In May 2009, the State of Michigan displaced the elected Detroit School Board with an emergency manager and has been running DPS for nearly 6 years. In that time, the school district has lost nearly half of its student enrollment, has suffered declines in math and reading scores to the lowest level in the country, and has run up new deficits in excess of $700 million.
Thirty percent to 40% of all state funding for Detroit schools is now going to pay debt instead of going to teaching our children. This is an issue of critical importance to the future of Detroit’s children – students have no chance of learning when their education funding is diverted from the classroom. Lansing has complete control of Detroit Public Schools and must act with urgency to address the problem.
I understand the teachers’ frustration, but our children need our teachers in the classroom. I encourage the teachers to end the sick-outs and remain in the schools, and I encourage our state officials to move quickly to address these pressing educational problems.
As far as immediate action by the City of Detroit, I have been receiving reports today from the Detroit Federation of Teachers on substandard conditions in school buildings. Tomorrow, I will be visiting a number of those schools along with the heads of the Detroit Health Department and the Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department (BSEED). Based on what we find, the City of Detroit will take whatever enforcement action is necessary to make sure all Detroit Public Schools are compliant with all health and building codes.