teachers

Today on Stateside, Great Lakes water levels are at record or near-record highs, leading to dramatic shoreline erosion and threatening lakeshore properties. Plus, the Detroit origins of the spiral cut ham, a holiday dinner staple. 

 


Today on Stateside, the state budget needs to be approved by Governor Gretchen Whitmer tonight to avoid a partial government shutdown. But the governor has been vocal about her displeasure with the bills sent to her by the state Legislature. So what are her options? Plus, how can Michigan do more to recruit and retain a diverse teaching staff? 

Tracking a student's behavior is a big part of a teacher's job.

Two Michigan teachers developed a new app to make that job a little bit easier.

It's called TABS, Tracking Appropriate Behaviors System.

Along with tracking a student's behavior, it can also be used as a digital hall pass, and assist administrators, teachers, and students during a school lockdown.

School employees win long fought victory over state

Dec 21, 2017

A fight between school employees and the state ended today – in favor of the employees.

The state took money from their paychecks between 2010 and 2012. That was after a law was passed allowing the state to take three percent of their pay for retiree health care costs. The Michigan Supreme Court said the law was unconstitutional, but that didn’t resolve the question of what to do about the money, some 550 million dollars, that had already been handed over to the state.

Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law controversial changes to the state’s public school employee retirement system.

Starting in February of 2018, new teachers will get a new choice about their retirement savings. They’ll automatically be put into a straight 401(k) plan. But they can enroll in a hybrid plan if they want. That hybrid plan also includes a pension, but it’s more expensive for the teacher.

Senator Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) says 401(k) plans are the way of the future.

 

More and more teachers are posting their resignation letters online and on social media.

A Google search for "teacher resignation letters" returns over 2.1 million results. 

Some of those letters have gone viral by echoing the frustrations that many teachers have with the state of public education. 

David Cassleman

State Republicans want to reform the retirement system for public school teachers by eliminating pensions.

Since 2012, new teachers have received a hybrid retirement plan that blends a traditional pension with a 401(k). But legislation being debated during the lame-duck session would close the traditional pension system for future new hires and would offer them a 401(k)-style plan only. 

Republican lawmakers say the goal is to create a more reliable retirement system. The old pension system has unfunded liabilities totaling $26.7 billion, according to the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. 

 


The Michigan Women's Hall of Fame welcomed its latest group of honorees late last year.

Among the five contemporary honorees was Olivia Letts. She was the first African-American teacher hired by the Lansing School District. She started that job in 1951 and from there, Letts spent her life as an advocate for education, community service and civil rights.

This week, State Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that if Governor Snyder wants to appeal a court decision regarding teacher pay, he'll have to hire his own attorney.

The AG is sitting this one out.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us today to discuss the ever-widening split between Michigan's two top Republicans. 

The bailout of the Detroit Public Schools passed by the legislature and awaiting Gov. Rick Snyder's signature includes a provision to allow uncertified teachers.

Those who support the move say that it would help address a growing teacher shortage and allow more professionals who have a passion for teaching to enter the classroom. Detractors say that it discredits the skill and craft of teaching and is just a political move to weaken teachers' unions. 

The Next Idea

Teaching matters. We know that it can make the difference between a child learning to read by third grade, being confident in math, and developing the mindset necessary for success. Yet skillful teaching is not commonplace, and it’s hurting our society. Three reasons stand out:

As part of our “Learning to Teach” series this week, we’ve been talking about teacher effectiveness.

Paramount to that effectiveness are teacher evaluations.

“There’s nothing more powerful to move the needle in student learning gains than great teaching,” said John Austin, president of the State Board of Education.

Austin says evaluations must be improved on all levels of a teacher’s career. That includes supporting new teachers in their learning, professional development, and creating rewarding teacher career paths, so that teachers advancing in their careers don’t solely end up  in administration and out of the classrooms.

In our informal survey, 61% of teachers indicated that better pay is the best way to retain teachers. As part of our "Learning to Teach" week at Michigan Radio, Joshua Cowen, an associate professor at the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, discusses teacher pay in the state.

Cowen says there's disagreement within the state of whether monetary compensation or professional opportunities work better to reward teachers.

Eleventh grade is a pretty stressful year for kids. There's the ACT (which will soon be replaced by the SAT). There are college tours to schedule, and applications to complete.

And the stress level is about to to get amped up. That's because Michigan's high school juniors face a much heavier load of testing this spring.

Chastity Pratt Dawsey joined us. She reports on education for Bridge Magazine. Jeffrey Bohl also joined us: he's the principal of Lakeview High School in Battle Creek.

The firing of a pregnant teacher at Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills is making headlines.

For nine years, Barb Webb taught chemistry and coached various teams at the all-girls Catholic school.

Webb is a lesbian. She married her wife, Kristen, two years ago. Earlier this year, they found out they were expecting a baby.

Barb Webb's firing has ignited an emotional response on social media.

Many Marian alumnae, parents and supporters spoke out in support of Webb on a Facebook page that has more than 4,000 members.

On other sites, however, there are those who believe Webb violated the teachings of the Catholic Church, and, as such, the Catholic private school was well within its rights to fire her.

What makes a teacher great?

And how should we measure a teacher's success and effectiveness?

These are questions that take up a lot of the debate about education in Michigan. We've got policymakers, educators, politicians and parents all weighing in, and the resulting conversation is often loud and unproductive.

Education writer Elizabeth Green explores these challenging questions, and looks at how we are preparing teachers for the realities of the classroom.

Green’s new book is Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Everyone). She says great teachers are not born, but trained.

“By assuming (some teachers are born great, and some teachers aren’t), we fail to prepare teachers with the specialized knowledge that nobody is born knowing how to do. And as a result, we leave students vulnerable to teachers who haven’t learned the basic things they need to know to help students learn,” says Green.

* Listen to the full interview with Elizabeth Green above.