Education

Education, schools, and learning

Detroit kids to get robots and creative writing too

Jan 20, 2016
826michigan is opening the Detroit Robot Factory - along with a tutoring and creative writing center.
826michigan

826michigan - a free tutoring and creative writing center for kids - is setting up a new shop.  

The group has already helped thousands of school-aged children in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti write poetry or just get their algebra homework done, and now it hopes to do the same in Detroit. 

"My invention is called the Crazy Boom," Mohamed Conde reads from his short story at 826michigan's writing center in Ann Arbor.

"I can go back to prehistoric times.  Like if I wanted to see George Washington or a dinosaur, I could because of my invention.  My brain is bigger than Albert Einstein's.  Ten times bigger."

Nick Azzaro / Ypsilanti Community Schools

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it’s worth repeating: we have no idea – as a state – how much it costs to adequately educate a child in Michigan. Most states have done so-called “adequacy studies,” but Michigan hasn’t. Until now. We’ve got a new school funding study underway. But before we get to the nitty gritty details about what goes into the study, let's ask some students how much they think it costs to educate one child per year in Michigan. 

Brittany Bartkowiak / Michigan Radio

Last year a disturbing cell phone video caused national outrage over the presence of police in schools. It shows a South Carolina cop grabbing a student's desk, flipping it over, and dragging her body out of class. You can hear the officer saying "give me your hands" over and over, followed by the student's voice saying "I'm hurt." 

This video got us wondering how officers are trained to work in schools. With the new semester about to begin, I decided to find out. 

user Phil Roeder / flickr

If you've been following State of Opportunity for a while, you've probably heard us say this a few times now: our state constitution legally promises all Michigan kids  a "free" education, but it says nothing about that education being "adequate" or "equitable."

Here's the exact language:

Sec. 2. The Legislature shall maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools as defined by law. Every school district shall provide for the education of its pupils without discrimination as to religion, creed, race, color or national origin.

flickr/hernanpc

This is the story of a new movement in American education; a story about a new way of thinking about how some students learn, and how to get them to love school.

And it is a story about one person in this movement who’s trying to make a difference.

This story starts in Rochester, New York, in the 1980s, where a kid named Bettina Love was growing up. She grew up knowing her town had been home to some of the world’s greatest companies: Xerox, Kodak, Bausch and Lomb. Then the economy changed.

LBJ Library photo by Frank Wolfe

The federal government has a long history of involvement in the nation's schools, particularly in the past half century, after President Lyndon Johnson first signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act into law. I wrote of that history earlier this year. At the time, I mentioned many education leaders were optimistic that the latest update to the law would soon pass.

Well, soon has arrived.

The new Every Student Succeeds Act was approved by the U.S House last week. The Senate takes it up starting tomorrow. Politico says the bill has plenty of support on both sides of the aisle, and President Obama is expected to sign it if it reaches his desk. 

So, what's in the new law? Well, a lot. 

Michigan Radio

We're going to go out on a limb here and say most parents want to know how their child's school measures up in terms of standardized test scores, graduation rates, demographics and so on. 

Another big question parents ask when looking at a school: 

“How many kids are in a typical classroom?”

When you hear people talk about ineffective school systems, you’ll often hear something like, “there aren’t enough desks or books,” or “there are more than 30 kids in that classroom.”

Nick Azzaro / Ypsilanti Community Schools

Alex Muraviou and Curtis Metheny are in third grade at Erickson Elementary in Ypsilanti, and they've been best buds for years. The two have gone to the same school since Kindergarten, but they say this year is different because they only have 21 kids in their class. We "usually have about 29 or 30," says Alex.

Andrea / Flickr Creative Commons

“Have a great day at school! I love you!”

That might sound like a pretty typical send off from a parent as their kid heads to the school bus. At Lincoln Alternative School, it’s what kids hear when they get off the bus, from their principal.
 

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

After last week's attacks in Paris, President Barack Obama condemned the terrorists and pledged support to France, saying: "We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance the people of France need to respond." You can listen to his full remarks here:

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