Detroit Mayor Says It's Time to End Emergency Management of Schools

by | April 1, 2015

By Lori Higgins

Mayor Mike Duggan today called for the end of emergency management for Detroit Public Schools, backing a key recommendation from a coalition that has worked to come up with solutions for the city's fragmented school system.

Duggan released a statement this morning, a day after the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren released a sweeping set of recommendations that would affect students in Detroit Public Schools, charter schools and the Education Achievement Authority.

The coalition called for the creation of a Detroit Education Commission, which would oversee the opening and closing of schools in the city and set quality standards for all schools. Its members would be appointed by the Detroit mayor. Among the coalition's other recommendations: the return of governance to the Detroit Board of Education, the end of state-controlled emergency management in the district and the termination of the EAA, which has operated 15 of the worst-performing schools in the city as a reform district.

Duggan said in the statement that the members of the coalition -- a diverse group of 36 people -- "deserve enormous credit" for their work. "Detroit is never going to recover unless we increase the number of quality schools across this city and make sure those quality schools are equally available to all our children."

Their recommendations, Duggan said, "deserve serious consideration." He cited the end of emergency management as one of four principles that must govern any future discussions or legislation.

"Emergency management has clearly failed to improve our public school system," Duggan said. "I fully support DPS in its efforts to resolve its debt burden and make sure classroom teaching is properly funded."

The other three principles:

-- Parents deserve choice and there needs to be more quality schools in Detroit -- both in DPS and with charter schools.

-- The mayor's office should play a role in encouraging quality schools, "but we cannot operate the schools" Duggan said the city still has enormous work to do to improve the operations of the police and fire departments, the bus system and many other departments.

"We need to leave the school operations to DPS and the charters."

-- "He supports the creation of the Detroit Education Commission, which would also be tasked with operating common enrollment and transportation systems for all schools in the city. Duggan said he supports making sure "real choice" is available to all children and that complete information is available for parents to make those choices.

As for the commission, Duggan said it should assure there's a level playing field for all schools and should establish the following measures:

-- Fairness in locating schools geographically to make sure all areas of the city are served

-- A central database that tracks the education of all children who live in the city to ensure no child "is ever forgotten again by a fragmented education system."

-- A coordinated school transportation system that makes school choice is available to all families, not just those with cars.

-- A common enrollment process that allows parents to apply for admission to any school with one form.

-- A single set of quality standards that all schools will be measured against

--Information openly available to parents about each school's performance to help them make school decisions

--A fair and objective process to address schools with quality problems, including the resources to help them improve and a system to address those that persistently fail

(c)2015 the Detroit Free Press