DPS to expand academics, other school programs
Detroit — Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Darnell Earley announced classroom initiatives Wednesday that include expanding academic offerings, adding more art and music classes, and increasing dual-language programs in southwest Detroit.
The announcement was made at the Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies School on West Outer Drive.
Changes include a new K-12 International Baccalaureate program, a high school program expansion, and a new honors “school-within-a-school,” among other programs.
“We don’t have a moment to lose in the critical work we are doing to transform Detroit Public Schools into a district that is centered on and strategically positioned to support high achievement at every level,” said Earley, flanked by principals from 10 schools affected by the changes. “These new school-based innovations, which grew out of plans and ideas from educators, are designed to improve opportunities for our schools and students to become more academically competitive with high-achieving schools throughout the state.”
Before launching into the changes, Earley bowed and shook hands with two students who welcomed students to the school in Japanese.
“I get so invigorated when I come to buildings and see young people as they prepare themselves for the future,” he said.
The announcement is part of a 10-point management plan Earley unveiled in March to transform the district’s academics and operations and prepare the district to leave receivership by the end of his term in July 2016.
Earley discussed the initiatives a week after DPS said eight schools would be restructured this summer, with teachers and other staff required to reapply for jobs. Other changes at the schools will include expanded program offerings and new learning opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.
Hutchinson Elementary-Middle School principal Stanley Johnson brought some “friends” from his school, including Andy, a ball python originally from Ghana, a tortoise, Sasha, and two 3-day-old chicks from his school’s science class. He also held the snake while addressing the audience about the school’s programs.
“I’m going to go on record and say Hutchinson has the best science program of any school in the city or suburbs,” he said.
“I want school to be like it was when I attended school,” he said. “I hated to miss a day of school, and the more we offer, the less children will get in trouble.”
The new programs announced Wednesday for 2015-16 include:
■A new Clark Park K-12 Educational Comunidad at three schools: Maybury, Earhart and Western International High School, focusing on community/cultural heritage, STEM learning, dual language learning and tutoring, athletics and other areas.
■A new Dual Immersion Bilingual Academy at Neinas Elementary, which will be a feeeder school to the Academy of the Americas.
■Expanding Escuela Preparatoria La Academia de las Americas to a new high school campus. The Academy of the Americas, which added a ninth grade this year, will expand to grade 10 this fall and add a grade each year through grade 12.
■ Add an adult education program to the Beard Southwest Detroit Adult Ed and Early Childhood Community Learning Center.
■A K-12 International Baccalaureate program will open at Renaissance High School and the Foreign Language and Immersion Studies School, which share a campus in northwest Detroit.
■Expanded art, music and gym classes at several middle schools: Fisher Upper Academy, Clippert Academy and Ludington Magnet.
■A “school within a school” honors program at Ludington Magnet Middle School.
■Addition of eighth-grade classes at Thirkell Elementary-Middle School, one of the eight schools included in Earley’s restructuring initative.
■Starting hands-on “project-based learning programs” at all district schools.
■Partnerships at Wayne Elementary School to build a more rigorous curriculum, help students achieve proficiency and improve attendance rates.
■New programs to transition students at Chrysler Elementary School, an application school, into the nearby Bunche Academy.
■New programming at Frederick Douglass Academy to boost education at the all-boys school for grades 6-12.
■Promoting the availability of seats at applications schools, including Bates, Chrysler, FLICS, Cass Technical High School and Renaissance High School to ensure 100 percent capacity.
■Develop a “curb appeal operations plan” to spruce up school campuses.
■Offer employment opportunities and job and life skills training for parents through the DPS Office of Parent and Community Engagement.
■Improve parent engagement through text alerts and other electronic communications focused on academics.