Education news. In context.
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November 10, 2017
Foundations put $50 million behind effort to improve lives of young Detroit children
The Kellogg and Kresge foundations announced they would each spend $25 million in the next few years to improve the health and education of children aged birth to 8 in the city.
November 9, 2017
In a city where 60 percent of young children live in poverty, a ten-year plan aims to improve conditions for kids
A coalition of community groups led by two major foundations has a plan to change the fortunes of Detroit’s youngest citizens.
November 6, 2017
As a major provider of Head Start exits the program, hundreds of vulnerable Detroit families brace for change
Most or all of the Southwest Solutions Head Start programs will be transferred to other operators but their ability to smoothly transfer students is uncertain, adding stress to the lives of families already in crisis.
Who makes what
November 1, 2017
The six-figure bosses, the schools with the highest (and lowest) pay — and other facts about who’s making what in Detroit schools
To get a sense of how the district's staff has shifted since Vitti’s arrival, Chalkbeat review district payrolls for June 1 and October 1.
October 30, 2017
Dozens more Detroit schools added to state’s partnership list for low test scores — but forced closure is not a threat for now
That brings to 50 the number of Detroit schools in the partnership program, which requires schools to meet certain improvement targets or else face additional consequences.
October 26, 2017
Many Detroit school leaders have never worked in a high-performing school. This program aims to show them how it’s done
The new effort will train school leaders — and train them together as a team.
October 26, 2017
District vs. charter schools in Detroit: Who’s offering arts? Busing? Special ed? Here’s some answers.
School leaders to produced that makes it easier to compare arts, music, bus transportation and special education in district and charter schools.
State of the Schools
October 25, 2017
TONIGHT: Watch Detroit’s first State of the Schools address here
The leader of the city’s main district will come together on stage with the charter school authorizers who oversee a majority of the privately run public schools in the city.
Ending the churn
October 19, 2017
A splintered system and lack of teachers have created instability for Detroit schools. Now, leaders are craving solutions.
Liberal school choice laws, a decentralized school system and a shrinking pool of available teachers have so destabilized the teacher labor force that many school leaders say they’re constantly looking for new educators to hire
Struggling Detroit schools
October 16, 2017
The list of promises is long: Arts, music, robotics, gifted programs and more. Will Detroit schools be able to deliver?
Vitti is scheduled next week to join officials from two of the city’s major charter school authorizers, Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, at a State of the Schools address on October 25.
State of the Schools
October 12, 2017
Detroit’s first State of the Schools address aims to ‘bring all the parties to the table’
The event will feature presentations from Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti as well as the leaders of two charter school authorizers.
October 10, 2017
How many kids can read by third grade? How many schools offer health services? This is how the Detroit schools plan to measure their success
The Detroit school board is expected to vote Tuesday on its new strategic plan that spells out the "essential metrics" the district will use to measure success.
Keep it simple
October 5, 2017
State superintendent to struggling schools: Choose your partners wisely
But Michigan’s top school official had this advice for schools: Think before accepting the help.
October 2, 2017
This beloved Detroit music teacher vowed to stay at his Detroit school — but the cost was just too high
Quincy Stewart, who was featured in a June Chalkbeat story, faced a $30,000 pay cut if he stayed at Central High School.
September 28, 2017
Sweetening the deal: Detroit considers dangling extra cash to hire 150 teachers
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said he’s working with the city teachers union to negotiate incentives that might convince certified teachers to take “hard-to-staff positions.”
Struggling Detroit schools
September 25, 2017
The story of Detroit’s schools is much more nuanced than many people realize. Here’s how we can cover it together.
The truth is that the story of Detroit’s school is much more nuanced than most people realize.
Struggling Detroit schools
September 20, 2017
Scores of Detroit schools are empty eyesores. Here’s why it’s so hard to bring them back to life.
Vacant schools can become crime hubs or crumbling dangers. But even if that doesn’t happen, they are disheartening reminders of Detroit’s struggle to prioritize education for its children.
September 18, 2017
Fixing Detroit’s schools won’t happen overnight. Here’s what new Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says he can do by next year.
It could be years before Detroiters see significant improvement in their struggling city schools, but Detroit’s new schools boss says there are…
Against the odds
September 11, 2017
‘Possible, but daunting’: Inside Nikolai Vitti’s early effort to transform Detroit’s battered public schools
Three months after taking on one of the most daunting tasks in American education, Nikolai Vitti was having a fit over pizza…
Back to class
September 5, 2017
On Detroit’s first day of class, unusual staffing problems hobble some schools and draw parent protests
On the first day of school, Detroit’s main district was dealing complications related to its merger with a defunct state-run recovery district and was scrambling to fill 250 teaching jobs.
September 5, 2017
As Detroit students head back to school, here’s 6 stories for an informed start to the school year
As teachers open their classroom doors in Detroit, a new superintendent and a newly elected school board mark a fresh start to the school…
August 29, 2017
Some M-STEP scores are up slightly in Detroit and across the state — but reading scores were ‘disappointing.’ Look up your school’s scores here
The 2017 M-STEP scores, released Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Education, show that the vast majority of Detroit students are still struggling.
August 16, 2017
With new contract, first-year teachers in Detroit could soon make more than peers in Grosse Pointe and other suburbs
For years, Detroit’s main school district has paid some of the lowest starting teacher salaries in the region but Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says that’s…
August 8, 2017
Reading, writing and soap suds: The unusual new program that teaches kids while their parents do the wash
As educators increasingly recognize that teaching children during traditional school hours is simply not enough, Libraries Without Borders and its local partners have been experimenting with bringing literacy programs to places like laundromats.
July 26, 2017
Detroit charter school teachers get tough news: Their school was in debt so they won’t get paid
The school’s management company, Matchbook Learning, alerted teachers in an email Wednesday that the money would instead go to pay off the school’s debts.
home sweet home
July 24, 2017
‘Finally! Something useful’ or a dangerous mistake? Detroiters respond to city’s housing deal for teachers
Some readers had high hopes for the deal, but others questioned who really benefits.
July 21, 2017
Detroit teachers and school employees are about to get a major perk: Discount houses
all Detroit teachers — whether they work for district, charter or parochial schools — will now get a 50 percent discount on houses auctioned through the Detroit Land Bank Authority.
July 20, 2017
Superintendent’s inner circle: These are the people Detroit’s new schools boss Nikolai Vitti has tapped to help rebuild the district
The new arrivals include several administrators he lured from his last job as Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida. Also on the list are several people who served as top officials in the Education Achievement Authority,
July 13, 2017
The Detroit school district fought to keep 24 struggling schools open. At the same time, it was closing an east side charter school
The Ross-Hill Academy charter school quietly closed forever last month after serving Detroit children on the east side for 19 years.
Calming the chaos
July 6, 2017
A year after the tearful demise of a proposed Detroit school oversight commission, backers seek another way to bring order to Detroit schools
The hope is that they can set aside their differences to collectively address issues such as enrollment and transportation that can be challenging for families in a city without a centralized school system.
June 27, 2017
Nearly half of Detroit schools offered no music or art last year. Next year could be different.
Nearly half of Detroit district schools offer no music or art but new funds mean 30-45 schools could get new programs next year.
Music and power
June 22, 2017
This Detroit teacher uses music to expose students to history, politics and power. ‘They walk in here and they don’t even know who they are.’
At a time when districts are cutting arts instruction in favor of math and reading, Stewart’s approach to teaching music demonstrates that it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Detroit Journalism Cooperative
June 21, 2017
Restrictions on teacher pay in Detroit schools can scare away applicants — and make it hard to fill 260 classroom positions
In Detroit, as many as 260 classroom teacher positions are unfilled in the state’s largest district, prompting a shortage so severe that substitutes last year were the full-time solution in more than 100 classrooms.
The haves and have-nots
June 14, 2017
How generous private donations have created a tale of two pre-Ks in Detroit
The tale of two pre-Ks at the Carver STEM Academy is a problem well known in high-poverty school districts like Detroit that rely on the generosity of corporate and philanthropic donations to pick up where government resources leave off.
to do list
June 13, 2017
More teachers, less testing top to-do list for Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti
Top priorities include hiring teachers, cutting down on testing and replacing contractors with employees.
June 13, 2017
As charter schools close, Detroit’s main school district pounces: ‘This is what competition looks like.’
If that seems cut-throat for a district that narrowly averted the forced closure of 24 of its schools earlier this year and has endured scores of painful school closings, new district superintendent Nikolai Vitti is making no apologies.
June 5, 2017
On a superintendent’s first day, just another Tuesday for 37 Detroit first-graders with no music or art or gym
A new superintendent offers "hope" and "transformation," but a morning in a Detroit classroom shows how much needs to change this city before it looks anything like the “mecca” that Vitti imagines.
May 31, 2017
New Detroit schools chief on city educators: ‘it is miraculous that they are still educating children’ after district’s ‘trauma’
“I see system that has gone through trauma, been a part of chaos, but has focused on children,” Nikolai Vitti said at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference.
May 26, 2017
Report: Looming financial threats could undermine ‘fresh’ start for new Detroit district
The report warns of looming financial challenges that “could derail the ‘fresh’ financial start that state policymakers crafted for the school district.”
May 24, 2017
Former interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather ‘discussing’ new role in Detroit district under superintendent Nikolai Vitti
Whether Meriweather’s presence at the hiring fair suggests a permanent role for her in Vitti’s administration hasn’t yet been decided, she said
May 23, 2017
New Detroit superintendent: Detroit teachers deserve a pay raise (eventually)
“We can’t just talk about the value that we have with teachers. We have to pay them accordingly,” Vitti told reporters.
May 22, 2017
These Detroit student activists wrote a play about the recent political turmoil in city schools. Watch it here.
Called “Fork in the Road: Succeeding with us or failing without us,” the play by the youth organizing collective of 482 Forward was performed earlier this month at a church on the city’s east side.
Church and state
May 18, 2017
The backdoor voucher? How a Detroit school created to lift up a ‘Christ-centered culture’ found a way to get public dollars
Cornerstone’s switch from private to charter raises questions about the separation of church and state — and whether Michigan’s freewheeling charter sector can handle it.
Where should they live?
May 16, 2017
New Detroit superintendent Nikolai Vitti needs a house in Detroit. Let’s help him look. We’ll start.
With four kids, the Vittis will need a large house in a family-friendly neighborhood. Since Vitti says he plans to stay until the end of his five-year contract, it's probably wise for the family to buy, rather than rent.
May 15, 2017
Daily school visits and more: Here’s Nikolai Vitti’s plan for his first 100 days as Detroit superintendent
Vitti will meet with a long list of Detroiters as he tries to develop what he says would be the district’s first “strategic plan,” according to his 100-day plan.
meet the new boss
May 13, 2017
Q&A: New Detroit superintendent Nikolai Vitti is looking for a city house, schools for his kids, and — maybe — a ‘fit’ for Alycia Meriweather
Detroit’s next schools superintendent plans to arrive in the city as soon as May 22 and has a long to-do list for his first few weeks.
Looking to leave?
May 11, 2017
As two Detroit districts merge, uncertainty over leadership and pay stokes fear of teacher exodus in 11 schools
The transition back to the Detroit Public Schools Community District could mean major pay cuts for EAA teachers and changes to school leadership that some fear could cause a mass exodus.
May 4, 2017
In a district full of empty classrooms and darkened hallways, can Detroit find a way to keep its schools open?
A Chalkbeat analysis comparing school capacity to student enrollment found that 43 of the 103 school buildings in the main Detroit district and in the state-run Education Achievement Authority are at least half empty. Only a handful are full.
April 28, 2017
To protect 24 schools from closure, the Detroit school board made a deal with the state. This is what it says, and doesn’t say
Exactly what changes are in store for affected schools is not yet clear.
April 26, 2017
Three Detroit-area charter schools are set to close in June, but not all parents know
The schools set to close include Woodward Academy, Starr Detroit Academy, and the Academy of International Studies in Hamtramck.
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