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Student safety, more summer recreation options, and universal preschool: How Detroit’s mayor plans to help children

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s State of the City address last night focused on Detroiters’ lack of equity in car insurance rates, job opportunities, homeownership, and the emerging marijuana industry, but only briefly mentioned education issues.

For instance, though the mayor, who has no control over Detroit schools, has repeatedly pushed for universal preschool for all Detroit children, the topic was relegated to a one-liner: “I’m going to stay with this like I stayed with insurance until every 4-year-old in the city has full day pre-K to start out their educational careers,” he said.

Here’s a recap of what he said about students, safety, and education:

Student summer camps

Duggan announced a collaboration with Wayne County Executive Warren Evans to create high-quality summer camps and strengthen the city’s partnership with the University of Michigan. He hopes to court philanthropic donations to help fund the camps.

As the university’s new $100 million innovation center is built in the city, Duggan said he wants children in Detroit to have access to the same types of summer camps as children do at the university’s flagship campus in Ann Arbor. The center will offer science and technology classes to college seniors and graduate students, plus house a co-working space and other career trainings open to city residents. Construction on the project is expected to begin next year.

“Detroit children deserve the same kind of advantages,” he said during the speech.

Addressing child safety concerns

Duggan said he will tackle the safety concerns relating to stray dogs by doubling down on animal enforcement by increasing patrols and the number of animal control officers. The city council recently passed a strict dog ordinance after news of two Detroit children mauled to death by dogs sparked widespread outrage.

Addressing another safety issue, Duggan said the city also plans on installing 800 more speed humps around all Detroit schools and parks over the next two years to slow traffic as students walk to and from school.

Expanding GED classes to grow the city’s workforce

The Detroit district will be working with the mayor’s office to offer GED classes at eight career centers throughout the city. The goal is to prepare Detroit residents for the kind of skilled trades, hospitality, and nursing jobs that require some postsecondary education.

More recreation centers opening up this summer

Duggan announced that 37 recreation centers will be open this summer, with many housed at churches’ underused gym and recreation spaces. These centers will also provide youth meals. The city has previously worked with the Detroit school district to use school buildings as recreation center sites.

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