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New Detroit Public Schools opens its doors this week. This video explains how we got here.

Sep 6, 2016

Today is the first day of school in Detroit.

Students in the city’s public school system will return to the same buildings and many of the same teachers. But there will be one big difference: These students are the first to attend school in the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

The old Detroit Public Schools now exists in name only.

Its sole job is to pay off the district’s $515 million operating deficit. The new district will be in the business of actually educating students.

So, how did Detroit Public Schools get to the point where the best thing to do was just scrap it and start over?

To answer that, you’ll have to go back to 1966. 

Many are hoping that this year will be a fresh start. Schools will be able to spend more money on students instead of using an estimated $1,100 per pupil on debt service. The district is trying to attract new families with promises of Montessori programs and Arabic immersion schools.

But not everyone is convinced that it will be enough to reverse the district’s decades long decline. Some analysts say that while the legislation passed by state lawmakers addresses the issues facing DPS right now, it doesn’t do enough to ensure its long-term survival.

Want a more in-depth look at the decline of Detroit Public Schools? Check out this report by LOVELAND Technologies that charts the history of the district from the 19th century all the way to 2016.