On Monday the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren called for a massive overhaul of the Detroit Public Schools, Charter schools and the Education Achievement Authority. Yesterday, Mayor Mike Duggan went one step further – he said via a statement that it was time to end emergency management of DPS – which backs a key endorsement of the coalition.
The 36-member coalition said in their report that control of DPS should be returned to an elected school board. The recommendations came after three months of study of the city’s troubled public school system. They also recommended that the state take on the $350 million in debt of DPS, give a mayoral-appointed commission control of all school closures and openings in the city — including independently operated charter schools.
The coalition, also wants all Education Achievement Authority schools returned to DPS control. Governor Rick Snyder created the EAA in 2011 with the hopes to turn around the state’s lowest-performing schools.
The mayor said in a statement Tuesday to the Detroit Free Press and News that the recommendations deserved thoughtful intervention. The statement gave a brief framework of his thoughts for improving the schools:
■ Emergency management should be terminated and the Detroit Public Schools and returned to the operational control of the elected school board at the earliest possible date.
“Emergency management has clearly failed to improve our public school system,” said Duggan, he went on to day that he “fully supported DPS in its efforts to resolve its debt burden.”
■ Parents deserve meaningful choice in their children’s education. Duggan said more high-quality schools should be provided, including “more quality charter schools.”
■ Duggan said his office should play an important role in encouraging quality schools, “but we cannot operate the schools … we need to leave school operations to DPS and the charters.”
■ Duggan said he supported the idea of a mayor-appointed Detroit Education Commission “to make sure real choice is available to all our children and to assure complete information is available to all parents to make those choices.”
“I see the commission’s role as creating a level playing field and then letting the charters and the public schools run their own operations and improve as we go along,” Duggan said to the Detroit News.
He said he looks forward to meeting with Governor Snyder to discuss details of the coalition’s recommendations, especially the idea that the state should assume $350 million in district debt.
“(The debts) have been run up since the state seized control. It wasn’t the school board,” Duggan said. “The state took control with the emergency manager, ran up that debt and I think there is a strong argument that it’s a state responsibility.”
Zack Burgess is an award winning journalist. He is the Director/Owner of OFF WOODWARD MEDIA, LLC, where he works as a writer, editor and communications specialist. His work can be seen at zackburgess.com. Twitter: @zackburgess1