Public School Teachers, Stopping Bad Bacteria, a Legal Podcast and More

Experts offer facts about Metro Detroit. Plus, local experts weigh in on interesting discoveries and a podcast that keeps you up-to-date on legal issues.
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Get stats about the public school teacher shortage, details on a new bacteria that could be linked to Alzheimer’s, discover a new, can’t-miss podcast about current legal cases and much more.

Detroit Digits

82,000 is the approximate number of Detroit households that signed up for discounted internet access through the $7.17 billion federal Emergency Connectivity Fund since its launch in 2021, according to the FCC. Almost 70 percent of students in Detroit didn’t have access to the internet at home in 2019, according to the most recently available data reported by The Detroit News.

62% is the share of public school teachers in Michigan who are over age 40, according to MI School Data, a reflection of school districts’ struggle to hire younger teachers for a job with starting pay of around $37,000. There are 26 disciplines on Michigan’s critical shortage list, including physical education, art, music, elementary education, language arts, psychology, and social studies.

$700 Million is the amount approved by Detroit’s school board for construction efforts. The sum includes $281 million to rebuild five schools, $296 million for renovations, and $128 million to expand pre-K, reopen shuttered facilities, add onto existing schools, and demolish or sell some vacant buildings, according to Chalkbeat.

Study Breaks

Hot Ocean Once Covered America: Our continent was partially covered some 95 million years ago with a shallow sea about as warm as that found in modern times
in the tropics, according to a study in the journal Geology.

Geologist Matt Jones, a former University of Michigan postdoctoral researcher now at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, and co- author Allison Curley used a method of analyzing 29 well-preserved fossils of oyster shells to determine the temperature of the water they once dwelled in back in the Cretaceous Period, one of Earth’s hottest eras.

“These data indicate that the North American interior during the peak of the Cretaceous greenhouse was as warm as the hottest conditions in the modern-day tropics — imagine the climate of Bali, Indonesia, in places like Utah or Wyoming,” Jones says.

The waters, known as the Western Interior Seaway, could reach temperatures as high as 93 degrees Fahrenheit. The fossils studied came from sandstone and shale outcrops in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Stopping bad bacteria: Researchers at Michigan State University say they have identified a new way to inhibit the production of proteins that are believed to play a role in causing Alzheimer’s disease, tetanus, botulism, and food poisoning, among other ailments.

The findings, published in the journal eLife, are the result of work led by MSU biochemistry and molecular biology professor Lee Kroos, who says of the laborious research, “It was like putting together a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without knowing what it looks like.”

Speeding up 3D Printing: Anyone who has spent any time trying to make something with a 3D printer knows it takes an agonizingly long time. In some cases, in fact, it can take days. But new software developed by University of Michigan mechanical engineering professor Chinedum Okwudire promises to cut that lag in half by addressing one of the main causes of the need to print slow: the vibrations created by the machine while it’s making objects. Okwudire says his program, known as FBS, enables the machine to compensate for the vibration.

“Say you want a 3D printer to travel straight, but due to vibration, the motion travels upward,” he says. “The FBS algorithm tricks the machine by telling it to follow a path downward, and when it tries to follow that path, it travels straight.” The software is marketed by Okwudire’s company, Ulendo, and U-M has an investment in the firm.

Listen here

Podcast Name: #SistersInLaw

Who: Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan; Detroit native and Boston Globe columnist Kimberly Atkins Stohr; former Alabama federal prosecutor Joyce Vance; and one-time Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks

What’s good about it: For people confused by or too busy to really read up on the week’s legal developments — from the latest on the Jan. 6 hearings to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation — these four progressives take more time than they ever get on TV to sort it out. While the show is national in nature, the presence of McQuade, now a University of Michigan law professor, and Atkins Stohr, a nonpracticing lawyer with a lengthy history covering the Supreme Court as a journalist, means that Michigan issues, such as the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping scheme and developments around the Flint water crisis litigation, get some more attention than one might expect. Plus, the women, who bonded as MSNBC legal analysts at the start of the Trump administration, have a great affection and respect for one another and their foibles — McQuade is an inveterate sports fan who doesn’t cook, Vance knits obsessively, Atkins Stohr is the all- purpose resident skeptic, and Wine-Banks is famed for her brooch predilection — making what could be a wonky show a joy to hear. Pro tip: Don’t miss the often- hilarious outtakes played after the closing credits.

Starter episodes: “#FreeBritney, Chauvin, Supreme Court Round-Up” (June 26, 2021), in which Atkins Stohr uses the Britney Spears conservatorship to explain the misogynist history of that particular legal maneuver; “The Stench” (May 2, 2022), an emergency midweek episode on the leaked draft of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade


This story is from the September 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.