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detroit public schools

Senator David Knezek of Dearborn Heights says the legislature missed a huge opportunity to help struggling Detroit schools.
Courtesy of Sen. Knezek

State lawmakers passed a $617 million dollar package for Detroit Public Schools on Wednesday night.

Democratic Senator David Knezek of District Five, which includes part of Detroit, joined us on Stateside to discuss the package.

It’s a big step backwards for DPS, he said.

“The package that we passed last night sets up Detroit Public Schools for failure,” Knezek said. “It sets up the children for failure.”

Michigan Senate OKs bailout for Detroit schools

Jun 8, 2016
44 percent of Michigan 3rd graders tested proficient in English and Language Arts. The scores for African-American, latino and low-income students were even worse.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan senators have approved a $617 million bailout of Detroit's debt-ridden school district.

The Republican-controlled Senate narrowly passed the restructuring package late Wednesday, nearly a week after House passage. The bills soon will reach Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature as long as the House OKs some changes, likely later in the night.

The rescue comes two years after the state helped bail out Detroit's municipal government as part of its bankruptcy case.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was as angry as I’ve ever seen him late last week.

For months, members of both parties in the state Senate had worked with the governor to forge a rare bipartisan compromise to save Detroit Public Schools.

They came up with a figure needed to wipe out the debt and manage transition costs, and agreed to establish a Detroit Education Commission that would decide where any new schools, conventional or charter, could open.

The idea was to maintain balance and not have destructive competition in some areas while leaving other areas underserved.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry discusses legislation to bail out Detroit Public Schools, a grassroots campaign to legalize marijuana, and takeaways from last week's Mackinac Policy Conference.


Detroit Public Schools students participated in a mock election on May 19 to decide on two DPS-specific ballot measures and vote in presidential primaries.
pinehurst19475 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The results are in, and Bernie Sanders is the winner -- of a mock election that 5,139 Detroit Public Schools students on 22 high-school campuses participated in on May 19. 

The Vermont senator took 58.12% of the Democratic vote and received 2,844 votes overall, according to a DPS release, beating out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the next-highest vote-getter, by a comfortable margin. Clinton received 1,857 votes.

From left to right: Patrick Harris, Reginald Franklyn, Slytazion Sanders, and Dominick Williams.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to “fix” Detroit schools.

State lawmakers are trying to save the Detroit Public Schools from fast-approaching bankruptcy.

But little of that discussion has included the voices of DPS students.

Here, four students from Detroit’s Cody High School share their thoughts about just how bad things are right now.

Governor Rick Snyder is trying to make the best of it as a plan he endorsed to try and save the Detroit Public Schools is starting to look like it isn’t going to happen.

The Detroit Public Schools are in financial crisis. The district could go into default - bankruptcy is even an option - if the the state Legislature doesn’t adopt a bailout plan this month. If that happens, it’s possible tens of thousands of students in the city could be without a school to go to come fall.

Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state Senate could vote this week on a Detroit Public Schools bailout plan, even though it’s a departure from the bipartisan compromise already adopted by the chamber.        

This new plan is a Republican-only proposal that cleared the state House last week with no support from Democrats. Their main complaint is there’s no control over the location of new charter schools in the city.

The earlier Senate version had the backing of Democrats, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Governor Rick Snyder.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is optimistic that Michigan’s budget plan for next year should be wrapped up in the next week or two. 

Time is running short. The state legislature is only has a few weeks until it is scheduled to adjourn for much of the summer and there is still a lot left to do.

The state senate is expected to tackle funding for Detroit public schools this week. Last week, the state house passed a $617 million package that Democrats complain does more to protect the interests of charter school operators than students.

Forty-eight years ago today, Robert Francis Kennedy died in Los Angeles, shot by a lunatic after Kennedy claimed victory in that year’s California Democratic primary.

Kennedy, in his final campaign in that truly horrible year, often stunned reporters by his willingness to speak truth to power.

The Michigan House of Representatives.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan state House narrowly passed a bill to bail out Detroit Public Schools tonight. But critics complain the plan does more for charter schools than Detroit kids.

The main bill in the package passed by a razor-thin margin, 55 to 53 votes.    

The legislation would allocate more than $600 million for the district, including $150 million to help transition Detroit schools to a new district.  

The school system has been under state control for the past seven years. 

House Speaker Kevin Cotter says the plan will help the district succeed.

kids in classroom
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The fight continues over a bailout package for Detroit Public Schools.

Today, the state House is attempting to hash out the differences between its rescue plan and the bipartisan plan passed by the state Senate.

At the heart of the fight is an amended Senate proposal for a Detroit Education Commission, a body that would set the same standards for closing down both failing public schools and charter schools in Detroit.

Clark Durant is co-founder of Cornerstone Schools, which runs charter schools in Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State legislative leaders are still trying to reach a deal on a bailout for Detroit Public Schools.

All the action on the bill took place behind closed doors Wednesday, with few specifics leaking out.

The $600 million package reportedly includes $150 million in new start-up funding.

But House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, is upset that Democrats and Detroit lawmakers have had no role in crafting the plan.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan with students at the Detroit Promise Zone scholarship announcement.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is making a final push for a larger role in the city’s education landscape.

Duggan stood alongside some charter school operators and Detroit Public Schools officials Tuesday, in support of a Detroit Education Commission.

That commission is being debated in Lansing as part of a larger, bankruptcy-style restructuring for Detroit Public Schools, which needs hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid if it’s to open doors in the fall.

Joe Gratz / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the state School Reform Office from appointing a chief executive officer to oversee four academically low-performing East Detroit Public Schools.

Macomb County Circuit Judge Joseph Toia ruled Friday there is a risk that allowing a takeover would cause the school district "irreparable harm." He has scheduled a hearing on the issue for June 13.

The week after Memorial Day is when Michigan’s political and business leaders pack up and head north to Mackinac Island for the annual Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference.

Mackinac is a major political event where political fundraisers are as ubiquitous as horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and complimentary cocktails.

Parents protest outside a Detroit elementary school earlier this year.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan

Some Detroit education activists and power players are making a last, all-out push for a specific component of any potential rescue package for Detroit Public Schools.

Lansing needs to come up with some plan to keep DPS from going bankrupt this summer.

But so far, state House leaders haven’t budged on a crucial issue for some: the proposed Detroit Education Commission.

That Commission would have the power to decide what schools open where in the city, including charter schools.

kids in classroom
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Yet another Detroit Public Schools administrator is accused of stealing from the district.

This time the alleged scam steered at least $1,275,000 to a former grants manager for tutoring services that were never delivered.

Carolyn StarkeyDarden worked for the district from 1968 to 2005. She went on to set up a series of companies that got tutoring contracts with the district.

DPS interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather makes an announcement.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Amidst tremendous uncertainty about its future existence, the Detroit Public Schools is trying to recruit teachers.

The district is holding a “DPS Day” recruitment fair for new teachers at Martin Luther King High School on Tuesday.

Officials admit that’s a challenging task when the district’s future is so insecure.

It’s waiting on state lawmakers to pass a huge aid package before it runs out of money altogether this summer.

DPS interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather says the sooner Lansing can get that resolved, the better.

The governor and the legislature are currently fighting over how to rescue the Detroit public schools from financial collapse. There’s a general recognition that this has to be done, if only because the consequences of not doing so would cost the state even more.

The state constitution requires Michigan to provide an education for all children.

Courtesy of Imani Harris

The future of the Detroit Public Schools as a functioning district is in doubt. The state Legislature is haggling over whether to give it a fighting chance or shortchange it – and allow uncertified teachers.

That has legislators, the governor, some business leaders and teachers very concerned. But they aren’t the only ones.

Imani Harris, a sophomore at Renaissance High in Detroit, voiced her thoughts on what’s happening to DPS in a letter. She joined us today on Stateside.

Richard T. James

Marilyn McCormick only expected to stay in Detroit for a year or two before moving to New York to live the “bohemian lifestyle.” Then she got a teaching job at her alma mater, Cass Technical High School. “I was totally enjoying what I was doing…[and] I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing,” McCormick said. Now forty years later, the performing arts teacher will be retiring.

DPS EM Steven Rhodes, center, takes notes at a meeting with Detroit's elected school board.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager, Steven Rhodes, met with the district’s elected board for the first time publicly Wednesday.

That board has been virtually powerless since emergency managers started running DPS in 2009.

Rhodes largely sat quietly, taking notes, as board members peppered him with questions about how the district got to the verge of bankruptcy. They’re pushing for a forensic audit of the district’s finances, particularly contracting practices, during the past seven years of state control.

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools needs a financial lifeline from Lansing to keep going beyond this school year.

But efforts to get that done in the state Legislature have largely been hijacked by big donors with different views on a separate but related issue: oversight of the city’s charter schools.

At least, that’s the conclusion of a report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

DPS emergency manager Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

Contract talks between Detroit Public Schools teachers and the district’s emergency manager are on hold, and union leaders say that’s a mistake.

Contracts for DPS teachers and most other school employees expire June 30th.

Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes has said the district will delay collective bargaining until Lansing acts on legislation to prevent a DPS bankruptcy.

Jodi Westrick

There are big differences between the state House and Senate on what to do next about the budget crisis facing Detroit Public Schools. 

The district needs a massive influx of state aid to stay open next school year. DPS interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather joined Cynthia Canty on today’s Stateside to explain how she hopes to elevate the quality of education for all Detroit public school students.

kids in classroom
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The man behind a bribery-and-kickback scheme in Detroit Public Schools pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday.

Norman Shy, 74, ran AllState Sales, a school supplies company.

Starting in 2009, federal prosecutors say he conspired with school principals and one DPS administrator to inflate invoices for at least five years.

During that time, Shy got paid at least $2.7 million for school supplies he never delivered, and shared those profits with school officials.

State lawmakers at odds over best DPS rescue package

May 11, 2016
Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, speaks to reporters on the Senate floor after the Senate passed Senate Bills 710, 711, and 819 - 822, measures that would reform Detroit's public schools.
senatorgoeffhansen.com

Michigan lawmakers are at odds over the best rescue package for Detroit Public Schools, including one plan that could leave the district $80 million in debt by September.

A new memo from State Treasurer Nick Khouri predicts a dark future for DPS if an agreement cannot be reached among lawmakers, with teachers missing paychecks and the district going severely into debt.

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state-appointed manager of Detroit Public Schools laid out his plan to turn the struggling district around during a public meeting Tuesday night.

Judge Steven Rhodes told a hostile crowd that included teachers, students and community members that he's trying to set a path for long-term success for students and educators.

Dozens of people at the meeting repeatedly interrupted Rhodes during his presentation.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the end of Flint water hearings in Lansing and whether Detroit's struggling school district will get the cash infusion it needs from the state.


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