Detroit Caucus Demands Action on Michigan’s Failed Education Policies

As new arbitrary grading measures pass House, Detroit Reps call foul play
Friday, December 14, 2018

DETROIT — Today, members of the Detroit Caucus called on Gov. Snyder to veto House Bill 5526, which establishes a new school ranking system while failing to provide resources or solutions to address the actual problems Michigan’s schools face, like consistent underfunding and lack of support for teachers and administrators. The move to approve the new statewide A-F school rankings comes on the heels of hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars of work that has already been wasted in Detroit to implement a similar, statutorily mandated system.

“Teachers and families across the state joined together to plead with legislators not to pass this patchwork of failed education policies in the dead of night,” said state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), chair of the Detroit Caucus. “These educators held a vigil here to make sure that we never forget to do what’s best for the students they work to uplift every day. Instead of standing with them, Republicans sold our students out to serve the whims of the DeVos family and their special interest friends to create a new avenue for wealthy for-profit organizations to eviscerate our public schools. Just as DPSCD is about to put into place the system we mandated they have as part of the Old-Co/New-Co legislation of 2016, HB 5526 turns their hard work into wheel spinning by repealing that mandate and putting them under a different system.”

“I am disappointed and saddened by the actions of my colleagues on the right, who have chosen to participate in partisan politics by voting to approve House Bill 5526. The future of public education in the state of Michigan is definitely at risk if the Senate proceeds with approving House Bill 5526,” said state Rep. LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit).  This is nothing more than a strong-armed attempt by those on the political right to further their divisive political agendas at the expense of our youth.  House Bill 5526 does nothing to improve the quality of public education. Instead, if enacted, House Bill 5526 would aid in the continued intentional demise of public schools in urban areas.”

“By changing the standards yet again to a system that has not improved academic outcomes in other states, our state is missing out on an opportunity and missing the real problems,” said state Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “We need leaders on both sides of the aisle to listen to the experts and focus on accountability that translates into actual progress for our students and families.”

Over the last seven years of Republican control in Lansing, DPSCD has been forced to institute several systems of school accountability stricter than the rest of the state. Continued efforts to move the goalposts on education have led to confusion, uncertainty and distress for Detroit’s teachers and administrators as they work to implement the rapidly changing systems — all at the expense of the quality of education that Detroit’s children receive.

“Republicans in Lansing have consistently treated the education of our students like some kind of cruel jigsaw puzzle and instituting this ridiculous school ranking system is just more evidence of the contempt they have for the children of Detroit,” said state Rep. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods). “It is clear to us that the legislative majority will stop at nothing to circumvent the state board of education to dismantle and destroy every last public school in our city.”

“Detroit students already suffer under this meaningless system that does nothing to improve schools or help students succeed,” said state Rep. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit). “It is unconscionable to marginalize them and their schools based solely on arbitrary letter grades — and there is absolutely no reason we should push this failed system on the rest of the state. Instead, I will continue to fight for meaningful solutions, supported by both teachers and parents, which address the challenges our students and educators face every day.”