detroit public schools

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

 This week, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the Detroit Public Schools student quota, Washtenaw County’s identification card plan that includes undocumented immigrants, and the continuing campaigns of Detroit mayoral candidates Benny Napoleon and Mike Duggan.

Detroit Public Schools trying to meet enrollment goal

The Detroit Public School district is depending on enrolling 5,000 more students for the 2013-2014 school year.  If the district doesn’t meet its goal, they will lose millions of dollars in funding from the per-pupil-allowance from the state.  Jack Lessenberry says that Detroit used to enroll almost 200,000 students thirteen years ago.  They now only enroll 46,000.  Lessenberry says “they’ve been going door-to-door trying various gimmicks, of course those are sort of dubious too, to get kids to come back.  But it’s all about how many bodies they have in seats on Count Day.”

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

The clock’s running out for the Detroit Public School district.

School starts Tuesday, and DPS officials went into the summer with the hefty goal of recruiting 5,000 new students.

That's an awful lot of new kids, especially given that demographers predict just the opposite. They think DPS will lose students this year, like they have in the past.

It's an important goal for DPS, because even if they have the same number of students as last year, they’ll have to cut $38 million from the budget. 

user BES Photos / Flickr

That's the question raised in a guest column in Bridge Magazine by my next guest.

Margaret Trimer Hartley is superintendent of the University Prep Science & Math Academy in Detroit . She's also the former head of communications for the Michigan Education Association. She was also an education reporter at the Detroit Free Press.

Hartley joined us today.

Listen to the audio above.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Governor Snyder pushes to expedite Medicaid expansion

A bill to expand Medicaid in Michigan passed the state Senate by a narrow vote earlier this week. But a vote to make those changes by January 1, 2014 failed.  This means that thousands of people will have to wait until spring to receive health coverage.  Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that Governor Rick Snyder hopes the Senate will revisit the issue as soon as Tuesday.

Deadline approaches for Detroit Public Schools recruitment

As the school year quickly approaches, Detroit Public Schools are running out of time to recruit new students.  Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells reports that the district’s summer goal was to gain 5,000 new students. If DPS does not meet this goal it may lose millions, resulting in possible layoffs and program cuts.  The district is currently retaining 93% of their students.

Detroit mayoral candidates continue campaign

Detroit mayoral candidates Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon are continuing their campaigns while primary election drama settles out.  Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek  reports  that both candidates “are trying to position themselves as champions of Detroit neighborhoods.” Duggan is rolling out a neighborhood plan to reduce blight, while Napoleon is accusing him of being tied to “downtown corporate interests.”

Thornberg Investment Management

The opportunity to buy bonds from a troubled school district run by an emergency manager, in a city that's just filed for bankruptcy, may seem akin to the opportunity to get your hands on some great snake oil, or a big lot in a Florida swamp, cheap.

But one municipal bond portfolio manager thinks Detroit Public Schools' bond offering, expected tomorrow, could actually be a good deal.

"There's an extraordinary amount of interest in buying short maturity bonds with high yield," says Josh Gonze of Thornberg Investment Management based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager was out knocking on doors Friday.

Jack Martin canvassed the neighborhood near Thurgood Marshall elementary school—his own alma mater--in an ongoing effort to boost the district’s enrollment.

Martin says the only way to “sustain” the district—still burdened with a $76 million deficit after more than 5 years of emergency financial managers-- is to lure more Detroit students back to traditional public schools.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

City of Flint to recover tax money

The city of Flint has found a new source of income in the effort to balance the budget. Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports that around six thousand Flint residents paid their federal income taxes, but did not pay city income taxes. This may allow the Flint to collect around a million dollars in back taxes.

Michigan ACLU sues Ann Arbor Public Schools

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a suit against Ann Arbor Public Schools because of its intent to charge tuition for a seventh class.  With the current plan, Ann Arbor high school students must pay $100 for a seventh-period elective class.  Kary Moss of the ACLU says “it creates a two-tiered system of education. Not only for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, but many other students won't be able to afford the seventh hour."

Detroit Schools get annual report card

Excellent Schools Detroit has released its annual report card for the school system.  Out of more than two hundred schools, twenty-five percent scored a C+ or better.  Many of these higher-ranked schools are new and “fresh-start” schools, which has officials optimistic about the future of the district.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Catherine Ferguson Academy, a Detroit school for pregnant teens and their children, will open under a new charter this fall.

CFA was run by Detroit Public Schools until 2011. Blanche Kelso Bruce Academy and Wayne RESA  took over the school when it was at risk of being shut down. Blanche Kelso operates mostly strict-discipline schools for students who have been expelled. 

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Detroit Public Schools get new emergency manager

Governor Rick Snyder has named Jack Martin as the new emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools. Martin replaces Roy Roberts, who is retiring after two years in the position. Martin is leaving his position as Detroit’s chief financial officer.  Roberts says DPS still has a long way to go, but conditions are noticeably better than when he started; the current budget deficit is more than $70 million.

Retiree health care coverage suspended in Pontiac

Pontiac’s emergency manager Louis Schimmel has proposed the Emergency Loan Board address an expected $6 million general fund shortfall in the current budget year. The board approved a plan to suspend health care coverage for retirees from the city of Pontiac and increase their monthly pension payments. The city's roughly 1,000 pensioners will get an extra $400 a month to buy their own health care, the Associated Press reports.

EPA now accepting Great Lakes grant applications

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has $9.5 million to distribute for Great Lakes projects and is looking for takers. The money comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an Obama administration program to clean up and protect the lakes from a variety of threats. A webinar explaining the application process will be held July 30.

U.S Department of Education

After two years as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools, Roy Roberts has officially left the position. Yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder named current Detroit Chief Financial Officer Jack Martin to replace him.

Martin has also served as emergency manager of Highland Park Schools, and as CFO of the U.S. Department of Education.

Governor Snyder says he expects the transition between Roberts and Martin to be seamless.

DPS

Consider this some free advertising.

Right now, Detroit Public Schools is proposing its most optimistic budget in years:

  • No teacher layoffs
  • The return of after-school programming, at least in some schools
  • Minimal increases in class sizes
  • New parenting resources
  • A little more money for instruction: about $2 million in total 

But it’s all riding on whether the district can lure 5,000 students away from competitors.

That’s a big bet to make.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some students and staff at Detroit’s Catherine Ferguson Academy say their education is so lackluster, it violates their civil rights.

The Detroit Public Schools handed the school for pregnant and parenting girls over to a charter operator in 2011, after students and teachers fought to keep it from closing.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Students in Michigan’s state-run district for the lowest-performing schools are making “impressive” strides.

At least, that’s how officials with the Education Achievement Authority are interpreting new test data.

The third set of online Scantron Performance Series tests administered to EAA students this year show what Chancellor John Covington calls “phenomenal” progress in reading and math.

District officials say 56% of all students demonstrated at least a year’s worth of progress in reading, and 65% did so in math.

Covington says most EAA students start out way behind, so it makes sense to measure growth rather than specific benchmarks.

He says these scores prove the district’s philosophy of “student –centered learning” and “meeting students where they’re at” is yielding results.

“Children aren’t able to move from one level to the next until they have clearly demonstrated they have mastered those standards and those requisite skills they need to move to the next level,” Covington says.

The district for the lowest-performing 5% of schools is only operating in 15 former Detroit Public Schools right now.

Governor Snyder is pushing to take the EAA statewide. But it’s faced considerable questions and opposition from Democrats and other critics, as legislation to codify the district in state law recently stalled in the State Senate.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

US education secretary to visit Detroit schools

"President Obama's education secretary will be in Detroit on Monday for a town hall meeting on education issues and visits to three area schools," the Associated Press reports.

Palisades nuclear power plant shut down after water leak

"Operators of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwestern Michigan removed it from service Sunday because of a repeat water leak from a tank that caused seepage into the control room last year. The plant has been under extra Nuclear Regulatory Commission scrutiny after numerous safety issues. There were four shutdowns last year and at least two this year," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan voters head to the polls Tuesday

Many Michigan communities will be voting in local elections on Tuesday. Local elections including filling the vacant mayor's seat in Troy, choosing a new state senator in Genesee County, and in many parts of the state, residents can vote on school board issues.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This "week in review," Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the U.S. Senate race, allowing health coverage for live-in partners and the retirement of the emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools.

Roy Roberts, emergency manager of the Detroit Public schools for the last two years, is leaving. His contract ends in two weeks, and he says he isn’t interested in extending it.

You can hardly blame him. He is 74 and thanks to a successful career at General Motors, doesn‘t need the money. Roberts especially doesn‘t need more aggravation.

Being emergency manager of what is, in effect, a dying school system has meant 14 hour days and many angry people. There’s no way it could have meant anything else. His predecessor, Robert Bobb, was roundly hated, and whoever the governor appoints next will be too.

Detroit Public Schools

The state-appointed emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools announced his retirement today. 

Governor Rick Snyder appointed Roy Roberts to manage the state's largest school system in 2011.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Lawmakers try to block referendum to wolf hunt

"The state Senate has approved legislation that would make a voter referendum on wolf-hunting in Michigan irrelevant – even before the question has been formally approved for the November ballot. The measure would name the wolf and 38 other animals as game species. That’s despite a looming voter challenge to a new state law that allows wolf hunting," Rick Pluta reports.

Education Achievement Authority in financial trouble, borrows $12 million from DPS

The state run school district meant to turn around the lowest performing schools has been found to borrow $12 million from Detroit Public Schools.  The Education Achievement Authority took over 15 former Detroit Public Schools this school year.

Unemployment rate down statewide

"Michigan says that the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate is down statewide and in all 17 major labor markets. The lowest rate in the March report was for Ann Arbor at 5.1 percent. The highest was for the northeastern Lower Peninsula at 13.1 percent," the Associated Press reports.

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

There's a movement in Michigan to expand the Education Achievement Authority, a new school system for Michigan's lowest-performing public schools.

Since last fall, 15 Detroit schools have been run under the EAA. Now, there's movement to expand the EAA to include more under-performing schools.

The State House has already passed legislation that would expand the system, despite objections from Democrats who say the legislation is premature. Democrats say that there needs to be more research that suggests the EAA is really working before moving ahead with any sort of legislative expansion.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Education Achievement Authority is up and running right now in 15 Detroit schools.

Michigan’s state-run “reform district” for the lowest-performing schools is already controversial.

In the eyes of Governor Snyder and its champions, the EAA is the best way to assure that schools don’t linger in failure for years on end.

In the eyes of critics, it’s already a failed experiment that threatens the very heart of public education in Michigan.

Ellen Cogen Lipton is a patent attorney who was born in Philadelphia, grew up in Alabama, and ended up in Michigan 20 years ago, after marrying a fellow law student from Southfield.

But she also comes from a family of educators, was a chemistry teacher herself, and has two kids in public schools in suburban Detroit. That’s a fairly interesting biography to begin with, but there’s more. She is also completing her third term in the state legislature.

Lipton wasn’t very political, until she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and felt it was urgent that Michigan approve a constitutional amendment allowing embryonic stem cell research.

Five years ago she won that battle, and got herself elected to the legislature that same year. Learning is important to her, and she knows that the Detroit Public Schools have not been doing the job.

You might think then that she’d be supportive of the experiment Governor Rick Snyder launched to try to fix our lowest-performing schools, the Educational Achievement Authority, known as the EAA.

If there’s a school near you that’s been deemed “persistently low-achieving,” it could soon come under the control of a new regime.

Governor Snyder is leading a controversial effort to create a statewide district for those struggling schools. Right now, that district—formally known as the Education Achievement Authority, or EAA--is doing a kind of pilot year in Detroit.

How well is that working out?  The answer to that question depends very much on who you ask.

Debate is underway in Lansing on bills that would expand on an educational experiment now underway in Detroit.

It's called the Education Achievement Authority, and its aim is to turn the lowest-performing schools—with changes like a longer school year, and more online learning.

In this first of a three-part series, Michigan Radio takes a look at the Education Achievement Authority - which could be coming soon to a school near you.

A new plan outlines a path for the Detroit Public Schools to grow again.

The “Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools” plan centers around the idea of “community schools” that offer a wide array of services to the community.

DPS emergency financial manager Roy Roberts says without Proposal S, the district would be severely crippled.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Updated at 4:16 pm:

Roy Roberts has been waiting for this day for months. 

Michigan’s new emergency manager law takes effect today. And that means Roberts just got a lot more powerful.

He's the emergency manager for Detroit's public school system.

But for months, he’s been locked in a power struggle with the elected DPS school board.

That’s because nobody really knew how things were supposed to work, or who was running what, during the tumultuous period between the old EM law getting overturned, and the new EM law taking effect.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The US Department of Education is now investigating the state of Michigan over alleged civil rights violations.

The department’s civil rights office was already investigating two civil rights cases against the Detroit Public Schools.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Court of Appeals has tossed a big jury award in a former Detroit school teacher's whistleblower lawsuit.

In 2004, Beverly Garvin claims a fourth grade student told her that two boys had forced her to perform oral sex. Garvin says she reported the alleged assault to her superiors and nothing happened. Garvin says when she persisted, including contacting police, she was transferred and eventually fired. 

A jury awarded Garvin $750 thousand in damages. 

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Public Schools is looking for more volunteer readers.

Reading Corps Week in Detroit begins Monday and runs through Friday. The district is planning a rally and training Saturday at Renaissance High School as part of its Reading Corps program.

Education, city and business leaders who have served as reading tutors will participate in the rally. Nearly 900 people have volunteered to help tutor Detroit students as part of the program.

New volunteers will be trained at the rally.

Kate Sumbler / Flickr

This week in review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the second attempt to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the great potential of Detroit getting an emergency manager, and debates over what control the Detroit Public School board has when they are under the control of an emergency financial manager.

via Detroit Board of Education

Detroit’s elected school board will have short-lived authority over some key decisions.

A Wayne County judge ruled Wednesday that the district’s emergency financial manager had exceeded his authority on some issues.

Judge Annette Berry said Roy Roberts must consult with the school board on school closings, security, and some other issues.

Roberts is supposed to share authority with the school board. He oversees finances, while the board supervises academics.

But the two are hard to separate, and both sides have brought court cases over how that should work in practice

Detroit school board President Lamar Lemmons says the ruling granting board members a partial injunction proves Roberts overstepped his authority.

"He’s used the fact that he’s had financial authority to, if you will, bully the staff into cooperating with him,” Lemmons said.  “And for all intents and purposes, ignoring the board and its designated superintendent.”

The arrangement will be short-lived, though. A new emergency manager law kicks into effect on March 28th, once again giving Roberts broad powers over the whole district.

Lemmons says the board plans a court challenge to the new law.

Pages