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detroit public schools

Tracy Samilton

Nikolai Vitt, the new superintendent of Detroit's public school system, says he expects the district to be fully staffed with teachers at the beginning of the school year in 2018.

This year, the district had to begin classes despite being 250 teachers short. 

Vitti spoke to a capacity crowd at an event in Detroit sponsored by the Citizen's Research Council. 

He says he's starting with a base of loyal long-term teachers who've stuck with DPS even when they had other choices.

kids in classroom
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

There’s remarkably broad agreement across the political spectrum about something: There is a deep crisis in education in Michigan - and nationally --at virtually all levels.

Tomorrow, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will release a new report on skyrocketing college tuition, something that makes higher education less and less affordable in an era when education beyond high school is more necessary.

asbestos warning sign
ktorbeck / Wikimedia Commons

A new audit this week says Michigan needs more inspectors and more money when it comes to asbestos remediation. According to the report, there are only four inspectors in the entire state to respond to complaints, issue violations and inspect landfills. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about why the program is falling behind. 

Robert Bobb was the first in a series of emergency managers who ran the Detroit Public Schools from 2009-2016.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Does the state have to ensure that all Michigan students get at least a “basic education?”

That’s the question at the heart of a lawsuit filed on behalf of students at five Detroit schools, and that lawyers battled over in federal court on Thursday.

This “right-to-read” lawsuit argues that conditions at those five schools are so bad, they are unconstitutional. Those conditions include lacking sufficient numbers of qualified teachers, books, labs and computers; and where classroom temperatures range from freezing to over 100 degrees,” the plaintiffs say in their complaint.

Nir Saar is the principal of the Mumford Academy in Northwest Detroit.
Courtesy of Nir Saar

Michigan's experiment in running a school district ends this week.

The Education Achievement Authority (EAA) will cease to exist as of Friday. Its 15 schools will be absorbed back into the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Nir Saar, the principal of the Mumford Academy in Northwest Detroit, joined Stateside to look back at the EAA's legacy and what we can learn from it.

Tracy Samilton

For most Michigan kids, the school year is over next week. 

But for the 300-some kids at Taylor International Academy in Southfield, it ended twelve days early, after the charter's management company suddenly pulled its staff, including the principal.

Nikolai Vitti
via Twitter

Detroit’s new schools superintendent knows he’s taking on a tough job, but he’s also convinced the troubled district can turn around, and prove that “traditional urban public education works.”

Nikolai Vitti has started laying the groundwork for that. He took over as superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District last week.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A special board meeting has been scheduled to give updates in the Detroit Public Schools Community District's search for a new superintendent.

The meeting is open to the public and will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at district offices in the Fisher Building.

Interviews have been held with superintendent candidates Nikolai Vitti of Florida's Duval County schools and River Rouge Superintendent Derrick Coleman.

Detroit Public Schools Community District sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Finalists vying for the job of Detroit schools’ superintendent will start the public interview process this week, but some people think the best candidate isn’t in the running.

Choosing a new superintendent is the first major task for Detroit’s newly-elected school board, which just took power in January after years of state control. But the process has already become messy and controversial.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

In case you needed more proof that politics makes for strange bedfellows, a coalition of religious leaders and casino owners have united to oppose new legislation that would legalize online gambling in Michigan. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss whether the legislation is a good bet for the state.

ALKRUSE24 / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Michigan Department of Education is offering a reprieve for the 38 schools in danger of being closed for poor performance.

The reprieve is laid out in a letter from Michigan Superintendent Brian Whiston to the eight school districts with schools on the possible closure list.

Stateside Staff

How important is leadership to the success – or failure – of a school?

After 20 years as a teacher and principal in the Detroit Public School System, Antoinette Pearson is making the argument that it is fundamental.

In her new book, Truth Transforms Education: A Framework for New School Leaders, Pearson describes three different leadership styles and the effects they can have.

Parents, students and community activists holding signs at a press conference in front of Osborn High School in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents and students want the state to hear from them before closing their schools.

Twenty-five public schools in Detroit could be shut down for having poor test scores.

The state School Reform Office, which released the list of schools that might close, has yet to meet with parents or students from these schools.

Terry Whitfield is with 482 Forward, a citywide network of community organizations, schools groups and church groups.

He says the state needs input from the people most affected by the possible school closings.

Protestors urge state lawmakers to not close 25 low-performing Detroit schools.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Parents and teachers of Detroit public schools students believe closing down schools won't improve education in their city.

The state released a list of 38 Michigan schools that could be shut down for low test scores. Twenty-five of them are in Detroit.

Robin Jennings, a Detroit public school teacher, said the state hasn't given the newly created school district enough time to improve.

“They promised that if they opened up this new school district, they would allow us time to get us on track, and they lied to us,” Jennings said. “They outright lied.”

Grand Valley State University drumline
flickr user rachaelvoorhees / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Another school has signed on with the Detroit Promise to make it easier for more of the city's students to attend college.

Grand Valley State University is the latest Michigan institution to offer a tuition-free education to Detroit graduates who meet certain criteria.

GVSU president Tom Haas says the school is "delighted" to become a full partner with the program.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is prepared to sue the state if it moves ahead on its threat to shut down some low-performing schools.

The district’s school board approved the potential lawsuit at a meeting Wednesday night.

DPSCD has 16 schools that the State School Reform Office has named persistently low-performing, and at risk for closure after this school year.

But the district says the state shouldn’t shut those schools down. And it’s prepared to go to court to stop it.

There are three smaller high schools on the larger Osborn High School campus. All three face potential closure because of low test scores.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As the state decides which schools it’s deemed “failing” will close, students, parents and staff at some Detroit schools on the chopping block are rallying for them to stay open.

That includes Osborn High School, which is actually three smaller schools on one campus. All three could be shut down at the end of this school year because of persistently low test scores.

But many in the Osborn community say that’s a bad idea for a whole variety of reasons. Some of them explained as they rallied outside the school on a brutally cold Friday.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announcing his campaign for reelection.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan officially launched his reelection bid today.

Duggan’s first term was focused on new streetlights for the city’s neighborhoods and blight removal projects. Now, he is pivoting his focus to public education and crime.

“We are going to fight the irrational closing of these Detroit Public schools,” Duggan said.

The state has placed two dozen Detroit schools on the list for potential closure this year because of consistently low test scores.

“You don’t close a school until you’ve created a quality alternative,” he said.

Just look at the racial census makeup of school districts in Michigan. The numbers from the state Department of Education show districts in Michigan are deeply segregated.

In today’s State of Opportunity special Better Together: How School Diversity Makes a Difference, we look at schools, teachers and parents who are working to create, maintain or even boost diversity in the classroom.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

A neighborhood school used to be the center of a everything. You sent your kids there, you had community meetings there, you went there to vote.

So, what happens to a neighborhood—and the kids who live there—when a school closes? 

We Live Here is a new documentary from State of Opportunity that investigates how massive schools closures in Detroit have affected students and neighborhoods.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

The Michigan School Reform/Redesign Office recently released its latest list of schools that are under-performing. There are 38 schools on this year's list that could be closed, mostly in Detroit. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether Detroit's school district would be able to survive such a large round of closures.

They also discuss what role U.S. Secretary of Education nominee Betsy Devos plays in the state's school closure discussion, concerns over President Donald Trump's order to freeze all grant programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a move to bring new voting machines to Michigan.

flickr.com

The city of Detroit is signing onto a federal lawsuit that claims many Detroit students are being denied a fundamental “right to read.”

Activists and pro bono legal groups filed the suit last September, with support from groups like the American Federation of Teachers.

But now the city of Detroit is also jumping on board. City lawyers filed an amicus brief this week.

Boy in classroom with his hand raised
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature is back in session, and the bills are rolling in. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and Michigan Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry look at a bill that would phase out the state income tax, and another that would end daylight saving time in Michigan.

They also discuss Education Secretary nominee Betsy Devos' rescheduled confirmation hearing, Detroit's newly elected school board, and Gov. Rick Snyder's upcoming State of the State address.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

A ceiling hole at Noble Elementary Middle-School in early 2016
Detroit Federation of Teachers

There was movement Thursday on two federal lawsuits filed over poor learning conditions in Detroit schools.

The American Federation of Teachers announced a settlement with the Detroit Public Schools over decrepit building conditions in some schools.

The settlement lays out a process for reporting, logging and prioritizing requests for building repairs, as well as timelines for following through.

Detroit Public Schools Community District sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

New Detroit school board members officially took office Wednesday night.

It’s the first time the district has had a true school board since a series of emergency managers took over in 2009.

The district is in much better financial shape after a state-sponsored aid package passed in June. In fact, it currently has a budget surplus.

But it faces a number of chronic problems, including 264 vacant teaching positions. 163 are now being staffed by substitutes, interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather told board members.

Matt Katzenberger / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

This is an important week for Detroit schools. For the first time in seven years, an elected school board is in place. The board takes control of the schools that have been run for nearly 20 years by state-appointed managers. 63 candidates were on the ballot. The voters chose seven of them to make up the new school board.

One of those is Sonya Mays. She graduated from Detroit Renaissance High School and then went on to the University of Michigan, where she worked her way to a bachelor's degree, an MBA and then her law degree.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - It was an expensive year for Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers who spent hundreds of millions of dollars to address Flint's water emergency and to rescue Detroit's school district from massive debt.

  Legislators also authorized higher speed limits and allowed the testing of self-driving cars on public roads without a driver or steering wheel. Other top laws include new medical marijuana regulations and the authorization of higher speed limits on rural highways.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

The Green Party is expected to file paperwork to formally request a recount of the presidential election votes in Michigan. This Week in Michigan Politics, senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talks with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about why he's already confident the results are correct.

They also discuss President-elect Donald Trump's choice of Betsy DeVos as his Secretary of Education, Congressman Sander Levin's decision not to seek re-election as leader of the Ways and Means Committee, and the transition of the Detroit Promise scholarship from a two year to a four year program.


Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

The Detroit Pistons are coming back to ... well, Detroit.

This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about who stands to win and who stands to lose after the Pistons leave the Palace of Auburn Hills for the new Little Caesar's Arena in downtown Detroit.

They also discuss the State's argument that literacy is not a constitutional right when it comes to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Detroit school children, and the future of Detroit's two major newspapers.


Rosenbaum told us the state’s assertion that there’s no fundamental right to literacy is “nonsense.”
flickr user Thomas Galvez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


On September 13, seven Detroit school children sued state officials.

The suit was filed in federal court in Detroit. It claims that literacy is a fundamental right, and that the state has denied that right by fundamentally excluding Detroit students from the state’s educational system.

Now attorneys for Governor Rick Snyder have fired back. They say there’s no fundamental right to literacy, and this suit is “an attempt to destroy the American tradition of democratic control of schools.”

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