“It is just absolutely unfathomable and unacceptable for us as a community to allow the neediest children, the children who need the most attention in the classroom to get the least.”
-Tonya Allen, President and CEO of the Skillman Foundation
Stephen Henderson and guests including President and CEO of the Skillman Foundation Tonya Allen, quoted above, Education Reporter for Bridge Magazine Chastity Pratt Dawsey, and CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit Dan Varner for a discussion on reforming the Detroit Public School system. The panel will look at the economic, academic, and curricular challenges that come with attempting to overhaul the system.
Stephen and Allen look at the reformation recommendations from the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren. This plan involves placing the entire education district under the control of a single Detroit School Board.
Tonya Allen from the Skillman Foundation explains the problems with debt that have been plaguing the system and influenced the creation of the plan. She says $1200 per child is being withheld by the state government to pay off the previous debts of the system.
The plan calls for debt forgiveness and data collection on students to keep track of their activities, and giving parents choices. The increased oversight of a singular schoolboard may also help keep all schools whether public or charter operating within educational standards while keeping them accountable.
Allen says education is the biggest political issue and the influence of lobbyists and the changes in the political climate are significant problems. She says the bureaucracy of the system ends up influencing the path to fixing it. Allen adds that the system is complex and it needs to worked in tandem with any reformation attempts .
Dawsey says that “Children in Detroit Public schools are getting less instructional funding than any other district in the state and it’s a crucial point in time because they are academically achieving worse than any district in the state.” Dan Varner, the CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit says that the plans would be a step in providing information to families to help them make effective educational choices. He says the plan would increase stability in the system that could help schools focus on instructional education.
Varner says “good governance does not necessarily mean you will have good academic outcomes for kids, but at the same time bad governance does guarantee bad outcomes for kids.”