Archives for category: Detroit

Jack Martin, the emergency manager for Detroitpublic schools, has canceled his proposal to cut teachers’ salaries by 10% and to increase class sizes to as many as 43. This is great news for the children and teachers of Detroit!

“In place of the pay cuts, Jack Martin will ask state education officials to extend the district’s five-year deficit elimination plan to seven years, consider layoffs for non-school employees and look to revenue increases from future property sales and possible student enrollment increases.

“Facing a fierce backlash from teachers, parents and even the state school superintendent, Martin announced the reversal of the planned cuts as part of the district’s plan to eliminate its $127 million deficit.

“The district’s deficit elimination plan, submitted to the Michigan Department of Education and approved last week, was intended to make up for the loss of a projected $18.5 million in revenue from a countywide school tax that voters rejected Aug. 5.

“Detroit Public Schools’ sole focus is and must remain providing the highest quality education possible to the children of Detroit,” Martin said during a news conference.”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140826/SCHOOLS/308260087#ixzz3BWxXkqaf

Governor Rick Snyder long ago made it clear that the state of Michigan has no intention of saving public education in Detroit or anywhere else. The city’s emergency manager announced a 10% pay cut for teachers, larger class size, and the closing of 24 schools. The schools have a deficit of $127 million. The wage concessions by teachers will save $13.3 million.

“Parents, educators and community stakeholders met Wednesday morning in front of Ludington Middle School to denounce the cuts, as well as the district’s previously announced plans to increase class sizes.

“Brian Kindle has two children beginning Head Start in the fall, and a 15-year-old at Cody High School. He said he’s worried about how pay cuts will impact his kids.

“I say hands off first responders, kids and teachers,” he said. “I’m here to support parents and their children, and to ask Gov. Snyder not to vote for the proposal.”

“Kindle said he fears additional cuts will result in further neglect of students in the classroom.

“We should have classrooms on every corner, instead of liquor stores,” he said. “That would be great, but we don’t have a society that encourages it. But I will remain on the forefront supporting our children.”

Dr. Thomas Pedroni of the Detroit Data and Democracy Project contends that the cuts to classroom instruction are NOT necessary. He shows in this analysis that the emergency manager has allowed other categories of spending to grow, while cutting the single service that matters most: classroom instruction.

Allie Gross arrived to teach in Detroit as a Teach for America recruit. Her three years in a charter school opened her eyes. She saw classrooms without supplies, children promoted who were not ready and did not get the intervention they needed, she saw feckless leadership promoted to larger roles. And she saw the growth of an industry. In this article, she describes what she learned about “the charter school profiteers.”

Here is a sample of a fascinating and disturbing portrait of what is happening in Detroit:

“In charter-heavy Detroit, permissive regulations have created an environment ripe for mismanagement.

“According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Detroit ranks number two nationally for charter enrollment. The city is right behind New Orleans, with over half of its school-aged students attending a charter school in the 2012-2013 school year. That number will no doubt rise now that Michigan has lifted its cap on charter schools. Even more pernicious, the majority of them are run by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs). According to a report by the National Education Policy Center, Michigan has the highest proportion of for-profit EMOS running their charter schools — 79 percent of the total.

“Privatization and limited oversight have conspired to produce a new figure: the education entrepreneur. In the chaos of the Detroit school system, education entrepreneurs see an opportunity for experimentation, innovation, and venture capital. And the decentralized nature of charter schools works to their advantage. With little coherence across schools, the issue of serial education entrepreneurs emerges. Those with limited track records of success are able to wedge their ways into school after school, with nobody checking up on past performance.”

When Governor Rick Snyder created the Educational Achievement Authority for the state’s lowest-performing schools, he promised bold new thinking. One of his bold plans is a kindergarten called the Brenda Scott Academy, which has a kindergarten of 100 students. It is a stretch to call it “new,” because classes of this size sometimes existed a century ago.

The lead teacher, a veteran, is 30. Her helpers are in their firstvand second years of teaching.

“The hub’s large size concerns some experts. Officials with the EAA say teachers using this system are better able to tailor their lessons to the needs of individual children.

“Research has shown smaller sizes work, but this model has pretty much in a sense, early on, has kind of proved that wrong,” said Marques Stewart, Brenda Scott’s principal…..”

“The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends kindergartners be educated in a defined group no larger than 20 to 24 students. Within that, it says, the teacher-student ratio range should be 1:10 to 1:12.

“Particularly for younger children, you need small groups for their ability to focus and their ability to form strong relationships with the teacher and to have an effective learning experience,” said Barbara Willer, the organization’s deputy executive director.

“One of the things that’s important in terms of early childhood education is you’re focusing on all areas of children’s development. Not only academic development, but also their social development.”

“Those early relationships are especially important for at-risk children, Firestone said. At Brenda Scott, 73% of students qualify for a free lunch — a barometer of poverty — though the school gives free meals to everyone. The school is in an area with a highly transient population, school officials said.

“Firestone, Willer and Keith Myers, executive director of the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children, all said they know of no other kindergarten set up the same way. They learned about the hub through the Free Press and have never been there.

“Denise Smith, vice president for early learning at Excellent Schools Detroit, a coalition of foundations and community leaders, was curious when she heard about the hub and observed it for 40 minutes in mid-May.

“What I think is unique and successful in this environment is that they are really using the opportunity to co-plan and co-teach, so they’re able to expand in and out of their classes, to hone in on the needs of individual children,” she said. “I think they’re making it work.”

Just remember: It’s all about the kids.

Just remember: The children are our future.

In Detroit, where they enroll thousands of children who need a great education, the state-appointed emergency manager has decided to save money by increasing class size to 43. Students will not get individual attention. Students will not get the support they need. Teachers will spend time on crowd control instead of instruction.

Governor Snyder cut corporate taxes.

It’s all about the children.

The Detroit Free Press is running a week-long series about Michigan’s charter sector. The first story was about a $1 billion industry with no accountability and poor results. Most charters in the state operate for profit.

The industry’s response? National Heritage Academies, a for-profit charter chain, bought up the advertising space around the story to tout their wares. See the screen shot.

According to Eclectablog, John Covington will leave Governor Rick Snyder’s controversial Educational Achievement Authority for another job. The story was reported by the Detroit News.

Covington, a graduate of the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy, previously led the Kansas City district, which lost accreditation after his abrupt departure.

Legislators called for an investigation of the Educational Achievement Authority after the Detroit News revealed that Governor Rick Snyder’s favorite “reform” had piled up $240,000 on credit card debt.

“Among the findings: $178,000 was spent on hotel and airfare to 36 cities from April 2012 to February, while another $10,000 was spent on gas for Covington’s chauffeured car, $25,000 for IKEA furniture and $8,000 combined at Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Meijer, Home Depot and Lowe’s.”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140512/SCHOOLS/305120108#ixzz31bK9Zdsz

The Detroit Data and Democracy Project reports that the children of Detroit have seen deteriorating results since the state takeover of their public schools in 2009.

 

Dr. Thomas C. Pedroni of Wayne State University reported that the manipulation of statistics has been a defining characteristic of state control of the schools:

 

He writes:

 

One year ago this month I watched in disbelief as the Emergency Manager of the moment, Roy Roberts, declared on NBC’s nationally broadcast Education Nation Detroit Summit that Detroit Public Schools had surpassed the Michigan average in 14 of 18 MEAP categories.  At the time I suspected that Snyder’s appointee, a former auto executive with no education background, had simply misspoken or just didn’t quite have his facts straight.  What bothered me more was that none of his carefully selected co-panelists—including EAA Chancellor John Covington and Detroit Parent Network President/CEO Sharlonda Buckman—batted as much as an eye over Roberts’ jubilant mispronouncement.  A clearly impressed Chelsea Clinton declared that when the day came she would gladly enroll her own children in the public schools of Detroit.

 

As I dug through the MEAP results on the Michigan Department of Education’s website that day—confirming that DPS students had scored behind the state average in all 18 tested categories, typically by 20 percentage points or more—I made a discovery I had not anticipated:  in most categories, children in Detroit’s public elementary and middle schools had fallen even farther behind their state peers since 2009.  That year (2009) was the year that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared Detroit “ground zero” for education reform, and the State once again took away local democratic control of Detroit’s schools.

I was particularly troubled that, since 2009, the youngest children taking the test—3rd, 4th, and 5th graders—had declined the most.  Although already so far behind their statewide peers, Detroit’s youngest test-takers had somehow lost even more ground.

 

Read what happened when he tried to publish this story in the Detroit News. 

 

The latest release of test scores in Detroit in 2014 show that the children continue to lose ground compared to their peers in the rest of the state.

 

Sadly, grievously—the new MEAP data, released February 28, reveal the further deepening of a devastating pattern.  In both reading and math, Detroit’s children have fallen even further behind their state peers.  Somehow, in 10 of the 12 grade-level math and reading MEAP tests, Detroit’s children under state control in DPS and the EAA have lost even more ground.

Fourth graders in Detroit’s state-managed schools actually progressed marginally in reading relative to their Michigan peers, bringing the proficiency gap down by 0.8 points to 29.5 percentage points.  But in every other tested grade– third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth– they fell even further behind in reading.  In math, Detroit’s sixth grade students in state-managed schools gained marginally on their Michigan peers (by 0.3 points) and are now only 27.7 percentage points behind.  But they lost even more ground to their statewide peers in all the other tested grades– third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth.

 

Pedroni says it is another lost year for the children of Detroit.

 

 

By now, you may have heard that a federal judge ruled that Detroit’s pensions may be cut during bankruptcy proceedings, even though the Michigan state constitution expressly protects them.

What you may not know is that the average pension is $19,000 a year.

David Sirota is outraged.

Michigan officials say there is no money to pay the $100 million pension gap yet the state can afford $6 billion each year for corporate subsidies.

Nor is anyone deterred from paying more than $400 million in public funds for a new hockey stadium for Detroit.

As Sirota wrote:

“Every now and again there’s a piece of crystal clear evidence left at the scene of a complex financial crime that shows, beyond any reasonable doubt, what went down.

“If future generations want to understand why the current era is sometimes referred to as a new Gilded Age, they need look no further than Detroit. The city’s financial troubles have far more to do with deindustrialization, destructive trade policies, population loss, political mismanagement and Wall Street’s shady municipal rip-off schemes than it does public pension liabilities.

“Yet, as you might have heard, a judge yesterday handed down a landmark ruling allowing Michigan officials who took control of the city to violate the state’s constitution and slash the average $19,000-a-year pensions of Detroit’s municipal retirees. This ruling is already being touted as a precedent setter for places like California, where a pension-slashing ballot initiative campaign is already underway and where some cities are trying to get out of paying the pension promises they made to retirees.”

Maybe the impoverished retirees can sell soda and popcorn at the new hockey stadium.

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