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Fixing Detroit’s 
Broken School System: Improve accountability 
and oversight for district and charter schools

Detroit is a classic story of a once-thriving city that has lost its employment base, its upper and middle classes, and much of its hope for the future. The city has been on a long, slow decline for decades. It’s difficult to convey the postapocalyptic nature of Detroit. Miles upon miles of abandoned houses are in piles of rot and ashes. Unemployment, violent crime, and decades of underinvestment have led to a near-complete breakdown of civic infrastructure: the roads are terrible, the police are understaffed, and there is a deeply insufficient social safety net. There are new federal funds and private investment being directed to Detroit’s renewal. In January 2014, as part of a multicity study, researchers from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) met with a dozen parents in Detroit to learn about their experiences with education in the city. Ms. Today, Detroit is a “high-choice” city. School Choice with Few Options The dearth of high-quality options is evident to parents.

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Detroit disputes claim that it will voluntarily close some schools Michigan State School Superintendent Brian Whiston says the Detroit Public Schools Community District plans to voluntarily shut down some of the schools that the state has identified for potential closure, but Detroit's interim school superintendent says that's not correct. The Detroit Free Press reports that Interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather says the the only Detroit school that is closing is one that the district has previously announced—Durfee Elementary-Middle School. In addition, Meriweather says, the Detroit school board has voted to close a building that houses Turning Points Academy, but that special education program is not ending, just moving to another location. Sixteen schools in the Detroit district are on the state's list of 38 schools that face potential closure because they have ranked in the bottom 5 percent academically for three straight years.

Detroit and unions teaming up to expand jobs Ferndale — The state’s largest skilled trades union on Wednesday announced a new agreement with Detroit designed to expand career opportunities in the field for city residents. The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights has pledged that 25 percent of all first-year apprentices in the training program will be Detroit residents. “With the amount of work we see coming into Detroit, the numbers are doable,” Mike Jackson, executive secretary-treasurer of the carpenters union, said during a news conference inside the Detroit Area Carpentry Apprentice Training School in Ferndale. “If you want to be a real carpenter today, you need real training. You need a four-year program if you are going to do the job,” he said.

Detroit retirees' effort to restore pension fails A federal appeals court on Monday rejected a challenge to cuts in Detroit pensions, saying a plan that helped bring the city out of the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history must not be disturbed. “This is not a close call,” said Judge Alice Batchelder at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Some retirees sued, saying they deserve the pension that was promised before Detroit filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Thousands saw their pension cut by 4.5%; annual cost-of-living increases were eliminated. ►Related:Detroit reaches milestone in bankruptcy recovery

The Public Education Woes of Detroit When Doug Ross came to the Detroit Public Schools 18 months ago, there was great anticipation that he would preside over a dramatic turnaround for a school system that has been ailing. And so his decision this week to leave his position has left many Detroiters surprised. After all, Ross was a widely respected and successful operator of charter schools in Detroit and a former United States assistant secretary of labor before he was given the position of chief innovation officer for the school system. He said he is leaving to focus exclusively on the turnaround of urban high schools outside the Detroit Public Schools. But, to many, his departure underscores the dramatic nature of the challenges that face a school system rocked by low performance levels. Detroit Public Schools: Who's Failing? IT’S NO SECRET that the Detroit Public Schools have been in a state of chaos for some time. When former Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Robert Bobb as Emergency Financial Manager in 2009, many hoped that he would make positive changes. The district was carrying a $219 million deficit, not to mention some of the country’s lowest graduation rates and standardized test scores. Bobb immediately began calling out fraud and embezzlement and taking a much-needed critical look at how resources were being allocated within the district. To increase enrollment, he launched the successful “I’m In” campaign to encourage students to stay in the district. But Bobb quickly fell from Detroit’s good graces.

Toyota's per-car profits lap Detroit's Big 3 automakers Despite the boom in the U.S. automotive industry, Toyota Motor Corp. earns more in a year than Detroit's Big Three automakers combined. That doesn't tell the full story: When average earnings per vehicle are calculated, the Japanese automaker makes more than four times per car than General Motors Co. Detroit auto companies are arguably the healthiest they've been in decades. Detroit art caught in bankruptcy battle (CBS News) Detroit, which became the largest city to declare bankruptcy in U.S. history Thursday, is home to one of the most prestigious collections of art in the world. And one of the options on the table to deal with its crippling debt is for all of that to be sold. But it's not so simple. To Rod Spencer, the Detroit Institute of Arts is priceless. "The DIA is the history of Detroit, that's what it means to me," he said. Spencer has been coming at least once a month for 25 years.

Lansing must give Detroit Public Schools $715 million bailout, EM says The rest of the state must bail out Detroit Public Schools, the district's new leader says. "There is no alternative but to pass this legislation," said retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, whom Gov. Rick Snyder selected to lead the financially strapped district beginning last week. Detroit schools can't pay staff after April 8, lawmakers told Detroit Public Schools can only afford to pay its employees for the work they do through April 8 and needs $50 million in immediate aid, the district's transition manager said today. Steven Rhodes and new Superintendent Alycia Meriweather testified before a state House Appropriations Committee hearing on proposed legislation that would restructure the debt-ridden district. Lawmakers have been talking for several weeks but remain unable to agree on a plan.

The decline of Detroit Globalisation has been a powerful force that has accelerated change in the world economy over the past half-century. It has affected the fate of companies as much as countries. And nowhere has been the change more dramatic than in the US car industry. Fifty years ago, American car companies dominated the world, especially the mighty GM, the world's biggest industrial company, many of whose factories were based in Flint, Michigan, 40 miles north of Detroit.

Detroit Had a Corruption Scandal in 1930s That Was Bigger Than Today's  –  Deadline Detroit By DAVID ASHENFELTER The federal investigation that has produced public corruption convictions against more than two dozen Detroit officials, contractors and others is big — very big. But contrary to what you may have heard or read, the ongoing probe that could send former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to prison for racketeering, extortion and bribery pales compared to a Detroit corruption probe that began in the late 1930s. That investigation, which became known as “the Janet McDonald affair,” involved extorting payoffs from houses of prostitution, gamblers, slot machine operators and other underworld types.

Judge Rhodes threatens shutdown of Detroit Public Schools As April 8 fiscal deadline approaches By Nancy Hanover 14 March 2016 Detroit Public Schools (DPS) emergency manger Steven Rhodes, speaking to the media last Friday, threatened to close the city’s school system if a legislative deal to restructure DPS was not reached by April 8. It is historically unprecedented for the population of a major American city to be informed its entire public education system could be shut down. The former federal bankruptcy judge was asked in a phone call with Reuters reporters what he would do if the Michigan Legislature failed to appropriate new funding for the district by April 8. “Close the schools,” was his reply.

Michigan Says 38 Underperforming Public Schools Could Close LANSING (WWJ/AP) — Michigan announced Friday that it plans to close up to 38 underperforming schools in Detroit and other urban communities, potentially affecting 18,000 students and marking the first time that the state could close traditional public schools explicitly for academic reasons. Despite the announcement, some schools likely will remain open. State officials next will determine whether a closure would be an “unreasonable hardship” for children with no better schools to attend. Lawsuits challenging any closures also are likely. The announcement came in conjunction with the release of Michigan’s school rankings, which are based on standardized test results, students’ improvement over time and the gap between the best and worst pupils. Michigan law says the state can close schools that have been in the bottom 5 percent for at least three consecutive years if other forms of state intervention have not worked.

Detroit in bankruptcy: How did it happen? - Crain's Detroit Business The city of Detroit, which for years paid its bills with borrowed money, is the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy protection. Here's a look at how the city spiraled into financial ruin and why it's in so much trouble: For decades, Detroit paid its bills by borrowing money while struggling to provide the most basic of services for its residents. The city, which was about to default on a good chunk of its $14 billion-plus debt, now will get a second chance in a federal bankruptcy court-led restructuring.