LANSING – Members of the House Detroit Democratic Caucus responded today to Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to fix the Detroit Public Schools, announced at a press conference this morning, by saying they are ready to work together on a solution but that it must include local control of Detroit’s schools.
“The Detroit Caucus and I are committed to finding a solution to improve our Detroit Public Schools so that we can find solutions to improve Detroit’s schools,” said Detroit Caucus Chair Rep. Brian Banks (D-Detroit). “The state has controlled DPS for many years, and it has been a failure. We have to find a better way, and we believe that way lies through local control. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to address all of the issues surrounding DPS.”
Gov. Snyder’s plan includes proposals to create a new Detroit Community School District to oversee schools, while the current DPS would exist only to address the DPS debt. The new district would be governed by a seven-member board initially appointed by the governor and the Detroit mayor. The plan also calls for the creation of a Detroit Education Commission, appointed by the mayor and the governor, to engage the community and hire a chief education officer.
“While I remain optimistic and willing to work with all stakeholders to ensure that children come first, I caution solely focusing on governance without addressing the root causes of academic performance and properly funding all Michigan schools,” said Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), the Detroit and Democratic Caucus’ Urban Education Chair. Experimental governance models have proven to create and exacerbate the financial deficits of DPS and other districts under state control.”
“We need to work together to ensure that every child in Detroit receives an excellent education,” said Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “I believe some of the concepts in these proposals can be positive steps to address issues in Detroit’s educational landscape and I hope that Detroit lawmakers, the governor’s office and others can work together to create the best legislation possible to help our students.”
“I would suggest emphasis be placed on the many attempts by Lansing to redefine education in Detroit, which have proven unsuccessful,” said Rep. Alberta Tinsley Talabi (D-Detroit). “The only goal should be heightened opportunities for all Detroit school children to obtain the needed skills to succeed beyond graduation into productive and creative adults.”
“Arguably more imperative than the Education Achievement Authority laws, these new pieces of legislation will completely redefine the future structure, operations, powers and funding of public schools operating in the city, as its reach extends beyond DPS,” said Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit). “There is much to digest in this complicated package of bills, which were only given to the caucus this past Tuesday. I will be very deliberative as I process this information and work with my caucus and the Governor’s office.”