Scroll down for more on that story and the rest of the week’s Detroit schools news. That includes insight into why Grosse Pointe is reviewing its tough enforcement of its residency rules and the latest on Detroit’s new schools boss, Nikolai Vitti. He was the subject of a major Chalkbeat story this week that looked at his plan to bring order to a district that he says lacked basic financial and academic systems.
Also, if you weren’t able to attend the forum featuring Vitti and the Citizens Research Council this week, you can watch the full video here. If you’re still looking for more, please tune in to American Black Journal on Sunday when I’ll be talking about Detroit schools.
Oh, and we have some exciting news: We’re hiring! If you know any thoughtful reporters who’d be interested in covering one of the most important stories in American education, please tell them to get in touch. Thanks for reading!
The Detroit schools boss
- At Wednesday’s “Policy in the Pub” discussion on Detroit schools, Vitti and Citizens Research Council analyst Craig Thiel addressed the challenges facing Detroit schools. Topics included student discipline, special education and Vitti’s relationship with charter schools. Watch the full video here.
- Also, check out some of the recent studies the research council has done on Detroit schools including on district finances, enrollment trends and the cost of legacy debt.
- Vitti said the Chalkbeat article about his efforts to transform the district prompted “more than a dozen calls” from educators around the country who want to help.
The state schools boss
- Michigan schools boss Brian Whiston stressed in his clarification about his controversial school choice remarks that he’s a strong supporter of choice but believes giving parents options can’t be the only fix for schools.
- Whiston’s comments come as advocates lament declining test scores across the state. Among them: a news publisher who blasts Lansing for fiddling while public schools “go to hell” and an advocate who urged Michigan parents to stop telling themselves that their child’s school is probably fine. “In fact,” she writes, “Michigan is one of only five states that has declined in actual performance in fourth-grade reading since 2003 for all students.”
- Still, the head of the state board of education says it’s “irresponsible” to suggest that Michigan schools are in crisis.
- The school choice supporters who were miffed by Whiston’s comments are also still steamed about a New York Times Magazine piece on charter schools last week. One critic said the article failed to tell the whole story about the challenges to education in Highland Park and Detroit. A news site that strongly supports choice scrutinized the way the story characterized the number of for-profit charter schools in Michigan.
In Detroit and across its borders
- Grosse Pointe schools officials are reviewing their aggressive approach to enforcing residency rules that keep Detroiters and other non-residents out of the district’s schools. In the past three years, the district has spent $74,528 on investigations and legal fees related to out-of-district students and has made all parents jump through burdensome hoops to prove they live in the district.
- A Detroit teacher (and Chalkbeat reader advisory board member) set out to talk with other educators to “build a more nuanced narrative of Detroit schools.” Among teachers he featured is Janine Scott who the writer discovered when she appeared last spring in a Chalkbeat/Skillman Foundation “Story Booth.” (If you’re a parent, educator or student who wants to be featured in a future Story Booth, please let us know).
- A principal who moved a Detroit charter school from the 8th percentile on state rankings to the 51st explains how it’s done.
- Detroit’s main district plans to spend up to $57,000 to establish Parent Teacher Associations in all of its 106 schools.
- The head of a Detroit high school engineering program explains how it aims to change lives.
- An organization that places young adults in Detroit schools to provide support got a major gift from Quicken Loans that will help it expand.
- The construction boom has highlighted the shortcomings of the city school system.
- Wayne State University’s leaders pushed back against an article last week that highlighted a dramatic decline in African American enrollment — particularly graduates of Detroit schools.
In other news
- A Bridge Magazine study finds that kids from richer high schools are more likely to attend selective colleges. The magazine created a tool that lets readers look up where kids from Michigan high schools are attending college.
- The state education department has begun its search for the 2018-19 teacher of the year.
- A fifth of Michigan school buses failed their safety inspections.
- Michigan schools have not been taking advantage of the $4 million the state earmarked for lead testing.
- A group pushing to change the way Michigan schools are funded has another member.
- Here are the 50 Michigan schools with the highest and lowest SAT scores.
- A bribe-taking Detroit principal will get another month of freedom.