detroit public schools

Education
3:57 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Despite more school choice, Detroit parents still frustrated

A charter advocacy group gives Michigan's charter law a passing grade
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Eighty percent of Detroit parents say they do not believe the city's public schools are the best choice for their child. But they’re split on the other options as well.

A new survey from the Detroit News and the Thompson Foundation asks Detroit parents how they feel about their school choices.

Only one in five parents picked DPS as the best for their kid. But even with the recent increase in school options - charter, private, public schools outside the city - none was a clear winner.

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Education
2:22 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Detroit schools' leaders to voters: Renew Proposal S

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

Detroit Public Schools’ leaders are united behind an effort to renew Proposal S.

That’s a millage that accounts for more than 20% of the district’s day-to-day expenses, or about $80 million.

It was a rare moment of unity for the various factions that run Detroit schools. But emergency financial manager Roy Roberts, school board President Lamar Lemmons, and Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson all agree: the district would be "severely crippled" without Proposal S.

“We’ve put aside our differences on this critical issue," Lemmons said. "It’s not about politics. It’s about educating our students.”

Roberts emphasizes that it’s for basic operations costs, like paying teachers--and it’s for traditional Detroit Public schools, only.

“It will not be shared with EAA , charter schools, nor any other school on the face of this earth,” Roberts insisted.

The EAA is the Education Achievement Authority, a new state-run district for failing schools that now has 15 former Detroit Public Schools.

Detroit voters initially approved the 18-mill levy on industrial, commercial, and rental properties in 2005.

Education
1:39 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Detroit schools find new way to buy school supplies

Detroit Public Schools' officials have found a new way to buy school supplies.
MyTudut flickr

The Detroit Public School district has turned to an online site used mostly by federal contractors to get its school supplies.

Officials credit “FedBid” with helping the district save hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a few months.

Bidders announce their intent to buy a product. Suppliers then compete to offer the best price.

District spokesman Steve Wasko said it has helped fix some problems with getting supplies to classrooms.

“This has been, not only from a supply standpoint but from all standpoints, a very smooth start to the school year—at least by way of comparison with previous years,” said Wasko.

Wasko said it's also a good way to save money without compromising the quality of education.

The district’s current budget calls for cutting five million dollars from its procurement budget.

District officials estimate using FedBid alone could save up to three million.

Education
9:04 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Detroit schools officials tout start-of-year-attendance numbers

Roy Roberts

Detroit Public Schools officials are happy with the district’s attendance figures so far this year.

Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts says the district averaged 85% attendance Wednesday, the second day of school for Detroit students.

Roberts says that’s much better than the past two years. The district didn’t reach a 75% attendance rate until later weeks, jeopardizing state funds.

“We think this is proof that Detroit Public Schools is making great strides to meet the needs of the students,” Roberts said.

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Environment & Science
10:57 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Students ask, 'Could alien superbugs cure disease on Earth?'

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma from Troy High School.
YouTube

Science experiments from two Michigan high school students and a young man from Egypt are expected to be performed next month aboard the International Space Station.

Organizers of the competition to have experiments done by astronauts 250 miles above Earth announced Wednesday that TV personality Bill Nye will host a live online video stream of the experiments Sept. 13.

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma were named winners in March in the 14- to 16-year-old age group.

The Troy High School students' experiment asks the question: "Could alien superbugs cure disease on Earth?" Amr Mohamed from Egypt won the 17- to 18-year-old age group for an experiment about spiders.

They're expected to watch the online stream.

YouTube, Lenovo, and private space exploration company Space Adventures organized the competition.

Education
1:22 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

Spirit of Detroit statue shows off school spirit

Detroit Public Schools detroitk12.org

The Detroit school district has kicked off its fall enrollment drive in a big way, draping a 300-square-foot T-shirt over the Spirit of Detroit statue in front of city hall.

Leaders of the Detroit Public Schools are working to attract families to the district's new buildings and stabilize attendance that has seen losses to charter and suburban schools.

The T-shirt with the slogan "I'm in" was unveiled this morning and will decorate the statue through Sept. 4.

Education
11:02 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Judge: Schools can go to EAA, but Detroit school board regains academic control

A Wayne County judge ruled Tuesday that the Education Achievement Authority can launch as scheduled.

That statewide district for the lowest-achieving schools is set to open with 15 former Detroit Public schools next month. The elected Detroit school board had voted to reverse that decision.

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Education
12:11 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

With school just weeks away, uncertainty lingers over Detroit teachers

Roy Roberts
via Detroit Public Schools

With Detroit Public Schools students set to head back to class in less than a month, serious questions linger regarding the district’s teachers.

The district’s emergency manager, Roy Roberts, imposed new contract terms on teachers last month.

That infuriated teachers and their union leaders, who said the district never even collectively bargained with them.

But those new terms are now null and void, argues Keith Johnson, President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. He says now that the law has been suspended, Roberts’ “authority” is suspended, too.

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Education
11:22 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Michigan Attorney General sues to block Detroit school board from resuming power

School districts with emergency managers have been plunged into uncertainty, now that the state’s emergency manager law has been suspended.

In Detroit, the Michigan Attorney General is suing to make sure the elected school board doesn’t take power back there.

Detroit’s elected school board went from having very little power, to no power whatsoever when the state broadened the powers of emergency managers under Public Act 4.

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Commentary
9:26 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

Sometimes I think Detroit should adopt a new motto, something like: “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it."

This time, the focus is on the Detroit Public Schools, which for years have been famous for incompetence, corruption, and the squandering of money. There were almost two hundred thousand kids in the schools at the turn of the century, a dozen years ago.

This fall, there may be fewer than fifty thousand left. In recent years, the schools have been under state control much of the time. Most recently, they’ve been run by an Emergency Financial Manager with sweeping powers over the system’s finances and academics. But this week, the Emergency Manager law was suspended until after a referendum in November that may repeal it.

In the meantime, the state believes that means that the old Emergency Financial Manager law is back in place.  According to a judge’s ruling, when Emergency Financial Managers were named to run school districts, they had power over finances - but not  academics. The stronger Emergency Manager law gave them both.

But with that gone, at least temporarily, the Detroit School Board moved to reassert itself. You might think they would move slowly and sensibly, reviewing Emergency Manager Roy Roberts’ academic plan and keeping it, as far as possible.

But instead, the board is acting as if they were terribly afraid someone might accuse them of common sense.

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Politics & Government
8:56 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Michigan Attorney General files suit to remove 7 Detroit School Board members

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he will ask a circuit court judge to order the removal of seven members of the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education, because they were illegally elected - and seek an injunction to halt future Board action.

From the state's press release:                                             

"Standing up for Detroit school children
A.G. takes legal action to remove seven Detroit School Board members who were elected in violation of state law, halt future board actions

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Politics & Government
7:59 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Targeted Detroit neighborhoods, schools get major boost

A house about to be demolished in the Morningside neighborhood.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan, the city of Detroit and the Detroit Public Schools have launched an intensive effort to stabilize some city neighborhoods.

The targeted interventions focus on three major areas around a total of nine schools across the city.

The effort officially kicked off Thursday afternoon outside Clark Preparatory Academy in Detroit’s Morningside neighborhood, on the city’s east side. Other targeted areas include the communities around Bagley and Bates schools in northwest Detroit, and several schools including the Roberto Clemente Academy in southwest Detroit.

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Education
7:12 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

American Federation of Teachers takes to the streets on behalf of Detroit's teachers

Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

The American Federation of Teachers is in Detroit for the group’s annual convention.

And they’re taking it to the streets—and to Detroit Public Schools’ officials—on behalf of the district’s teachers.

Earlier this month, Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager Roy Roberts imposed new contract terms on the district’s teachers.

Those terms include a pay cut, larger class sizes, and less prep time for teachers.

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Education
3:58 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Union chief: new Detroit teachers' deal is 'farce'

The head of the Detroit Federation of Teachers has sent a memo to members saying union leadership wants the public school district's emergency manager to present a contract - imposed without negotiations - to the rank and file.

The memo by union president Keith Johnson calls the agreement "a farce" and that it makes deeper cuts into benefits and working conditions.

Emergency manager Roy Roberts announced the new deal on Sunday.

Johnson says Roberts used "the full power" of the state's year-old emergency manager law in crafting the deal.

He says teachers have to pay more for dental coverage and generic prescription co-pays. Life insurance has been cut by $5,000, and teachers now only get unemployment compensation for time off of work as a result of assaults from students or parents.

Education
7:12 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Still no details on Detroit teachers' contract; war of words escalates

A day after the Detroit Public Schools’ Emergency Manager imposed a new contract on the district’s teachers, both sides are staying mum on its terms.

But teacher’s union officials are escalating their war of words against the district.

Detroit Public Schools officials won’t divulge details of the new, imposed contract terms. Emergency manager Roy Roberts is empowered to impose contract terms under the state's emergency manager law.

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Education
11:54 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager imposes new teacher contract

DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts
Detroit Public Schools

The state-appointed emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools has imposed a new contract on the district’s teachers.

Roy Roberts is empowered to impose new contract terms on teachers under the state’s emergency manager law.

The district’s previous contract with the Detroit Federation of Teachers expired June 30.

In a written statement, Roberts says the decision to impose a new contract came after “a series of meet and confer sessions” with union leadership prior to June 30.

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Education
9:15 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager lays out "draconian" budget

The Detroit Public Schools budget is taking a huge hit next year. But the district’s emergency manager says it’s part of a painful, but necessary restructuring to get the system back on track.

Roy Roberts presented what he admits is a “draconian” budget at a community meeting Wednesday night.

It shaves about 25%, or $250 million, off the previous year’s budget.

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Education
6:03 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

DPS budget projects surplus, job cuts, enrollment decline

kconnors morguefile

Detroit Public Schools officials say they expect to end this fiscal year with a $12 million surplus. Meanwhile, the district's proposed budget for next year projects the loss of about 15,000 students, and about 1,900 jobs.

Detroit Public Schools is preparing to shrink next year as 15 schools become part of the Educational Achievement Authority. That's the new statewide system for failing schools.

Steve Wasko is a spokesman for Detroit Public Schools. He says the job cuts are not as alarming as they might sound.

"It's not necessarily a net loss of education jobs, public education jobs, public teacher jobs in the city of Detroit - in public schools in the city of Detroit, but a shift that we knew was coming for some time," said Wasko.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for next Wednesday.

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Education
12:59 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Detroit school for teen moms celebrates graduates 1 year after facing closure (Video)

A year after students rallied and, in some cases, got arrested to save their school from closure, the Catherine Ferguson Academy for pregnant and parenting teens recently celebrated the graduation of its senior class, capped off with some national media attention.

Rachel Maddow featured the graduates in her "Best New Thing in the World Today" segment (see below).

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reported last June, the Catherine Ferguson Academy was one of several Detroit public schools slated to close due to budgetary concerns, but it was saved at the eleventh hour when education officials agreed to turn it over to a charter organization.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Education
3:33 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Detroit Public School attendance below standards, though better than expected

John Bennett Elementary, part of the Detroit Public School district
user Notorious4life Wikipedia commons

Despite last year’s Detroit Public School campaign entitled “Attendance … Every Day, All Day,” the district’s 2010-2011 attendance numbers failed to meet state requirements and will face the loss of $4.2 million in state aid, according to the Detroit News.

Though the lost money will further hurt the state-controlled school district, the Detroit News reports that the damage could have been worse:

In its amended 2011-12 budget, DPS said it expected to pay $21 million to the state for dropping below 75 percent attendance and had budgeted for the expense.

The state informed DPS in March the amount would be closer to $4 million, giving DPS $17 million more money, which was returned to the general fund.

According to its 2011-2012 budget, the district received about $497 million in state funding over the school year, up three percent from the expected amount.

According to the DPS website, each student enrolled above the budgeted number on count days brings $7,550 in state funding.  In order to encourage count day attendance in its 137 schools in the past through ice cream and pizza parties, “dress down” days for schools that require uniforms, and even a 2009 Radio One-sponsored contest in which students attending school could win a plasma TV, laptop computer, iPod nanos, or an American Express gift card.

- Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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