Hundreds of vulnerable Detroit families are bracing for change in the wake of the announcement last week from a prominent social service organization that it can no longer operate Head Start centers. Other social service providers are stepping up take over the 11 Head Starts that have been run by Southwest Solutions but their ability to smoothly pick up the 420 children who are affected and find classroom space for them is uncertain. That’s added stress to lives of families already in crisis.
“The babies are secure and they’re happy and they’re well fed and they’re well cared for. It’s scary to think it could change.”
— Evangelina De La Fuente, grandmother of twin three-year-olds who attend a Southwest Solutions Head Start
Given the impact that quality early childhood programs can have on preparing children for kindergarten, advocates are calling for a better support system. That’s one of the missions of the new Hope Starts Here initiative, which was rolled out this morning. The coalition of parents, educators and community groups, led by two major foundations, spent the last year assessing the needs of Detroit children before unveiling a ten-year plan for how Detroit can improve the lives of young children.
– Julie Topping, Editor, Chalkbeat Detroit
Birth to eight
- More than 60 percent of Detroit’s young children live in poverty, contributing to learning problems later on, including the 87 percent of Detroit children who aren’t reading at grade level.
- Low-income parents rely on Head Start for support, but hundreds of Detroit families just learned that their teachers and locations may change as other providers take over programs that had been run by Southwest Solutions.
- This shared space combines a workplace for parents and a preschool for their children.
Students, teachers, learning
- After an audit discovered that two Detroit charter schools were not properly serving students with special needs, a state university is analyzing the special education offerings at the 20 schools it oversees across the state.
- From wining and dining to bonuses, to working with high schools and universities, schools are looking for new ways to lure teachers into their classrooms. (Our earlier story explores how Detroit’s splintered education system has exacerbated the teacher shortage).
- This temporary teacher explains how bureaucracy has prevented him from becoming fully certified.
- While Detroit’s new superintendent writes that the district cannot “lift children out of poverty alone,” a civil rights activist and church leader says children in poverty will not be successful without education.
- The head of a school-based math and science program argues that policy makers and community members must work together and focus on common goals to improve education.
- In the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Las Vegas, the state Senate voted to allow concealed weapons in gun-free zones such as churches and schools. The gun bill now goes to the House. Here’s why one parent, a gun-owning former Marine, thinks it’s a terrible idea.
- The state Supreme Court heard arguments on whether teachers should be refunded the $554 million that was taken improperly from their paychecks. An attorney for the state argued teachers will “be made whole” if the money is returned to the state. Leaders of two teachers unions want “justice.”
- Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that will enable five more Michigan cities to create “Promise” scholarship programs that guarantee free college tuition to local grads, expanding a program that has been popular in Detroit and nine other Michigan cities. . Four cities including Flint have been on a waiting list to join the program.
- The co-presidents of the state board of education blasted a House effort to eliminate the board, calling it a “misdirected guise” to blame the board for declining test scores. “It is inserting politics into the education of Michigan’s children,” they write.
- The state Senate introduced a bill that would ban racially or ethnically insensitive mascots.
- High school counselors must now be trained in college advising and career counseling.
- A Republican state representative with ties to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos lost his shot at joining her in Washington after the discovery that he’d written racially insensitive blog posts.
Across the state
- Voters in dozens of communities and districts voted to raise their taxes to support schools this week as the debate continues over whether charter schools should share in the proceeds. If a bill extending the cash to charters passes, online cyber academies are among schools that would benefit. Leaders of traditional districts oppose the effort but charter school backers say their students “shouldn’t be worth less.”
- About 3,000 retired state school employees are losing medical coverage from a major health care plan and must find new providers.
In other news
- A group of 140 Detroit students roamed downtown Detroit on a recent day as part of an effort to expose them to the city’s tech and business industry.
- Two Michigan students were national finalists in a major national science competition.
- A college basketball game helped raise more than $10,000 for Detroit schools.
- A nonprofit that aims to “eradicate illiteracy” gathered this week for its annual fundraiser and named its volunteer of the year.
- Detroit’s science center brings hands-on demonstrations to classrooms.