How Do We Address Widespread Student Transience in Detroit?

Jake Neher/WDET

Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti (left) and United Way for Southeastern CEO Darienne Driver (right)

One in every three children in Detroit ends the year in a different school than they started in. You don’t have to think long to imagine the interruption and chaos that ensues for students and teachers. 

WDET’s partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative (DJC), Bridge Magazine and ChalkBeat, looked deeply into the effects of transience in Detroit’s public schools in a recent series or articles.

Parents who responded to a survey during the investigative work gave these reasons for moving their kids around:

…academic struggles, issues with school discipline, and personal upheavals that forced them to find a new home. But, overwhelmingly, Detroit parents said they moved their children to new schools because they wanted better for their child — a safer school, a cleaner school, the kind of school where their children could thrive.”

WDET joined with DJC partners DPTV, Bridge, and ChalkBeat, for a community discussion about the issues with transience Detroit schools and families face in the education system, and looked at potential solutions, at the Detroit Public Library. 

Click on the audio player above to hear the conversation at DPL.

Panelists include:

Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District

Dr. Darienne Driver, President and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Maria Montoya,  student enrollment and engagement specialist with charter schools

Katherine Andrews, teacher, University Preparatory Academy

Alisanda Woods, Principal, Bethune Elementary-Middle School

Dawn Wilson-Clark, parent and advocate, 482 Forward

Ben Pogodzinski, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, Wayne State University

Chastity Pratt Dawsey, reporter, Bridge Magazine

Erin Einhorn, bureau chief, Chalkbeat Detroit



Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Filed Under: #BookClub #djc

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



About the Author

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