Detroit, the city with a plan

Detroit on the up-and-up? Its leaders have a plan to pick their schools up by their bootstraps--two plans in fact. First, there’s Excellent Schools Detroit, a collaborative venture spearheaded by the Skillman Foundation, which wants to bring New Orleans-style reform to the Motor City, to be jump-started with $200 million in private investment. (Think: mayoral control, a “recovery” school district, Teach For America, etc.) Robert Bobb, the Detroit Public Schools’ financial manager (and de facto superintendent), has a plan, too. It focuses mostly on “right-sizing” the district. He wants to close forty-four schools and one administrative building in June and thirteen more schools in 2012. By eliminating 50,000 excess seats, Bobb calculates that the closures will save the district $31 million this year alone. He hopes to funnel that cash into the renovation of twenty-two schools that remain open and to implement a new plan in every building to deal with mounting school violence. We applaud Detroit’s new “can-do” attitude; let’s just hope there’s the political will to make it happen.

State, District Leaders Press School Transformations,” by Dakarai I. Aarons, Education Week, March 16, 2010 (subscription required)

Detroit schools plan: Total transformation,” by Chastity Pratt Dawsey and Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki, Detroit Free Press, March 10, 2010

More than 40 schools in Detroit, Michigan, set to close under plan,” CNN, March 17, 2010