More than 1,400 MEA members contacted legislators to urge their support
EAST LANSING, Mich., — Thanks to the hard-fought efforts of MEA members, the state Legislature on Last Wednesday voted to increase the state’s investment in early childhood education funding.
More than 1,400 MEA members called and emailed their legislators in recent weeks to urge them to support more funding for early childhood education. Because of the outreach conducted by teachers, education support professionals and higher education employees, the Legislature sent an education budget to the governor’s desk that includes $65 million in additional funds for early childhood education.
“The MEA has long championed greater investment in early childhood education programs, because these investments help prepare our students for success,” MEA Vice President Nancy Strachan said. “The additional investment for early childhood education is a critical step to help our low-income students have access to high-quality preschool opportunities and enter kindergarten prepared to learn.”
“Research has clearly shown the direct correlation between early childhood education programs and increased graduation rates, reduced crime and a healthier economy,” Strachan said. “The MEA will continue to support this and other increased early childhood investments so that all Michigan children have the opportunity to succeed.”
Lansing – Andrew Vanden Heuvel, Michigan Virtual School® online physics teacher and “Glass Explorer” recently became the first teacher to teach a science class from inside the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
Vanden Heuvel was invited to visit CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland, as a result of his selection as a Glass Explorer, a select group of people who were chosen by Google to test its new product, Google Glass. Google Glass is a wearable computer with a head-mounted display.
With Glass users can take phone calls, send texts, take photos and video, show maps, and – as Vanden Heuvel demonstrated – take a class of students inside a particle accelerator underground in Switzerland as they sat in a classroom in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“As a physics teacher, visiting the world’s largest particle accelerator was a dream come true. As an online physics teacher, I knew that Glass could help me turn this into a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity for my students,” Vanden Heuvel said.
Vanden Heuvel’s trip to CERN, April 25 to May 4, included a day visiting the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. The device allows physicists to test their theories of particle and high-energy physics. It lies in a tunnel that’s over 500 feet deep, in a 17-mile loop, which Vanden Heuvel navigated partly by bicycle.
“Access to the tunnel is very restricted and even fewer people get to actually bike in the tunnel. In fact, less people have biked in the LHC tunnel than have climbed Mount Everest!” Vanden Heuvel said. “Needless to say, I’m the first person who has ever taught a science class from inside the LHC tunnel. Seeing just a small portion of the whole loop, I was overwhelmed by the size of it all. The fact that I was able to share this experience with students, even answering their questions in real-time, is simply mind-blowing.”
South Christian High School students saw what Vanden Heuvel saw and listened as he told them what he was experiencing, all through Google Glass, a device that very few people have even seen, let alone used as a teaching tool. About 10,000 people around the world – beta testers and winners of the “If I Had a Glass” contest – will have the devices until they are made commercially available sometime later this year.
“We are fortunate to have Andrew on our team to reinvent K-12 education. He has a remarkable curiosity to learn about new tools like the Google Glass which can be used to improve teaching and learning,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Michigan Virtual University®, the parent organization of Michigan Virtual School. “He is a true pioneer in the 21st century as he explores new ways to engage students to ensure their academic success. I view Andrew as an ‘education rock star’ and our online students will benefit from his creative passion to make science interesting and fun at the same time.”
You can view Vanden Heuvel’s progress in teaching with Glass at http://agl-initiatives.org/teaching-with-glass/.
“As an online teacher, I frequently say, ‘it’s not about the technology, but what you can do with it.’ We have now reached an inflection point in the evolution of technology where each new advance means we see technology less and can do more with it,” Vanden Heuvel said. “What a tremendously exciting time to be in education!”
Vanden Heuvel has taught physics and mathematics for MVS since 2009. He also teaches courses in app development and geographic information systems for teachers through Michigan LearnPort®, a division of MVU® that provides online professional development solutions for members of the K-12 community.
Vanden Heuvel’s also a science education consultant for USA Today Education and a physics and astronomy professor at Calvin College. He’s a NASA Solar System Educator and was recognized as a Hubble Space Telescope Gold Star Educator. In 2010, he was named Michigan Online Teacher of the Year and then a finalist for National Online Teacher of the Year.
MVU is a private, nonprofit Michigan corporation established by the State of Michigan in 1998 to serve as a champion for online learning. It is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual School®, Michigan LearnPort®, and Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute™. Visit www.mivu.org for more information.
Matt Ludwig, Marquette Senior High School Director Of Bands, Gave Testimony To The House Education Committee
Matt Ludwig, Marquette Senior High School director of bands, gave testimony to the House Education Committee during the panel’s third week of discussion on legislation to allow more flexibility in the Michigan Merit Curriculum for students pursuing career paths and educational interests other than college preparatory. Ludwig was the guest of state Reps. Ed McBroom of Vulcan, (right), sponsor of House Bill 4073, and John Kivela of Marquette, a co-sponsor of the legislation.
WHAT: Michigan Superintendent Dr. Christine Johns of Utica Community Schools will come together with leading educational strategists, school district leaders and students from across the country Thursday, April 11, 2013 at Discovery Communications’ to discuss the State of Digital Learning. Digital learning brings the world to classrooms, empowers educators, inspires and engages students and provides them with the skills to be college and career ready.
Discovery Education and Digital Promise, in conjunction with Connect2Compete, Education Research Development Institute, International Society for Technology Education, National Council of Educational Research and Training and other leading national and state-level education organizations, are launching the inaugural Future@Now: Transition to Digital Classrooms conference that will gather both public sector and private industry thought-leaders from across the country to discuss one of the most important issues in education today – the state of digital learning.
Launching a year after the Federal Communications Commission and Department Of Education’s Digital Textbook Playbook initiative, the goal of Future@Now: Transition to Digital Classrooms is to raise awareness about the benefits of digital learning and celebrate the successes of districts that have already deployed digital textbooks in meaningful ways in their classrooms.
During the event, Dr. Christine Johns will lead the Visionaries session on districts that are on the cutting edge of launching digital textbook initiatives.
WHO: Dr. Christine Johns, Superintendent, Utica Community Schools
Dr. Christine Johns is the Superintendent of Utica Community Schools, Michigan’s second-l argest school district. Under her leadership, the district has earned a national reputation for its innovative use of technology to personalize instruction. Dr. Johns is a member of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools and previously served as deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Baltimore County Schools (MD). She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, and both M.S. and Ed.D. degrees in Educational Administration from Harvard University.
WHEN: Thursday, April 11, 2013 6:00AM – 5:00PM ET for live, taped, and live-to-tape radio interviews
PONTIAC, Mich., Feb., 2013 — On Saturday, MEA members from across Michigan stepped up to help the students and educators of the Pontiac School District. In response to a critical school supply shortage caused by education funding cuts, MEA coordinated the donation and delivery of more than $12,000 in cash and gift cards, as well as thousands of dollars more in school supplies.
A truckload of these donated supplies was distributed to Pontiac Education Association members on Saturday at UAW Local 653 in Pontiac. Donations came from MEA teachers and support staff from around the state, as well as other allies such as the United Auto Workers and even contributions from other public school students, like the student council of Utica’s Flickinger Elementary.
The massive underfunding of public education by Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Legislature has created an untenable crisis for educators and students in Pontiac. Last year, MEA members conducted a similar supply drive for teachers and students in the Benton Harbor Area Schools.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and school employees help do that job every day,” MEA Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trainor said. “By making these generous contributions, teachers and support staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure Pontiac kids have the basic supplies they need in their classrooms.
“But supply drives and donations can only go so far. Our state’s elected leaders must do their part and adequately fund our kids’ schools, so that every Michigan child can get the good education they need and deserve.”
The critical shortage of classroom supplies in Pontiac is not unique; nor is it a crisis of their own making. Since the beginning of the school year, Pontiac teachers have been paying out of pocket for learning essentials that the school district cannot afford – paper, writing utensils, copying supplies and more. These out-of-pocket expenses come at a time when staff in Pontiac, like many school employees across the state, have experienced severe wage and benefit reductions, while paying significantly more for their retirement benefits.
In 2011-12, public education suffered a $1 billion cut in funding, equating to a $470 reduction in per pupil spending – all to help pay for a $1.8 billion tax break for corporate special interests pushed by Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican legislative allies. The effects of that devastating school funding cut are still being felt every day in Michigan classrooms.
The supply drive for the Pontiac schools was assisted by members of the United Auto Workers in Pontiac. “I would like to personally thank members of UAW Local 653, and their president, Michael Warchuck, for supporting this effort,” Trainor said. “We also appreciate the UAW International for their efforts in collecting classroom supplies and providing a trailer to transport those supplies.”
Pontiac Education Association President Aimee McKeever expressed gratitude for the outpouring of contributions, saying, “On behalf of the teachers, support staff and students of Pontiac, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to those who contributed money and supplies. Words cannot express my appreciation for these desperately needed classroom supplies.”
“It is very heartwarming that so many people have donated so much for our district despite our economic situation,” said Cynthia Rush, a teacher at Pontiac’s WHRC Elementary and one of McKeever’s Pontiac EA members. “It shows true solidarity between all unions – brotherhood and sisterhood. Making sure that all children succeed.”
Last year, it was Benton Harbor. This year, it is Pontiac. Many other districts will soon face the same plight unless the Governor and Michigan legislators decide to provide more than mere rhetoric to public schools. Actions speak louder than words. For lawmakers to say education is a top priority is one thing – actually providing the necessary funding is the real test.
So far, they have failed.
Pontiac Education Association member and Whitman Elementary School teacher Linda Puas summed it up best: “This is so sad and yet so heartwarming. You really feel ‘not alone’.”
CUTLINES – photos available at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/prm2dnjg8xkcjon/shtSJvcsXo:
PONTIAC1.JPG – Members of the Pontiac Education Association “shop” for needed school supplies at Saturday’s donation distribution event at UAW Local 653 in Pontiac. Credit: MEA/Miriam Garcia
PONTIAC2.JPG – Supplies donated from across the state to assist Pontiac students and educators are picked up by Pontiac Education Association members at a Saturday distribution event. Credit: MEA/Miriam Garcia
PONTIAC3.JPG –Pontiac Education Association member and Whitman Elementary School teacher Linda Puas said of the supply drive and Saturday’s event, “This is so sad and yet so heartwarming. You really feel ‘not alone’.” Credit: MEA/Miriam Garcia ###
Rates up 1.91 percent in 2012
Lansing – The statewide 4-year graduation rates for students expected to graduate last spring increased to 76.24 percent, up 1.9 percent from the 2011 rate of 74.33 percent, according to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI).
“These numbers reflect the highest rates we have seen since we started reporting the data using a cohort methodology,” said CEPI Director Thomas Howell. “This methodology allows us to track individual students from the first time they enroll as ninth-graders and has resulted in a more accurate measure of high school success for our students.”
More than 53 percent of Michigan’s school districts saw higher graduation rates, including many of the largest districts. Detroit City School District showed noticeable improvement, boosting its rate by a full 5 percent, from 59.7 percent to 64.7 percent. Of the 14 school districts with 1,000 or more students in the senior class, all but three improved their graduation rates between 2011 and 2012.
The largest increase in graduation rates throughout a 5-year period were seen in several racial and ethnic groups. Rates for black students reached 59.93 percent last year, an increase of 3.64 percent since 2008. Hispanic student rates were at 64.3 percent, up 3.97 percent. This year’s rate reflects that 73.52 percent of multiracial students graduated in four years, increasing the annual rate by 3.52 percent since 2008.
“This is more positive news for Michigan public schools,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. “This is reflective of how our teachers and students are succeeding with the rigorous Michigan Merit Curriculum and being better prepared to continue Michigan’s economic comeback. We must stay on this positive course and keep our standards high and Michigan Merit Curriculum intact.”
Four-year graduation rates are an important school accountability measure adopted by the state and aligned with the National Governors Association Graduation Counts Compact. CEPI also publishes additional valuable information about students who stayed in school longer to earn a diploma in five or six years, found at www.mischooldata.org.
The website provides parents, educators, and policymakers with multiple levels of school data. After clicking on Student Counts/Grad Rates, visitors can perform inquiries by school, district, intermediate school district, or statewide, as well as compare one to another. The site provides 4-year, 5-year, and 6-year graduation rates by gender, race/ethnicity, or by the following demographic categories: economically disadvantaged, English language learners, homeless, migrant, and students with disabilities.
CEPI is a division of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. It was established under the State School Aid Act to coordinate the collection, management, and reporting of all public education data required by state and federal law, in a manner that reduces the administrative burden on reporting entities, complies with privacy laws, and provides useful reports to policymakers, educators, and residents. CEPI is leading efforts to collect and connect longitudinal data that follows students from preschool through postsecondary education and into the workforce, enabling the evaluation of approaches that improve outcomes for Michigan students.
Hundreds of volunteers will help college-bound Michigan students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA at more than 30, statewide MI College Goal events on Sunday, February 10, 2013.
MI College Goal is a collaborative partnership betweenthe Michigan Student Financial Aid Association, EduGuide, and the Michigan Department of Treasury, with strong support from numerous agencies and organizations. The annual program is designed to increase the number of students who continue education beyond high school and earn post-secondary degrees. The FAFSA is required of any student seeking financial aid including grants, loans, and many scholarships. Last year, thousands of students received assistance at MI College Goal events.
“It is critical that high school seniors and their parents are aware of these MI College Goal events,” said Bryan Taylor, President of EduGuide. “Students must complete and file a FAFSA in order to secure financial aid and should file by the March 1st priority date to ensure eligibility for federal and state programs.” Statistics show that students who complete and submit FAFSA forms are more likely to go on to college.
During MI College Goal events, financial aid experts will guide students and their parents through each step of completing and filing the FAFSA. Students under 23 years of age are encouraged to attend with a parent or guardian. Parents and students should bring their completed 2010 Federal tax return(1040) if possible, or their W-2 and 1099 forms.
More than 30 sites across Michigan will host MI College Goal on February 10th. For a complete list of locations and additional information, visit www.micollegegoal.org. Attendees can register
to win a $1,000 scholarship, an iPad Mini, and other prizes.
The following statement can be attributed to MEA President Steven Cook, after Tuesday’s enactment of so-called “right-to-work” legislation:
“Tuesday was a dark day for our state. Middle-class families will be hurt by the underhanded action taken by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder. The shameful way that Snyder and the Republican Legislature rushed through so-called “right-to-work” legislation — without as much as a public hearing — will not be forgotten. The Legislature and the governor chose politics over policy, and corporate special interests over regular citizens.
“The bad news for Snyder and his far-right allies is that the labor movement in Michigan is more united than ever. In the coming days and weeks, we will be discussing options and decide on a plan to win back the rights that Snyder and the Legislature stripped away from working people.
“At Tuesday’s ‘Day of Action’ event at the Capitol, teachers and school support staff stood shoulder-to-shoulder with working people from every field and industry to make their voices heard. Make no mistake: Despite all corporate attempts to silence them, the voices of Michigan’s middle class will be heard.”
Source: Press Release – Michigan Education Association
EAST LANSING, Mich., Dec. 6, 2012 — Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican leadership today announced they would push so-called “right-to-work” bills that include public and private workers while carving out exemptions for police and firefighters. Swift legislative action on these bills is already underway. The following statement can be attributed to Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook:
“As time is ticking on the lame duck Legislature, extremist politicians are in a hurry to continue their assault on working families while exacting political revenge against union members who didn’t support their bids for reelection. Today’s swift announcement, introduction and subsequent passage of so-called ‘right-to-work’ legislation is just another political attack on Michigan’s middle class, and it does nothing to help dig our state out of an economic hole.
“We elected leaders who we thought would work together to create jobs, steer our economy back to fiscal strength, and restore the American Dream for the middle class. Instead, Governor Snyder and his allies in the Legislature are fulfilling their extremist agenda by going after working families—setting the wrong priorities and making the wrong choices.
“Let’s be clear. This legislation is not about improving the economy or creating jobs—this is political payback that puts big corporations and special-interest CEOs before Michigan’s working families. In states with so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws, workers make an average of $1,500 less per year, 21 percent more people lack health insurance and workplace deaths are 51 percent higher than states without the law. On average, workers in ‘right-to-work’ states have a lower standard of living, bring home less pay and go without health insurance more frequently. That hurts small businesses as consumer spending is reduced, causing a ripple effect that will further hurt Michigan’s economy.
“Worst of all is the utter lies about what this does. No one is forced to join a union – that’s already illegal. This allows workers to get out of paying their fair share of what it costs to negotiate the contract they benefit from. Whether proponents call this ‘right-to-work’ or ‘freedom-to-work’, it’s really just ‘Freedom to Freeload.’
“This deceptive and divisive concept will not help Michigan’s economy get back on track. As we have seen in other states like Ohio and Wisconsin, everyone gets hurt when politicians put their agendas ahead of the people who elected them. Instead of distractions that silence the voices of workers, our elected leaders should focus on finding ways to create more jobs, help struggling families and get our state’s economy moving again.”
ASHLAND, Wis. – The American Chemical Society (ACS) awarded a $50,000 grant to Northland College in support of Dr. Nick Robertson’s plastics recycling research. Robertson, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Northland College, received the ACS Petroleum Research Fund Undergraduate New Investigator (UNI) Award. The award is intended to support petroleum research and advance scientific research among undergraduate students. The award marks the third grant Northland College received in support of Robertson’s research during 2012. The two-year research project was among a handful of successful proposals nationwide out of roughly 45 selected each year for a UNI award.
The focus of Robertson’s research involves altering the properties of the most common plastic in use today: polyethylene. More than 50 million tons of polyethylene are produced and used each year. The goal of the project is to improve the recyclability of polyethylene.
“You can only recycle polyethylene so many times before its properties substantially deteriorate,” says Robertson. “Plastics are made from small molecular building blocks, so we’re going to start from scratch with its original properties. The idea is to alter those building blocks so that polyethylene can better maintain its properties every time it is recycled.”
Polyethylene can be found in everything from plastic bags and food packaging to patio furniture and bulletproof vests. The grant award will fund the cost of research and almost half the award will fund student research positions on the project. The research is slated to begin in May 2013.
Earlier this year, the Research Corporation for Science Advancement awarded Robertson a Single InvestigatorCottrell College Science Award (CCSA) in the amount of $35,000. Dr. Robertson’s research on polymer-based biorenewable plastics, aided by Northland students, is one of only 40 projects nationwide funded through Research Corporation’s CCSA Program in 2012. In addition, the University of Minnesota Materials Research Facility Network awarded Robertson funding to support access to cutting-edge laboratory space, supplies, and travel expenses incurred to him and his student research assistants.
Northland College is a traditional liberal arts and sciences college with a unique focus on the environment and sustainability. Northland College and its Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute are located in Ashland, Wis., near the shores of Lake Superior. The College is broadly recognized as a leader in sustainability education having adopted the focus as its mission in 1971. Founded in 1892, Northland now enrolls 600 students from across the nation and across the world. For more information about Northland College and its Institute, visit our website at www.northland.edu.
Source: Press Release