Detroit education advocacy group closes doors

Jennifer Chambers

Excellent Schools Detroit, an education advocacy group formed in 2010 for Detroit schoolchildren, closed on June 30 and transferred its initiatives to other organizations in Detroit.

“In our seven years of operation we have launched a number of initiatives to help improve opportunities for Detroit school children,” said ESD board Chair Shirley Stancato in a statement. “Much of the work involved with those initiatives has involved other organizations. To eliminate duplicate efforts and maintain a sharp focus on results, we have decided to sunset ESD.”

The organization issued a statement that said the organization’s school scorecard and the data will be housed at New Detroit in partnership with the Skillman Foundation.

The group’s annual Detroit K-12 School Scorecard are profiles of every school in Detroit — public, charter, parochial — and suburban schools that enroll Detroit children. They contain growth and proficiency measures across all tested subjects and grades to provide an overview of school quality. The scorecards also include student and teacher perceptions.

The scorecard had been issued annually since 2011. It was the first comprehensive scoring of schools in Michigan to pilot a standards-based A-F grading system for each school based on comprehensive measures, including academic proficiency and growth.

In 2015, just one in 10 schools serving Detroit students received a high enough grade to be recommended by the nonprofit that evaluated more than 200 schools that year.

Responsibility for ESD’s Enroll Detroit program, a citywide common enrollment system that assists families who are facing enrollment barriers, was assumed by the Detroit Parent Network.

During the past school year the program supported 300 families who were facing enrollment barriers and helped more than 650 displaced students from closing schools find new schools, Stancato said.

Detroit College Access Network will be part of the Michigan College Access Network and will be housed at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. The DCAN works with parents and students to help assure they are ready for higher education opportunities.

Ashley Johnson, former director of collective impact at ESD, said she will continue her work as a staff member of the DCAN.

“As many of you know, I was the first person in my family to attend college, and I truly believe in the power of higher education as a mechanism for economic mobility and a vehicle for community empowerment and improvement,” Johnson said in a statement.

“There is still much work to be done to improve educational outcomes for Detroit's children, and I look forward to our next steps together in supporting families and children in Detroit,” she said.