University of Michigan Appoints Santa Ono As Its President

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The appointment of Santa Ono, who formerly served as president of the University of Cincinnati and now serves as president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia, came about as a result of a unanimous decision taken by the institution’s board of regents. Additionally, Ono served as the senior vice provost and deputy provost at Emory University.

The biomedical researcher and former professor thanked the university for the honor in a statement. “The University of Michigan is recognized worldwide as being at the pinnacle of public higher education,” said Ono. “It is a singular honor to be chosen to lead such an extraordinary institution. I look forward to embracing the university community and supporting their education, scholarship, innovation and service. And I look forward to joining Michigan’s 600,000 alumni in cheering for the Wolverines.”

Sarah Hubbard, a member of the Board of Regents, said in a statement that the school board conducted a comprehensive search before selecting Ono. “I’m confident that the finalist seated before us today is the right choice for the University of Michigan,” Hubbard said.

Although Ono was born in Vancouver to Japanese immigrant parents, she spent much of her childhood in Pennsylvania and Maryland. In the past, he’s taught at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and UCL.

Ono has been appointed University of Michigan President by the board of regents to replace Mark Schlissel, who was ousted by the board of regents owing to accusations of an improper connection with a coworker. It was revealed that Schlissel used his work email to interact with the employee in an “inappropriate” way throughout his five-year tenure that began in 2018, according to the inquiry conducted by the school.

Michigan has increased school funding for special education by $312 million

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To address Michigan’s long-standing problem of underfunding special education, legislators enacted a substantial reform of the state’s special education funding model early on Friday.

School officials have claimed for years that they were forced to siphon money from their general education budget in order to afford the special education expenses. It was determined in a 2017 audit commissioned by then-Lt. Gov. Brian Calley that special education was underfunded by $700 million dollars.

There is a $312 million increase in the budget for special education this year, reaching $1.9 billion.

Superintendent Erik Edoff of L’Anse Creuse Public Schools said the modification helps address the deficiency indicated in the 2017 report. “It’s a significant step in the direction of equalizing support for special education students,” he said. “We’re really appreciative.”

The plan was put up by state Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell. He noted Thursday night that this is one of the most significant shifts in school funding in Michigan since voters adopted Proposal A in 1994, which entirely transformed how the state supports public schools in the state. “It’s a very big deal,” he said.

This transformation, says Nikolai Vitti, the superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, should endure and state authorities should ultimately completely support special education programs, he said in an email to the Free Press “We are hopeful and expect that this special education funding increase is permanent and reoccurring rather than short-term and one-time,” he wrote. 

According to Michigan State University education policy expert David Arsen, the reform takes the state in the right direction but will still not adequately finance special education obligations. “It moves us in the direction of something that is more desirable,” he said.

Teacher Passes Away While Trying To Save A Drowning Teen In Lake Michigan

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At Lake Michigan, a father and educator who was hailed as modest and inspiring, was found dead after saving the life of a teenage girl.

On Monday, Thomas Kenning, 38, from St. Petersburg, Florida, was at Porter Beach in Indiana with his 9-year-old daughter Rory and his parents when he observed a 16-year-old girl in trouble in the water.  “After he handed his hat and cell phone to his mother, he ran toward the water and (our) daughter yelled out to him, ‘Dad! Be careful!'” Jasmine Kenning, a teacher and Thomas’ wife, told TODAY Parents. “The first phone call I got was, ‘Jasmine, there’s been an accident. Tom heard someone was in trouble, and he jumped in the water to help her. The paramedics did CPR and he’s on his way to the hospital,'” she recalled.

At Porter Beach, the waves were between three and five feet high, according to an official from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

According to the spokesman, “Thomas got the teen out of a deep area and to a place where she could help herself.” However, he was unable to escape himself.

They rescued Kenning after he had been submerged for 20 minutes at Indiana Dunes State Park. At Northwest Health Hospital, they confirmed that he had passed away. According to the spokeswoman, the county coroner judged Kenning’s death an accident due to drowning.

According to the National Park Service, rip currents and waves make swimming in the lake risky.

The pair had a deep connection to Lake Michigan. When Jasmine Kenning first met Tom’s family, they traveled to Mt. Baldy, which is located just east of Porter Beach. “When we reached the top of the dunes, he looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Hey Jasmine, ‘I love you.'”

Kenning was a teacher at Plato Academy in Pinellas Park, where he taught middle-school civics and world history.

Tonia Cunningham, the school’s principal, reported that Kenning played music for his children as they went to and from school. He always carried drumsticks,” she told TODAY Parents. “No one was late for his class.”

An outdoor cafeteria may be named in honor of a respected teacher who requested that kids eat in the open air last year.

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Michigan: A Proposed Bill Would Reward Teachers $1,000 To Mentor Student Teachers

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As Michigan seeks to develop a system to attract and retain more teachers despite a continuing educator crisis, legislators have introduced a measure that would give teachers a $1,000 stipend for acting as a mentor to student teachers.

In addition, the plan calls for paying student instructors $90 a day for their work, which is now unpaid in Michigan public school districts.

House Bill 6013 would introduce a new provision to Michigan’s education code to establish a grant program for school districts to compensate student teachers and mentor teachers for their efforts.

Having cleared the House Education Committee on Tuesday, May 17, the measure is now heading to the House floor for a vote.

The director of legislative affairs for the West Michigan Talent Triangle, Chris Glass, said that it is essential for teachers to be rewarded for mentoring responsibilities since they are taking on a significant amount of additional work. This work includes evaluating lesson plans, offering feedback on teaching, and ensuring that the student understands the material.

This measure has been endorsed by Glass, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “It is above and above what is, you know, a standard teacher’s obligations, when they are mentoring a student teacher.”

The $90-a-day stipend for student teachers was recommended based on the average wage for replacement instructors in Michigan, said state Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township, who sponsored the measure.

Hornberger said she began looking into student teacher salaries when her daughter went to college to become a teacher. It was at this point that she learned that student teaching, in contrast to paid internships, is often uncompensated.

“If you’re student teaching, that’s a full-time job,” Hornberger added. “You can’t go out and work and student teach and do a decent job prepared for your kids. So it only seems reasonable that we pay them.”

Students who want to become teachers won’t face as many obstacles, according to Glass, who said he was in favor of the student teaching stipend because of that.

“When you look at the criteria of student teaching, most if not all students that I’m acquainted with are not reimbursed for their student teaching experience,” Glass told MLive.

“That’s a financial burden they take on even after getting their bachelor’s degree. That is one aspect among many that is playing into the choices of college-going students and selecting what career they’re going to pursue.”

Glass said mentoring programs leads to greater teacher retention rates down the line.

“When it comes to mentor teachers, evidence indicates it helps with student success, it helps with the retention of educators, it helps better educate our future teachers,” he stated.

Teachers are in short supply in Michigan, which means the state must do all it can to break down the obstacles that keep individuals from joining the field.

A Bill To Support Dyslexic Students Has Been Passed By The Michigan Senate

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In a bipartisan effort, the Michigan Senate has adopted a bill that will aid kids with dyslexia.

On Wednesday, the idea was given the go-ahead. One of the objectives of the strategy is to increase teacher training. Schools that train teachers would have to educate students about dyslexia and its effects. Aside from providing evidence-based treatments and accommodations for dyslexic kids, educational institutions must also implement strategies for improving the classroom environment so that it fits the requirements of all students.

Use a universal screening exam to identify reading issues in students in grades K-3. Some pupils in grades 4-12 would also be screened. In order to ensure that no kids are left behind, a resource advisory council would have to be constituted.

“Michigan has never had a statewide, coordinated strategy to help children with dyslexia, until now,” said Senator Lana Theis. “We must remove the stigma from dyslexia and make sure our students are getting the support they need to ensure they’re getting the education they deserve. Literacy, perhaps more than anything else, is the key to unlocking a limitless future of possibility and success.”

The Michigan House of Representatives will now take a look at the proposal.

Tequila In Kindergarten, Student Brings A Bottle And Shares It With Classmates

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Some parents in Michigan are furious because their kids shared a tequila bottle during snack time on Thursday.

A teacher in Livonia, Michigan, intervened to stop a 12-year-old girl from drinking a bottle of Jose Cuervo mix containing 10% alcohol.

Her daughter’s school, Grand River Academy, called Alexis Smith to inform her of an upcoming event.

One of her many thoughts was “oh my god,” she recalls thinking to herself. “What if it was open before the girl at school brought it in? How much was it?'”

People at the school informed Smith that one of her 5-year-old daughter’s classmates brought the pre-mixed tequila bottle and split it with four of her classmates, including her.

So, “Is my daughter okay?” was my question to her. as well as the assurance that she is right here and seems to be OK. ‘Okay. Well, how much did she drink?’ I said,” Smith recalled afterwards.

Her question was left unanswered by the school.

It’s important that “no kids should be drinking and… the shot itself, it burns,” the mother of the girl who is taking medication remarked. “Like how do you feel? Like anything could have happened?”

In order to save time, Smith arrived to her daughter’s school early and picked her up. At some point later that day, the principal sent a letter home with kindergarten parents, informing them that “disciplinary measures will be taken in accordance with the student code of conduct.

Smith said her daughter would not return to school on Monday, despite the fact that the school was closed on Friday.

Smith stated, “It’s so heartbreaking.” As she put it: “I feel like her first year of kindergarten was already cut short because of COVID and situations like this are making it worse.”

Students’ privacy regulations prevent school administrators from disclosing exactly how they dealt with the problem.

Michigan Looks To Bring Back Retired Teachers, New Bill To Overcome Shortage

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While party divides over everything from how racism is treated in schools to whether textbooks should be put online are fueled by culture wars, Michigan lawmakers can agree on one thing: there is a catastrophic shortage of substitute teachers that must be addressed quickly.

The education committees in the House and Senate are making an effort. They have introduced different legislation that might be debated on the floor of each parliament this week.

On Tuesday, a House subcommittee unanimously recommended approval of a measure that would allow retired education system personnel to return to work in schools after a year without losing their retirement benefits. They might return as substitutes, full-time teachers, bus drivers, library aids, or food service employees, for example.

Last week, a Senate committee overwhelmingly approved a smaller bill that would cut the wait time for retired school teachers returning to substitute teach to four months.

Retirees must wait a year before returning to work, and for every month their wage surpasses one-third of their previous remuneration, they forfeit their pensions and health benefits.

Superintendents in Michigan say the proposed legislation will help them deal with a nationwide teacher shortage that has caused some districts to close temporarily due to a lack of teachers and some states to relax qualification requirements in an all-hands-on-deck effort to get teachers into classrooms. In Michigan, for example, school staff workers who have never attended college are permitted to substitute teach.

The replacement scarcity is a symptom of a larger problem — a major teacher shortage — that Michigan Superintendent Michael Rice intends to address over the next five years with a mix of measures that might cost $300 million to $500 million.

For the time being, the Legislature’s attention is focused on the substitute crisis.

The Michigan Department of Education does not keep track of substitute teacher positions, but spokesman Bill DiSessa said the department is aware of a shortfall.

According to a 2019 report by Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy Research, 64 percent of districts are unable to hire enough teachers to satisfy their daily demands. During the epidemic, the situation is commonly regarded to have become worse.

Superintendent Steve Patchin hopes the Legislature will allow him to recruit recent retirees as substitute teachers in Hancock Public Schools, a 650-student district in the Upper Peninsula’s northernmost section.

“It would help extremely because we have a lot of teachers that retired and want to come back and help us,” he said.

State Rep. Lori Stone said she hasn’t seen the Senate measure yet, but she backs the House idea. Although it would apply to all school staff roles, the Warren Democrat said in an interview in her Lansing office that it is primarily intended at addressing the substitute teacher shortage.

“We need to lower barriers that might prevent retirees from coming back,” she said. They want to help, and they “have a skill set that uniquely positions them to be prepared to walk into a classroom and to pick up and carry on instruction,” said Stone, who taught for three years at Mound Park Elementary School in Fitzgerald.

Both proposals have the backing of the state’s Office of Retirement Services.

According to Allison Wardlaw, the office’s director of plan development and compliance, the 12-month waiting period retained in the House bill is intended to protect the state’s pension liability from people who might retire early with the understanding that their principal would immediately hire them back, allowing them to collect retirement benefits and regular compensation at the same time.

To avoid this, the House measure requires eligible retirees to have “totally severed the employee-employer connection” with the school district and to not “plan or anticipate to have an offer or contingency to get hired” with any school district before leaving.

Stone has sponsored a companion measure that would require the Office of Retirement Service to track the number of retirees who return to school employment and report to the Legislature.

In Michigan, A New Bill Supports Teachings On Native American Boarding Schools

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A measure in Michigan’s legislature would change the state’s school law to “strongly encourage” Native American boarding school curriculum in Michigan classrooms.

State Senator Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, proposed Senate Bill 876 on Wednesday, which encourages eighth through 12th pupils to learn about boarding institutions in history classrooms.

The law intends to preserve the mostly forgotten history of the schools, where Indigenous children were taken to study English and practice Christianity throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, culminating in the eradication of Native American languages and practices.

The bill establishes schools as organizations with a specific purpose “the cultural assimilation of Indigenous children through the forceful relocation of these children from their families and communities to distant residential facilities where the children’s American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian identities, language, and beliefs were to be forcibly suppressed.” Physical abuse was frequently perpetrated in schools.

In Michigan, at least three schools existed: the Mount Pleasant Industrial Boarding School, which closed in 1934; St. Joseph Orphanage and School in Assinins, north of Baraga County in the Upper Peninsula, which closed in the 1950s; and Holy Childhood of Jesus in Harbor Springs, which closed in the early 1980s, decades after the majority had closed.

Schmidt filed the measure after a 180-member native healing council in Harbor Springs urged him to. Schmidt’s district contains the former Holy Childhood location.

Schmidt was accompanied by many Holy Childhood survivors in the State Capitol to propose the measure. Melissa Moses, of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, is the grandmother of a 4-year-old great-grandson. She is concerned about what would happen if this part of history is not passed on to his generation.

“The more you learn, then the kids are going to say, ‘we can’t do that,'” she said.

Teaching about the schools, according to Linda Cobe of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, would emphasize the fact that societal disorders on reservations are the product of generational sadness and resentment originating from family separation.

At the age of seven, Wyman Chippewa, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, began attending Holy Childhood.

“When you go through that school, you’re abused,” he said Wednesday, fighting back tears. “All you know is abuse, and you don’t understand, ‘Why is this happening to me?'”

Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, chairs the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee, which will hear the measure.

“This is clearly a dark, tragic part of our history,” Schmidt said. “It’s shameful many of the things that went on, and I think that more and more people recognize that.”

The bill recommends that the state board of education be “strongly encouraged” to guarantee that core history curriculum contains “learning objectives for Indian boarding schools,” just as it does for genocides like the Holocaust or the Armenian Genocide.

Schmidt said Wednesday that he chose to actively encourage the courses in order to minimize red tape and criticism surrounding curricular demands.

As survivors grow older, Kim Fyke of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians expects that the bill will solidify the history of boarding schools in education.

“There’s only a few more years of us elders here to tell you the story,” she said. “Otherwise, it’s just going to be whatever is out there, whatever was left behind. So we’re trying to let you guys know what really happened to us.”