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Education

Education, schools, and learning

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:

flickr.com/adem

Teachers, you have our sympathy.

The week of Halloween is a difficult time week to keep kids focused on learning. And this week, many teachers told us, there was one extra element making their students act a little crazy: the full moon.

Seriously.

A couple years ago, I was at Congress Elementary school in Grand Rapids. I spent a lot of time there, so I knew the principal Bridget Cheney and the teachers fairly well. At least, I thought I did.

So, one day, it seemed things were a bit off in the building. The kids were just – let’s say squirrelly.

I was talking to Cheney about that. And she said one of the reasons kids were acting weird: a full moon was coming.

I thought it was a joke.

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

In Part One of our Connections documentary, we heard from a young mother in poverty who’s struggling to build a network out of nothing. So I thought I’d switch things up for a bit and talk to someone who is a pro at networking. Has one of the best networks around, at least in my circle of friends.

Brittany Bartkowiak / Michigan Radio

Students across Michigan are in their senior year of high school, gearing up for graduation and trying to make plans for what to do next. The popular narrative is that you get your high school diploma, go to college, and then embark on a career in a field related to your degree. 

But it doesn't always work that way. Life after high school now is more complicated than that for a lot of young people in Michigan.

What's the best way for these students to build a future for themselves?

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