Mayor Mike Duggan has grand ambitions for Detroit, from real estate development to affordable housing to the return of factories that once fled the city.
If education is a big part of his vision for the city, however he didn’t say so in his annual State of the City address. While Duggan last year devoted a large portion of his address to the efforts to bolster the city’s struggling schools, this year he spent just two minutes on the topic.
“I don’t want any part of running schools, but I want to be a big supporter,” he said.
Notably, he made no mention of universal pre-K, an idea he said in January that he hoped to be able to announce soon.
Duggan does often talk about education as crucial to the city’s recovery. He began his address, which was held in a city high school, by recognizing Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, and he briefly highlighted two education-related issues.
The mayor himself has no real authority over education, but he has gotten more involved in the last year by creating a commission that arranges partnerships between the district and the city’s charter schools.
The commission, which Duggan announced during last year’s State of the City address, created a joint bus route that transports students to both district and charter schools. It also initiated an effort to give A-F grades to every school in Detroit, which is in limbo pending a legal battle over a statewide A-F grading system.
These were two education items Duggan discussed Tuesday night:
The Detroit Promise Scholarship
Duggan touted a scholarship that offers Detroit students free tuition to some two-and four-year colleges in the state if they keep their grades up and score high enough on a standardized test. And he announced on Tuesday that students who apply to some technical education programs will also be eligible for the scholarship.
That may help ensure that all the available scholarship funds get used. Nonprofits in Detroit have been working to make sure money doesn’t get left on the table amid stringent academic eligibility requirements.
Boosting career and technical education
During his speech, Duggan said he’d helped raise $20 million for renovations at three career training centers in the Detroit district.
“We now have — at Randolph, and Breithaupt, and very soon at Golightly — 1,000 students enrolled in these types of programs,” Duggan said, naming schools undergoing renovations.