detroit schools

Education
7:00 am
Fri June 27, 2014

The Best Classroom Project: Helping Detroit parents navigate a confusing school landscape

Jason and Dara Hill, with daughter Norah, at home in Indian Village.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

This week, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative is looking at how the city is functioning under bankruptcy.

Mayor Mike Duggan says his top priority is reversing the city’s long population decline.

But there are a couple key quality of life issues Duggan has no control over. One of them is the city’s schools.

Here’s the story of one Detroit family’s effort to find good schools.

Meet the Hills

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Politics & Government
12:34 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

EAA should not be expanded statewide until questions are answered

Three years ago, when I first heard about Governor Rick Snyder’s plans to create a special district for Detroit’s failing schools, I was enthusiastic.

I knew Detroit’s schools were a mess. I knew that the bureaucracy, the teacher’s union, and obstinate refusal to change were all part of the problem.

Something different was worth a try.

And so they invented and chartered the Education Achievement Authority, and gave it 15 of Detroit’s worst schools. The experiment began two years ago.

Nobody really expected miracles. At least nobody should have. These were schools with terrible records, and students with terribly disadvantaged backgrounds.

Since then, there have been possibly some small signs of improvement, at least as measured by test scores. Governor Snyder now wants to expand the EAA statewide. The state House of Representatives has passed legislation to do just that. The proposal is before the state Senate.

But it is clear that expanding the EAA now would be a colossal mistake.

The EAA is a total failure in terms of administration, honesty, transparency and staying within a budget.

Its chancellor, John Covington, probably needs to be fired immediately.

An investigation published in today’s Detroit News confirms rumors I’ve been hearing for a year.

Covington, who is driven around by a chauffeur in a special vehicle, charged nearly a quarter of a million dollars on district credit cards, largely so that he and his staff could jet around the country to a series of pricey conferences.

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Education
12:46 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

Open enrollment events scheduled at EAA schools in Detroit

The EAA is a state turnaround district for failing public schools. It currently is made up of 15 former Detroit Public schools.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Open enrollment events are scheduled this week at nine Education Achievement Authority schools in Detroit.

Enrollment is going on for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade with welcome programs set to begin at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Phoenix, Burns and Nolan schools.

Parents can tour the school buildings and classrooms, and meet staff.

Events at the district's six high schools will begin at noon on Thursday.

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Education
5:53 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Enrollment plummets in state-run Education Achievement Authority schools

Michigan’s attempt at a state-run “turnaround district” for the lowest-performing schools is bleeding students.

The Educational Achievement Authority is one of Governor Snyder’s signature policy initiatives. It launched in the last school year, with 15 former Detroit Public Schools.

State data now show the EAA lost more than 2,000 students since last school year. That’s nearly a 25% decline.

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Education
2:15 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

How one Detroit charter school captured national attention — and what educators have to say about it

Teacher Danielle Johnson and Detroit Achievement Academy founder Kyle Smitley on the Ellen Degeneres show.
YouTube YouTube

This week on State of Opportunity, Sarah Alvarez is taking a look at some radical decisions that have shaped the educational landscape of Detroit schools.

Today, families in the city are taking a gamble on brand-new charter schools, like the Detroit Achievement Academy.

The academy opened earlier this year, by 28-year-old Kyle Smitley. Smitley is the first to admit she lacks formal educational experience. "I’ve been laughed out of so many rooms coming into the education world," she says.

But that hasn’t stopped the unconventional school from getting national buzz. Earlier this year, Smitley and the academy were featured on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

Still, the odds are stacked up against the academy and other charter schools that pop up in Detroit. There are more seats in Detroit schools than students. Many students in the city haven’t met benchmark requirements in their grade levels.

So what do educational experts think about these experimental schools? Check out Sarah’s piece for more. 

Education
3:13 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

New Detroit charter school is changing the education paradigm

The first day of the James and Grace Lee Boggs School.
Zak Rosen

What if something other than jobs could rebuild Detroit?

What if the purpose of education was to help children reach their highest human potential?

What if we had a conversation about the meaning of service to our community?

These are just a few of the many questions being raised at a new charter school in Detroit. It’s called the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. They opened their doors this week.

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Stateside
5:34 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Why the Detroit Public School bond offering is worth a look to investors

O.k., o.k., we know this one is empty, but some high school students in the Detroit Public Schools say their classroom are far from empty.
User Motown31 Creative Commons

An interview with Josh Gonze of Thornberg Investment Management.

So, investors, who's willing to bite? Who is willing to buy bonds from a troubled school district being run by an emergency manager located in a city run by an emergency manager, a city that just made history with its bankruptcy filing?

It's easy to understand why investors may run the other way from the Detroit Public Schools' bond offering.

But Josh Gonze says "not so fast!" He is a municipal bond portfolio manager who thinks the Detroit Public Schools bond offering tomorrow has something to offer an investor.

Josh Gonze is with Thornberg Investment Management based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:25 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Stateside for Monday, August 19th, 2013

"Innovation" - it's what many say Michigan needs to become a player in the global economy. On today's show, we took a look at the most-innovative companies in our state. What are they doing differently in a post-Great-Recession economy?

And, we traveled to Muskegon - a community that continues to be plagued by gun violence. Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project reported on a gun battle that happened last month.

And, the Detroit Public Schools bond offering is tomorrow. Why should investors be interested?

Also, the guide to canoeing Michigan’s rivers just got an update. We spoke with one of the authors about the new edition.

First on the show, donations to Governor Snyder’s civic fund decreased last year by a lot. The 501 c-4 known as The New Energy to Reinvent and Diversity Fund – or “NERD Fund” for short – received $1.3 million in 2011, but in 2012 , the number was $368,000.

As Jonathan Oosting, a reporter for MLive.com, reports, “the NERD fund earns tax-exempt status by purporting to promote charitable causes including lessening the financial burdens of government in the state of Michigan.”

Jonathan Oosting joined us today.

Politics & Government
8:58 am
Wed May 1, 2013

The week in Michigan politics: Senate candidates, wolf hunt and wraparound school grants

cncphotos flickr

The week in Michigan politics interview

This week in Michigan politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the race for the Senate seat left vacant by Carl Levin, legislation that would allow a wolf hunt despite a petition against it, and Governor Snyder's call for businesses to become more directly involved in schools.

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Politics & Government
8:28 am
Tue April 30, 2013

In this morning's news: Peters' Senate run, donation to Detroit schools, call for Medicaid expansion

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Gary Peters announces run for U.S. Senate

U.S. Representative Gary Peters, who represents the Detroit-based 14th Congressional District, is expected to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate today. As the Detroit Free Press reports:

"Peters has been considered a likely candidate for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin since Levin announced in March his intentions to retire at the end of the current term. Shortly after Levin’s announcement, Peters told the Free Press he was 'seriously considering' a run for that seat."

Corporate donations to help create "wraparound" schools in Detroit

"Detroit and other cities in Michigan are turning to businesses to help pay for schools that provide a wide variety of services to students and their families. Yesterday, JP Morgan Chase announced it will donate $1.5 million to pay for three 'wraparound’ schools in Detroit...Governor Rick Snyder says that could include help with managing household finances or finding a job, or parenting classes,"  Rick Pluta reports.

Law enforcement officials call for an expansion of Medicaid

A group of law enforcement officials is calling on state lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage to more than 300,000 Michigan residents at an event in Lansing today.

"The group says Medicaid coverage for expectant mothers can help prevent children from being born with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects. They will also advocate for Medicaid coverage for interventions such as substance abuse and mental and behavioral health issues as a way to cut crime," the Associated Press reports.

Business
3:24 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Business grant funds 'wraparound' schools in Detroit

OK, OK, we know this one is empty, but some high school students in the Detroit Public Schools say their classroom are far from empty.
User Motown31 Creative Commons

Detroit and other cities in Michigan are turning to businesses to help pay for schools that provide a wide variety of services to students and their families.

Today JPMorgan Chase announced it will donate one and a half million dollars to pay for three “wraparound’ schools in Detroit.

Detroit schools emergency manager Roy Roberts says the idea recognizes that students won’t succeed without support at home.

“When we sat with students, one of the things students said to us was, can you help us teach our parents to be parents? Now you think deeply about that. That’s deep stuff. So we’re going to do everything we can. You’ve got parents with two jobs, two people working, broken families. We’ve got a lot of issues.”  

Roberts says the services can include parenting training, help finding a job, and counselors who are available around the clock.

Governor Rick Snyder was on hand for the announcement. Snyder says he wants businesses to become more directly connected to schools.

Investigative
1:12 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Why Detroit is breaking up its Gang Squad

The infamous gang squad in Detroit is disbanding.
screen grab from National Geographic YouTube

Listen to the full story to hear from former gang bangers, gang squad members, and the city's mayor about whether the city's safer with, or without, the squad.

When gang violence breaks out in the roughest parts of Detroit, even the police call for help.

The gang squad is a special, paramilitary unit of the Detroit Police Department.

They're either necessarily tough, or notoriously brutal, depending on who you ask.

But if the city’s Mayor and the Police Chief have their way, the squad's days are numbered. 

Big guys with big guns

Think about it: big guys, with big guns, cruising the city’s toughest streets in the name of law and order. You know what we have here? A reality TV hit.

But dang it, a quick Google search shows the National Geographic Channel beat us to the punch.

Their “Inside Detroit Gang Squad” aired a few years ago, with all the dramatic music and drug raids you’d expect.

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Education
4:32 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

UM study links lower MEAP scores with lead exposure

Lower MEAP scores are linked to lead exposure.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

A study by researchers at the University of Michigan links lead exposure in children to lower achievement on standardized tests.

It's published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health.  Click here to read the study

From the study:

Detroit has an extensive lead poisoning problem. Although only 20% of Michigan’s children younger than 5 years lived in Detroit in 2010, childhood lead poisoning in Detroit has consistently accounted for more than 50 percent of the state’s total lead burden.

Detroit Free Press reporter Keith Matheny's article explores the research further and the schools affected.

The greater the lead poisoning in a Detroit Public Schools student's blood, the higher the likelihood he or she will do poorly on achievement tests -- even after accounting for contributing factors such as poverty. That's the finding of a collaborative study that provides one of the most detailed assessments yet of the impact of lead poisoning on students' learning ability.

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