Detroit week in review

Week in review: A disturbing study — and a warning about how it could be used

Leaders of Detroit’s school factions didn’t miss a beat this week when an alarming study of city schools showed how difficult it can be to get a decent education in Detroit — especially for families in 10 city neighborhoods that are largely devoid of quality schools. Although the nonprofit behind the study urged city leaders to use its findings to lay the groundwork for cooperation and school improvement, Detroit schools chief Nikolai Vitti warned that the report could be exploited by people determined to shutter city schools.  

Our stories this week include a look at a new charter school advocacy organization that is working to train, educate and organize parents of charter school students to lobby on behalf of Detroit charter schools.

We wrote about a Detroit school board proposal to end the practice of naming schools after living people. That could could eventually lead to new names for schools named after HUD Secretary Ben Carson and convicted former City Councilman Alonzo Bates. We also looked at the group of school officials and business leaders that is getting ready to issue recommendations to change the way schools are funded in Michigan.

And, if you missed our story last week about a principal’s efforts to save her school by helping her students overcome academic challenges, tune in to hear our own Erin Einhorn discuss the story on Michigan Radio.

Hope you have a good week!

– Julie Topping, Editor, Chalkbeat Detroit

The study

  • The controversial report from the non-profit organization IFF shows that the vast majority of Detroit children do not have access to quality schools.
  • The report, which noted the challenge is especially intense in certain neighborhoods, includes an online tool that allows Detroiters to zero in on any part of the city to understand the educational landscape.
  • The president of a statewide charter organization says the study supports the need for new schools to open, for new tools to help parents find them, and for systems that would make it easier for charter schools to acquire shuttered district buildings. That call comes as the main district is currently blocking the sale of a former district school to a charter.
  • Vitti raised concerns that the study “will not be used to challenge the status quo of unregulated expansion of schools with limited to no accountability for quality” and will instead “be manipulated to continue the blinded view that closing schools is a school improvement strategy.”

In Detroit

Across the state

  • The education, government and business leaders behind a new study on school funding in Michigan have raised more than $800,000 to fund their effort.
  • A state senate committee is considering legislation that aims to prevent school districts from blocking the sale of buildings to charter schools. The effort is designed to help a Detroit charter school that’s currently suing the Detroit district to buy a former school building.
  • The state is investing $12.5 million to help students take advantage of career and technical education programs.
  • A school advocacy organization has rated the new school accountability plans that states have submitted to comply with a new federal law. Here’s what it has to say about Michigan’s plan.
  • As Michigan’s accountability plan begins to measure student attendance, the problem of students chronically missing class is getting worse.
  • The state superintendent disputed a newspaper editorial that suggested the state board of education isn’t innovative.
  • A principal explains why he thinks teachers are leaving the state.
  • Here’s how suburban school districts are addressing the needs of homeless students.


In other news

PHOTO: Detroit Pit Crew dog rescue
This puppy in a box outside a Detroit school, abandoned with a note to find him a home.