Making the Grade in Michigan

Listen Tuesdays at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on 90.5 WKAR-FM

According to the Kids Count report of April 2018, 56% of third graders in Michigan are not proficient in English Language Arts. At the same time, some new public school teachers in Michigan are leaving the classroom because they do not earn enough money for a decent living. Virtual and charter schools are on the rise in Michigan. And in some communities there are breakthroughs in raising better readers.

Covering education in Michigan is complex, but WKAR is committed to reporting on the problems, searching for solutions, and holding leaders accountable.

Listen for Making The Grade in Michigan with WKAR education reporter Kevin Lavery every Tuesday at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on 90.5 WKAR-FM's Morning Edition.

Ways to Connect

Capitol building photo
WKAR File Photo

Michigan schools will see fewer dollars in 2019 under legislation that passed out of the lame duck legislature early Friday morning.


policeman in cafeteria
Kevin Lavery / WKAR/MSU

After months of work, the Michigan School Safety Task Force has presented a set of recommendations to Governor Rick Snyder.  In April, the governor directed the group to review and modify best practices that school districts can use to protect their students and staff.  One goal of the task force is to create a standard curriculum for training school resource officers.


school and flag
Kevin Lavery / WKAR/MSU

The record-breaking turnout of the 2018 midterm election is heading for the history books.  For most civics and government teachers, talking to their students about the outcome of an election is a normal part of classroom life.  But for some educators, it’s an uncomfortable topic.


desk in class
flickr/Todd Petrie

The Michigan State Board of Education is set to approve a new set of standards for preparing young teachers to work in the elementary grades. 


Current State for Nov. 10-11, 2018

Nov 9, 2018

On November 10-11 edition of Current State: recapping the pink & blue wave from Election 2018; passage of legalization of marijuana in Michigan; PBS Playtime expanding their role in Lansing schools & the growing demographic of anglers in the U.P.

boy with tablet
Kevin Lavery / WKAR/MSU

In Lansing, a unique learning project is helping some of the city’s youngest students build their digital skills.  They’re using Android tablets provided by WKAR to learn educational concepts based on public television programming. 

school classroom
Wokandapix / Pixabay

The Michigan State Board of Education has chosen a search firm to help find its next state superintendent. 

marijuana plant
flickr/Carlos Gracia

Michigan voters head to the polls next Tuesday for what many believe could become one of the most consequential midterm elections in decades.  One issue voters will be asked to decide is recreational marijuana.  If the measure passes, a portion of the collected tax revenue will go towards public education.

Michigan voters will select a new governor on Election Day.  The state’s chief executive will preside over a public school system that serves more than 1.5 million students.  The  six gubernatorial candidates are each outlining their vision for public education in Michigan. 

street sign
Kevin Lavery / WKAR-MSU

The midterm election is just three weeks away.  In mid-Michigan, one school board race has divided a community.  Four of the seven members of the Williamston Board of Education could be recalled for their support of a controversial transgender student policy.


Social studies standards
Courtesy / flickr/Travis Wise

Many people were outraged recently when the Texas Board of Education voted to remove figures such as Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from its history books. Michigan may be on a similar course. 

New Documentary Education Series On WKAR NewsTalk

Oct 5, 2018
Student in library

WKAR and American Public Media Reports present a new four-part series of education documentaries — topics of interest to educators, parents, students, and anyone concerned with our country’s future. WKAR NewsTalk at 105.1FM and AM870 present the series Sundays at noon in October.

students in classroom
Kevin Lavery / WKAR-MSU

Wednesday marks the fall Count Day in Michigan schools.  It’s a sort of census that helps the state determine how much per pupil funding it gives to local districts.  

WKAR Education Reporter Kevin Lavery talks with one local school leader about the importance of Count Day.  Dr. Nicole Beard is the principal at Riddle Elementary in Lansing.

yellow school bus
flickr/Those Guys 119

Waverly Community Schools in Delta Township is re-focusing on early elementary literacy in a bid to improve its state assessment scores. In 2015, 69 percent of Waverly third graders tested as "reading-proficient" on the M-STEP.  By 2018, that number had fallen to 37.7 percent.



Both WKAR and NPR are committed to education reporting you can find nowhere else. Every Tuesday on Morning Edition, Kevin Lavery tells you about the challenges and triumphs in turning around literacy here in Michigan. NPR also has an education unit, headed by native Michigander Steve Drummond, who talked about the importance of covering this topic with WKAR’s Reginald Hardwick.