LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants to break Detroit’s troubled school district into two entities and will ask the Legislature to contribute more state funding to resolve nearly a half-billion dollars in operating debt.
Snyder’s plan, outlined Thursday, calls for an “old” and “new” district — one to pay off debt and the other to operate schools he says are in academic crisis.READ MORE: CBS Mornings' Gayle King Visits Detroit, Motown Museum
The Detroit Public Schools have been under state oversight since 2009.
“We know the system we have in place now has not worked for too many years for too many students and their families,” Snyder said, in statement. “We’re collaborating on a new approach to help children get the education they need and deserve so they can be successful. Detroit has made tremendous strides as a city, but it needs strong public schools to truly thrive from downtown to the neighborhoods.”
The Republican governor says the “crushing” debt must be addressed and the district’s success is vital to Michigan. He will ask lawmakers for $72 million more annually to deal with the debt over about seven years.
“We need to do better for the families of Detroit,” Snyder said. “There isn’t a quick fix, but we need to act now to help students living in Detroit today so they can have a brighter tomorrow. The schools will be a vital part of Detroit’s continuing comeback, and this plan represents state and city leaders working together on a long-term solution.”
The new DPS — called the “City of Detroit Education District” — would have its own seven-member school board, with Snyder appointing four people and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan naming three, according to state officials.
Snyder outlined the plan the same day classes were canceled in 18 Detroit schools after teachers who traveled to Lansing to protest his plan failed to show up for work.
Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn says the plan will do nothing to benefit students of teachers in the district.READ MORE: Detroit Tigers Fire General Manager Al Avila After 7 Years, No Playoffs
“We’re fed up with the state’s mismanagement of the district and destructive policies,” Conn told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Greg Bowman. “We want a lower class size for students. We want pay raises for the teachers, so we can attract and retain teachers needed to reduce the class size. We need books and supplies. We need public schools and not charters.”
“The EAA (Education Achievement Authority) expansion that the governor wants is dreadful; it’s an abomination,” he said.
Conn said the teachers will continue to protest the governor’s reform plan, but he expects them all to be back in the classroom on Friday.
According to DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Early, the teacher protests are harmful to student, whom he says cannot afford to miss a day of class.
Conn isn’t buying that argument.
“(It’s) amazing they have no concern when they put 55 in a classroom and don’t even provide textbooks, or just following the EAA down the road to no education at all,” Conn said. “They’re not caring for the students.”
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