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Billionaire Aids Novel Teaching Effort

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With help from a billionaire businessman, Michigan educators and state officials have launched a $48-million effort to improve teaching and learning by placing university researchers in elementary- and secondary-school classrooms.

Formation of the Michigan Partnership for New Education was announced last month by Gov. James J. Blanchard and A. Alfred Taubman, a shopping-mall developer who has promised to raise $16 million for the project from private sources, including an unspecified personal contribution.

Three state universities are integrally involved in the plan, which involves the selection of 18 to 24 schools around the state where new teaching methods will be developed and researched. Faculty members from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University will work closely with the partnership schools, teaching some classes as part of their research, to refine the instructional methods.

"I believe Michigan has the opportunity to become the first state in America to develop the new ways of teaching and learning that are urgently needed if our children are to sustain a world-class economy for the United States in the years ahead," Mr. Taubman said.

The project also calls for the formation of several policy institutes and related organizations to foster education reform in Michigan and to improve the public's knowledge of and participation in the reform process.

The executive director of the five-year project will be Judith E. Lanier, dean of the college of education at Michigan State. To ensure a strong start for the project, she will take a leave of absence from her duties as dean for all of 1990, according to her assistant, Sue Poppink.

In addition to the expected $16 million from private sources, the program's funding will include $16 million from the state, and a total of $16 million from the three universities. The state's share will have to be approved each year by the legislature.

The partnership schools will represent an expansion of Michigan State faculty members' collaboration with precollegiate educators. They already work closely with precollegiate counterparts at six "professional-development schools" tied to teacher-training.

Six university faculty members will teach classes at the partnership schools, while also working with teachers there and conducting research. Promising new instructional methods will disseminated to other schools in the state by one of the institutes funded through the project.

Beverly Wolkow, executive director of the Michigan Education Association, said the union supports the project because it "will allow us to expand the concept of professional-development schools to other sites, and to other colleges and universities."--MW

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