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Take a look back at a busy week in education news

Feb 10, 2017

From a new U.S. education secretary to conversations about school closures, it has been a busy week in education news. As we head into the weekend, let's take a look at some stories you may have missed.

1. Betsy DeVos Confirmed As Education Secretary

The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as President Trump's education secretary Wednesday, 51-50. Vice President Pence had to cast the unprecedented tie-breaking vote. Listen as NPR Ed’s Anya Kamenetz talks about what education stories she’ll be keeping an eye on in the coming weeks and months.

2.  Now that DeVos is confirmed, what's next for Michigan schools?

What does DeVos's appointment mean for Michigan? State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra explored this question earlier this week, starting in Detroit, where DeVos played a big role in pushing for more school choice in the district.

Fourteen states plus Washington D.C. already have traditional voucher systems, and even more states offer other forms of private school choice. Betsy DeVos tried in 2000 to get a ballot initiative to bring vouchers here to Michigan, but that effort failed. Her appointment as education secretary could bring her another chance to make that happen.

3. Detroit school district prepares to sue over threatened school closures

Detroit Public Schools Community District has 16 schools that the State School Reform Office has named persistently low-performing, and at risk for closure after this school year. But the district says the state shouldn’t shut those schools down. And as Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports, it’s prepared to go to court to stop it.

Iris Taylor is the president of Detroit’s newly-elected school board, which just took power after nearly eight years of state control. She says the district still wants to work with the state, and implement rapid turnaround plans for the troubled schools.

4. School Reform Office explains school closure system to education committee

Republican Senator and chair of the Senate Education Committee, Phil Pavlov, is sponsoring a bill that would repeal the law allowing the State School Reform Office to close consistently low performing schools, citing inconsistent methods for measuring school progress and quality. But according to Michigan Public Radio Network’s Cheyna Roth, School Reform Officer Natasha Baker said having multiple methods for testing schools is beneficial:

“The goal is for parents to understand they do have options,” she said. “And the SRO’s mission is to turn priority schools into the highest performing schools in the state.”

5. Defiant community rallies around Muskegon Heights students in face of potential closure

Five years ago, an emergency manager converted Muskegon Heights into a charter school district to salvage it. Now the high school is on a list of 38 poorly performing schools that could face closure. Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith attended a pep rally held by the community Monday night to support Muskegon Heights students.