WBEZ | Michigan http://www.wbez.org/tags/michigan Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Common Core means 3 tests in 3 Years for Michigan kids http://www.wbez.org/news/common-core-means-3-tests-3-years-michigan-kids-111718 <p><p><em>This story was produced by&nbsp;<a href="http://hechingerreport.org/">The Hechinger Report</a>, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.&nbsp;Read more about </em><a href="http://hechingerreport.org/special-reports/common-core/"><em>Common Core</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>Partisan bickering over the Common Core has pushed Michigan legislators in recent years to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mlive.com/education/index.ssf/2013/05/common_core_education_funding.html">freeze</a>&nbsp;&mdash; then&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mlive.com/education/index.ssf/2013/10/common_core_approval_sails_thr.html">unfreeze</a>&nbsp;&mdash; spending on the new standards. They&#39;ve&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2014/06/common-core_test_dropped_.html">banished</a>the new exam that education officials had been planning to introduce this year and forced the creation of a second new test for 2015 as well as a third one for 2016.</p><p>And through it all, Jennifer Bahns and her students have just been trying to keep up.</p><p>Bahns teaches seventh-grade math at the University Prep Academy Middle School in Detroit &mdash; a highly regarded charter school that draws kids from some of this city&#39;s most struggling neighborhoods.</p><p>She has no influence over the politics of the Common Core &mdash; slammed by critics on the right as an overreach by the federal government and by critics on the left as a profit engine for testing companies &mdash; and she can only guess how ongoing conflicts and confusion over Common Core in state legislatures and education agencies will ultimately play out in American schools.</p><p>But as Michigan and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/map-the-national-k-12-testing-landscape.html?intc=highsearch">more than 40 other states</a>&nbsp;plan to administer new exams linked to the standards for the first time this spring, Bahns is among hundreds of thousands of teachers across the country who have had no choice but to plow ahead with implementing changes in their classrooms.</p><p>The transition is especially tough in Michigan where political one-upmanship has resulted in the likelihood that students here will take three different state exams in three years, repeatedly changing the measures that determine which kids are destined for success and which ones are falling behind.</p><p>To meet the new Common Core standards, Bahns&#39; seventh-graders this year are grappling with algebraic equations that used to be taught in the eighth or ninth grade. They&#39;re being asked to learn multiple solutions for each equation and to write sentences explaining how they computed their answers.</p><p>In their English classes, they&#39;re being asked to delve into nonfiction articles and learn to cite evidence from those texts in their writing.</p><p>It&#39;s a lot for these kids,&nbsp;<a href="http://bridgemi.com/2015/02/asc-resultspage/?Dbcode=82702-9888">many of whom</a>&nbsp;face the trials of poverty on top of their schoolwork, but on a recent afternoon as Bahns took her students through a series of problems, most were catching on.</p><p>&quot;Oh, this is easy!&quot; one student exclaimed as Bahns showed him how to break down an expression like 3(2x) + 4y(5) to the simpler 6x + 20y.</p><p>Other students nodded in agreement as they worked through a group of equations. But when Bahns told the students to plug in numbers for each of the variables:</p><p>y = 2 and x = (-1)</p><p>The sounds of confidence around the room sputtered into confusion.</p><p>&quot;Wait! I&#39;m lost!&quot; one student said.</p><p>&quot;Hunh?&quot; queried another. &quot;I&#39;m confused on that, bro.&quot;</p><p>The problem was negative numbers: These kids hadn&#39;t worked with negatives in months and couldn&#39;t remember how to handle them. Bahns tried to quickly remind her students that two negative numbers multiplied together make a positive number, but the class remained so stumped that she had to improvise. She scrapped the lesson she was teaching and launched into a review of negatives. That meant she&#39;d have to spread over two days a lesson that was intended to be taught in one. And it meant her students would be yet another day less prepared for the new, unknown &mdash; and utterly mystifying &mdash; state exam that was looming just two months away.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/468-edit-b248def1723a3eab37a83dae9c89855834362afd-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 239px; width: 320px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Teacher Jennifer Bahns helps her seventh-graders work through algebraic equations that, before the Common Core, were taught in eighth or ninth grade. (Erin Einhorn/Hechinger Report)" /></div><p>The class showed the Common Core delivering on its promise: a teacher pushing her students to learn more advanced material so they&#39;ll be better prepared for college and careers. It also showed why the new standards have made so many educators so upset. For older students especially, who have had to switch to the new rigorous material halfway through their school careers, such impromptu reviews are constant. In Bahn&#39;s class, there won&#39;t be enough time to cover all the material her students are expected to know before test time.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s hard because you only have 60 minutes, and we have these expectations to get through this, get through this, get through this,&quot; Bahns said. &quot;They want us to go deeper, but it&#39;s impossible ... There&#39;s no give anywhere. Do they want us to go deep and really make sure they [students] understand how to persevere through these difficult problems? Or do they want us to cover five different strands? Because we&#39;re not going to be able to do both.&quot;</p><p>This year&#39;s test &mdash; the first state exam to be administered entirely online &mdash; presents a daunting challenge. Students who perform poorly could have trouble getting into top high schools. Schools like University Prep &mdash; which must aggressively compete for students in a city where kids can freely choose from a long list of charters, city schools and suburban schools &mdash; could lose students and resources if they drop on the annually published state rankings. At some schools, low scores could jeopardize job security for teachers and principals.</p><p>And while every school in Michigan is facing the same ordeal, research shows that schools like University Prep, which have high numbers of kids living in poverty, tend to take a bigger hit on new exams than schools with more affluent students. The online test format is&nbsp;<a href="http://hechingerreport.org/a-core-dilemma-will-the-littlest-learners-be-able-to-type/">expected to only exacerbate that disparity</a>.</p><p>And then there&#39;s the political maneuvering.</p><p>Michigan was one of the first states to embrace the Common Core. The Michigan Board of Education (eight officials chosen in statewide elections) unanimously adopted the standards in 2010. The state soon joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two state coalitions that received federal funding to develop Common Core-aligned exams that are being administered across the country this spring.</p><p>There was so little controversy around the board&#39;s decision, the move barely rated a mention in local news reports. Elected officials who later raised alarms said they were not aware that their state had adopted the new standards.</p><p>But by 2013, the politics around the Common Core had changed and the Common Core had become a talking point for Tea Party activists who blasted the standards as an effort by the Obama administration to snatch control from local schools. Parents and teachers worried the Common Core would mean more high-stakes testing for kids.</p><p>And a group of opponents in the state legislature made Michigan one of the first states to slow Common Core implementation when they slipped language barring spending on the new standards into the state budget at the eleventh hour.</p><p>Michigan&#39;s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, a Common Core supporter,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/06/michigan_gov_rick_snyder_signs_3.html#incart_river_default">had no power</a>&nbsp;to remove the language from his $49.5 billion spending bill. And so, for the next few months, schools were thrown into limbo, unsure if they could continue to pay for teacher training or materials related to the Common Core. The state Education Department even wondered if it had to take down part of its website.</p><p>&quot;Confusion was the watchword of the day,&quot; said Michigan State University education professor Robert Floden.</p><p>Funding was restored in October 2013 after four months of hearings, but Common Core opponents were emboldened by their brief victory. Last year, just nine months before Michigan planned to administer the Smarter Balanced exam to students in grades three to eight, the Republican legislature shut the test down, barring the Smarter Balanced test and joining a growing number of states that have pulled out of Common Core consortia in favor of single-state exams.</p><p>Michigan didn&#39;t have enough time to create a new exam &mdash; a process that typically takes three years &mdash; but the legislature left enough legal wiggle room to allow the Education Department to repackage the Smarter Balanced exam for 2015, just under a new name.</p><p>When students in grades three to eight take the new Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-Step) this spring,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Assessment_Transition_FINAL_11-13-14_473989_7.pdf">all the reading and math questions that will count toward their scores</a>&nbsp;will be drawn from Smarter Balanced exam materials. Michigan is still listed as a full member of the Smarter Balanced consortium and will pay its full $4.9 million fee for 2015.</p><p>Smarter Balanced Deputy Executive Director Luci Willits says Michigan&#39;s 2015 scores will be directly comparable to those from other Smarter Balanced states.</p><p>Plans for 2016 are still underway as the state talks with test makers and considers its options, but the testing turmoil most likely means that Michigan kids will end up taking three different tests in three years: the state&#39;s traditional MEAP in 2014, the Smarter Balanced-based M-Step in 2015 and a new, unknown M-Step in 2016.</p><p>Asked about the 2016 test, state education officials issued a vague response saying only that they were &quot;required by legislation to develop a [Request for Proposals] for a new assessment.&quot; They added that, until that process is complete, &quot;it is unknown if this year&#39;s assessment data could be compared to next year.&quot;</p><p>The constant changes will likely make it impossible to track student progress from one year to the next &mdash; a problem that has forced the state to seek a waiver from federal rules requiring states to hold schools accountable for student progress over time. The confusion has also put on hold another legislative priority: a plan to use student test data in teacher evaluations.</p><p>Still, teachers fear they&#39;ll be blamed for the resulting tumult and school leaders worry the commotion will affect their schools&#39; standings in annual state rankings.</p><p>The rankings are especially crucial in Detroit, where population loss and the charter boom&nbsp;<a href="http://educationnext.org/fixing-detroits-broken-school-system/">have forced schools into heated recruitment wars</a>. A single year of bad scores here can sink a school if too many students &mdash; and the education dollars they bring with them &mdash; decide to go elsewhere.</p><p>So for teachers like Bahns and her colleagues at University Prep, the politics around testing have added an extra layer of anxiety to the already formidable challenge of teaching to the more rigorous standards.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s a lot of chaos and there&#39;s a lot of uncertainty, which negatively affects the kids,&quot; said Sara Muchmore, a University Prep English teacher. &quot;When teachers are unsure about what to teach, that kind of uncertainty trickles down to the kids.&quot;</p><p>Both sides of the debate in Lansing, the state capital, say they regret the way the political dispute has affected classrooms, but are quick to blame each other.</p><p>&quot;Legislators should not be guiding educational decision making or second-guessing the good [decisions] we make,&quot; said John Austin, who now heads the state&#39;s Board of Education. &quot;Their gumming up the process of moving ahead with the Common Core certainly does not help advance the goal of educating our kids.&quot;</p><p>Tom McMillan, who led Common Core opponents in the state house before leaving office this year due to term limits, shot back that the mess could have been avoided if the Board of Education had held a more public process when it adopted the standards in the first place.</p><p>&quot;The chaos was created by the state Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education sneaking it through in 2010 without looking for a debate and making sure people were signed onto it,&quot; said McMillan, a Republican who represented the wealthy Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills.</p><p>Uncertainty in schools may be exacerbated by the arrival of new legislators with new priorities every few years since, under Michigan law, legislators are term-limited to eight years in the senate and six years in the house.</p><p>But experienced educators say they do their best to tune out the noise.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m 71 years old, and I&#39;m so used to this,&quot; sighed Narda Murphy, the superintendent of the Williamston school district in a suburb of Lansing. &quot;If somebody decides on a political level to throw out the Common Core, they&#39;ll bring in some other framework. To me, it&#39;s a lot of wasted energy.&quot;</p><p>As for Bahns, this is her eighth year in a classroom, and she&#39;s not about to let politics or outside pressure affect her students.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s really, really ridiculous to me,&quot; she said. &quot;But what I tell the new teachers is just do the best you can do because that&#39;s all you can do.&quot;</p><p><em>This story was produced by&nbsp;<a href="http://hechingerreport.org/">The Hechinger Report</a>, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.</em></p><p><em>- <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2015/03/18/389772922/common-core-means-three-tests-in-three-years-for-michigan-kids">via NPR ED</a></em></p></p> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 09:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/common-core-means-3-tests-3-years-michigan-kids-111718 Durbin fired up over coal-fired ferry http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-fired-over-coal-fired-ferry-106276 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/SS_Badger_and_SS_Spartan_Wikimedia Commons_by Zizmonz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is crying foul over a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would allow a famous coal-fired ferry to keep running.</p><p>The 60-year-old S.S. Badger takes tourists back and forth across Lake Michigan a few hours north of Chicago. It&rsquo;s also the only remaining ferry in the country that runs on coal.</p><p>&ldquo;Every time that filthy scow goes across Lake Michigan, it dumps two tons of coal ash into our lake,&rdquo; said Durbin Monday.</p><p>The EPA order, which must be approved by a court in Grand Rapids, would require the Badger to stop putting ash in the lake by the end of 2014. The EPA issued the consent decree in lieu of responding to a 2012 permit renewal request by the S.S. Badger, and the decree would charge the Lake Michigan Carferry Service $25,000 for violation of clean water standards in 2012.</p><p>&ldquo;This consent decree offers the fastest and most certain path available to EPA to stop the discharge of coal ash from the Badger into Lake Michigan,&rdquo; said EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. &ldquo;The enforcement agreement reduces the discharge of coal ash more quickly and with greater oversight than would occur during the appeal of a decision to issue or deny a permit &ndash; a process that often takes several years.&quot;</p><p>But Senator Durbin says the ship&rsquo;s owners should have already fixed the problem.</p><p>&ldquo;For ten years they&rsquo;ve promised to clean it up, put in a diesel engine at least,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I am fed up with it.&quot;</p><p>The owners of the Badger declined to comment.</p><p>A press release says the ship will continue burning coal, but dispose of the ash on land through a &ldquo;sophisticated ash retention system,&rdquo; the details of which remain unknown.</p><p><em>&mdash;Lewis Wallace is a WBEZ Pritzker Fellow. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants">@lewispants</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 25 Mar 2013 17:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-fired-over-coal-fired-ferry-106276 Amtrak adds Chicago-Michigan trains for December http://www.wbez.org/news/amtrak-adds-chicago-michigan-trains-december-104379 <p><p>Amtrak is adding more trains on its Chicago-Michigan route to accommodate increased demand during the busy travel period at the end of December.</p><p>Amtrak will have two additional daily trains between Chicago and Ann Arbor from Dec. 21-23 and Dec. 28-30. Normally, the Wolverine Service has three daily roundtrips between the two cities.</p><p>From Ann Arbor, there is continuing service to Detroit-area stations.</p><p>Thanksgiving ridership on the route rose nearly 17 percent from last year to reach more than 15,000 passengers.</p><p>Amtrak says that resulted largely from the operation of extra holiday trains.</p></p> Fri, 14 Dec 2012 08:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/amtrak-adds-chicago-michigan-trains-december-104379 Michigan Legislature sends governor right-to-work plan http://www.wbez.org/news/michigan-legislature-sends-governor-right-work-plan-104320 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP456655432448%281%29.jpg" style="float: right; height: 436px; width: 300px;" title="Protesters gather for a rally at the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. The crowd is protesting right-to-work legislation passed last week. Michigan could become the 24th state with a right-to-work law next week. Rules required a five-day wait before the House and Senate vote on each other's bills; lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene Tuesday and Gov. Snyder has pledged to sign the bills into law. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)" />LANSING, Mich. &mdash; As the chants of angry protesters filled the Capitol, Michigan lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to right-to-work legislation, dealing a devastating and once-unthinkable defeat to organized labor in a state that has been a cradle of the movement for generations.<p>The Republican-dominated House ignored Democrats&#39; pleas to delay the passage and instead approved two bills with the same ruthless efficiency as the Senate showed last week. One measure dealt with private sector workers, the other with government employees. Both were sent to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who pledged to sign them within days.</p>&quot;This is about freedom, fairness and equality,&quot; House Speaker Jase Bolger said during floor debate. &quot;These are basic American rights &mdash; rights that should unite us.&quot;<p>After the vote, he said, Michigan&#39;s future &quot;has never been brighter, because workers are free.&quot;</p>Once the laws are enacted, the state where the United Auto Workers was founded and labor has long been a political titan will join 23 others with right-to-work laws, which ban requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.<p>Supporters say the laws give workers more choice and support economic growth, but critics insist the real intent is to weaken organized labor by encouraging workers to &quot;freeload&quot; by withholding money unions need to bargain effectively with management.</p>Protesters in the gallery chanted &quot;Shame on you!&quot; as the measures were approved. Union backers clogged the hallways and grounds shouting &quot;No justice, no peace,&quot; and Democrats warned that hard feelings from the legislation and Republicans&#39; refusal to hold committee hearings or allow a statewide referendum would be long lasting.<p>U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and other Democrats in the state&#39;s congressional delegation met with Snyder on Monday and urged him to slow things down.</p>&quot;For millions of Michigan workers, this is no ordinary debate,&quot; Levin said. &quot;It&#39;s an assault on their right to have their elected bargaining agent negotiate their pay, benefits and working conditions, and to have all who benefit from such negotiations share in some way in the cost of obtaining them.&quot;<p>Although impassioned, the crowds were considerably smaller than those drawn by right-to-work legislation in Indiana earlier this year and in Wisconsin in 2011, during consideration of a law curtailing collective bargaining rights for most state employees. Those measures provoked weeks of intense debate, with Democrats boycotting sessions to delay action and tens of thousands of activists occupying statehouses.</p>In Michigan, Republicans acted so quickly that opponents had little time to plan massive resistance.<p>Snyder and GOP leaders announced their intentions last Thursday. Within hours, the bills were hurriedly pushed through the Senate as powerless Democrats objected in vain. After a legally required five-day waiting period, the House approved final passage.</p>Protesters began assembling before daylight outside the sandstone-and-brick Capitol, chanting and whistling in the chilly darkness and waving placards with slogans such as &quot;Stop the War on Workers.&quot; Others joined a three-block march to the building, some wearing coveralls and hard hats.<p>Valerie Constance, a reading instructor for the Wayne County Community College District and member or the American Federation of Teachers, sat on the Capitol steps with a sign shaped like a tombstone. It read: &quot;Here lies democracy.&quot;</p>&quot;I do think this is a very sad day in Michigan history,&quot; Constance said.<p>The crowds filled the rotunda area, beating drums and chanting. The chorus rose to a deafening thunder as House members voted. Later, protesters surged toward a building across the street where Snyder has his office. Two people were arrested when they tried to get inside, state police said.</p>But by late afternoon, the demonstrators had mostly dispersed.<p>Snyder insisted the matter wasn&#39;t handled with undue haste and that right-to-work was a long-discussed issue in Michigan.</p>&quot;There has been lots of time for citizens to contact legislators and share their feelings,&quot; he said in an interview with radio station WWJ-AM.<p>Michigan gives the right-to-work movement its strongest foothold yet in the Rust Belt, where the 2010 election and tea party movement produced assertive Republican majorities that have dealt unions repeated setbacks.</p>Opponents said they would press Snyder to use his line-item veto authority to remove a $1 million appropriation from the bills, making them eligible for a statewide referendum. But the House swiftly rejected a Democratic amendment to that effect.<p>Lawmakers who backed the bills &quot;will be held accountable at the ballot box in 2014,&quot; said state Rep. Tim Greimel, the incoming House Democratic leader.</p>But Sen. John Proos, a Republican from St. Joseph who voted for both bills, predicted that objections would fade as the shift in policy brings more jobs to Michigan.<p>&quot;As they say in sports,&quot; he said, &quot;the atmosphere in the locker room gets a lot better when the team&#39;s winning.&quot;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 11 Dec 2012 13:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/michigan-legislature-sends-governor-right-work-plan-104320 S.S. Badger’s days could be numbered http://www.wbez.org/news/ss-badger%E2%80%99s-days-could-be-numbered-104245 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS6798_Badger_underway (1)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A car ferry that has traversed Lake Michigan for nearly 60 years could soon be put out of commission.</p><p>The S.S. Badger carries cars and trucks between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan, saving drivers a long commute through Chicago. By the company&#39;s numbers, 45,000 people took trips on the ship in 2011.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also a registered historic site and the nation&rsquo;s only remaining coal-powered ferry.</p><p>But its permit from the Environmental Protection Agency is about to expire.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a dirty ferry that dumps tons of coal ash in Lake Michigan every year,&rdquo; said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.</p><p>The Democrat went on the attack when congressmen from Michigan and Wisconsin tried to slip an earmark into the House Coast Guard Reauthorization Act that would have exempted the Badger from regulation because of its historic status.</p><p>The amendment to the Coast Guard bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), made no mention of the S.S. Badger, but asked for special regulatory status for ships that are historic sites or have applied to be historic sites. In practice, there&rsquo;s only one ship that would have been exempted from environmental regulation by that clause, and it&rsquo;s the S.S. Badger.</p><p>&ldquo;The S.S. Badger had better decide to change or find another business,&rdquo; said Durbin, who accused Huizenga and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) of trying to sneak through an earmark.</p><p>A new version of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act passed in the House on Wednesday without the exemption.</p><p>Now the S.S. Badger&rsquo;s future is in the hands of the EPA, which received <a href="http://www.epa.gov/r5water/npdestek/badger//" target="_blank">an application for a new permit</a> from the Badger earlier this year.</p><p>The EPA website says the Badger&rsquo;s last permit application in 2008 included an agreement that the ship would seek to eliminate coal ash emission by Dec. 19, 2012, when the permit expires. Because the Badger has failed to make the required upgrades, it is now asking for a new permit that would give it more time.</p><p>Jennifer Feyerherm of Sierra Club&#39;s Beyond Coal Campaign said the S.S. Badger has been exempted from regulations in the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts for years.</p><p>&quot;Lake Michigan itself is the source of drinking water for 10 million people. So dumping a toxic hazardous substance into the lake is just generally a bad idea,&quot; Feyerherm said. &quot;We don&#39;t let this kind of dumping happen anywhere else. That toxic coal ash is full of heavy metals like mercury and lead and arsenic.&quot;</p><p>In order to eliminate coal, the ship could convert to running on natural gas. It hasn&rsquo;t done that yet.</p><p>Representatives of the S.S. Badger declined to comment pending a decision by the EPA.</p></p> Thu, 06 Dec 2012 18:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ss-badger%E2%80%99s-days-could-be-numbered-104245 Driver licenses for undocumented youths? http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immigrant%20map.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 369px; width: 600px; " title="WBEZ asked eight states whether they are planning to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive Social Security and employment-authorization cards as a result of President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. (WBEZ map by Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver&rsquo;s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.</p><p>The Obama administration policy, called &ldquo;Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,&rdquo; will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.</p><p>&ldquo;As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver&rsquo;s license,&rdquo; said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state&rsquo;s driver licensing.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous WBEZ inquiries.</p><p>The states planning to issue the driver&rsquo;s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.</p><p>The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.</p><p>Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. &ldquo;They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,&rdquo; Haupt said about Illinois. &ldquo;We require so many different things of our young drivers and &mdash; by doing so &mdash; they, of course, become better drivers.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it&rsquo;s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.</p><p>The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver&rsquo;s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. &ldquo;Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The issue is complicated because most states require driver&rsquo;s&nbsp;license applicants to prove &ldquo;lawful status&rdquo; or &ldquo;legal presence&rdquo; in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy &ldquo;does not confer lawful status upon an individual.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.</p><p>States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver&rsquo;s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to WBEZ questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.</p><p>Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. &ldquo;We will see battles on this,&rdquo; Lucas predicted.</p><p>Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver&rsquo;s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.</p><p>The law is set to take effect in January, but it&rsquo;s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure&rsquo;s repeal, calling it unworkable.</p><p>That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: &ldquo;If you want to protect against identify theft, you&rsquo;ve got to eliminate the fraud,&rdquo; said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. &ldquo;That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn&rsquo;t mean that states cannot give driver&rsquo;s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Kephart praised Utah, which has created a &ldquo;driving privilege card&rdquo; specifically for undocumented immigrants.</p><p>At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 Five things to look for in today’s primaries http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2012-02-28/five-things-look-today%E2%80%99s-primaries-96811 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-28/AP12022817753(2).jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="364" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-28/AP12022817753%282%29.jpg" title="Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum greets diners at New Beginnings Restaurant in Kentwood, Mich., on Tuesday. (AP/Paul Sancya)" width="512"></p><p>There are two contests today, in Arizona and Michigan, but only Michigan is really up for grabs. That’s because Mitt Romney can count on a large and active Mormon population in Arizona and the support of almost all the Arizona GOP establishment (though <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/26/jan-brewer-mitt-romney-endorsement_n_1295170.html">that endorsement from Gov. Jan Brewer</a> might cut both ways). Plus Rick Santorum put most of his energy into Michigan, Romney’s home state.</p><p>Though Romney’s camp has been playing down the importance of Michigan -- the truth is that, unless there’s a blow-out, the delegates will be split pretty evenly no matter who wins -- there’s still plenty at stake in our Great Lakes neighbor.<br> <br> Here are five things to look for in today’s primaries:<br> <br> 1. <strong>The margin</strong><br> <br> No matter who wins, what will matter is the margin. If Romney squeaks by, Santorum will rightfully call it a moral victory. And a squeaker-win for Romney will do nothing to hurt Santorum’s momentum or fundraising. If Santorum wins, he’ll get plenty of help from the western part of the state, but if he has substantial margins in the east -- Detroit, etc. -- then his argument for electability will get a huge boost. (For that matter, Romney’s gotta win by double-digits in Arizona to make all that effort worthwhile.)<br> <br> 2.<strong> Abandon ship!</strong><br> <br> If Santorum wins Michigan, it doesn’t necessarily mean the death knell for Romney. But it will mean that the Republican base is so alienated that he’s practically guaranteed a loss if he’s the party’s standard bearer. If Romney loses here, watch the GOP turn into an Every-Man-For-Himself party and watch the endorsements dry up fast for Romney in every upcoming primary. Nobody wants to be tied to a loser.<br> <br> 3. <strong>The Latino vote</strong><br> <br> Hispanics make up about 20 percent of the vote in Arizona but probably less than a quarter of those vote in the GOP primary. At the last GOP debate, Romney came out for HB1070, the odious Arizona immigration law that the federal government is challenging. Not that Santorum is any better on this issue. But 20 percent is the kind of margin that can tip a general election. In Arizona, it matters less who Latinos vote for today than if they show up at all. If they don’t, you know where they’re most likely gonna be come November. The Latino vote in Michigan, at 2 percent, matters less, but it’s also important: In 2008, Michigan’s Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama (67 percent).<br> <br> 4. <strong>Democrats</strong><br> <br> Democrats aren’t going to turn out in huge numbers, in spite of Santorum’s robo-calls and others urging them to cross party lines to mess with Romney. But if Romney doesn’t do as well as he should -- whether he wins by a squeak or loses -- watch for him to put the blame on the Dems. Conversely, don’ be surprised, should Santorum win, to hear him thank Democratic cross overs. It’s part of a campaign to make the case for his electability in November.<br> <br> 5. <strong>Paul Babeau</strong><br> <br> You know, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mitt-romneys-arizona-co-chairman-steps-down-after-allegations-of-misconduct/2012/02/18/gIQABJJYMR_story.html">the gay anti-immigration sheriff with the allegedly undocumented Mexican lover</a>? He was Romney’s state co-chair and resigned the campaign post in the middle of a scandal, but that’s unlikely to translate into walk-aways from Romney. But watch Babeau’s own race for Congress in Arizona’s 4th Congressional District. If he wins -- and say what you will about Babaeu’s closeted life, when he came out, he came out without apology -- that will mean Congress will have a very out gay Republican among its members. That could be a real game changer for some in the GOP.</p></p> Tue, 28 Feb 2012 18:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2012-02-28/five-things-look-today%E2%80%99s-primaries-96811 Empty Places: New life for historic GM complex in Flint http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-30/empty-places-new-life-historic-gm-complex-flint-94446 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/distribution-center.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>FLINT — There may be no better example of how the industrial Midwest is changing than the site of the old Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Michigan.&nbsp; It’s one of the factories sit-down strikers occupied in the 1930s.&nbsp; The plant made tanks during World War II.&nbsp; It was later closed, gutted and reborn as a GM design center.&nbsp; But GM abandoned the site after bankruptcy and the new occupants don’t make cars.&nbsp; They sell very expensive prescription drugs.</p><p>There’s one group of experts who can always tell you the history and significance of an old factory.&nbsp; They’re the guys at the bar across the street.</p><p>Dan Wright is still a regular at The Caboose Lounge.&nbsp; He worked at Fisher Body No. 1 briefly in the 1970s.</p><p>“The bars were always full and restaurants were always full and stores were always full,” he says.&nbsp; “And all these stores, bars and restaurants you go to now, there’s nobody there.&nbsp; And it’s sad that Flint died the way it did.”</p><p>Now Michigan’s governor says there’s a financial emergency in Flint, the once prosperous birthplace of GM.&nbsp; In fact, seven thousand people worked at Fisher Body No. 1 when workers sat down in late 1936, demanding recognition for the United Auto Workers.</p><p>“We’re actually standing in the area, very close right now, where the 1937 sit down strike was,” says Phil Hagerman, president and CEO of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy.</p><p>Diplomat moved in earlier this year.&nbsp; The company specializes in drugs that target complex medical conditions like cancer, hemophilia, MS and HIV/AIDS.&nbsp; Many produce side effects, so nurses here call patients to make sure they stick to their treatment plans.</p><p>“Specialty pharmacy is the fastest growing component in the pharmacy industry,” says Hagerman.&nbsp; “Traditional pharmacy is growing at two to five percent a year.&nbsp; Specialty pharmacy is growing at 15 to 25 percent a year.”</p><p>Diplomat hired more than two hundred people this year.&nbsp; Phil Hagerman says the company is on track to top a billion dollars in sales next year.</p><p>“We’re distributing as many as two thousand or more prescriptions a day around the country, shipping to every state every day from this building,” he says.</p><p>The building highlights the transformation of the industrial Midwest.&nbsp; GM shuttered the sprawling Fisher Body No. 1 plant in the 80s and much of it was demolished.&nbsp; The footprint of the complex shrank dramatically.&nbsp; But the steel and concrete of this building’s main structure were retrofitted into an engineering and design center for GM, housed in the Great Lakes Technology Center.</p><p>Diplomat later bought about half the space and it’s still enormous: 550,000 square feet.&nbsp; That’s more than one thousand square feet for each of the 450 employees here.&nbsp; The other half of the complex is now a biomedical campus, run by the company IINN.</p><p>“How often do normal business rules allow a company to have a ten year growth footprint?” Diplomat’s Phil Hagerman asks.&nbsp; “It just doesn’t happen. ‘Cause the cost of the building is so great.&nbsp; But because we acquired this from an auction process at a very, very low cost, we have a building that we know we can grow into for about ten years.”</p><p>So, that’s one advantage of acquiring property discarded by industrial giants.&nbsp; Advantage #2: 1700 cubicles left behind.&nbsp; Advantage #3: Random industrial signs that read: ‘Caution: Pedestrian traffic. Sound horn’.&nbsp; And advantage #4: The government loves you, especially if you’re a high-tech or medical company.&nbsp; In fact, Diplomat won’t pay property taxes here for almost 15 years, and it got a 62 million dollar tax break from the state.&nbsp; In return, CEO Phil Hagerman says he’ll hire four thousand people in the next two decades.</p><p>But thousands of people used to stream across the street to local businesses every week. At The Caboose Lounge, waitress Janet Anderson says the new workers at Diplomat don’t come in yet, but she’s hopeful.</p><p>“I do good breakfasts,” she says.&nbsp; “Real good breakfasts you can ask anybody in here.”</p><p>And these days, hope itself might be a welcome sign of change in Flint.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.changinggears.info/" target="_blank"><em>Changing Gears</em></a> is a public media collaboration between <a href="http://www.michiganradio.org/" target="_blank">Michigan Radio</a>, WBEZ and <a href="http://www.ideastream.org/" target="_blank">Ideastream in Cleveland</a>. Support for <em>Changing Gears</em> comes from the <a href="http://www.cpb.org/" target="_blank">Corporation for Public Broadcasting</a>.</strong></p><p><em>Music Button: Music Button: Four Tet, "Unspoken", from the album Rounds, (Domino)</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 14:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-30/empty-places-new-life-historic-gm-complex-flint-94446 Community college partners with private business to fill jobs http://www.wbez.org/content/community-college-partners-private-business-fill-jobs-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-29/Photo_MichiganPubPrivate_JocelynFrank.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As the Great Lakes region continues to face high rates of unemployment, many manufacturing workers find themselves laid off and lacking credentials to find new work. State-funded agencies are teaming up with community colleges and private businesses to help get workers back into jobs. The strategy is called public-private partnership and has support from several governors in the region and even President Obama.</p><p>In Marshall, Mich., Deidre Hosek is a big fan of the approach. It threw her a lifeline when she was laid off in 2007.</p><p><strong>Meet Deidre Hosek</strong><br><br>Hosek is a regular at the Riverside bar, just a few blocks off the main street of Marshall. It’s an easy to miss location. The smoky gray wooden façade has no outward facing windows, but step inside and two TVs and a jukebox light up the room. Hosek sits alongside six others sipping Miller Lite. She’s about 5'5" with long brown hair, solid confidence, and a bold, raspy laugh.<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-29/Photo_MichiganPubPrivate_JocelynFrank.JPG" style="width: 275px; height: 206px; margin: 2px 10px; float: left;" title="Using her training from the local community college, Diedra Hosek works at Tenneco Automotive as a welder. (Photo courtesy of Calhoun Michigan Works)"></p><p>This is her place to unwind. She remembers growing up in Marshall with big ideas about what it would mean to be an adult and work a regular job.</p><p>“I remember when I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, a singing star,” Hosek said, adding that at Riverside bar she gets to be a singer now and then, “that’s why I try and come down here. One of my neighborhood buddies runs the open mic.”</p><p>Hosek raised two kids in Marshall and, like many of her neighbors and friends, she worked for the auto industry. In her case, it was as a prototype technician working with vinyl, plastics, and leathers at the Lear Corporation. It was a solid living wage but when times got tough the company downsized and moved operations out of state, Hosek was left in a lurch.</p><p>“If I wanted to move out of state, I could have gone to another Lear plant,” she said. “But all of my family is here, and I have no desire to leave my family."</p><p><strong>Living unemployed</strong></p><p>Instead of leaving, Hosek and her family lived off her 401(k) for two years. Eventually, she found a gig working overnight at the Shell gas station convenience store. A customer there tipped her off that the state-funded agency Michigan Works was interviewing candidates for factory work in town. She raced over to apply.</p><p><strong>Never welded before</strong></p><p>Fast-forward four years and Deidre Hosek is a welder at Tenneco, an international auto-parts manufacturer. In Marshall, they make mufflers. The first thing she needed to learn was how to fuse two pieces of metal together to make a bead.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-28/great-lakes-workers-faring-better-canadian-side-border-94389">Workers faring better in Canada</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/using-sound-find-leaks-and-save-dollars-94303">Using sound to find leaks and save dollars</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><div>“I’d never run a bead before in my life,” Hosek said, laughing. “The closest I’d come to running a bead was a caulk around my sink."<br><p>Even with her lack of experience, Michigan Works was confident she could succeed. Hosek became one of thousands of people in Michigan to benefit from public-private programs to help the workers find jobs locally.</p><p><strong>How it works, the private side</strong></p><p>A company like Tenneco needs highly skilled welders. The plant manager at Tenneco in Marshall, Randy Rial, says it’s not that easy to find them.</p><p>“Many people can weld but when the people come in here and say I can weld anything, but this is different. We work very fast at very high heat,” &nbsp;Rial explained. “They come in here and it’s very difficult to learn.”</p><p>In 2007 the company started welding with a new, very thin, very expensive metal. Their welders failed, over and over. It cost the company a lot of money. Rial remembers that was a time when many other factories were closing their doors.</p><p>“Eaton closed down, Lear closed down, a lot of other plants closed down,” Rial remembered.&nbsp; “We have to do everything we can do to be competitive in the global market.”</p><p><strong>How it works, the public side</strong></p><p>Training specialized welders is difficult and expensive so the public side of the partnership plays a big role. George Bauer is a representative of the state-funded Michigan Works Association. He's been on the front lines of the recession.</p><p>“Michigan was in it before everyone else and we’re hoping we won't be the last to come out of it,” Bauer said.</p><p>Bauer’s witnessed the bloodletting-- with 40, 50, 100 local workers laid-off at one time. He talks to workers to prepare them for inevitably hard times ahead, but if he can, Bauer prefers to step in before a company downsizes or leaves town. When Bauer learned about the challenges at Tenneco, he called a meeting right away and made the company an offer.</p><p>“Our deal with the company was that if we’re paying for the training, you’ll guarantee to hire them at the end,” Bauer said.</p><p>Tenneco agreed to hire new welders. To do the actual training, Michigan Works tapped Kellogg Community College in the nearby town of Battle Creek.</p><p><strong>The flexibility of community colleges</strong></p><p>Dennis Bona is the president of Kellogg Community College. He’s learned the key to the succeeding with the business world is flexibility.</p><p>“We tailor instruction to fit what employer needs. We know there are no careers we train once for,” Bona explained. “Tenneco came to us and said we need 60 welders trained and we need them soon.”</p><p>So Bona and Kellogg Community College worked with Tenneco to design and supply a quick 8-week program with something called open-exit, open-entry. That meant students didn’t have to wait for a new semester for classes to begin. And that responsiveness meant Tenneco saved money.</p><p>In the end Tenneco hired over 60 welders, and the relationship between the college and the company continued. Bona said Kellogg has trained and educated about 1000 Tenneco employees. They work with 150 other companies across southern Michigan.</p><p><strong>Deidre Hosek turns into a welder</strong></p><p>The partnership between Michigan Works, Kellogg, and Tenneco gave the company some additional support to stay in town and hire in town. In 2007, that was a godsend for Deidre Hosek. She was struggling to find well-paid work.</p><p>“There was nothing," Hosek said. "I didn’t think finding a job would be that difficult.”</p><p>She didn’t have a college degree or other technical training to lean on, but with the public-private education plan in place she was able to jump right in and start something completely new.</p><p>&nbsp;“I had no idea I would go back to school, but it was just boom boom boom,” she said of the training. “We had the classroom time and the actual hands-on welding time...that was fun.”</p><p><strong>Staying in the community</strong></p><p>With a steady paycheck now in her pocket, Deidre Hosek can afford to stop by Riverside for open-mic night and unwind with her longtime friends.</p><p>“I like being where everybody knows your name," she said. "You’re not just a number.”</p><p>Eight-weeks (the length of her training course) and four years later, Hosek is proud to be a welder. But at the Riverside bar, standing in the spotlight with her neighborhood buddies cheering her on, belting out Marshall Tucker lyrics during the open-mic night, sometimes she still feels a little like a singing star.</p></div><p><em>A correction has been made to this story. An earlier version misspelled the Lear Corporation.</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 13:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/community-college-partners-private-business-fill-jobs-0 An injection of tourism gives Michigan a boost http://www.wbez.org/content/injection-tourism-gives-michigan-boost-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-14/Pure Michigan_Flickr_Alex Lown.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/30393138?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=cc0422" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601" frameborder="0" height="338"></iframe></p><p>The last decade was an especially tough one for Michigan: The state had the highest unemployment figures in the country for four years straight, peaking around 14 percent. Over the last decade, the population in 15 of its 20 largest cities shrank. It faced the near collapse of the auto industry and a national bailout.</p><p>But the state is working to change its luck with tourism. Right in the middle of all its economic woes the Pure Michigan campaign was born. Its advertisements on radio, TV, and billboards celebrate the “kick-back and relax” spirit of the state, encouraging visitors to “take time to smell the roses,” or in this case, “take time to walk along the thousands of miles of freshwater coastlines.”</p><p>Mark Canavan is the creative director for Pure Michigan. He's a 40-something guy with casual clothes and a gentle confidence.&nbsp;In 2006 he was hired by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a public-private state marketing agency, to develop a campaign to grab the attention of residents, drive traffic to Michigan.org and boost the overall state tourism market.</p><p>He admits he had his work cut out for him. “People had an image of Detroit with its manufacturing and automotive history," Canavan says. "But we really kind of had to re-awaken and refocus on what the state was all about.”</p><p>The Pure Michigan ads celebrate the state’s traditions: "Hundreds of lakes, thousands of rivers and streams, begging you to hang up, gone camping, gone swimming, gone sailing…”</p><p>But what about the gone jobs and the gone 401 K’s? What about gone homes, foreclosed left and right? The Pure Michigan campaign ploughed full speed ahead without dwelling on that. The campaign burst through the recession’s darkest days and dared people to think differently.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Canavan says that the Pure Michigan campaign inspires different thinking because it was created with a different approach. As a lifelong resident of the state, he decided that Michigan’s ads couldn’t compete with other states using “destination” or “attraction” tourism. He is proud of the approach they chose. “All we did was we just tilted the lens a little, to say how you’re going to feel there," he says. "That changed everything.”</p><p><strong>Feeling good in Michigan</strong></p><p>Turns out, reminding people that they can feel good in Michigan works. According to a study by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the market research group Longwoods International, 2 million new visitors came to Michigan in 2010, spending an additional $605 million.</p><p>Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder decided to endorse and help fund the Pure Michigan campaign with an annual $25 million.</p><p>Critics of the campaign say cash-strapped Michigan shouldn’t be dishing out money to advertise for private tourism companies,&nbsp;but others, like Mark Canavan, argue that the campaign is earning its keep. For every $1 it spends to promote the state, it brings in over $3.</p><p>The boost in tourism seems to be having a ripple effect across the state.</p><p><strong>Universities training young people to stay</strong></p><p>Andrea McNeal is a student at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich. She says she will stay in the state after she graduates, bucking the trend of many of her peers.</p><p>McNeal is pursuing the new geo-tourism degree aimed at leveraging the success of the Pure Michigan campaign to get into fresh jobs. In 2010, the tourism industry added 10,000 new positions.</p><p>Geo-tourism professor Kelly Victor-Burke notes that tourism is the second largest industry in the state, so she encourages her students study hospitality, speech making, and geographic information systems, and perhaps most importantly, to travel "to restaurants from the farm to table movement...to lighthouses." Students are not just experiencing location, she says. They're "meeting the people and seeing the opportunity.”</p><p>Showcasing opportunities could help reverse the state's brain drain, according to Victor-Burk. “We’re really sending the message that we want our graduates to continue to work in Michigan,” she says.</p><p><strong>Life in a tourist town</strong></p><p>Travel a few hours north on Route 23 and the discussion of tourism and employment moves from an academic one to one of survival.</p><p>Alcona, Mich. is about 4 hours drive north of Detroit. The small town is right on the shore of Lake Huron, with beautiful views and a quaint lighthouse in the distance. It’s a thriving tourist destination during the summers, but in the off-seasons, it’s much quieter.</p><p>Just about five miles up the road from the lake, high school students are thinking about new ways to create businesses using local know-how.</p><p><strong>Building entrepreneurs</strong></p><p>Brian Matchet stands in a large room, about the size of a gymnasium. But instead of dust bunnies and old candy wrappers in the corners, this place is filled with evidence of creative agricultural and science-based projects. This is “the shop.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-14/Chainsaw SafetySIZED.JPG" style="width: 275px; height: 367px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Students at Alcona High School learn chainsaw safety in class to think about creative ways to make use of local resources for future small business development. (Photo courtesy of Alcona High School)">Matchet is an instructor at Alcona High School. In this one-stoplight town, only about 5 percent of students go on to university programs like those at EMU. The options for staying home, Matchet explains, aren’t too good either. “I heard I think we were at 18 to 19 percent unemployment in the county," he says. "There are few that find jobs here. But hopefully that will change in the future.”</p><p>Tourism is not going to be a cure-all for places like Alcona, but Pure Michigan’s success fuels Matchet's optimism. He helps his students develop small businesses with the potential to tap into tourist markets.</p><p>One successful student idea already in the works is located just a tractor ride away from the shop.</p><p>Go past the two sports fields and several parking lots and standing on a back lot is a small log cabin. It’s the Alcona Sugar Shack.</p><p>Amanda Coutts is the manager of syrup production for this school year and she says, “it does feel like a business.”</p><p>Students tap trees, process the sap, bottle, label, and sell it. It’s a moneymaking operation and Amanda is quick to point out that every year they throw a syrup celebration day. “Everybody comes out and we make pancakes, sausage, and have breakfast with our syrup," she says. "There are lots of people that come out for it.”&nbsp;</p><p>Students produce 200 gallons of syrup every year. Brian Matchet talks proudly of how his students learn to be smart entrepreneurs, cut costs, and take their ideas out into the real world. “Two students wanted to sell firewood to tourists so they got permission from their grandpa to cut down trees on his property, they split the fire wood, bundled it, and went to gas stations to sell it," he boasts. "Within a month, they made enough to each buy their own chainsaws.”</p><p>They kept earning money, and eventually helped put themselves through college. “Maybe not ironically, they’re both live back in the community so it’s neat to see that cycle come around as well,” Matchet adds.</p><p>It’s a small victory, a successful firewood business in Alcona, especially when compared to the great assembly line factories of Michigan’s past, with their steady jobs and secure retirements. Even with the most successful advertising campaign, those economic glory days may be gone forever. Michigan is something else now, but Pure Michigan is helping people here feel something they haven’t had a lot of in a while: hope.</p></p> Mon, 14 Nov 2011 15:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/injection-tourism-gives-michigan-boost-0