Friday, November 9, 2012

With state takeover rejected, Detroit schools can refocus mission to serve students

Note: The following is my editorial reprinted from the Nov. 9 Opinion page of the Detroit Free Press

Detroit Public Schools has been both numerically and academically decimated during the past decade.

This tragic decimation, which has become painfully common knowledge locally and nationally, has occurred for a number of reasons. These include an unwarranted and abjectly unsuccessful state takeover, which has now been finally and rightfully rejected by Michigan's voters.
We would hope and expect that Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and the state Legislature will now bow to the will of the people and desist from planning any further undemocratic legislation to undermine that will.

We remain the largest school district in Michigan, and pockets of excellence also remain within DPS. We have a highly diverse and largely impoverished student population, and about 90% has been low-performing, although many bright, often college-bound honor students have also attended those schools. Because the City of Detroit in particular has been so challenged, it is now time for all Detroiters who care about our children's survival, and the survival of our city, to set our differences aside and work determinedly and with a single mind on our children's behalf. I will work hard and faithfully on behalf of our children and their education, and I will continue to do it for only $1 a year for salary.

The only constant for the Detroit Public Schools has been constant change. We've had superintendents, CEOs and emergency managers. We've had various school czars -- and now, we have me. I expect that my role in charge of the entire school district -- including both academics and finance -- will be challenged in court, but I expect to win.

I intend to refocus our schools entirely on our children. With a united grass-roots community and a good, democratically elected school board and president behind me, I pledge to accomplish that feat.
In this immediate wake of the justifiable repeal of the disenfranchising Emergency Manager Law, I now need to say that far from intending to "throw out the baby with the bath water," my curricular goal is to build on successful programs, jettison those that don't work, and ensure an aligned and coherent instructional framework.

The primary and obvious challenge before us is to prepare all our students to meet the challenges of the 21st Century and beyond. To accomplish this goal in Detroit, our greatest challenge is to make all schools safe, get all students to behave, and ensure that they can read and are computer literate.
We must also prepare our teachers, administrators and support staff to educate students fully -- both with new techniques and with time-proven methods so all of our staff will be prepared to enable our students to compete and be successful in an international society.
Preparing students and staff for a demanding world will require changing some of the ways we deliver instruction. Such a paradigm shift will refocus the district from what's good for adults to a system that focuses on what's good for children.

Let's all join hands to make it happen.

1 comment:

  1. This is by far the greatest act of kindness I have seen in DPS leadership! I graduated from DPS nearly 20 years ago, worked as a teacher there for 8 years, and worked as an Educational Consultant for 2 years. I've seen it go from bad to worse, but now I truly believe that there is hope for the school district that I love so much and worry about every day. I worry mostly about the kids and the fact that their futures are being put in the middle of adult bad behavior and the horrible decision making of leadership. You have motivated me so much that I would like to donate a full, completely free site license to DPS for usage of my Common Core Lesson Plan Templates. If the school board is interested in having teachers use these or want to look at them to review first, just let me know and I will be happy to bring it by personally. More about the templates can be found on my blog. Thank you so much for all you are doing and God Bless.