Detroit’s newly elected school board announced last week that it would not be able to select a new school superintendent by its self-imposed deadline. The board’s original plan was to make a selection within 90 days of being sworsn in. Instead, the board has extended Alycia Meriweather’s interim contract until June 30th.
Once I heard the delay’s announcement I knew the interim superintendent was out of the running. It is a sad thing in my mind. She has so many great ideas and seems to really have a heart for our children. I have sat in more Detroit Public Schools Community District board meetings since she has taken the position than when my children attended schools in the district.
She has always spoken of unity, and of approaching education from a holistic perspective. Incorporating participation from parents, teachers, administrators and students. Her recent decision to expand the district’s Montessori schools was one of those great approaches.
With Meriweather out of the running, my biggest concern is whether the new superintendent will be able to move the district to some form of stability. How will he or she work through Michigan’s desire to close schools haphazardly? Will he or she even stay around to see any needed changes through to fruition?
Detroit Public Schools have been through enough transitions. And with each change parents grow less and less confident that it will get better. At each of these junctures parents are asked to give it time. Every time leadership changes the new leaders hand down all these new rules. Even the most dedicated staff often grow weary and, in search of stability, decide to leave.
Still no solid answers have been given to parents with students whose schools on the list of buildings that are targeted for closure. Prolonging the selection of a new superintendent only drags out the timeline for parents who need to know if the schools will close.
Parents are already planning exit strategies. And other districts are already planning to add new seats to accommodate families looking for an alternative to DPSCD.
The three candidates for the job are:
• Derrick R. Coleman, superintendent of the River Rouge district
• Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida
• Orlando Ramos, regional superintendent for Milwaukee Public Schools
Note to candidates: Please don’t take this position if you are not willing to be dedicated to the families and students of Detroit. If you think you already know what Detroit students need and have devised a solution to save our schools, scrap your plans.
Come here ready to listen and be a partner. A partner with families, community leaders, teachers, administrators, community organizations–and most of all students.
Make sure you erase all that you have done to fix the districts you’re coming from. We need a fresh blueprint.
Come here to become a member, and not a savior of our communities.
And most importantly come here with thick skin, and ready to fight for what these babies need most: great education now.
I’m reminded of the Tina Turner song “We Don’t Need Another Hero”:
All the children say
We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunder dome.
Our children are fighting for a chance to make it beyond what has been the norm. To make it to places their dreams have always told them they can go. Dreams that have been deferred by systemic racism, theft, greed and unfair politics.
Please what ever you do, whomever you select, come here and be dedicated to us as a city.