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Detroit education coalition gets student input as deadline approaches

Mar 9, 2015

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren is still getting public and expert input, even as its deadline approaches.

The group is coming up with recommendations to overhaul and streamline Detroit’s multiple school systems. They face a March 31 deadline to submit recommendations to Governor Snyder.

This past weekend, the coalition held several workshops to hear from Detroit children.

While Detroit Parent Network CEO Sharlonda Buckman admits the clock is ticking, she says she’s “confident that we’re going to come up with something that is going to be progressive for our young people in the city.”

“It’s important to hear from parents and the community about how they want to be involved,” Buckman says. “And also the whole idea of shared decision-making around schools, and how that happens across systems that currently service Detroit children.”

Currently, those systems are the Detroit Public Schools, about 100 charter schools, and 15 schools in the state-run Education Achievement Authority.

For Detroit parents, top education-related issues seem to be special education, safety, and teacher quality, Buckman says. From kids, they’ve heard everything from providing student advocates for disciplinary hearings, to in-school nap rooms.

Amanda Kennedy, a junior at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, wanted the people making the big decisions to know a few things about her school experience.

Class sizes at Cass Tech and other DPS schools are too big, Kennedy says, with some still exceeding 40 students.

And Kennedy says students have to take way too many standardized tests—and sometimes, it’s not even clear why.

Students are told many of those tests are supposed to benchmark their progress, but “We take tests more than we actually learn lessons…to retain information to do better on tests,” Kennedy says.