Snyder and Schuette on Fighting for the children of Detroit


August 17, 2012
Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette

Last week, we joined together to defend the children of Detroit Public Schools by filing a legal challenge to help ensure a school system where kids are safe and have the opportunity to earn a quality education.

We hope to ensure that the tide of notable, important progress made under the dutiful leadership of DPS Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts can continue.

Some, including Nolan Finley ("Schuette kicks a hornet's nest," Aug. 12), suggest that removing illegally elected board members opens the door for scare tactics over lost voting rights and potentially fuels support for the ballot initiative seeking to repeal the existing emergency manager law.

But that argument misses the point. This is about these Detroit school children and a promise in the Michigan Constitution for a quality education. We must uphold that promise using every tool afforded under the law.

The kids of Detroit Public Schools have been short-changed for decades, with the politics of local school leaders trumping and obscuring students' needs. Without a quality education, their prospects for successful lives are dramatically limited. Generations of Detroiters have paid a terrible price.

Families have fled the school district. That's understandable. DPS was facing crippling budget deficits and staggering debt. Only 60 percent of the district's students graduate. Test scores and proficiency in core subjects are abysmally low. Classrooms didn't have textbooks. Buildings were crumbling. The environment was unsafe. The situation was unacceptable.

These once-dismal numbers and statistics are starting to change.

Roberts and his team, along with dedicated teachers and administrators, involved parents, and engaged community and business leaders, are making real progress. Under Roberts' leadership, a strong turnaround plan is under way and many positive initiatives and reforms are moving the needle in the right direction.