$83M for Michigan Schools Brings Optimism, Frustration

Friday, April 13, 2012

Kyeana Hodge hated to read. And for the freshman at Fitzgerald High School in Warren, that meant hating school.

"You always have to read in school," she said. "When it's hard for you to read, you just hate it."

But her outlook changed this year.

Fitzgerald High was one of 28 struggling schools across Michigan that shared in $83 million in federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) in 2010. Fitzgerald High spent part of its $1-million grant to create a corrective reading class for students such as Kyeana who have trouble decoding words.

Kyeana, 16, has gone from the student who wanted to cry if a teacher asked her to read aloud to one who twice on a recent morning raised her hand to volunteer to read.

That's the kind of transformation the federal government had in mind when, beginning in 2009, it started investing more than $4.6 billion as part of a radical plan to turn around the nation's worst-performing schools. Much of the money to fund the competitive grants -- $3 billion worth -- came from stimulus dollars under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. An additional $533 million will go to schools in 2013-14.

Read more