Join a discussion about education in Michigan during COVID-19

What does the 2020 election mean for the future of Michigan schools? 

a desk with a laptop computer sitting on top of a wooden chair: A classroom sits empty at the Cesar Chavez Academy High School in Detroit last March after the pandemic hit.

© Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press
A classroom sits empty at the Cesar Chavez Academy High School in Detroit last March after the pandemic hit.

Chalkbeat Detroit, the Education Trust-Midwest, and the Detroit Free Press are teaming up to host a conversation about the significance of the 2020 election at a time when the restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus will increase inequities in schools across the state. 


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“As our policymakers look toward the new year amid an unprecedented crisis that has exacerbated long-standing inequities, it’s critical that they maintain a focus on working toward equity and fairness in education,” said Amber Arellano, executive director for the Education Trust-Midwest, a Royal Oak-based education research and advocacy organization.

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“Already, the wide opportunity gaps between Michigan’s students are expected to worsen, impacting urban and rural students. Having a diverse set of voices from across the aisle discussing the challenges and working toward solutions is more important than ever,” Arellano said.

Chalkbeat Detroit’s Koby Levin and the Detroit Free Press’ Nancy Kaffer will moderate the conversation. Panelists are:

  • Rep. Brad Paquette, a Republican from Niles who serves as the vice chair of the House Education Committee.
  • Rep. Darrin Camilleri, a Democrat from Brownstown Township who serves as the minority vice chair of the House Education Committee.
  • Ama Russell, a senior at Cass Technical High School and a Detroit youth activist.
  • Cara Lougheed, an educator in Rochester Hills and the 2019 Michigan Teacher of the Year.
  • Michael Hutson, a parent and member of the Michigan League for Public Policy. 

Before the event, Ife Martin, a junior at West Bloomfield High School who’s a spoken word artist with Inside Out Literary Arts, will perform. 

Expect to hear a discussion about how schools are coping with pandemic learning, equitable education funding, missing students, accountability during COVID-19, and the long-term effects of the pandemic.

The conversation takes place at 4 p.m. Dec. 7. Register for it here. 

More: Tracking coronavirus outbreaks in Michigan schools

More: Grosse Pointe Schools faces dwindling enrollment after a year of controversy, COVID-19

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Join a discussion about education in Michigan during COVID-19

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Ulster University and Belfast City Council join forces to tackle the climate change emergency

Dr Jayanta Mondol- Research Director, Professor Raffaella Folli – Provost of the Belfast & Jordanstown campus, Alderman Frank McCoubrey Lord Mayor, Grainia Long – Commissioner for Resilience

Ulster University and Belfast City Council have come together in a unique research partnership to make a practical and tangible impact on the climate change emergency.

Supporting Belfast City Council’s draft Resilience Strategy’s ambition for ‘an inclusive, low-carbon, climate resilient economy in a generation’, the Architects of Change project puts students from the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the heart of developing a training programme for business leaders to bridge the green skills gap.

Leading academics will firstly work with students on concepts and strategies for smart cities and zero emission processes. They will then focus on identifying the gaps in knowledge and skill related to net zero carbon buildings and how these can be addressed through this training programme.

Focussing on sustainability, the training programme will support current business leaders to deliver environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organisations.

The programme will have ongoing mentoring support, a range of materials and a consultancy service from the University to all programme participants in order to ensure development and growth beyond the life of the training programme.

Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey said:

“This partnership with Ulster University will give us the opportunity to inform and influence senior business leaders on the Green Agenda.

“Following a period of consultation, we’ll soon be launching Belfast’s Resilience Strategy, which sets out to transition to ‘an inclusive, low-carbon, climate resilient economy in a generation’. This project will help us to drive change and alter behaviours in order to meet this challenging goal.

“It will put students – our future leaders – at the centre of a dedicated sustainability and carbon emissions training programme, where they will learn and test concepts and strategies and then pass this knowledge on to city leaders, partners and peers.”

In the longer term, results of the project will deliver concepts and strategies for the design, planning, construction and management of climate resilient, net zero emission buildings and communities. It will focus on improving the health and well-being of citizens, users and communities.

Speaking about the partnership, Professor Rafaella Folli, Provost of Ulster University’s Belfast campus noted;”

“The climate change emergency is obviously not a new concern but in recent times it has gained enormous social traction thanks to young leaders like Greta Thunberg.

Given our commitment to transformative educational experiences, we are able to engage our young leaders within the University’s student body to partner with Belfast City Council to deliver this vital programme of work, reoffering once again the power and added value of a partnership approach in education and in society.

Merging theory with practice, to address the Green Agenda skills gap, we will develop innovative practice and shape the operations, buildings and communities of the future.”

The first element of the programme, ‘Zero Belfast’, is already underway with students developing a sustainable plus energy,

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Trump’s Ex-Education Chief of Staff Won’t Vote for Him, Implores ‘All Patriotic Republicans’ to Join Him

The former Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Education in President Donald Trump’s administration published an op-ed on Thursday saying that he won’t vote for the Republican president and implored “all patriotic Republicans to join” him.

a clock on the front of a crowd: President Donald Trump gives a campaign speech just four days before Election Day outside of Raymond James Stadium on October 29, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.

© Octavio Jones/Getty
President Donald Trump gives a campaign speech just four days before Election Day outside of Raymond James Stadium on October 29, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.

Josh Venable, who worked under Education Secretary Betsy Devos, published the op-ed in The Detroit News with a title that read, “As a Republican, I’m tired of Trump’s division, discord, vitriol and hate.”

“I am a lifelong Republican. And I am exhausted. Nearly all my career, I have worked for Republican candidates and conservative causes, managing campaigns, organizing coalitions and raising money,” Venable wrote. “I served as U.S. Department of Education chief of staff in the Trump administration. But this is 2020, so of course this year is different. I cannot vote for the Republican nominee for president. For the good of the party I have supported my entire life, but more importantly, for the sake of the country I love, I implore all patriotic Republicans to join me.”

Former Department Of Homeland Security Staffer, Miles Taylor Revealed He Is “Anonymous”



Venable went on to state that he believed the presidency is more important than a number of things such as advancing an individual policy, political appointment and “more important than ‘winning’.”

Venable accused Trump of thriving on “purposely sowing strife and discord” and said he “does so at the expense of the nation’s interests, the health and prosperity of our fellow citizens, alliances forged through generations of sacrifice, and the personal safety of public servants.”

Venable also commented on the recent report of a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Trump’s subsequent response.

“Instead of a prompt and unequivocal denouncement, the president responded with a chuckle to his supporters’ ‘Lock her up’!’ chants in Muskegon, then decreed: ‘Lock them all up!’,” he wrote.

Venable served as DeVos’ Chief of Staff from the beginning of Trump’s presidency until he resigned in 2018, and has since been named an adviser to the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, a group that was created by Miles Taylor, a former official for the Department of Homeland Security.

The group is made up of a number of former Trump administration officials and Republican lawmakers, that oppose Trump.

Newsweek reached out to the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform for comment.

Taylor’s name recently made headlines after he revealed on Wednesday that he was the author of an anonymous op-ed published in the New York Times in 2018, criticizing Trump.

In Venable’s op-ed, he adds that he is tired “of the division, discord, chaos, vitriol and hate.”

“I am tired of your failure and refusal to lead,” Venable wrote. “Our party can — and must — do better. America deserves nothing less from us.”

Venable’s op-ed comes less than

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Mid Michigan College asking voters in Gratiot, Isabella counties to join its district

HARRISON, MI – Mid Michigan College, a community college serving in Clare and Gladwin counties, is looking to formally expand its tax base and local service area by adding Gratiot and Isabella counties to its district.

Voters in Gratiot and Isabella will decide two proposals on the Nov. 3 election ballot.

The first proposal would annex any residents within the Gratiot-Isabella Regional Education Service District that aren’t already part of the college’s district. The second proposal would set a millage rate of 1.2232 mills, or $1.22 per $1,000 of taxable property value. This would grant the college about $3.1 million in yearly revenue, and it plans to use about half of that income to cut tuition for local students, according to a news release. Those from the college’s expanded district would see tuition reduced by roughly 40%, saving a full-time student more than $2,100 a year. Both of the proposals have to pass to take effect.

More than 1,100 students from the two counties make up about 35% of the college’s fall 2020 enrollment, eclipsing 26% from Clare and Gladwin counties. More than 380 high school students from Isabella and Gratiot are dual-enrolled at the college, according to the release.

“Students from Isabella and Gratiot counties have historically accounted for a large percentage of our enrollment,” said Scott Mertes, vice president of Community Outreach, in the release. “Many students attend Mid during high school and then continue pursuing their degree with us when they graduate… Those students then move on from Mid and work for local employers or transfer to the university of their choice to continue their education.”

The college claims it brings more than $69 million in annual economic impact. The Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the proposals, according to the release.

“We are committed to Isabella and Gratiot counties,” Mertes said in the release. “If the ballot measures pass, the college will have a more stable funding model that will allow us to reduce tuition, support local businesses, and help students succeed.”

Read more:

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Ottawa County shuts down Christian school over COVID-19


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Join Education Lab for a Live Q&A about this unusual school year

Michelle Baruchman

The new school year has been underway for districts in Washington state for a few weeks now. Along with it come the usual concerns — understanding assignments, studying for standardized tests, preparing for the next stage after graduation.

But this year has also brought a new set of challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most districts started the school online, and a recent uptick in infections has delayed plans for reopening.

That means students are also grappling with how to stay in touch with friends they don’t get to see in class, create a work environment in the same place they eat or sleep, and cope with hours of online instruction.

Education Lab is bringing together a group of experts on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at noon to give students tips and strategies to help make this unusual year a little easier.

Abigail Brittle is a student in the Lake Washington School District. She is also an actress known for the TV series “Schooled” on ABC and “Everything Sucks!” on Netflix as well as the short film “In Her Demons.”

Lizz Dexter-Mazza is a certified dialectical behavior therapist and co-author of a social-emotional learning curriculum for middle and high school students. Dr. Dexter-Mazza is also a licensed psychologist and provides individual therapy to adolescents and young adults in Seattle.

Ritika Khanal is a junior at Mountlake Terrace High School. She serves as the op-ed editor of The Hawkeye, her school’s publication. She is also visually impaired. In addition to writing, she loves immersing herself in books and seeing the world from others’ perspectives.

Ellen Sklanka is a professional organizer and the founder of Renewal Organizing Solutions. She specializes in creating productivity solutions for children, young adults and students.

Michelle Baruchman and Jenn Smith, engagement editors for The Seattle Times’ Education Lab, will moderate the discussion.

To register, go to To submit questions, go to or ask a question below.

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Could Big 12 Join SEC in Having College Sports Version of COVID-19 Law and Order

STILLWATER — The college football season had some bumps at the start, but nothing like we’ve seen the past week and in the SEC, where their motto is “It just means more” they are dealing with it as if that motto is true during a pandemic. Now SEC schools will give up conference revenue for not being diligent enough in fighting the coronavirus and potential outbreaks or spikes. 

Pokes Report checked with two Big 12 Conference officials and received a response as to whether the Big 12 would handle issues in a similar fashion. The on individual said they had not heard of anything like that in the Big 12. The conference has worked so much together, both in administration, medical staffs at each school, and coaching staffs to play contests despite COVID-19. There has never been mention of punishment for what might be seen as carelessness or lack of effort.

Oklahoma State has been one of the teams in the conference with an excellent record concerning COVID-19. Iowa State has also done really well. Those two teams are scheduled to play next on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 2:30 p.m. inside Boone Pickens Stadium. Virtually every other team in the Big 12 has either had to postpone of cancel a game or play one with significant players in quarantine. 

According to the ESPN story early Thursday afternoon multiple SEC schools will be losing revenue as the conference will deduct it from their annual payouts for not adhering to proper COVID-19 protocols. ESPN reported that source with knowledge of the action informed them of the action.

A memo was sent out last week by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey that schools that do not follow the proper protocols to the letter will have revenue distribution cut by $100,000 for each week they are non compliant in the eyes of the conference. 

Multiple SEC schools will have revenue from the conference deducted as a result of not following proper COVID-19 protocols, sources told ESPN.

According to a memo sent by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey last week, schools will have their conference revenue distribution cut by $100,000 for each week that they do not follow protocols. ESPN obtained the memo that also said suspensions would be considered for school staff and athletes who were considered as failing to comply with the protocols. 

According to ESPN, part of the memo that was underlined and bolded for emphasis, Sankey wrote, “Do not relax — and do not let those around you relax — because of a few weeks of success.”

Just in the last several days two SEC games have been postponed because of positive COVID tests as Vanderbilt issues caused postponement of their game with Missouri and Florida reported 19 positive COVID-19 tests midweek and with contact tracing added, athletic director Scott Stricklin said the Gators would not have enough scholarship players to meet the minimum un order to host LSU on Saturday. On top of the two games being postponed, Alabama head coach and

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