First Lady Michelle Obama called for a greater national focus on higher education during a speech today to more than 2,000 teens at Wayne State University, where she said college-bound students are heroes.
"I think that this day, the day where you publicly declare where you're going to college, this day should be as glamorous and as exciting as those athletic signing days. This day should be on TV, with fireworks and celebrities," she said to cheers.
We learned that our ineffective charter authorizer accountability framework has led to wildly divergent performance amongst charter authorizers and, as a result, troublingly varied results for Michigan students. We learned that choice alone is not sufficient — our students and parents are desperate for quality choices. Most powerfully, diverse voices from both sides of the aisle, including Michigan business leaders, education advocates, parents and teachers, support our call for greater charter authorizer accountability.
Last month, a group of 31 education, business and community leaders announced a study aimed at developing recommendations for ways to improve Detroit’s schools, including those in DPS, the EAA and charter schools. One of the group’s co-chairs is Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation.
The foundation is a major funder of Excellent Schools Detroit, a nonprofit that publishes an academic score card for all city schools. In November, a report it commissioned urged that Duggan lead a common enrollment system for all city public and charter schools.
Dan Varner, head of the nonprofit Excellent Schools Detroit, said Esselman had a big impact on the district. But he said he expects a smooth transition because Conforme has been at the helm since June, meaning she and Esselman have had several months to work together.
Excellent Schools Detroit wants to give parents more information to help them make decisions about child care and preschool. The agency has been reviewing center-based and in-home day cares and preschools in Detroit and a five-mile radius around the city to develop an early learner version of its 2014 Excellent Schools Detroit Scorecard. They already provide a scorecard for schools Kindergarten through grade 12.
Late last week, the nonprofit Excellent Schools Detroit, which aims to ensure all schools in the city offer quality education, released a proposal outlining some potential solutions. The group suggests offering the mayor’s office much more control of all schools in Detroit — including charter schools.
Excellent Schools Detroit is calling for centralized, city-wide school enrollment and transportation systems. Its proposal also suggests that the multiple authorizers that oversee the dozens of Detroit charter schools could be replaced by a single authorizer.
An influential nonprofit is floating a plan to give Mayor Mike Duggan oversight of all public schools in Detroit, including charters.
Officials with Excellent Schools Detroit, a coalition heavily funded by foundations, shared with its board Friday a proposal to give Duggan oversight of charter school operators and management of Detroit Public Schools. The group sees the mayor — or his appointee — as a portfolio manager who controls such things as planning, transportation and enrollment, but not academics or most purchasing.
Dan Varner went to law school, dreaming he could change the world. When he got out, he got a job at a firm that handled class-action discrimination lawsuits. "Got what I thought was a great job at a great firm," he says. "And became one of many unhappy attorneys." He was unhappy because he realized the work wasn’t having any impact. So he got another job. He worked as a public defender for people accused of committing federal crimes. "And I had this sense of this parade of largely black young men coming through my office," Varner says of his experience there.
"Do these things occur? Absolutely!" said Denise Smith, Vice-President of Early Learning at Excellent Schools Detroit. "Can I say that it's 100% representative? I can't. It's only 20 programs. In Wayne County alone we have 1,200."