Group to call for reforms in Detroit education
Detroit — A coalition of education, civic, business and religious leaders is set to release a report Wednesday geared toward improving educational opportunities for Detroit students.
The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren is set to unveil “Our Schools, Our Moment” during a 2 p.m. news conference at Fellowship Chapel on Outer Drive in Detroit.
The report is the second for the group since it formed in 2014 with the goal of improving Detroit schools. The coalition in March 2015 released recommendations that called for a shakeup of education in Detroit, including returning control of Detroit Public Schools to an elected school board, having the state assume $350 million in district debt, and giving a mayoral-appointed commission control of all school closures and openings.
This time, the coalition is aiming to rally community, corporate and philanthropic efforts to six priority areas “that are urgent and ripe for change,” according to a news release.
Coalition co-chair John Rakolta Jr., who is CEO of the construction firm Walbridge, said the report is the product of a year of research with eight study groups and it engaged far more partners than the group’s original effort. He said members hope from here it will expand even further.
Rakolta declined to discuss specifics in advance of the Wednesday announcement. But said the report is “wide-ranging” and many of the proposals, from spending to culture and teacher preparedness, will be in the purview of the community to solve, not the Legislature.
“It was an interesting, grueling process,” Rakolta said, adding participants felt “we have to get this right” for the future of the country, state and each individual “affected by this lack of results in K-12 education.”
“This is what’s needed for all of us. We all need to fix this.”
The group, led by the Detroit-based Skillman Foundation, has spent the last several years focused on boosting city schools, including those in Detroit’s public schools and the Education Achievement Authority as well as charters.
Through the coalition’s efforts, many of the city’s major educational challenges were addressed when the Michigan Legislature passed a sweeping Detroit school reform package in June 2016.
The new report, officials said, will call for more coordination and accountability from district and charter leaders.
The group is also chaired by Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation; the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP; David Hecker, who heads AFT Michigan/AFL-CIO; Mark Reuss, executive vice president, global product development, purchasing and supply chain of General Motors; and Angela Reyes, executive director of Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation.