New DPS Superintendent visits Lansing seeking advice

Shaking hands and getting to know the players in Lansing was job one for the new superintendent for the Detroit Public Schools, Nikolai Vitti.

He picked up some advice on how to get there during his first visit to the state Capitol Tuesday. 

Vitti reports the hemorrhaging  from over 100,000 students to 46,000 students has stabilized. Now the job is to bring more students in. 

Vitti, who spoke with FOX 2 says, "For the long term plan, I think within the next  three years you're going to see more students staying in the school system, more students coming back who left and new parents who have never thought about our school system come to our school system.  We're going to be offering unique programming that only our district can offer."

State school superintendent, Brian Whitson had some advice of his own.  Reject all the advice he is going to get and focus on two things.

"Stay focused on reading and writing.  He's going to get hit by a lot of different directions and a lot of people coming to him with ideas and solutions.  Everyone's got the idea to fix education.  When that happens, we lose our focus," says Whitson.

The Detroit school leader has some concerns about the U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos, who has a history of pushing charter schools and parental choice.

Vitti says he has no problem with choice but Devos's past Michigan initiatives raises concern.

"I think if you look at the reality of impact of her initiatives in Detroit and Michigan they at scale have not been positive so I am concerned," said Vitti.

Republican Tim Kelly, who is going to work for Secretary Devos, has some advice for the new head of the Detroit schools and says

"Well I think there are some concerns more immediate that he needs to worry about than to worry about what possibly may come down from Washington," he said.

Detroit Democrat and event sponsor, Sherry Drago wants everybody to work together.

"We have to find ways to build relationships," she said. "So we can stop fighting each other with 20-second sound bites in the media."