Mike Duggan made no secret of his opinion about the state’s proposed closure of city schools as he announced his run for a second term as Detroit’s mayor:
“This is wrong,” he said. “We are going to fight the irrational closing of these Detroit public schools. … This is not right.”
Duggan’s speech announcing his re-election bid covered a range of subjects: city services, public safety, the need to attract residents, and programs that guarantee college tuition for high school graduates.
But the first-term mayor’s most fiery remarks and biggest applause came when he blasted the School Reform Office’s announcement last month that 24 “failing” schools in the city would be closed because of their sub-par performance of the last few years.
“What they’re measuring is the time they were run by the emergency manager,” Duggan said, describing how the city district has been under state control since Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed Robert Bobb to run the district in 2009.
“Make no mistake, we’ve got serious work to do in the schools,” Duggan said. “We’re not saying the conditions are acceptable.”
Duggan said he called Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday, saying “what the School Reform Office is doing is immoral, reckless, illegal,” and telling the governor, “You have to step in.”
Last month, the state School Reform Office released its list of 38 schools that have performed in the bottom 5 percent of Michigan schools for three or more years. The list included 16 in the Detroit Public Schools Community District and eight from the Educational Achievement Authority, all located in the city of Detroit.
Duggan criticized the School Reform Office’s lack of improvement plans.
“Reform means you work with the teachers to raise the performance at that school, and second, you don’t close a school until you’ve created a quality alternative,” he said. “Neither one of those is happening.”
He criticized the state for sending parents a letter suggesting other schools their children could attend: Flat Rock (“that’s half way to Toledo”), Oxford (“most of the way to Flint) and Anchor Bay.
“You don’t throw people out of the boat until looking down to see if there’s a life raft, and that’s what they’ve done,” he said.
Zoom and click on the school icon to see the school name, district and address:
He pledged to work with the newly elected Detroit school board and Interim Superintendent Alicia Meriweather to pursue alternatives to the closures.
“I’m hoping we will get a quick change in direction … you can’t take away people’s right to education,” Duggan said. “That’s the only way we’ll ever fulfill our promise that every neighborhood has a future.”