involvement in helping struggling readers. “It is really concerning that in the spring prior to this school year...not many parents know about this law,” said Brian Gutman, director for external relations at Education Trust-Midwest, which conducted the poll. “For parents with elementary-aged kids, they need to be equipped with ways that they can help their student.” Bridge




Is your school following Michigan's anti-bullying law? Probably not. Had Matt Epling, 14, survived being bullied in eighth grade he would be 31 today. He ended his own life in 2002, the summer before he was to begin his freshman year at East Lansing High School. His father, Kevin Epling worked for nearly a decade after Matt died to get state laws on the books that would prevent another tragic death. Today he's an anti-bullying advocate who speaks directly to students about the damage bullying inflicts. He counsels parents when they reach out to him looking for help when their kids are bullied in schools around the state. Nearly two decades after Matt's death, Epling is still working with legislators to strengthen anti-bullying laws in Michigan. Lansing State Journal


Metro Detroit


From genetics to robots, here’s how one Detroit science teacher brings the real world into the classroom: Joel Hockin looks at his eighth-graders and sees great potential: In his eyes, they’re ready to be demographers, robotics technicians, or genetic engineers. Last year, Hockin, a science teacher with a flair for complex and unusual hands-on lessons, tried to make that vision a reality. Using a procedure he says is more common in college science laboratories than in middle school classrooms, Hockin and his students removed genetic matter from a glowing jellyfish and inserted it into bacteria. The descendents of the bacteria were bioluminescent just like the jellyfish. Chalkbeat


How champagne toast ended in suspension for Dearborn Heights school leader: It was the first day of summer 2018 and a dozen or so administrators at Dearborn Heights School District 7 were hosting a send-off brunch for two retiring colleagues, including a principal who'd spent 40 years in the district. Superintendent Jennifer Mast brought a bottle of champagne to offer a toast, pouring a few sips for some of those who attended the gathering at the school district board office. Students and teachers were already gone for the summer. "We drank literally, half of bottle of champagne and there were 12 adults present," Mast said Thursday. "It was completely innocent." Detroit Free Press


Novi police and fire departments running active shooter simulation at Novi High School: The Novi police and fire departments are teaming up with the city's school district to simulate an active shooter situation. On Sunday, June 9, police officers will visit Novi High School to confront a mock active shooter situation featuring school staff, students, and the school's resource officer.  According to the FBI, 250 active shooter incidents occurred across the country between 2000 and 2017 resulting in 799 deaths and over 1,100 wounded individuals. In 2000, seven people died at the hands of an active shooter compared to 138 in 2017. Oakland Press


West Bloomfield Schools employee recognized for being a youth advocate: The Greater West Bloomfield Michigan Week Committee announced the winner of the 2019 Dr. Seymour Gretchko Youth Advocate Award — Sally Unrath, coordinator of enrichment and recreation for the West Bloomfield Community Education Department. This award honors those that model the principles and values embraced by Dr. Seymour Gretchko, the superintendent of the West Bloomfield School District from 1983 to 2002. Unrath's co-workers called her a "role model for youth." She has 31 years of experience through West Bloomfield School’s Athletics and Community Education Departments. Her work has provided advantages to children that they otherwise might not have. Oakland Press


Students compete at Robofest 2019 at Lawrence Tech: Lawrence Tech University hosted Robofest, a youth robotcs competition, in Southfield Thursday, May 16 through Saturday, May 18, 2019. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event, founded by LTU computer science Professor C.J. Chung. In Robofest, students from grades age 5-12 create and program robots "while learning problem-solving techniques, mathematics, logic, creativity, physics, eletronics, teamwork, computers and computer programming," according to the event's website. The Junior Robot Division, made up of grades 5-9, uses robotics kits and an icon-based graphical programming language. Oakland Press


College and university


What Happens When a Billionaire Swoops In to Solve the Student-Debt Crisis: Commencement speakers have a routine: a few words of encouragement, a good—or maybe not so good—joke, and a bit of advice. But this year, Robert F. Smith, the billionaire founder of the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, who delivered the commencement address on Sunday morning at Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta, took a different approach. “You great Morehouse men are bound only by the limits of your own conviction and creativity,” Smith told the soon-to-be graduates of the venerated HBCU (historically black college or university). Smith then did something astonishing: He did what he could to make that actually true, telling the class that his family would be eliminating the graduates’ student debt. The crowd, as expected, went wild. Atlantic

• CNN: Morehouse College grads are surprised by a billionaire's promise to pay off their student loans

• New York Times: Morehouse Graduates’ Student Loans to Be Paid Off by Billionaire




A school's mural removal: should kids be shielded from brutal US history? Depending on whom you ask, a 1,600-sq-ft art installation at George Washington high school in San Francisco is either an unflinching look at American history, a stark depiction of violence against oppressed minorities – or both. In New Deal-era murals spanning the staircase and lobby, the Russian emigre Victor Arnautoff depicted Washington in 13 scenes. Two in particular have generated student complaints for more than 50 years, and in April, an ad hoc committee recommended that the artwork be archived and removed. The Guardian


If “living history” role-plays in the classroom can so easily go wrong, why do teachers keep assigning them? Ohio, 2011: A teacher assigned an 10-year-old black student to play an enslaved person in a slave-auction simulation. Georgia, 2017: A school asked fifth graders to dress up as Civil War “characters” for a “Civil War Experiential Learning Day.” A black parent, Corrie Davis, reported that her 10-year-old’s white classmate dressed as a plantation owner and told her child, “You are my slave.” New York City, 2018: Officials fired a white teacher who reportedly made black students lie on the floor and then stepped on their backs to show them what slavery was “like.” And just last week, a Tennessee father tweeted about a “Living History” exercise at his daughter’s school where a fifth-grade student dressed up as Hitler and did the Nazi salute. Soon thereafter, students began giving each other Nazi salutes “in the hallways and at recess.” Slate


Sick Teachers Paying for Substitutes: Where and Why It’s Happening: In San Francisco, an elementary teacher was informed that, due to state law, she would have to pay the cost of a substitute while she was out of the classroom on extended sick leave for breast cancer treatment. The teacher’s story made national headlines after parents at her school launched an online crowdfunding campaign to cover her costs. People were outraged. California lawmakers pledged to revisit the state law, with the state senator who chairs the education committee telling KQED that legislators are “going to try and fix it for future teachers.” Education Week



Education news briefing for Monday, May 20, 2019.


Must reads


Six times more third-graders may flunk next year under Michigan reading law: More than 5,000 third-graders – five percent across the state - may be held back from advancing to fourth grade following the 2019-20 school year because of Michigan’s “read or flunk” law, which takes effect this fall. That’s a more than six-fold increase over the number of third-graders who were held back in 2017-18 (777 students), but a far smaller number than had been feared would flunk as a result of the law, which requires third-graders to be reading at a second-grade level or higher by the end of third grade. Bridge

• Bridge: Will Michigan 3rd- grade reading law hurt poor? Florida’s history says yes




Michigan education board holds up $47 million for charter schools: Opinion. A nearly $50 million federal grant intended to improve education quality in Michigan is being held hostage by the state school board because it will help open more charter schools in the state. The Michigan Department of Education sought and won the $47 million five-year grant last fall, and the expenditures were approved by the Legislature. But the Democratic-controlled board won’t sign off on the spending criteria, putting the grant in limbo. Detroit News


Gov. Whitmer: Boosting public education funding is a priority: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer didn't come right out and proclaim that she's going to "Fix the damn schools!" during Thursday afternoon's town hall meeting at Canton High School, but she did pledge to place education funding near the head of the class in her first executive budget recommendation. Whitmer's hour-long appearance at Canton's DuBois Little Theater came roughly 48 hours after a steady parade of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools educators delivered 90 minutes worth of emotional testimony to their school board regarding how recent salary concessions and stagnant wages have impacted their profession. Observer & Eccentric


Metro Detroit


Open and accessible? Here’s what happened when we tried to attend 10 Detroit charter school board meetings in a month. When parents have an issue with their child’s school, there’s at least one place where they’re guaranteed a hearing on anything from school finance to student discipline: a school board meeting. Yet in Detroit, a city with an infamously troubled school landscape, dozens of charter school board meetings are hard to find or poorly attended — if they happen at all. Even finding the meeting times can be difficult. When a Chalkbeat reporter called to inquire about the board meeting at Covenant House Academy, the person on the other end of the line said “I don’t have that information,” and quickly ended the call. Chalkbeat


College and university


Madonna University breaks ground on new welcome center, Felician Sisters heritage center: Archbishop Allen Vigneron joined the heavens Sunday in sprinkling water at the future site of the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center. He insisted he was just following God's lead. "Admittedly, it seems a bit superfluous," he joked. "But I look at it as a way to cooperate with God's blessing." Vigneron, along with about 100 other people, sat huddled in a tent during a rainy Sunday afternoon at the Livonia university for the groundbreaking of the new 28,000 square foot facility, which will lie to the west of the university's administration building off Schoolcraft Road. The space was inspired by the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy, and is reflective of the values of St. Francis that are espoused by the Felician Sisters and the university. Observer & Eccentric




The Problem With the SAT’s Idea of Objectivity: Students taking the SAT will soon be subjected to a new kind of assessment. On top of their math and verbal results, indicating what knowledge they were able to summon internally while taking the exam, they’ll be placed along a scale of adversity: a representation of the external. By calculating students’ social, economic, and family background, the College Board hopes to add new context to students’ test scores. Evaluating students on factors far beyond their control might seem like a novel attempt in leveling the playing field, but in some ways, it actually brings the test closer to its conflicted origins. Atlantic







University of Detroit Jesuit, Detroit, Michigan
Brother Rice High School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Charyl Stockwell Preparatory Academy, Brighton, Michigan
Notre Dame Preparatory, Pontiac, Michigan
Birmingham Public Schools, Birmingham, Michigan
Westwood Community School District, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Inkster, Michigan
The Roeper School, Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Cranbrook Schools, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Marian High School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
St. Catherine of Siena Academy, Wixom, Michigan
Academy of the Sacred Heart, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Mercy High School, Farmington Hills, Michigan
Regina High School, Warren, Michigan
Grosse Pointe Public School System, Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Oakland Schools Technical Campuses, Oakland County, Michigan
Bloomfield Hills Schools, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Comprehensive education at its finest.
Everest Collegiate High School and Academy. Clarkston, Michigan. An Authentic Catholic School of Distinction.
Lincoln Consolidated Schools, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Loyola High School, Detroit, Michigan.
Oakland Christian School, Auburn Hills, Michigan. Oakland Christian School engages students in a rigorous and relevant education
Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Academic foundation for success.
Utica Community Schools, Image the Potential.
Lake Orion Community Schools, Lake Orion, Michigan. Providing an exemplary education for all learners
Shrine Catholic Schools, Royal Oak, Michigan. Faith. Family. Future.
West Bloomfield School District: Educating Students to be Their Best IN and FOR the World!
Livonia Public Schools, Livonia, Michigan. Purpose, Passion, Pride
Lindamood-Bell Academy, Birmingham and Ann Arbor, Michigan
AIM High School, Farmington Hills, Michigan. Aim High is a 6th-12th grade, tuition-based private school that provides an educational alternative
Virtual Learning Academy Consortium, Michigan
Oakland Accelerated College Experience, Oakland County, Michigan
Oakland Opportunity Academy, Oakland County, Michigan
Plymouth Christian, Canton, Michigan. A non-denominational, college preparatory Christian school
Parkway Christian School, Sterling Heights, Michigan. Challenging Minds. Capturing Hearts. Cultivating Gifts.
Berkley School District, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, Michigan. Engage. Inspire. Achieve.