Education, schools, and learning

teacher in elementary classroom
User woodleywonderworks / Flickr- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

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
BBC World Service / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

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.

Catherine / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

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
Kevin Hale / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

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.

Lisa Kocab with her son PJ, who has down syndrome
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

As kids head back to school, it’s worth remembering that all kids have the right to a free education. But as we've pointed out time and again, free doesn’t necessarily mean equal. Where you live can have a big impact on the quality of education you receive, especially if you have a child with special needs.



building missing windows
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Neighborhoods matter.

A big part of the reason why is that good neighborhoods usually have better schools.


U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When State of Opportunity talks about inequality, there seems to be an overwhelming amount of bad news. Income inequality is growing.

frankjuarez / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Today, the most economically segregating school district border in the nation is the one that separates Detroit Public Schools from the Grosse Pointe Public School system.

That's according to a new report released Tuesday by EdBuild, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that studies school funding.

College Student
CollegeDegrees360 / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

College is expensive.

The national average cost of attending a four-year public college is over $28,000 per year, according to Forbes. The cost of attending a four-year private college is more than twice as much.

And the price of college tuition is still going up.