A new plan to overhaul the Detroit Public School District is getting mixed reviews from those closest to the system. Stephen Henderson speaks with Bridge Magazine Education Reporter Chastity Pratt Dawsey, State School Board President John Austin and the elected President of Detroit Federation of Teachers, Steve Conn.
No Advice Needed: Pratt Dawsey said she believes it’s clear that the recommendations from the Detroit based organization Coalition for the Future of Detroit School Children were essentially tossed aside for the most recent plan coming from the legislature.
Doesn’t Pay Debt: Pratt Dawsey said the current plan would address only half of the debt owed to the state and there is no indication of where that money or the additional money owed might come from.
More Bureaucracy: Pratt Dawsey notes that under the plan there would be three different entities involved in Detroit public schooling, the Detroit Public Schools, The Education Achievement Authority or EAA and the Charter Schools system.
Other points made by guests included:
What About Charters?: State School Board President John Austin said the charter schools in Michigan have a huge lobby in Lansing and one consequence of that is that the plan places few demands on charter schools in Detroit. Austin said “We’ve got a market of public schools in Detroit but it’s been allowed to grow willy nilly with no constraints or expectations. A lot of the charters that have opened…they don’t provide better academic outcomes for kids….so we need some form of Detroit Education Commission that could manage this network of public schools and ensure that they’re all quality”.
Local Control: Austin said the plan should focus heavily on the Mayor and a local school board making decisions. “The state has a lot of fish to fry here, in Flint, and elsewhere. Let’s let the mayor and the elected folks of Detroit put their school system, whether its charter or traditional, back together again. To make decisions about it and get the resources they need to deliver quality education for Detroit School children whatever school they go to” said Austin.