Discuss Detroit DISCUSS DETROIT! Should Detroit's school system come under mayoral control? Previous Next
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Irvine_laird
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Username: Irvine_laird

Post Number: 91
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 8:24 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This morning's Wall Street Journal weights the pros and cons of big city mayors taking control of school systems away from school boards. The article references Detroit several times. Read it for yourself: http://online.wsj.com/article/ SB123682041297603203.html

A case for mayoral control comes from Chicago. Arne Duncan, appointed by Mayor Richard Daley, famously reformed Chicago's public schools. He was so effective, President Obama appointed him U.S. Secretary of Education.

It may be easier to vote for one good mayor who could appoint one good education chief than to elect several good school board members. In a crisis, strong leadership is necessary to cast a vision, make a plan, and carry it in a timely fashion. Committees (boards) were not made for this kind of leaderhsip and, in Detroit's case, get in the way of the changes necessary to progress.

The public takes a risk either way. Detroit has had its share of corrupt or inept mayors. In a government system like ours, we cannot totally avoid that risk.

I am willing to trust that Bing or Cockrel could do right by the people of Detroit if they were to assume control of the schools. Governor Granholm appears to agree.
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Firstandten
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Username: Firstandten

Post Number: 772
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 9:09 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

No system is perfect, there are drawbacks in having the mayor take over the district. However what I am looking for is a system where the lines of accountability are clear and short. I rather go after 1 mayor than 11 school board members, I rather go after 1 ward elected council person than 9 at large council people.

You have a whole group of people, mostly community activists in Detroit who's mission in life is to go school board meetings in order to complain about everything. They do this without offering any reasonable alternative plans or real understanding of the issues that go into the decisions that are made.

To make things worse you have board members with their own agenda's which makes any real reform extremely difficult.

I believe its getting to a point that after the financial manager(Mr. Bobb) year long appointment
is over the mayor should be ready to take over district.
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Gazhekwe
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Username: Gazhekwe

Post Number: 2950
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 9:47 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Doesn't bringing in the mayor open it to City Council control? That would be a nightmare, 20 people flapping around trying to outdo each other.
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Firstandten
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Username: Firstandten

Post Number: 776
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 9:53 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Only 9 , council has a limited amount of control in a strong mayor system mostly financial oversight. Still better than people in the audience throwing grapes at school board members.
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Gazhekwe
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Username: Gazhekwe

Post Number: 2951
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 9:58 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"council has a limited amount of control in a strong mayor system "

It's hard to tell that when reading the threads about the Council antics. If they don't have control, they are trying to get it.
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Miketoronto
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Username: Miketoronto

Post Number: 760
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 10:07 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Forget the mayor taking control of the school. What you need is a metropolitan wide School District. Forget all these little school districts for each city and town in a region.

Or atleast have a couple big school districts that cover each section of the metro area regardless of municipal boundaries.
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 1901
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 11:12 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mike, I'm exactly polar opposite of you on this one. The biggest districts seem to be the biggest failures. And it isn't money; Detroit spends more per pupil than just about anyone (though they don't appear to spend the money on the pupils).

I say, let Detroit split into multiple school districts, one per high school with all its feeder schools, say. This requires a change in state law, which bizarrely would let Grayling or Madison Heights or West Branch have multiple school districts but explicitly requires that the City of Detroit have but one.

This way some of them might succeed, in which chance some Detroit kids would have a chance at a decent education. In fact, some of them - maybe all - would offer themselves as schools of choice, since in Michigan the money follows the students around. Some would fail, and close, but that's what is happening in Detroit now, and at least you'd have a chance that some would be decent.

By the way - for those concerned about City Council's role in this - relax. City Council usually has very little say in anything. The only reason they have been able to foul up the Cobo deal is that the State, very oddly, specified in the Cobo legislation that it was specifically City Council who could foul it up. And they did - who'd a thunk?
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Denbytar64
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Username: Denbytar64

Post Number: 149
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 11:47 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The mayor can't even run the city. You expect them to run the schools?
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Bob
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Username: Bob

Post Number: 1310
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 11:59 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It depends on who the mayor is, but you run the risk of politics being involved in schools more than it is already. Someone like Kwame in charge of the schools, absolutely not, someone like Dennis Archer or Ken Cockerel, maybe.
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Miketoronto
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Username: Miketoronto

Post Number: 761
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 12:32 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Professorscott, the reason Detroit students fail more has to do with family structure than the schools. If you have parents that don't care than the student will suffer.

On the school front, large boards can work. Windsor for example has a metropolitan wide school board, The Greater Essex District School Board.

In Toronto's case, we have five public school boards serving the metro area. This way suburbs don't fight over who has better schools, etc. Plus they all get equal funding.

Toronto District School Board: Serves inner city and inner suburbs.

York District School Board: Serves northern outter suburbs.

Durham District School Board: Serves eastern outter suburbs.

Peel District School Board: Serves western and north western outter suburbs.

Halton District School Board: Serves outter outter western suburbs.

Something like this could be done for Metro Detroit.
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Firstandten
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Username: Firstandten

Post Number: 777
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 1:59 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mike, Toronto has a robust economy and political structure. You have to understand that DPS is an economic and political football for the city of Detroit. A person might want to get on the school board for these reasons:

1) Get name recognition so they can run for a paying job on the city council or as a state representative.

2) Use influence to get contracts thru the district for family,friends and self.

3) Use influence to get jobs for family,friends

4) Or, if there's time left...help the kids.

The school district is either the first or second largest employer of city residents.

You need to factor these issues in understanding that DPS mission to educate kids is in name only. Because of the economic and political situation in the city you have various agenda's most of which doesn't have anything to do with making sure the kids get educated.

Thats why we need one person that can be accountable to us and we need to hold that persons feet to the fire.
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Corktownmark
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Username: Corktownmark

Post Number: 249
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 1:59 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Will Bing or Cockrel request control of DPS before the election? I agree with MikeT on regional school districts in a big way but no school district would combine with DPS in the current circumstances. I hope that Detroit will become an attractive partner. Pscott where did you see that Detroit pays more per pupil? Frankly I do not believe it.
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Swingline
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Username: Swingline

Post Number: 925
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 4:28 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Miketoronto, the large school districts you describe work because they each include socioeconomic diversity. This strengthens the districts financially and avoids the achievement challenges presented by schools filled with kids from severely underprivileged circumstances. DPS has no socio economic diversity to speak of. (Actually, most suburban districts don't have much either.) The past decade of charter school competition and economic challenges have stripped DPS of the vast majority of middle class students. The tragic result is that it now seems pretty apparent that a bureaucracy-heavy mega-district cannot meet the obstacles to learning brought to the classroom by the remaining DPS students.

And of course it goes without saying that the DPS cannot be broken up and divided among mega-districts formed by consolidatng suburban districts. Even if there were a dozen peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the educational and economic value in school district consolidation, Michiganders and most Americans cling to the concept of local school control as some sort of inalienable right of citizens. School district consolidation is a political non-starter and always will be. Some folks would probably be willing to take up arms to protect this holy "right." Go figure.
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Trainman
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Username: Trainman

Post Number: 772
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 5:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hire KK and pay him a $100 Million sign on bonus and $495,000 per year with full benefits and give him a new red Lincoln Navigator.

Then, let's raise new regional county sales taxes so those who drop out can go to work for DDOT or COBO hall and wash windows for $35 dollars per hour.

You all see, that is the very purpose of creating new regional authorities. It is to raise taxes.

It's not just mass transit that wants more of your tax dollars.
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Brg
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Username: Brg

Post Number: 56
Registered: 02-2009
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 6:27 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Detroit school system has always been a sensitive subject for me because I am a DPS graduate and though I hated school, I always felt that I got a good education. IMO, DPS should be under the control of the mayor. Having a school board and superintendent has been a bust for the second time. But, DPS is broken not just because of bad management. There are number of factors that created the chaos within DPS.

Corruption is number one of course but I want to discuss number two, burning through too much money. I worked as a contractor for DPS and I had to visit the schools and some of these schools should had been knocked down because they were ratholes. These schools were dumps and children can't learn in that kind of environment. It takes thousands of dollars to operate a school every day and Detroit has hundreds of schools throughout the city so the price tag is very high. The problem is most of these schools are in neighborhoods that don't warrant building a new school. Since they won't build a new school, DPS has to maintain the old school with whatever money is available. Someone reading this might say that this is nuts. Why not just build a new school? That is my number three.

Number three is lack of investors. What is investors in regards to DPS? Homeowners. Detroit is a city of renters. Yes, there are homeowners but there are not enough homeowners in a district to justify building a new school. There are neighborhoods in Detroit that have mostly renters. Renters are not investors. They don't have a long term commitment to a neighborhood like a homeowner. So going back to the question, should the mayor be in control? Yes, but the same problems that plague the sup. and board would haunt the mayor and his CEO of the schools.
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Lmichigan
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Username: Lmichigan

Post Number: 4272
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 11:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

He was so effective, President Obama appointed him U.S. Secretary of Education.



Really? From what I understand, the improvements to systems like Chicago and NYC, which are overseen by a mayoral appointee, have been minimal, at best. It certainly makes districts look like they are doing something, but there seems to be this perpetuated myth that these changes have resulted in transformed big-city school districts. That simply isn't the case.

In the case of Chicago Public Schools, graduation rates have literally increased a handful of percentage points in the last 20 years to graduating just over half its seniors. That's not necessarily an argument against a city government-controlled school district, but I wish we'd stop perpetuating the myth that it's resulted in huge improvements in urban school districts. It hasn't.
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Miketoronto
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Username: Miketoronto

Post Number: 762
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Friday, March 13, 2009 - 12:01 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Urban school districts will not fully improve until parents and the society in these inner city areas values education and takes the time to make it front and centre.

We have the same issue even in well funded school boards where there is a mix of students. Kids from certain bad neighbourhoods even with the same schools as kids from the nicer neighbourhoods still do not graduate, etc.
It boils down to the community and if they value education.

The school district needs a change and the community itself needs a change in the way they view education, etc.
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Danny
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Username: Danny

Post Number: 4560
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Friday, March 13, 2009 - 12:26 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Should Detroit's school system come under mayoral control?

HELL NO!

King Kwame tried to do that, but most Detroiters rejected it saying that any politician could have power to anything, but politicians can corrupt anything and its citizens will suffer from its corruptible power.

WORD FROM THE STREET PROPHET!

having the Mayor of Detroit control DPS is like having Hilter appointed Chancellor granting emergency powers and corrupting it in the process.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
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Irvine_laird
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Username: Irvine_laird

Post Number: 94
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Friday, March 13, 2009 - 12:33 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Lmichigan raises a good question about Arne Duncan's effectiveness in Chicago. Perhaps the word "so" should not be in my original statement. Duncan has been effective, however. See this article from Time Magazine (Dec. 16): http://www.time.com/time/natio n/article/0,8599,1866783,00.ht ml

More to your point, Lmichigan: I believe you mean to say that a mayor-appointed school chief as opposed to governance by a school board results in only marginal improvements. In other words, neither system is magic. Some other posts have pointed out how family systems, socio-economic factors, and DPS's infamous lack of accountability and management integrity from the top down have a more serious affect on students' prospects for success.

I agree with all of that.

My point is that in a crisis, it is better to have a good general at the top of a chain-of-command than to rely on a committee that, as we all know, is dysfunctional at best. Many CEOs have pointed out that committees are great for brainstorming and informing decisions, but it usually takes a leader to make the decision and initiate action.

I think my point has more to do with what is a good first step toward fixing DPS rather than will fix DPS in one magic stroke.

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