State lawmakers this week began a push to eliminate the state board of education and replace it with an appointed superintendent. But before anyone starts writing the board’s obituary, note that the controversial effort would require approval from two-thirds of the legislature and voters in a statewide voter referendum.
Detroit schools, meanwhile, continue to struggle with hiring enough teachers to fill classrooms. The main district has taken the unusual step of putting some counselors and assistant principals in classrooms. Leaders hope the short-term measure won’t interfere with meeting the district’s ambitious goals.
Read on for more on these stories and the rest of the week’s school news. Also, mark your calendar for the city’s first State of the Schools address, which will be held on October 25. Seats are available for people who want to attend in person. For those who can’t make it, we will be carrying it live on Chalkbeat Detroit.
— Erin Einhorn, Chalkbeat Senior Detroit Correspondent
In the district
- With a severe teacher shortage bloating some class sizes to 40 or 50 kids, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti has ordered schools to put counselors and assistant principals in classrooms, a solution that’s not sitting right with school board members.
- The district held one teacher job fair last week to try to reduce its 150-teacher shortage and is planning another for later this month. The district is also holding focus groups around the city and asking parents to fill out online surveys as it tries to rebrand itself.
- Vitti said on a radio program this week that he thinks reform is “slowly starting to come together,” citing an increase in enrollment after Count Day.
- The district plans to measure success by how many kids can read in third grade, how many schools offer health services and 42 other criteria over the next few years.
- The district now plans to test school drinking water more frequently.
- As Vitti looks to upgrade budgeting and financial systems, some of the practices he used in Florida came under scrutiny after the Duval County schools in Jacksonville overspent budget projections.
- The State of the Schools address will bring together district and charter schools leaders on the same stage. “This is an opportunity to bring all the parties to the table and unpack all of the rhetoric … ,” one host said.
- The video game club at a city high school helps teachers connect with students and helps students feel connected to their school.
- An advocate writes about the intersection of race and education in Detroit.
Across the state
- The proposal to get rid of an elected state school board won praise from one editor but got a mixed response from lawmakers during a hearing this week. Eliminating the board, which one lawmaker called “irrelevant,” would require amending the state Constitution.
- A senate committee has approved a bill that would allow charter schools to get a cut of tax increases that have traditionally benefitted district schools.
- Trained college grads who give high school students advice about getting into college are relieving pressure on school counselors.
- A federal court will now consider the legal case filed by a state teachers union against a right-wing spy. Read the union’s complaint here.
- One educational leader called on the state to develop a way to recruit and retain 100,000 qualified teachers who could serve low-income children in cities and rural communities.
- A state commission has ruled that a union cannot force the firing of a public school teacher who resigned from the union and stopped paying dues.
- Career and technical education is on the rise in Michigan — but many students who enroll in those programs don’t complete them.
- A new survey shows Michigan voters support their local school districts — but are less sure about the quality of instruction across the state.
- A suburban mom says her son got 8 years of English as a Second Language instruction even though he’s a native English-speaker.