Detroit schools academic performance poor, leader promises change

- A disturbing report card for Michigan schools, especially in Detroit.

Fifty-eight of the city's schools rank among the bottom 5 percent for academic performance and now the district's new interim leader is promising change.

More than 120 schools are on the list for not performing well in Michigan and a lot of them are in Detroit. The interim superintendent says it is a new day and the district will not be in this same position three years from now.

Meanwhile, a local parent and her son say change cannot come soon enough.

"I never thought that this would be happening to the Detroit Public School system," said Sylvia Taylor, DPS parent.

All of Sylvia Taylor's children have attended public schools in the city of Detroit. Her son Kamari McHenry will be a senior at King High School when the new academic year begins next week. One-hundred twenty-four schools in Michigan made the list for performing the worst.

The data came from 2014 and 2015. Fifty-eight schools including King, are in Detroit.

"It's like every time we deal with something with DPS, something else comes back up," said Taylor's son. "All I'm asking is how can we learn with 50-60 students in a class."

Interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather spoke at Gompers  Elementary Middle School to shed light on improvements made there and in the district.

Because of approved legislation from earlier this summer, no schools in Detroit can be closed until 2019.

"Three years from now, we are going to be in a different place than right now," Meriweather said. "I am confident of it, more confident than I have been at any other point."

Meriweather says principals are becoming more hands on, providing feedback to educators in order to higher students learning.

"We've made an intentional focus on moving our principals from being building managers to in-structural leaders," she said.

Meriweather says clearing the debt and getting the proper state funding will also make a huge difference.

"My biggest concern is that we continue to make progress," she said. "With receiving the full per pupil allocation - which has not happened in many years - we have a better chance of being able to do that."

Taylor and her son say the ongoing fight in Lansing leading to teacher sickouts may have made last school year the worst. But they hope better days are ahead.

"I do have a daughter," Taylor said. "I do have four more years in Detroit Public Schools. "I have an 11-year-old, so what is her future going to be about?"

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