dps

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents say they’re angry about conditions in the city’s schools — and ready to do something about it.

Dozens of them packed a meeting led by the Detroit Parent Network Thursday night.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the Flint water crisis: how Flint is getting help at the federal level, when Governor Snyder first knew about the water problem and how this crisis has hurt him politically. Lessenberry also talks about why teachers at the Detroit Public Schools are protesting many issues by staging "sickouts."


Jake Neher / MPRN

Gov. Rick Snyder is adding his voice to those calling for an end to teacher “sickout” protests in the state’s largest school district.

Dozens of Detroit public school buildings have closed this week with teachers staying home, and several more have been forced to close in recent weeks.

Snyder hopes teachers will find other ways to protest state control of Michigan’s largest district, health and safety issues in classrooms, and other problems. He says there are other avenues to call attention to those issues that don’t hurt students.

Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Republican state lawmakers are looking into legislation meant to prevent teacher “sickouts” like the ones that closed about 60 Detroit schools on Monday.

Teachers in the state’s largest district say it’s their only way to protest problems in the district – from state control to overcrowded classrooms – because teacher strikes are banned under state law.

“I couldn’t be any more disappointed,” said state Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Twp., who chairs the Senate Education Committee.

DPS

Michigan’s education chief is urging teachers in the state’s largest district to end a recent series of “sickout” protests.

A number of Detroit Public School buildings have been forced to close in recent weeks due to the protests.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston says the sickouts are unfair to students.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s slowing down his plans to fix Detroit’s schools in order to get the process moving. In the face of resistance from Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, the governor says he wants to break up the work, focusing first on retiring the district’s massive debt.

Legislative successes and failures in 2015

Dec 17, 2015
user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As the Michigan Legislature wraps up for the year we wanted to take a look back at 2015 with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Sikkema and Demas agree that the list of legislative successes is short this year. Sikkema says:

Detroit’s Public Schools are slowly dying. Those who run them would not use those words, but that’s what is happening. The schools have lost sixty-five percent of their students in the last ten years, and have closed more than three-fifths of their buildings.

There’s some evidence of better management in the last year. Enrollment may have temporarily stabilized. The schools have shed some of the top-heavy central office bureaucracy that for years drained resources and messed with education.

Lawmakers are continuing their autumn recess, but they’ll soon be back in Lansing to focus on Governor Rick Snyder’s plan for Detroit schools.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Several hundred demonstrators chanted “enough is enough” at a state Capitol rally opposing Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed reorganization of the Detroit Public Schools.

  

The rally was organized by the teachers union, which brought in members by the busload to protest and to lobby state lawmakers.

Michigan state Capitol
User: mattileo / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The emergency manager of the Detroit school district took a trip to Lansing today to ask state lawmakers for help. Darnell Earley was hoping to win support for Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to bail out the district.

  

Earley told the state House budget subcommittee on K-12 school spending that the district’s massive debt is standing in the way of improving academic performance and fixing the business side of the operation.

Gov. Snyder at a press conference this month announcing his plan to overhaul the Detroit Public School District.
screenshot / Livestream

Gov. Rick Snyder this week announced his plan for overhauling Detroit Public Schools. It includes splitting the district and leaving the debt with the old DPS, while a new district would move forward with school operations and education. 

Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Public Schools is in even bigger financial trouble than previously thought, according to a state report filed this week.

In its June 2015 quarterly report on school district deficits, the Michigan Department of Education pegged DPS’s annual budget deficit at $166,359,414.

Jake Neher / MPRN

There’s a deep divide at the state Capitol over plans to rescue Detroit Public Schools.

The governor hopes to sell lawmakers on a plan to restructure DPS and have the state pay off its massive debt. He says state-appointed emergency managers drove up that debt.

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

Each week  Jennifer White speaks to Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, about the latest in state politics.

This week, they discussed the federal civil rights complaint filed by the Detroit Public Schools elected board against Governor Rick Snyder.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

Michigan’s top education official says the state should help Detroit Public Schools pay down its massive debt.

The governor and state lawmakers are discussing ways to turn around the district - which is almost $500 million in debt. The district spends $53 million dollars a year on debt service.

  

Outgoing state Superintendent Mike Flanagan says paying off the district’s debt would free up tens of thousands of dollars for every classroom in Detroit.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools is revamping some of its offerings in the hopes it will make its schools more competitive.

Todd Losie is the principal at FLICS, a K-through-8 school that sits right next to Renaissance High School.

Both schools will go for International Baccalaureate certification.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Principals and teachers at Detroit Public Schools' eight lowest-performing schools will be required to reapply for their jobs, under a new restructuring plan designed to boost academics, public image, and student enrichment.

Principals will reapply and be chosen first, and then will have an opportunity to evaluate their staffs and select a team, according to school spokesman Steve Wasko. 

Virtually everyone who doesn’t have a political reason to pretend otherwise would agree that the Detroit public schools are a dreadful failure.

More than three-quarters of its students have fled the district in the last 14 years. Test scores remain appallingly low, and a succession of emergency managers has failed to stabilize the finances. Most children in the district now go to charters, private schools or schools in the suburbs, a clear vote of no confidence by Detroit parents.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Monster trucks may be an incentive for thousands of Detroit Public School students to get to class next Wednesday. 

Every one of the district’s 47,000 Students will receive two tickets to an upcoming monster truck show at Ford Field.

DPS spokesman Steve Wasko says the ticket giveaway is a sign of support in the community for Detroit schools.

Enrollment in the Detroit Public Schools is down slightly from last year—but the district is calling that a victory after years of double-digit enrollment declines.

According to unofficial data released Tuesday, the district counts 47,238 students across its 97 schools.

That’s down 3.4% from the prior year. But district spokesman Steve Wasko said it beat the district’s own budget targets, as well as demographer’s projections.

screen grab from HDNet clip

The city of Detroit plans to acquire 77 vacant properties from Detroit Public Schools.

In return, the city will forgive the district's $11,600,000 in debt.  From the city's press release:

DPS website

For the first time in six years the Detroit Public Schools' proposed budget does not call for any schools to be closed. 

The district expects it will bring in about $50 million fewer than it planned for next year. But officials say despite that, they are planning new programs and won't close any schools. 

The idea is to keep the city's schools competitive with charters and suburban districts. 

But there is still the matter of a $127 million deficit the Detroit school district is battling. 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When you are a school district where more than 80% of your students live in poverty, every penny that helps those students is critical.

And that's why there has been a collective gasp of disbelief, even anger, with the news that Detroit Public Schools has lost $4 million in Head Start funding.

The reason DPS lost the money is because they missed the application deadline.

A school spokesperson blamed a technical problem in uploading the application.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us on our show.

*Listen to our conversation with Rochelle above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Leaders of the Detroit branch of the NAACP say they'll file a lawsuit next week challenging Michigan's emergency manager law.

The law has allowed Gov. Rick Snyder to put managers in Detroit and other struggling cities and school districts. Critics plan to talk Monday outside the federal courthouse in Detroit.

Other legal challenges have not been successful. An Ingham County judge in April threw out a lawsuit that claimed lawmakers violated the Open Meetings Act when it approved the bill in December.

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.

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 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.

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.

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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