School board members in Michigan — volunteers who are typically parents or former educators — are facing unprecedented pressure and scrutiny as a third school year dawns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michigan parents are split on whether or not students should be required to get vaccinated or wear a mask this school year, according to a study done by the K-12 Alliance of Michigan, a Lansing-based advocacy group.
On Wednesday, Michigan’s Children, a Lansing-based nonprofit advocating for children and families, urged all of the state’s 891 school boards to “do their job and act to ensure school safety through effective mask-wearing by students and staff” to ensure a safe start to the 2021-22 school year.
WSV’s Charles Thomas argues a person doesn’t have to attend an Ivy League school to better their lives or the lives of their children in this week’s “Big World, Small Town.”
Michigan is experiencing a COVID-19 surge comparable to spring 2020 based on current trends, said Sarah Lyon-Callo, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health. Although the number of vaccinated Michiganders is slowly growing, the increase in all COVID-19 metrics is growing much faster.
Three Rivers High School’s Class of 1964 nearly tripled its initial fundraising goal for Three Rivers Promise, raising $1,925 for future graduates of Three Rivers High School.
As college campuses across Michigan are less than a month away from opening up to students for the fall semester, the state reports only 39.8% of residents 20 to 29 years old have been inoculated with at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Those aged 16 to 19 have a slightly higher rate of 40.3%.
Columnist Trish Zornio writes, “If we don’t act now, masks could become a long-term fashion accessory. In the past 14 days, the United States has seen tremendous growth in COVID-19 cases again. This has included a 36% increase in hospitalizations and a 26% increase in deaths. With the more transmissible delta variant, infection rates are likely to keep rising quickly. As expected, over 99% of deaths and 97% of hospitalizations were in unvaccinated people. If you’re vaccinated, it doesn’t affect you then, right? Wrong.”
Rick Haglund writes, “[…] At a time when most new jobs paying a living wage require a certificate or degree beyond high school, Michigan is falling far short of needed support for higher education. The result is a state economy that lacks enough skilled and highly educated workers needed to attract technology and other knowledge-based employers.”
Doug and Alek are joined by Three Rivers Library Director Bobbi Schoon to discuss the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of a two-time interim library director with five degrees (Spoiler: It’s Bobbi, the Thanos of library directors), who has ascended to the full-time position after years of hard work and dedicated service to the Three Rivers community. The trio talk about the importance of local libraries, the variety of activities folks can participate in at the library without ever picking up a book (they’re getting robots, guys), Bobbi’s bout with COVID-19, and the library’s upcoming Community Conversations series.
Through a unanimous vote Tuesday, the state Senate passed more than $4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief aid to Michigan’s K-12 schools.
Alek and Doug are joined by Sherry Hutchison, Doug’s third grade teacher, to discuss the state of teaching throughout her career, and how Doug clearly peaked in elementary school.
Michigan Advance’s David Hecker writes, “Michigan can and should be a place where every child, regardless of race or ZIP code, has the opportunity to get a quality public education that will set them on a path to success. But we’re not there yet, and it is incumbent on all of us to do the work necessary to strengthen public schools for all students, and specifically to ensure our classrooms are safe, empowering spaces for Black, Indigenous and other students of color.”
WSV’s Zoe Thomas writes, “But most of all, the money that you have is, overwhelmingly, the best indicator of how well you will do on the SAT. If you can afford the test prep books, and the fancy calculators; if you have the luxury of time not spent working to help your family or watching your siblings, it’s almost a guarantee you’ll do well on the test. Even the motivation to study and put in the hours it takes to learn to game the system comes from monetary privilege. When you have money in the bank just waiting to pay for your college, it’s easy to find the motivation to study— everything is right there for the taking, if you only do a few more practice problems.
“But if you already know that your future consists of joining the military, attending community college, or not attending college at all, why would you study? Why work at this test when you know that even if you score a perfect 1600, there’s always going to be a giant dollar bill shaped barrier between you and a quality higher education? The answer is that you’re not, which is exactly the problem I have with this test.”
Rob Schofield writes, “Here in the United States, it has taken many decades – indeed, centuries – for the tragic scope of what was done to Native Americans to slowly penetrate the consciousness of a population raised on cowboy movies and fanciful Thanksgiving stories.
“And so it is, perhaps not surprisingly, that many modern Americans continue to struggle with one of the most horrific of all episodes of oppression in human history: the forced enslavement of millions of people of African descent by white Americans. While no one denies the fact of slavery, millions still avert their eyes from its gruesome reality and, even more importantly, from its legacy.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday her priorities for K-12 education that uses federal funds and a state surplus to close the equity gap for Michigan’s schools.
From statehouses to Congress, Republicans have launched into a fight against the teaching of “critical race theory,” which just a year ago was a niche academic term. Experts in critical race theory say it’s about acknowledging how racial disparities are embedded in U.S history and society, and the concept is being mischaracterized by conservatives. But GOP lawmakers in the past few months have succeeded in pushing it to the top of state legislative agendas.
During the pandemic, there’s been a lot of focus on students, but policymakers have primarily stressed schools’ reopening plans, standardized tests and sports seasons. But one issue that has largely taken a backseat is the effect that grief has had on young Michiganders.