Wide-ranging reform plan for Detroit schools includes goal of sending graduates to college for free

DETROIT (WXYZ) - A new statewide system is being created that involves dramatic reform for schools in Detroit. The 'Education Achievement System' will operate the lowest performing five percent of schools in Michigan.

The plan includes a new operating authority that will run several of the district's failing schools.

It is designed to provide support, tools and resources for educators as they work to help DPS students make significant educational gains.

The EAS plan will first apply to underperforming schools in 2012-2013. Under the new system, principals, teachers and staff - at the lowest performing schools in the city - will be given the power to run their school. Principals would be in charge of hiring the best teachers and provide training and support to staff.

Once schools show significant progress, they can choose to stay with the Education Achievement System or return to the Detroit Public Shool system.

An 11-member board will govern the system. Two members from DPS will be appointed as well as two members from Eastern Michigan University. Seven members will be appointed by Governor Snyder.

"Students in every Michigan school deserve educational opportunities that prepare them for a successful future," Snyder said. "The time is now to establish a permanent solution and to provide teachers in our most challenged schools and students of all backgrounds with the tools, resources and safe learning environments they need to flourish. Our kids, citizens and economy will all benefit."

Emergency Manager Roy Roberts also spoke during the announcement. He says every Detroit student deserves our very best effort.

"Today is not about giving up on DPS or its students, but strengthening it," said Roberts.

Snyder and Roberts say they will also be working with foundations in hopes of guaranteeing funds that would send all Detroit high school graduates to a two-year college or career training school in the state. There would be no cost to them or their parents.

Roberts said plans exist to cover two years of college at this point, but the goal is to fund four years of a college education.

U.S. Education Secreary Arne Duncan, via a live video conference feed, praised the free college plan, modeled after the Kalamazoo Promise plan that assures students in that western Michigan city that they will not have to pay for college.

Duncan noted that college plan could help bring new students into the city's schools.

Also under the EAS plan, a Parent Advisory Council will be formed in each school and there will be greater emphasis on community involvement.

What do YOU think needs to be done to help DPS schools succeed? Let us know in the comment section below.

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