The deadline for the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren is fast approaching, where they will make recommendations on how to fix the city’s schools, including their governance model. The state Board of Education is also ready to select a new state superintendent.
Governor Rick Snyder came into office vowing to fix public education in Detroit, only to find a morass of problems, a broken system, that his administration has yet to figure out how to fix. Right now the Detroit Public School system is in a heap of trouble. DPS enrollment sits at 45,000, a far cry from 180,000 in 2000, in a system that is supposed to be able to serve 80,000 students.
The city has seen four consecutive emergency managers, and has not been able to slow the mass student exodus. Emergency Manager, Jack Martin, had a $225,000-a-year contract. He made a total of $340,962 in total compensation over the 18 months, not including the bonus pay. He received a $50,000 bonus on his way out the door.
Presently, there is a $170 million gap between revenue and expenses. And students represent revenue. So the continuing decline in the student population – exacerbates the money woes and does not help the public relations nightmare on how the state plans to fix the situation.
In the meantime, students are struggling to attain the basics of education: music, art, sports, libraries, behavioral health and the best educators to teach our children. A few years ago, when citizens asked whether this new plan of appointing an emergency manager, closing schools, slashing jobs and reducing programs would help DPS in the long run, the answer was basically: “We don’t know.”
Today, the dropout rate in Detroit is 50 percent or higher. Many students are not qualifying for college and the system is on the brink of fiscal calamity. According to the National Assessment for Education Progress, a test given to fourth and eighth graders, more than 70 percent of eighth graders read below grade level.
Unfortunately, the grand idea of stopping decades of a bad public education system in Detroit, is not as easy as it sounds.
Zack Burgess is an award winning journalist. He is the Director/Owner of OFF WOODWARD MEDIA, LLC, where he works as a Writer, Editor and Communications Specialist. His work can be seen at zackburgess.com. Twitter: @zackburgess1