Education, schools, and learning

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The White House released a summary last week detailing why trauma-informed schools are essential to student success.

Specifically, it focused on the educational barriers girls face when they’ve survived traumatic experiences like abuse, neglect and homelessness, and the need to rethink discipline policies to provide them with support.

Mom and kids
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Finishing college and obtaining a degree is challenging. Debt, work and other responsibilities often stand in the way. The path to college graduation can be particularly difficult for students who also have kids.

Nearly 5 million college students are parents of dependent children, according to the Institute of Women's Policy Research (IWPR). That's 26% of all college undergraduates.

And almost half of them are single mothers, 89% of whom are low-income.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

How many kids are in a typical classroom in Michigan?

That’s a tough question to answer. And believe me, we’ve tried

But a new report from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan gives a clearer picture of class sizes in Michigan’s public schools.

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There's a growing debate about the long-term effects of harsh school punishments, like suspensions, expulsions, and school arrests

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Figuring out all the different pots of money that go into paying for special education is complicated, but you know what’s even more complicated? Figuring out how much special education in Michigan actually costs. And if we don't know that, we don't know whether we're spending too much or too little on special ed. 

It’s so complicated even the people who specialize in school finance can’t figure it out.

teacher in elementary classroom
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Children with special needs are entitled to a “free and appropriate education” under federal law. What that looks like varies from district to district.

All schools, though, are required to make a plan for how a student will be educated. This is called an Individual Education Plan, or “IEP."   

So, what happens when a parent and a school district disagree on what that plan should look like? Melody Arabo has spent the past year finding out.

A special education classroom in Holt
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The idea for today’s State of Opportunity story comes from you. After we ran a piece about how special ed placements vary from district to district, several of you got in touch and asked: How do schools pay for special ed?

I went to Elliott Elementary in Holt to get some answers.

The first thing you notice about the special ed room at Elliott Elementary is the student teacher ratio: four students, four adults.

Metal Detector
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Public schools with majority black and other nonwhite students rely on more intense security measures, to the detriment of the students.

That's according to new research paper from John P. Nance, associate professor of law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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This morning I sent my daughter off to her first day of third grade.

She was excited to go. She was ready to see her friends, and genuinely loves school.

But I'm sure she'll be less than thrilled once her teacher starts assigning homework. Like many kids, I'm sure she'd be happy if homework was simply eliminated.

That will be a reality this school year for more than 500 kids at a Massachusetts elementary school.

Washer and Dryer
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More than 6.5 million K-12 students each year are chronically absent, defined as missing 15 or more school days during the school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

That's 13% of the student population.