STATEMENT OF GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT CONNIE K. CALLOWAY, PH.D. REGARDING DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS PHASE ONE TURN AROUND SCHOOLS

NEWS from Detroit Public Schools
Office of Public Relations
For Immediate Release

Contact: Steve Wasko
313-873-4542; cell 313-212-5636
steven.wasko@detroitk12.org

Connie K. Calloway, Ph.D., General Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools, this afternoon issued the following statement:

“The Superintendent and the Detroit Board of Education have had the opportunity for open dialogue for several months on the topic of small high school design. DPS administrators, union representatives and elected officials have participated in several state and foundation sponsored field trips on small high school design. Governor Jennifer Granholm, State Senator Irma Clark Coleman, the Michigan Department of Education and others have conferenced with DPS on positioning our district to be in the vanguard for turnaround schools.

Today is a great day for the children, their families and the entire community in the City of Detroit. An EXTREME MAKEOVER is coming for students at five Detroit Public Schools.

Based on data, conferences and principal recommendations, Cody High School, Cody Ninth Grade Academy, Henry Ford High School, Osborn High School and Vetal K-8 School have been selected as Phase One Turn Around Schools. This initiative is intended to accelerate our students’ academic achievement through rigor, relevance, and relationships. A more rigorous curriculum means increasing the level of challenge in our academic standards. Academic rigor is to incorporate competitive proficiency levels in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, the arts and technology required for success beyond high school. Relevance is to better address the need of the current employment market, to better prepare DPS graduates to enter the workforce in career fields and at skill levels needed to move our city and state forward. Building sustained positive relationships between students and educators is key to increasing the graduation rate, maintaining student engagement and course completion.

This historic initiative will significantly move Detroit Public Schools toward the AAA Schools model where everyone is held accountable, is expected to add value, which will result in increased academic achievement for our students, thus positively impacting the communities we serve. This paradigm shift filters every school function through the lens of effective instruction, what is best for each child. Phase One of the Turn Around School initiative is intended to transform the curriculum, classrooms, technology, staff, buildings and grounds in these five schools.

National studies show that students perform better in smaller, more personalized settings. Large single schools will be redesigned to house three or four independent, autonomous schools on a single campus. The new initiative offers students the opportunity to attend a school aligned with their interests and allows for real-world career connections. Each smaller school has an administrative team, a designated staff, a unique instructional program, and a maximum capacity of 450 students. The smaller school is a platform for creating the kind of learning communities needed for higher levels of achievement.

The neighborhoods surrounding The New Schools at Cody, The New Schools at Cody 9, The New Schools at Henry Ford, The New Schools at Osborn and The New Schools at Vetal represent areas within the State of Michigan with the highest densities of families with school age children. There are 19,000 school aged children in the Osborn community alone — the densest school aged population in the State of Michigan.

A new administrative team, union representatives, parents, students, foundations and all stakeholders will work collaboratively for the turnaround of our schools. All district staff will have the opportunity to apply for these positions. Parents will be invited to join in the planning and redesign of each school. Small school themes will be developed in collaboration with the community, business partners and other stakeholders. Students currently enrolled will have the first opportunity to select a school of choice. An initial information meeting is planned for Monday, April 7 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Cody High School, 18445 Cathedral.

This is an exciting time for the Detroit Public Schools and the Detroit Board of Education. Models in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Providence and elsewhere are working and give hope for this initiative. Governor Jennifer Granholm’s proposal for smaller high schools, which aims to reduce the dropout rate and requires partners in the process, creates an opportunity for Detroit to step forward to submit multiple proposals for this funding. The support of the community and philanthropic partners such as New Detroit, Gates Foundation, United Way and particularly the Skillman Foundation allows us to move forward on a more rapid timeline by providing data, expertise and successful models.”

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SW3/31/08

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