education

Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice Swift's Listen and Learn report did a good job of capturing community thoughts on the district according to Parents and Teachers at a meeting at Forysthe Middle School Thursday night. 

As Ann Arbor Public Schools look to quickly move forward with improvements Superintendent Jeanice Swift is checking that she heard the community correctly during the Listen and Learn tour. 

Swift says the community has a hunger for action steps to follow.

Kim Carver has had students in the district previously and a son coming to Forsythe Middle School next fall.  Carver likes the positive vibe and the lack of defensiveness.

Forsythe teacher, Dan Ezekiel is extremely impressed with the report that he believes does a good job boiling down the input of 2,000 people that participated in the fall.

Swift will hold Listen and Learn follow-up meetings at Ann Arbor's four other middle schools next week.

For more, view the video summary of the Listen and Learn report

AAPS

The Ann Arbor School Board has approved a package of program enhancements designed to attract more students particularly to underutilized schools. 

The changes include co-locating Roberto Clemente and Ann Arbor Tech High; a K-8 science, technology, engineering, arts, and math program at Northside Elementary; and new pre-k programs at Allen and Thurston Elementary. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the next step is creating committees of staff, students, and community members to develop the detailed action plans for each new program. 

School board president Deb Mexicotte says the programs are designed to keep costs down but it's still a calculated risk that the new options will attract more students. 

The programs are designed to respond to some of the most common concerns raised by community members during the Listen and Learn tour.

There has been positive community feedback about the Pre-K programs at Allen and Thurston and the STEAM program for Northside Elementary.  Several Roberto Clemente supporters however told the board they have concerns about what will happen when they move into the same building as Ann Arbor Tech.

OyamO to Receive 2014 Shirley Verrett Award

Jan 29, 2014

Playwright and University of Michigan professor OyamO is being honored tonight by the Women of Color in the Academy Project with the 2014 Shirley Verrett Award. 

The award celebrates faculty members who support the success of female students and faculty in the arts.

Gloria Thomas is Director of U-M's Center for the Education of Women. She says OyamO was nominated by the School of Music, Theater and Dance.

Thomas says OyamO is being recognized for his commitment to students, along with his ability to look past racial and ethnic differences to understand human life. 

The award is being presented to OyamO tonight at Stamps Auditorium on Michigan's north campus.

The University of Michigan
University of Michigan

The University of Michigan Tuesday canceled classes for the first time in 36 years.  School officials based the decision on the extremely low temperatures forecast, and the danger they pose to students traveling across campus to attend classes.     University of  Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald says other parts of the university, such as the Health System, remained open. The cancelation of classes was a departure from Michigans's controversial decision earlier this month to remain open during a similar cold spell.

University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute
umji.sjtu.edu.cn/ / University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute

A University of Michigan program that sends engineering students to China has picked up one of the highest honors in international higher education. 

The University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute has won an Andrew Heiskell Award from the Institute of International Education. 

Eastern Michigan University
emich.edu

Sub-zero temperatures and  frigid wind chills have once again forced school districts throughout the region, including Eastern Michigan University, to cancel classes on Tuesday, Jan. 28

A complete listing for Washtenaw, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Oakland and Wayne Counties will be updated here.

Listen to 89.1 WEMU for latest developments throughout the evening.

SEE ALSO

Mark Schlissel
Screenshot/ University of Michigan live stream

The University of Michigan has named Dr. Mark Schlissel as the school's 14th  President.

On a unanimous vote this morning the University of Michigan Board of Regents, chose to hire Brown University Provost, Dr. Mark Schlissel to serve as Mary Sue Coleman's successor. 

RELATED STORY: U of M Names Schlissel as 14th President - Full speech here

 Schlissel comes to the U of M from Brown University where he has been provost since July of 2011. Prior to working at Brown, he served as Dean of Biological Sciences in the College of Letters and Science at the University of California–Berkeley. Schlissel says the health of the university is connected to the community and the entire state of Michigan.  He says the Victors for Michigan fundraising campaign will be important to maintain the university's high quality programs.

Schlissel says the breadth of academic excellence and the openness and accessibility of a public university made U of M one of the tiny handful of places that would make him consider leaving Brown University.  He says academic excellence and diversity are linked.  Schlissel says that's because students can learn from other students that look at the world differently.

 Schlissel will begin serving on July first, following the official retirement of current president Mary Sue Coleman.  He says he will make frequent trips to Ann Arbor over the next several months to learn more about the challenges and opportunities he will face when starting work at Michigan.

 Coleman says she's thrilled the regents have chosen another biochemist to serve as president.  She says Schlissel will soon see being the President of the University of Michigan is the best job in the world. — Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.

Cali4beach / Foter.com / CC BY

Ann Arbor Public Schools officials continue to work with principals, PTO councils, and others to prepare schools for new federal food guidelines.  Starting in July all food sold in schools during the school day need their first ingredient be a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, or protein.  The new guidelines are designed to promote healthy eating habits for all kids across the country. 

SEE ALSO: Ann Arbor Public Schools Avoid Borrowing to Meet Cash Flow Concerns in December

Jenna Bacolor, chair of the district's Wellness Committee says they hope discussions now will help avoid headaches at the start of next school year.

Bacolor adds that unfortunately, the federal government and state haven't announced all of the final rules so some questions remain, particularly around exemptions for food sold through fundraisers. 

The new guidelines don't apply to food brought to schools by students.

SEE ALSO: Cash Or Credit? How Kids Pay For School Lunch Matters For Health

Black Students at Michigan
@THEBSU/Twitter

The University of Michigan's Black Student Union says it's unacceptable that it has not yet been contacted by the university regarding seven demands presented Monday by the Union and the group Being Black at U-of-M. 

Geralyn Gaines is Secretary of the Black Student Union, which has threatened "physical actions" if its demands are not met in seven days. She says the actions will be non-violent, but declined to be more specific.

The demands made Monday include making affordable housing for low-income students available on the main campus, giving black students experiencing financial difficulty emergency scholarships, improving the university's multicultural center, and giving black students an equal chance to effect change. 

The group’s full demand:

  • We demand that the university give us an equal opportunity to implement change, the change that complete restoration of the BSU purchasing power through an increased budget would obtain.
  • We demand available housing on central campus for those of lower socio-economic status at a rate that students can afford, to be a part of university life, and not just on the periphery.
  • We demand an opportunity to congregate and share our experiences in a new Trotter [Multicultural Center] located on central campus.
  • We demand an opportunity to be educated and to educate about America’s historical treatment and marginalization of colored groups through race and ethnicity requirements throughout all schools and colleges within the university.
  • We demand the equal opportunity to succeed with emergency scholarships for black students in need of financial support, without the mental anxiety of not being able to focus on and afford the university's academic life.
  • We demand increased exposure of all documents within the Bentley (Historical) Library. There should be transparency about the university and its past dealings with race relations.
  • We demand an increase in black representation on this campus equal to 10 percent.

University Provost Martha Pollack said Monday the school is focusing on three areas: Improving the Trotter Multicultural Center, improving the climate on campus, and increasing enrollment of under-represented minorities as allowed by law. 

Gaines says the Provost's comments were "comforting," but fall short of what the Black Student Union expects from the university.

— Bob Eccles is a reporter and the host of 89.1 WEMU's All Things Considered. Contact him at 734.487.3363, email him reccles@emich.edu, or follow him on Twitter @BobEcclesWEMU

Matt Sayles/Associated Press

Educator and Activist Geoffrey Canada says the US has a national problem with educational issues which is clear through the high percentage of high school graduates that can't qualify to enter the military. Canada gave the keynote address for Eastern Michigan University's Martin Luther King Junior Celebration on Monday.

Jesse f/2.8 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Ann Arbor Public Schools planned to borrow money up to three times during the school year to address cash flow issues caused by a smaller fund balance than in previous years.  The district has now made it through two of the three months that were most likely to require borrowing without needing to seek outside cash. 

SEE ALSO: Ann Arbor Public Schools Parents Hopeful for Return of Tuition Based Pre-School

Chief Financial Officer Nancy Hoover says the planned use of $1.7 million in fund balance this school year, means they may still need to borrow money in June.
 
Hoover adds, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District helped the district avoid the need to borrow money in December by making a bill for transportation services not due until this month. The city of Ann Arbor also helped the district avoid the need for borrowing in December by quickly remitting some of the taxes they collect for the district. 

Hoover says the district's budget included spending $200,000 in interest payments which most of these have now been avoided.


Ingo Rautenberg/ Courtesy of the Artist

Upcoming Events for  this weekend, January 17 - 20

Up to 5% of Ann Arbor Public Schools students in the fall could be coming to the district from other school districts in Washtenaw County.  The school board Wednesday night voted unanimously to open 750 school of choice seats for out of district students. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the jump in school of choice seats is one of several efforts to better fill the district's classrooms.

The district has increased the number of school of choice students attending in each of the last four years, but never has filled all of the available seats. 

To help fill the spaces this year the district is planning a marketing campaign and district officials hope having spaces in all grades except the last two years of high school will help attract families with multiple children.

School of choice applications will be accepted March third through April first.  From Friday through February 14th the district will accept applications for in-district school of choice for students who don't want to attend the school where they live.

Ann Arbor Public Schools will offer over 225 online classes to middle school and high school students this semester. 

The school board Wednesday night approved the district's virtual academy's catalog, and also approved opening ten seats in one algebra class to students from other districts. 

School board member Christine Stead says new state laws regarding online learning are yet another unfunded mandate, but the district is working to make the best of the changes.

District officials are hoping to learn a lot from offering the single algebra class to students from other districts.  They expect to have many more online classes available to students from other districts in the fall. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says with the uncertainties around new state laws about online classes every district in Michigan is facing similar challenges.

The deadline for registering for online classes this semester is January 22nd with classes starting one week later.

Contemporary and classical ballet, modern dance, jazz and hip-hop will set the stage for “Visions: The 62nd Annual Faculty & Guest Artist Concert,” January 17 – 18, at 8 p.m. and January 19 at 2 p.m. at Eastern Michigan’s Quirk Theatre

Eastern will open its doors and welcome undergraduate and working professionals who are interested in learning more about a higher education degree during a Graduate Open House, Saturday, Jan. 11. During the open house, graduate advisors will be poised to answer questions from 10 a.m. to noon at the Student Center Ballroom, located at 900 Oakwood, Ypsilanti.

Off stage, Alejandra Escobar is calm and reserved, but when the Eastern Michigan University graduate student performs behind the piano, she displays the kind of passion and intensity that not only won the 2013 Graduate Student Music Competition, it earned her a spot on the EMU delegation to Wuhan University, China.

Patrik Holubik / WEMU

Problems that have forced the closure of Ypsilanti Community Schools the past couple of days have for the most part been resolved. 

Associate Superintendent Laura Lisiscki says only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus remains closed Friday as they wait for heating system parts to arrive. 

Lisiscki says district staff has been working around the clock to get buildings ready to re-open, with some staffers so focused on their work that they had to be ordered to go home and get some rest. 

Again, only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus is closed Friday in the Ypsilanti Community Schools district.

Due to the continuing extreme weather conditions, Eastern Michigan University has canceled all classes Tuesday, Jan. 7. This includes all planned campus activities, lectures and events. The National Weather Service continues to report hazardous weather conditions and the coldest temperatures in 20 years in Michigan, including a wind chill warning and winter weather advisory for the Washtenaw County region. Wind chill temperatures in the region are forecast to reach 39 below on Tuesday. The University plans to be open on Wednesday, Jan. 8 for regular business and classes.

Due to the extreme snowfall and cold temperatures for our region, Eastern Michigan University has announced the cancellation of all classes at Eastern Michigan University on Monday, Jan. 6. This includes all planned campus activities, lectures and events. Residence halls will remain open this evening and tomorrow to accommodate students who are still moving in and who have already arrived. The University plans to be open on Tuesday, Jan. 7 for regular business and classes.

Eastern Michigan University Police

Eastern Michigan University continues to increase efforts to promote safety on campus and off.


USDAgov / Foter.com / CC BY

Ann Arbor Public Schools next month will be looking at what changes are necessary to prepare the district for new federal guidelines on what food can be sold during the school day. 

The new rules begin July 1st. 

They require the first ingredient of any food sold in schools be a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, or protein. 

SEE ALSO: Ann Arbor Schools To Roll Out Enhanced Security Measures

 

School Board President Deb Mexicotte says the new rules will put some limits on what is available, but doesn't eliminate all snacks. Mexicotte adds, that it doesn't affect food brought to school by students or parents.  The new rules also end 30 minutes after the school day so concession stands at evening events don't have to adhere to the guidelines.

Mexicotte believes the school stores, vending machines and fundraising efforts will face the biggest challenge from the new rules.  She says Chartwells has been planning for the new requirements for some time so the food available in cafeterias should be able to meet the new rules.

AAPS

While students are out of the classroom for the winter break, Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift is working on a report from her  four months long Listen and Learn Tour. 

Swift attended about 90 meetings including one in every school in the district to get feedback on the common themes and patterns that are concerning the district.  Swift says her report should serve as a good outline of issues that the district needs to tackle.

Swift says she expects about a half dozen issues the district will be able to tackle immediately, while many others may take years to fully address. 

Swift says the Listen and Learn tour also served as a valuable way for her to get to know about the unique story behind each neighborhood school.

 — Andrew Cluley is a reporter and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him aCluley@emich.edu.

 

Eastern Michigan University's Endowment has grown from about $36 million in 2009 to about $64 million  currently, the largest endowment in the school's history. 

Last year's return on investment was over 15-percent and they have averaged annual returns of over eight percent over the last 20 years. 

Laura Wilbanks is the Chief Financial Officer of the EMU foundation.  Wilbanks says in the last few years they've limited the costs and percentage of endowment spent annually on scholarships and other gifts.  She says the actual dollars spent from the endowment however can increase as the endowment grows. 

Wilbanks says the strong investment return is a result of aggressive investments in the stock market, limited exposure to alternative investments and being dilligent on rebalancing the portfolio.

EMU also successfully completed the Invest, Inspire Fundraising campaign a few years ago.

 — Andrew Cluley is a reporter and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him aCluley@emich.edu.

Clay Enos

This week, Bob Eccles had the opportunity to interview movie producer and EMU grad Wesley Coller, who's giving the commencement speech this weekend at Eastern Michigan University. They discussed how Coller's educational journey led to a career in the arts.

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