Education

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An MSU professor who has authored a book about the hook-up culture on today’s college campuses has organized a program this weekend geared toward preparing high school girls for the pressures they may encounter when they move on to college.

More than a half million Michigan public school students have now completed their first M-STEP tests. The Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress replaced the MEAP assessment beginning in April. M-STEP is designed as an online assessment that covers content from the more demanding Common Core curriculum.  It has fewer multiple choice questions and more that require problem solving and critical thinking skills.

School’s out for summer! Today marks the last day of school for many districts, including the Lansing School District. As students clean out their lockers and say goodbye to friends, many will be looking forward to summer camps and family vacations. But for some kids, particularly those who are low-income, enriching summer activities aren’t always accessible. And that can have a huge impact on their academics come fall because of something called the “summer slide”. That’s the term used to describe the learning losses kids experience over the summer.

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  Road funding, education spending and other budget issues are among the focus of discussions at the state capitol.   There were several developments yesterday in education spending.  A measure meant to bridge the funding gap between school districts emerged.   Meanwhile, a focus in the road funding debate continues to be whether the money for a fix can be found among existing revenue or if new revenue is required.

The economy in Michigan is on the upswing, and education budgets that were cut during the great recession are starting to increase again. But despite some funding boosts, educational achievement in Michigan has remained fairly stagnant in the past 10 years. And that’s meant that some of the states that used to trail Michigan, like Tennessee and Florida, are now ahead of us in national rankings. Advocates says Michigan students are unlikely to catch up without substantial changes to the state’s educational policy.

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Say the words “climate change,” and the first thing that might come to mind is melting polar ice caps. That’s an accurate image, but of course, climate change affects the entire planet. Scientists say the rising tides from all that melting ice have to go somewhere, and some Michigan State University students are watching one remote part of the world that’s starting to see some effects.

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Sister Cyril Mooney is renowned for her decades of work to improve education for the impoverished of Calcutta, India. Sister Cyril was initiated into the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Loreto order, in her native Ireland in 1955. She has been affiliated with the Loreto School of Calcutta almost all the years since.

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Ask a five year old what they want to be when they grow up and chances are you’ll hear things like a doctor, a teacher, and maybe Batman. Obviously, not many kids grow up to be Batman, but increasingly there are also fewer and fewer growing up to be teachers. Across the country and here in Michigan, the number of students choosing to go into teaching preparation programs is declining.

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Two weeks ago, a now infamous sex education class at East Lansing High School unleashed strong reactions among parents and students. The abstinence-based course was conducted by Pregnancy Services of Greater Lansing, an organization that opposes abortion. The class provoked negative comments about the so-called SMART curriculum now in place at East Lansing High School.

For about a week, sex education has been one hot topic in the Lansing area. It began last week when Alice Dreger, an author, college professor and activist, live tweeted from her son’s sex ed class at East Lansing High School. Among the quotes from the instructors, according to Dreger: “Safe sex is kind of a misnomer.” “You'll find a good girl. If you find one that says 'no,' that's the one you want." Dreger and many others on social media blasted the approach for being outdated, unconcerned with credible data and focused on fear and shame.

A mid-Michigan author has published a book that examines the connection between childhood’s imaginary worlds and adulthood creativity. Michelle Root-Bernstein is an historian, independent scholar, and educator affiliated with Michigan State University, and she is very interested in what makes people creative. Her recent book is called "Inventing Imaginary Worlds: From Childhood Play to Adult Creativity Across the Arts and Sciences".

Courtesy U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Senate and House of Representative both continue efforts to write the country’s first comprehensive education legislation since "No Child Left Behind" expired back in 2007. Both Republican-led chambers are at work on measures that address various issues:  educational accountability, local versus federal authority and school choice among others. The Senate measure is scheduled to go before the Education committee today. U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan is an influential critic of some features of these measures.

Courtesy Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Dinosaurs are the focus of the PBS Kids show “Dinosaur Train”. The host is Scott Sampson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Known as “Dr. Scott” on the show, Scott Sampson is coming to East Lansing for a couple of public events during the MSU Science Festival.

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All over Michigan, there are high school students who perform well enough on assessments to attend a four-year university. However, some of them, especially those in low-income and rural districts, do not pursue that path. It's created what some are calling a "college access gap." What sometimes makes the difference is school guidance counseling.

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Public education in Michigan will have new leadership this summer. Last week, the state board of education voted 7 to 1 to hire Dearborn schools chief Brian Whiston as the next State Superintendent. He will replace Mike Flanagan, who will retire in June after 10 years at the helm of the Michigan Department of Education. Whiston’s appointment is pending formal approval from the state board, which is expected soon.

Say the word “hack” or “hacker” and the impression you create is likely a negative one. Organizers of Spartahack are quick to point out their hacking event is about building and creating websites, apps, anything that’s connected to the digital world. It takes place beginning this Friday evening here at Michigan State University. Spartahack is expected to attract about 300 participants.

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Enrollment in adult education in Michigan has dropped by nearly half since 2001. State funding in adult ed has fallen a whopping 88-percent since the mid 90’s. Those are among the noteworthy findings in a new report that urges reinvestment in adult education.

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Last weekend in Brighton, Michigan, an opponent of a proposed charter school in that community was arrested. His infraction was his refusal to leave an  “invitation only” meeting involving charter school supporters. Michigan charter schools receive public funding amounting to  nearly $1-billion a year and are subject to oversight by the Michigan Department of Education. Glenn Ikens insists that as a Brighton resident and a taxpayer, it entitles him to attend such meetings.

Another TEDx event is on tap tonight in East Lansing. For tonight's TEDxMSU, MSU students have played a lead role in organizing the storytelling event, and many of the speakers are also scheduled to be students. It’s at 6 p.m. in the Cobb Great Hall of MSU’s Wharton Center.

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For more than three decades, Lansing area elementary public schools have broadened student’s worlds by teaming with adults from around the globe. The greater Lansing area has a huge international community, with more than 100 countries represented on the MSU campus alone. Many of those people want to improve their English skills, and for many different reasons.

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The Oscars will be handed out next Sunday night. This is the 87th year for the Academy Awards. The subtle nuances of film make for an entertaining past time. But the cinema is also a serious course of study for many people. Now, Michigan State University has created a new Bachelor of Arts program in film studies.

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Back in October, we told you on this program about a team of students at Stockbridge High School in rural Ingham County who build robots. The Stockbridge students build underwater robots that search for downed World War Two aircraft in the South Pacific. Now, some of the kids are off on another expedition where it’s considerably warmer than it is here.

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American agriculture is graying. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average age of a farmer in the U.S. is now 58. Around a third are already over 65. That begs the question of what happens when those farmers retire? With fewer young people considering careers in agriculture, experts are worried about the future of food production here in the U.S. That’s why the most recent Farm Bill is setting aside more money to train and support fledgling farmers.

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Early childhood education is really important. Years of research has shown that a quality pre-school can have a big impact on a child’s learning later on. And it’s especially important for kids of color or from low-income backgrounds. But for years, Michigan was leaving behind tens of thousands of its most vulnerable kids.

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What makes the difference between a successful and a struggling student? Research suggests one of the most important factors is the quality of that student’s teachers. And a big part of having effective teachers in the classroom is making sure they’re prepared before they get there. In 2013, as part of an effort to do just that, Michigan toughened teacher certification tests, but a recent Bridge Magazine article found that a majority of aspiring teachers failed the new exam.

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Educators in schools all over Michigan will take a head count of their students next month to determine their slice of the state funding pie. Michigan currently spends more than $7,000 each year per student. A new report  from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan suggests lawmakers should alter its per pupil allocation system to reflect the reality of steady declines in  enrollments.

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Michigan law requires that high school juniors are offered a free exam and free exam prep to determine college readiness. Next year, that exam will change. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) will take the place of the ACT, which has been used since 2007.

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Sexual assault on college campuses garnered unprecedented attention in 2014, both around the country and here in East Lansing. Last January, President Obama formed a White House task force aimed at improving prevention of and response to rape and sexual assault at colleges and universities. In May, the U.S. Education Department released a list of 55 schools being investigated for their handling of sexual assault cases. Michigan State University was one of those schools.

Many in Michigan’s charter school community are crying foul over a recent report that criticizes the state’s charter school authorizers. Authorizers of charter schools are educational institutions, often colleges, whose responsibility is to ensure oversight, accountability and adequate performance.

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Movements to revitalize Native American languages have been popping up across the U.S. in recent years. Tribes from Massachusetts to California are using federal funds to help preserve their native tongues. The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma has developed Cherokee language versions of Google, Wikipedia, and even Facebook.

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