Lawmakers tour some of the best schools in DPS

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 18:23:57-05

If state lawmakers don’t take action, the Detroit Public School District could be forced into bankruptcy as soon as April. The District is facing financial disaster after almost seven years under state control.

“In that time we’ve lost half the school enrollment. We’ve run up $700 million in deficits and the test scores are the lowest in America,” said Mike Duggan, Detroit Mayor.

He spoke to lawmakers from around the state as they toured some of the best schools in the district on Friday.

It was a tour put together by Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, (D-Detroit).  She took lawmakers to the best schools because she wants them to believe the district has schools worth saving. She says she knows.  She used to be a DPS teacher.

“I don’t want our district dissolved,” said Rep. Gay-Dagnogo. “We have 47,000 children that we need to fight for.”

She wanted to make sure legislator met the kids with big dreams, like first grader My’Kale Blanding who says someday he wants to run a school.

She also showed them how funded academic programs can make a difference.

They heard from Marion Lindsay, Executive Director of Government Affairs at Imagine Learning.  He talked about how grants allowed Imagine Learning to improve literacy with an innovative language and literacy software program.

The tour also highlighted the achievements of several schools which recently received funding through a Michigan Department of Education Grant designated to improve public safety and reduce the number of youth involved in gang-related activity, with an outcome of increased graduation rates.

State School Board President John Austin talked about how states with the highest achieving students fund education differently than Michigan.

“They put more money behind kids that are poor, need more support from teachers and need more after school enrichment activities to succeed,” said Austin.

Detroit lawmakers say the legislation introduced this week that addressed debt is a step in the right direction, but legislators also need to address academics and ensure there is a democratic process in Detroit schools.