The bill package is a mixed bag of good and bad, represents solid start
MICHIGAN – AFT Michigan and DFT release the following statement regarding a bill package approved by the Senate today, a package addressing public education in Detroit.
“This represents progress since the first bill drafts back in October. These bills address the financial crisis facing the Detroit Public Schools, return local control and do not disrupt education and school communities by terminating employees.” said David Hecker, President of AFT Michigan. “However, these bills fail to fully return schools within the EAA back to DPS in a timely manner. While we support the creation of a Detroit Education Commission (DEC), this legislation stunts its role in stabilizing schools in Detroit by allowing the DEC to disappear after 5 years.”
“We are pleased that these bills return control of the Detroit Public Schools to an empowered elected board, that residents of Detroit would be able to elect our board members in August of 2016 and that DPS employees are transferred to the Detroit Community District,” said Ivy Bailey, interim President of Detroit Federation of Teachers. “But as the EAA experiment has not lived up to its goal of providing better educational outcomes for students, there is no reason to extend its life by delaying its return to DPS.”
AFT Michigan and DFT support the following items within the bill package:
- $515 million in appropriations to pay DPS debt and $200 million for transition costs to stabilize the district and provide a fresh start.
- A return to local governance through a school board elected in August 2016 with real decision making authority.
- The transfer of current employees to the Detroit Community District without disrupting learning environments and collective bargaining.
- The formation of the Detroit Education Commission to stabilize Detroit’s education system by holding all public schools, including charters, to the same standards and coordinating the opening of new schools.
AFT Michigan and DFT will continue to work for changes when these bills move to the House, including:
- Immediately return EAA schools to DPS
- Empower the DEC to develop a responsible school accountability system that is not overly dependent on high stakes testing or driven by disruptive turnarounds or school closures.
- Allow the DEC to exist at least 10 years before allowing the Sate School Reform Office to evaluate its effectiveness.