Thumbs up on Gov. Snyder's plan to overhaul Detroit schools

By Mike Renda, General Manager

Governor Rick Snyder has unveiled legislation designed to deal directly with all of the historic problems dragging down the Detroit public school system.

It is bold, controversial, and expensive - at $715 million over 10 years. But its adoption is vital considering there aren’t any other viable options.

Here are key components of Snyder’s plan:

1. It will create a traditional school district to teach its 47,000 students, split from the current Detroit School district that will only exist to pay down more than 500 million dollars in debt.

2. The teaching district will be governed by a seven-member board initially appointed by the governor and Mayor Mike Duggan.

3. It will create a commission to engage with the community and hire a chief education officer responsible for driving academic achievement and setting performance standards.

4. The commission will partner with the Financial Review Commission to make sure all remaining debt is paid in full.

5. It will call for common enrollment periods to allow parents to evaluate school options and pick the best school for their kids.

Much of the plan was recommended by the local grassroots group Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren … which represents a wide array of diverse stakeholders.

This is the best plan out there to avert a total collapse of the current district.

The bottom line is this: The full realization of Detroit’s comeback cannot be attained without a solid public school system that residents can depend on for a quality education for their children.

While there will no doubt be some heated debate about state versus local control, one thing cannot be argued: DPS schoolchildren cannot wait any longer. We need a school system that offers Detroit students better opportunities to learn.

The governor’s plan will soon be introduced in Lansing and state legislators need to hear a clear message from us all: “ Let’s get this done” and bring a real long-term solution to Detroit’s chronic public schools failure.

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