College of Education in the news

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10,000 counselors and 150,000 clients with mental health issues could be impacted by new proposal

Much of the mental health field is worried by the State Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) move to reduce the number of counselors who could diagnose conditions like depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD. It would impact both clients and their counselors. "Given the prevalence rates of mental health concerns in the United States and Michigan today, this is something that would impact literally every family in Michigan," said Scott Branson, an assistant professor in the counselor program at Wayne State University. The proposal would also prevent counselors from being reimbursed by insurance companies for their work. "The amount of clients who would lose mental health services would be astronomical. This is not a good time for that," said Shirley Mack, the clinical director of counseling at Wayne State University. In response to the threat, a Republican representative in the House has introduced a bill that would preserve the scope of the profession and how they operate. Professionals are urging residents to contact their representatives to support counselors.
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Detroit students leave the city for suburban schools that aren’t much better

Detroit students who leave the city to get an education end up enrolled at schools with slightly higher test scores. But that may not be enough of an advantage given some other negative factors associated with that move. Researchers at Wayne State University who have been studying student mobility in Detroit say the suburban schools for which students leave are more likely to have higher discipline rates, more new teachers and higher teacher turnover. Those other factors “may counteract the benefits of going to a school with slightly better test scores,” said Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, an assistant professor of education at Wayne State. Lenhoff, along with Associate Professor Ben Pogodzinski, recently released two reports on student mobility. One was based on research on students who leave the city, while the other was based on research on movement in the city. The two studied student data from the 2010-11 school year through the 2017-18 school year. The research raised concerns about the 26,000 children who commute to schools outside Detroit and the many more who move within the city during and between school years. That frequent movement, one report noted, “has created an unstable learning environment for thousands of Detroit resident students, exacerbating many of the challenges faced by students and schools in the city.”
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Report: Detroit students leave the city for schools that aren’t much better

Detroit students who leave the city to get an education end up enrolled at schools with slightly higher test scores. But that may not be enough of an advantage given some other negative factors associated with that move. Researchers at Wayne State University who have been studying student mobility in Detroit say the suburban schools the students leave for are more likely to have higher discipline rates, more new teachers, and higher teacher turnover. Those other factors “may counteract the benefits of going to a school with slightly better test scores,” said Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, an assistant professor of education at Wayne State. Lenhoff, along with Associate Professor Ben Pogodzinski, recently released two reports on student mobility. One was based on research on students who leave the city, while the other was based on research on movement in the city. The two studied student data from the 2010-11 school year through the 2017-18 school year. The research raised concerns about the 26,000 children who commute to  schools outside Detroit and the many more who move within the city during and between school years. That frequent movement, one report noted, “has created an unstable learning environment for thousands of Detroit resident students, exacerbating many of the challenges faced by students and schools in the city.” Lenhoff’s and Pogodzinski’s research is part of a project funded by the Wayne State University College of Education and the Skillman Foundation.
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As Michigan school librarians disappear, this program allows teachers to fill in

Amid a sharp decline in the number of Michigan school librarians, a new program was started this summer to use teachers to help fill those roles. The Experimental School Library Media Specialist program allows already certified teachers to be recognized by the state as school librarians after they’ve taken just five additional classes, or 15 credits, at Wayne State University. The number of full-time certified librarians in Michigan has dropped sharply in recent years. Only 8 percent of schools have a librarian today; the figure has declined roughly 73 percent since 2000. The number of people trained to be librarians has fallen sharply, too, so much so that librarians are on the state’s “critical shortage” list even as the number of available jobs shrinks. The program’s website says impending retirements among the remaining librarians will open up jobs to new librarians. The program was granted temporary permission from the Michigan Department of Education to allow teachers to add a new area of expertise in less time than usual. Teachers are typically required to take 20 credits in order to add a new area of expertise. This is not the state’s only effort to combat educator shortages by reducing credentialing requirements. With districts in some areas struggling to hire teachers, lawmakers allowed for new teachers to lead classrooms after taking 300 hours of online classes.
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Benton Harbor crisis a tipping point for Gretchen Whitmer, school takeovers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s attempt to close the struggling high school in majority black Benton Harbor provoked a furious backlash from the city’s 10,000 residents. Her next move has implications for districts across the state. As Whitmer and the board continue negotiating, observers say the outcome could reshape how Michigan approaches struggling school districts far beyond Benton Harbor that are struggling with rising debts, low test scores, and declining enrollment. Even if Whitmer doesn’t manage to change the state’s emergency management law, Mike Addonizio, a professor of education at Wayne State University, said her next move in Benton Harbor has major implications for the future of state interventions. “It is kind of an inflection point,” he said. “What is the state going to do with school districts like this?” Still, solving Benton Harbor’s issues won’t solve the structural problems that have produced similar situations in districts across the state. “It could be Kalamazoo. Could be Battle Creek. Could be Muskegon,” said Tom Pedroni, an activist and education professor at Wayne State University. Pedroni says the struggles of urban districts have been worsened by state policies that allow students to leave for other districts, by a relentless focus on test scores, and by a funding system that doesn’t adequately account for the challenges of educating poor students. “The way that we label schools as failing creates an almost mathematical formula that yields the decimation of school districts of color across the state,” he said. “How do we, as a state, take seriously the mechanisms that cause things like this.”
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Will Michigan 3rd-grade reading law hurt poor?

Children from low-income and minority families will be more likely to flunk than wealthier white classmates with similarly low test scores under Michigan’s third-grade reading law, if the experience of Florida is repeated here. Research and Northwestern University found that Florida third-graders with similarly low reading scores were held back at different rates, depending on the socioeconomic status of their families. While the long-term impact of holding children back a grade is mixed, the socioeconomic and racial disparity found in Florida should be a flashing yellow caution light for Michigan, said Sarah Lenhoff, assistant professor of education at Wayne State University. “This study is an important warning for Michigan lawmakers and educators as our state implements this new law,” Lenhoff said. “If children are given differential opportunities to use exemptions from retention, this policy could lead to greater inequity in educational opportunity between low-income children and their wealthier peers.”
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Opinion: Schools and researchers must collaborate to help Detroit students

Wayne State University College of Education professors Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, Ben Pogodzinski and Erica Edwards wrote an opinion piece exploring approaches to improving lives of Detroit students, focusing on issues of student enrollment and attendance. “Researching the challenges most cited by school leaders and community advocates, we found that roughly a quarter of students who lived in Detroit in the 2017-18 school year attended a school in the suburbs, taking their talents and state school funding out of the city’s schools. We also found that nearly one-fifth of Detroit students switched schools between school years, which can negatively impact achievement and destabilize the schools they left. Additionally, over half of the students who attended school in Detroit missed 10 percent or more of the year, contributing to lower academic achievement and greatly increasing their risk of high school dropout. Findings like these can play a pivotal role in educational policy decision-making, but the policymakers and advocates who could benefit from such information rarely have access to the journals where academics like us typically publish our research…Our research joins a growing body of scholarship that suggests that a collaborative approach to school improvement, with community, school, city, and university partners, could help overcome challenges facing Detroit schools.
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Are America’s teachers really underpaid?

Michael Addonizio, professor of educational leadership and policy studies, examines the growing disparity in compensation to America’s teachers. “In the spring of 2018, thousands of public school teachers walked out of their classrooms in a half-dozen states, protesting low salaries, rising class sizes and cuts to school budgets that have prompted most teachers to buy their own classroom supplies. Additional strikes followed in 2019 in Los Angeles, Denver and Oakland. While these walkouts, which enjoyed much public support, were about more than teacher pay, stagnant teacher salaries were central issues.” 
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America’s schools are crumbling – what will it take to fix them?

When I was asked to support a federal lawsuit that says Detroit’s deteriorating schools were having a negative impact on students’ ability to learn, the decision was a no-brainer. Detroit’s schools are so old and raggedy that last year the city’s schools chief, Nikolai Vitti, ordered the water shut off across the district due to lead and copper risks from antiquated plumbing. By mid-September, elevated levels of copper and lead were confirmed in 57 of 86 schools tested. Safe water isn’t the only problem in Detroit schools. A 2018 assessment found that it would cost about US $500 million to bring Detroit’s schools into a state of repair – a figure that could grow to $1.4 billion if the school district waits another five years to address the problems. A school board official concluded that the district would have to “pick and choose” which repairs to make because there isn’t enough money to make them all. 
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Detroit businesses and institutions contributing to employee welfare with on-site childcare

Wayne State University has two on-site childcare centers for faculty, staff, students and community members: the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute Early Childhood Center and the College of Education Early Childcare Center, both serving children ages 2-and-a-half to 5 years old. Even with two centers, WSU still is experiencing an overwhelming need for additional childcare. WSU's Daycare Implementation Committee works to identify options for childcare in the Midtown area, including expanding on-site campus care.
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Patton Elementary partners with WSU to teach kids about healthy living

Patton Elementary school is involved in several initiatives with Wayne State University to encourage kids to eat healthier and be more active. “We partnered with Wayne State University to provide healthier options for students,” said Patton Elementary School Principal Jean Williams. “They helped fund a program to encourage healthy living, they provided new playground equipment, and helped us form an after-school program to get kids active.” This is all part of a grant received from Wayne State University earlier this year.
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Being smart is about more than an IQ test

A  documentary released earlier this fall challenges the concept of intelligence – and how it’s determined – as it follows three intellectually disabled young adults navigating school, work and life. One of those young adults is a Micah Fialka-Feldman, who went to Berkley High School and is from Huntington Woods. “Intelligent Lives,” directed by award-winning documentarian Dan Habib who has a teenage son with an intellectual disability, will be screened Thursday at Wayne State University’s Community Arts Auditorium.
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One classroom, 31 journeys, and the reason it’s so hard to fix Detroit’s schools

A recent analysis by two Wayne State University professors found that roughly one in three elementary school students changes schools every year — often in the middle of the school year. When the Wayne State professors, Sarah Winchell Lenhoff and Ben Pogodzinski, analyzed data from Detroit district and charter schools in the 2015-16 school year, they found that nearly 60 percent of students who live in Detroit — almost 50,000 children — were enrolled in two or more Detroit schools that year. Many had apparently boomeranged, returning eventually to the school where they started.
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WSU is creating a pipeline for community health practitioners in Detroit

Sarna Sutradhar, a 15-year-old Cass Technical High School student, has a dream to practice medicine some day. But seeing the long road from high school sophomore to doctor is not easy. Fortunately, a program she participated in last summer, the Community Health Career Pipeline (CHP), supported her goal to become a doctor by exposing her to the Detroit food system and the steps she needs to take to prepare for college. Through CHP, she participated in learning workshops and a work-study apprenticeship at the Wayne State University Farmers' Market, which provided her the opportunity to practice nutrition education, public speaking, and promotions. "Our goal is to provide a five-pillar streamlined and connected career development and community health program to support Detroit high school youth to enter college, obtain well-paying jobs, and change the health, economic, and social trajectories of their communities," says Noel Kulik, project director of CHP, a research fellow in the Center for Health and Community Impact, and faculty in the Division of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies Division within the Wayne State University College of Education.