School & District Management

Detroit Mayor: End State Oversight of City Schools

By Corey Mitchell — March 31, 2015 2 min read
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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan wants to turn control of the city’s school back to an elected school board, effectively ending emergency management of the Detroit schools.

The school system has been under state oversight since March 2009, a period during which the district has lost tens of thousands of students, closed dozens of schools and struggled with persistent budget deficits.

“Emergency management should be terminated, and the Detroit Public Schools returned to the operational control of the elected school board at the earliest possible date. Emergency management has clearly failed to improve our public school system,” Duggan said in a statement released Tuesday.

Duggan’s call to return control to a school board comes a day after the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren made a similar recommendation. The coalition’s suggestions came after three months of study of the city’s crippled system of public education and persistent financial problems.

The coalition also called for the state to shoulder responsibility for $350 million in Detroit Public Schools debt and give a mayor-appointed commission control of all school closures and openings in the city, including charter schools that usually are overseen by public universities.

Here’s a copy of the coalition’s report.

The coalition also wants all Education Achievement Authority schools returned to DPS control. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, established the authority in 2011 in an effort to turn around the state’s lowest-performing schools.

Providing ‘Real Choice?’

Duggan also thinks his office should play a role in paving the way for high-quality schools in the city, and he supports the idea of a mayor-appointed Detroit Education Commission to “make sure real choice is available to all our children and to assure complete information is available to all parents to make those choices.”

The appointed education commission should establish a common enrollment form that allows parents to apply for admission to any school, a coordinated citywide school transportation system, and a single set of standards that all schools are measured by, Duggan said.

The Detroit News reports that Snyder would not address whether he would consider handing district control back to an elected school board. Snyder also told the newspaper that the Detroit school system is among many statewide facing financial difficulties.

“With respect to debt, that’s something where we would have to carefully consider and really not look at bailouts per se, but to say if it’s helpful for long-term sustainability we need to be open-minded,” Snyder said, according to the newspaper.

Snyder charged the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren with developing new ideas on raising achievement standards for students and better coordinating education services in the city.

“I respect the work of the coalition and its many members who put so many hours into planning a new course for education in Detroit,” Snyder said in a statement issued Monday. “There must be higher standards for all schools. Detroit can only be a stronger, more vibrant city if its schools provide the opportunity for all students to be successful academically and in life.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.