The Detroit News. March 6, 2018

Duggan pledges a Detroit for Detroiters

Detroit's long decline began in its neighborhoods, and the city's comeback won't be fully realized until those neighborhoods are restored.

Mayor Mike Duggan acknowledged that reality in his first State of the City address since winning re-election last fall, and pledged to keep his focus on three key areas essential to improving the quality of life for those residents who stayed in Detroit when others were leaving.

In a speech best labeled Detroit for Detroiters, Duggan, who never mentioned downtown development, said the best way to reward those neighborhood stalwarts is to improve education, reduce crime and create more jobs and economic opportunity for them.

Of the three, education remains paramount. Families will not stay in a city where the schools are failing their children.

Duggan highlighted some new developments to encourage more Detroit youth to pursue higher education. The Detroit Promise program, which offers Detroit students the opportunity to go to either community college or a four-year college (if they meet GPA requirements), is a good step. And it was jump-started by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Detroit Regional Chamber. Now taxpayers in the city are helping cover the cost.

But college doesn't mean much if Detroit's young people aren't getting a quality K-12 education, and that's the case for too many in the city. The mayor touched on a new plan to coordinate efforts between traditional public schools and charters in the city.

Noting that 32,000 Detroit children leave the city every day to attend suburban schools, Duggan proposes to make it easier for parents to choose the best school for their children. His key idea, and perhaps the biggest headline of the night, is to make sure every child has safe and efficient transportation to the school of their choice.

Duggan's plan will gather students in central locations and move them to both charter and traditional public schools around the city. He also plans after-school activities to assist working parents.

The new bus routes would be evenly funded by the city, schools and philanthropic community.

"I believe in choice," Duggan said. "We could provide good choices here in the city of Detroit. I'm not here to choose sides."

That's smart politics, considering that half his constituents choose non-DPSCD schools for their children.

On crime, Duggan pledged to add 141 new police officers, largely to staff an expansion of the successful Operation Ceasefire and Green Light programs. Ceasefire works to identify those most likely to commit violence and intervene before they act. Green Light encourages businesses to install surveillance cameras that are monitored by the Police Department. Both have reduced crime in areas where they are active, Duggan said.

Duggan touted a number of measures, including Entrepreneurs of Color and Motor City Match, to encourage business startups and job creation in the city. For too long, the city has been focused on the challenge of moving Detroiters to jobs in the suburbs. These initiatives will create jobs for them in the city.

He also said the city will continue its requirement that 51 percent of projects supported by taxpayer dollars employ a workforce that is 51 percent Detroiters, and said he would help employers meet that target with expanded job training programs.

To that end, he announced that the Canadian government has written Detroit a $10 million check to train residents to help build the new bridge across the Detroit River.

This address rightly continued the Neighborhoods First theme of Duggan's re-election campaign, and keeps his administration's priorities in the right place.

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The Mining Journal. March 7, 2018

School funding needs to be addressed

School district-wise, Marquette is not Detroit, and Detroit is not Marquette.

So, why should they be funded the same way?

The purpose of a study conducted by the School Finance Research Collaborative, a bipartisan group of education experts and business leaders from around Michigan, produced key findings centered on the true cost of providing a good education to every student regardless of income, location or circumstances.

Because the state of Michigan's school district sizes vary widely, that must be taken into account, with the study calling for funding increases for all districts under 7,500 students.

A student living in Skandia, for instance, has to be transported many miles to get to Gwinn High School if that's where the student attends school.

Students in districts with large geographical distances between students' homes and their schools face the same problem, from many regions in the Upper Peninsula.

The study also made these discoveries:

. The base per-pupil cost to educate a regular education K-12 student in Michigan is $9,590, which doesn't include transportation, food service or capital costs, and includes only pension costs at 4.6 percent of wages.

. Charter schools should have the same base per-pupil funding for a regular education student and the same adjustments to the base amount that traditional districts receive.

. It costs $14,155 to educate a preschool student age 3 or 4.

. A percentage of the base cost should be provided for special education, English Language Learners, students living in poverty and programs to provide Career and Technical Education.

. Transportation costs should be funded at $973 per rider until further study can be conducted.

According to the collaborative, Michigan has 196 school districts with fewer than 1,000 students, and 210 school districts with enrollment between 1,000 and 3,000 students. Smaller districts with fewer students incur greater charges per student as a result.

The study examines how cost differentials can be applied to account for this effect on public school districts.

A solution doesn't necessarily involve putting more money in the system. Rather, a formula should be developed to take many factors into account.

That's up to the Michigan Legislature, which if it reads the study, has data on which to base its decisions.

It's definitely needed.

The collaborative also noted the study found that in 2016, Michigan ranked 24th in per-pupil K-12 spending, and eighth highest in per-pupil spending as recently as 2000.

And since 2000, Michigan's inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending has fallen by $663 per student, while the U.S. average has increased by over $1,400 per student.

So, legislators, take note on how Michigan funding can be improved.

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Times Herald (Port Huron). March 8, 2018

Save us from the standard time shift

Nobody knows exactly why it exists, evidence suggests it may be worse that useless, everyone complains about it and yet we keep doing it, year after year after year.

We'll talk about income tax returns later. This deadline comes earlier. At some time between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we will again lose sleep over daylight saving time. It is March, so it is time to spring forward — shifting our clocks an hour ahead so that 2 a.m. becomes 3 a.m. and the sun rises and sets later on the clock.

Most theories posit that daylight saving time was invented to save the cost of heating and light homes and businesses. Shifting the clock meant people would spend more time awake during daylight hours and would not have to turn the lights on so early. Modern research, though, has found little if any energy savings. Other research finds that the annual shifts forward and back make us tired, cranky and accident-prone.

The state of Florida has stolen our idea. Like us, Florida lawmakers like long, sunny summer afternoons and evenings but hate the aggravating twice-yearly reset. They overwhelmingly passed the Sunshine Protection Act this week setting Florida's clocks to the summer schedule and leaving them there permanently.

We call on Michigan lawmakers to do the same.

Yes, fall and winter mornings will be darker longer. But they're already dark. In the winter, we go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. With the shift made permanent, we would be able to at least catch a glimpse of a what seems like exceedingly rare sunshine in December, January and February in the hours after work.

We also would have one less thing to complain about in early spring, which will brighten our natures just as effectively as a clear sky once in a while. Likewise, not being time-shifted zombies will make us more cheerful and productive and better drivers.

Other states have abandoned the twice-annual shift and they seem to have turned out OK. Who can say anything bad about Arizona or Hawaii?

What Arizona and Hawaii did is different. They have enough daylight and sunshine already, so they chose to remain on standard time year-round. That choice is also easier, which may have been part of their decision.

It is one of those egregious snafus that only Congress could invent. The federal government owns time and sets all the rules. Those rules, spitefully and illogically, allow states like Arizona and Hawaii to skip daylight saving time, but won't allow Michigan or Florida to avoid using standard time.

We need Congress to fix this. Except senators and congressmen and lobbyists will lose an hour of sleep Sunday, too, and will be too groggy and disoriented to get anything done for a while.

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The Alpena News. March 9, 2018

Deputies visiting schools may be just what students need

In a variety of ways, police officers have always tried to make sure children understood they were people the kids could count on, either through impromptu interaction or scheduled visits where children congregated. In recent years a larger push has been made by law enforcement locally and nationwide to make it so children get more comfortable around police officers and understand those officers are there to help and protect them.

But in a world where schools no longer seem to be a safe haven, kids' interactions with police seem more likely to be when something bad happens. And last week's incident with a report of an intruder at Ella White School brought the national news close to home.

With all that in mind, we were glad to hear the Alpena County Sheriff's Office is going to have a larger presence at schools in the county — Hinks, Wilson and Sanborn elementary schools. There are officers on duty at Alpena High School and Thunder Bay Junior High, and the city patrols around the elementary schools in the city.

"We'll just show up randomly and nobody will know when we'll be there," Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski said about the school visits in a story in Tuesday's edition of The News. "I think this will help the kids to learn that police officers are good people when we show up at the building. We want the kids to connect with us and talk to us so they know we are here to protect them. We may even stop and have lunch with them,"

At a time when it would be easy for kids to worry about whether or not they are safe when they go to school, it's good to know that efforts are being made to not only make our children safer, but to make them feel safer as well.

Kids have enough to worry about, so having one less worry will help them focus on learning in school — and being a kid the rest of the time.

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