Detroit Today Host Stephen Henderson Speaks with Skillman Foundation CEO and founder Tonya Allen and Walbridge CEO John Rakolta Jr. about the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren and education reform in the city. Detroit’s public schools are currently facing massive debt and management issues, but the community and government in the city have plans for reform. Although no plan is completely agreed upon, legislators are open to working with groups like the coalition to formulate a plan that solves the problem.
- Reform Progress Slow: Allen feels that the Detroit public school reform plans aren’t perfect right now, but there are definitely issues that need to be addressed no matter which reform in chosen. She says there are similarities between the Skillman group’s education report and Governor Snyder’s plan but says her major concern is determining who will govern the new system. She says Detroiters should be in control of their own education, but Snyder and the Detroit Education Commission’s plans do not allow for it.
- Need For Overhaul: Rakolta says the current lack of overall educational governance in the city is another major issue. The large amount of schools opening and growing numbers of empty seats increase expenses and inefficiency. He says a massive overhaul of the entire system is necessary to keep the city’s public school systems from falling below national averages for education. Allen feels that a successful reform will require legislative and institutional changes but should also incorporate collaborations between the legislators and the civic community.
- Serious Money Problems: Rakolta mentions Detroit Public School system is 800 million dollars in debt, and 53 million of Michigan’s education budget is removed from the educational system for other purposes every year. He also notes that current legislation is seeking to raise it to 63 million and says the current schoolchildren are being forced to bear previous debt and hindering their growth will affect the development of Detroit’s future.
Hear the entire conversation by clicking on the audio link above.