Next Community Board Meeting: August 29

Save the date for the next community board meeting on Wednesday, August 29 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Brenda Scott Academy (18440 Hoover St, Detroit, MI 48205).

Community board meetings are important opportunities for members of the community to gather and discuss questions, concerns and opportunities to to help our children and families thrive.

For questions or to request special arrangements, please contact:
Karen Morgan, DPSCD School Board Secretary, karen.morgan@detroitk12.org, or call (313) 873-7860.

DPSCD Helps Families and Students Prepare to Go Back to School: September 4, 2018

Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) in collaboration with the DPS Foundation is encouraging all families to be ready for the first day of school, Tuesday, September 4, 2018. During the month of August, the District will host community Pop-up Enrollment Centers, DPSCD Day!, accept uniform donations, and much more to ensure every student is first-day-ready, because every school day counts.

“DPSCD is undergoing an unprecedented transformation,” said Nikolai Vitti, DPSCD Superintendent. “The District has accomplished a great amount of work after just one year, and we appreciate your support as we continue to build a stronger foundation for public education in Detroit. During the 2018-2019 school year you’ll begin to see new programs, more opportunities for parental involvement, the new K-8 curriculum and high schools focused on career and college readiness.”

During the 2017-2018 school year, DPSCD reintroduced the PTA, launched the Parent Academy, and initiated teacher home visits. This fall the District will begin implementation of its School Advisory Councils (SACs), which will ensure the community is at the table when school principals develop their School Improvement, Discipline and Enrollment Plans.

Next school year also brings a new reading and math curriculum aligned to Common Core State Standards for all students in grades K-8. This means K-8 students will be taught at their expected grade level, which ensures they will be more likely to perform at grade level and eventually be college and/or career ready. An art or music program will be expanded to each school, along with physical education or gym, and our Cultural Passport program will enable K-5 students to participate in three culturally rich field trips. High school students will have expanded options at DPSCD’s career tech centers, which are directly connected to a career or college pipeline. Also, students who live in Detroit and graduate from a DPSCD school can qualify for the Detroit Promise Scholarship, a two or four-year scholarship at participating colleges and universities.

To assist families with enrollment, the District will host Pop-up Enrollment Centers at five community locations through the month of August, which will offer health services, including free immunizations, Exceptional Student Education services (formerly known as Special Education), and translation services. The pop-up centers will have enrollment specialists onsite to meet with families and discuss their child or children’s specific educational needs and interests.

In addition, families are invited to participate in DPSCD Day!, the District’s annual back-to-school event, which includes free admission to the Michigan Science Center on Saturday, August 11. In partnership with the Michigan Science Center and sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund, the purpose of DPSCD Day!  is to showcase DPSCD’s schools and programs, with the goal to enroll students onsite and provide families with resources and materials about the District’s new K-8 English and Math Curriculum, art and music programs, career pathways, Parent Academy, revitalized CTE centers, and the District’s new brand –  Students Rise. We All Rise. The back-to-school event will highlight how the District supports student achievement and its dedication to the Whole Child Commitment through programs such as ESE, athletics, transportation, PTA, health services, and so much more.

Additionally, the DPS Foundation will host a drive for school supplies and uniforms, which will be collected at the Pop-up Enrollment Centers Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The collection will be available at the District’s newly established Community Hubs, at Adult Ed Center East and Adult Ed Center West, the week prior to school starting for DPSCD families to shop for free.

Please save the dates:

  • Pop Up Enrollment Centers: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from July 30 through August 24 at Gompers Elementary-Middle School, Charles Wright Academy of Arts and Science, Mackenzie Elementary-Middle School, Brenda Scott Academy, Ronald Brown Academy and Earhart Elementary-Middle School. The Detroit Health Department will provide immunizations to children (birth to 18 years old) at several DPSCD Enrollment Centers. Families may fast-track services by calling the Immunizations Team today at 313-410-8142.
  • DPSCD Day!: Saturday, August 11, 2018 at Michigan Science Center from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Registration is required. For free tickets visit http://www.mi-sci.org/back2school.
  • School Supplies/Uniform Drive: Donate now at www.dpsfdn.org/, be sure to apply your donation to the 2018 Back to School Drive. Visit the Pop-up Enrollment Center locations to drop off your donated goods.
  • First Day of School: Tuesday, September 4, 2018.

For more on DPSCD’s back-to-school initiatives in support of Every School Day Counts, visit detroitk12.org.

 

Family guide to the GOAL Line after school program

The GOAL Line after school program is an organized enrichment
program offered at the Northwest Activity Center (NWAC). It will provide families with much needed care and programming during latch-key hours. Detroit students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade that attend a school within the defined GOAL Line loop are eligible to participate. This program will mirror best practices of other accomplished
after-school programs across the country with a proven track record of success.

Timing: After school programming at the NWAC will be offered following the end of
the school day through 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. Programming will begin September
24, 2018 and run concurrent with the 2018-19 school year.

Transportation: GOAL Line buses will pick students up from schools on the loop and
transport them to the NWAC. At 6 p.m., buses will take students back to a stop on the
GOAL Line loop of a family’s choosing. GOAL Line bus transportation is free. If
preferred, parents can pick their children up directly from the NWAC.

After School Program Includes:

■ Snacks and Free Play: Upon arrival at the NWAC, we will provide students a
chance to unwind with a short session of free activity and a snack.
■ Homework Assistance/Tutoring: Stop the battles over homework! We will assist
your child with homework.
■ Swimming: We will offer supervised open swim, as well as swim instruction from
trained professionals.
■ Robotics: Engaging activities will make learning fun and generate student interest
in STEM courses.
■ Sports: Students will participate in structured team sports.
■ Outdoor Play: After sitting in a classroom all day, there’s nothing like a little fresh
air and exercise outside!
■ Arts and Crafts: We will give students the tools they need to spark imagination
and creative play.
■ Other Supervised Activities: Students will participate in a variety of other activities
throughout the week, including games, supervised internet access, movies, reading
and board games.

 

For more information, visit www.goaldetroit.org or call 313-224-1222.

DPSCD‘s Concerns with Social Studies Standards

Detroit Public Schools Community District does not endorse the proposed changes to the Michigan Department of Education’s Social Studies Standards. While many of the proposed content changes are identical, or similar to existing expectations, collectively, the changes that were made are concerning. This is especially the case when considering that the majority of changes minimize the historical role that minority groups have played to hold the country accountable to its ideals. These are meaningful facts and experiences that reaffirm not only the true history of our country for the majority of students in our district but are necessary to allow all students in the State, regardless of background, to learn and reflect on the actual history of our country. We are living in an unfortunate era when real facts and history are not respected. This is a danger to the principles of democracy and freedom. Our youth must learn the contributions of all people and that resistance to power has allowed the country to improve.

Language matters. In an attempt to streamline and provide focus, the proposed Standards have created ambiguity at best, and marginalization at worst. The most notable shifts in the Standards are the removal of contextualization through examples. It can be argued that the changing of examples and the removal of specific references to history do not change the meaning of the standards. However, examples and details shape one’s scope of reference, especially in the classroom, when examples are often used as the foundation from which a lesson is built.

Some specific examples of dangerous changes include:

  • In Economics, specific historical references to Israel/Palestine, Kashmir, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, al Qaeda, Shining Path, Darfur, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Bosnia were removed.
  • Specific minority groups are not named in the new expectations. For example, post-World War II era references eliminate American Indians, Latinos, new immigrants, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community as examples of minority groups that have experienced gains and setbacks in civil rights and liberties. Language was added to the section detailing how the expansion of rights for some groups “can be viewed as an infringement of religious rights and freedoms of others.”
  • Specific legislation, including mention of the Environmental Protection Agency, is left out.
  • Multiple changes were made to the Progressivism and Reform section of content expectations. In 6.3.3. of the old expectations, “Women’s Suffrage” is replaced with more generic Constitutional Changes. 6.3.2. is now in the language of 6.6.3. The new expectations introduce Conservative policies and Women’s Suffrage is lumped in with Amendments 16-18, as part of the Progressive Era.
  • The proposed standards strike the term “core democratic values,” and instead use the term “core values” throughout the document. Sen. Patrick Colbeck pushed for the change, arguing the U.S. system of government is a “republic,” not a democracy.
  • A section of the standards pertaining to domestic policies in post-World War II America strikes a reference to several historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion.
  • The Standards scale back the number of times the Ku Klux Klan is mentioned from twice to once. It was eliminated as an example in a section of the Standards where teachers were urged to teach students about what can happen in the breakdown of the rule of law.
  • References to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were cut in at least two instances — once in a section covering the progressive era and another time in a section covering civil rights in post-World War II America. A reference to the group — and its legal battles against segregation — was added to a section covering America’s growth in the 1920s.

Without clear guidance and direction, teachers, schools, and districts are left to their own discretion to make crucial decisions. These Standards forgo the opportunity to curtail implicit bias and to responsibly educate students about our country’s historically marginalized and underrepresented people, most controversial decisions, and most fiercely-debated beliefs.

We believe it is in the best interest of all children that the proposed changes for social studies content be reconsidered. Regardless of the outcome of this situation, we as a district will ensure that all students in our schools learn the history of all people and that our curriculum choices explicitly lift our country’s most controversial decisions and inflection points.

 

Sincerely,

Nikolai Vitti, Ed.D.

Ralph Godbee will serve as the new Chief of Police for DPSCD

Ralph Godbee will serve as the new Chief of Police for Detroit Public Schools Community District appointed by Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

Godbee retired from the Detroit Police Department as Chief of Police.
Godbee served as a Detroit police officer for 25 years climbing through the ranks of command until he was appointed Chief of Police for the largest urban City in the State of Michigan. Following his retirement, Godbee pursued a calling to the ministry and he is also an adjunct professor at Wayne County Community College District where he provides instruction in the field of Law Enforcement Administration, Criminal Justice Department.

“Serving Detroit’s citizens in law enforcement was a life-long dream. I grew up in Detroit and I attended a DPS school and now I can give back. I’m here to serve and incredibly grateful to compete with highly qualified individuals to attain this position. But I know the real challenge will be protecting students, forging strong partnerships and connecting with the community we serve. I am excited about the direction under the leadership of Dr. Vitti and I look forward to participate in the transformation of the District,” said Godbee.

This appointment is in alignment with the District’s strategic plan to transform the culture so that students, families, community members and staff feel safe, respected and connected.

“The district wanted a leader who did not need to learn on the job and could immediately drive a reform agenda where officers see themselves as student advocates and servants to the community, not just traditional police officers. We also were searching for a candidate who had a connection in, and to, the community so the district can engage parents and the city at a higher and authentic level to rally the community to ensure that our students are safe and can focus on their education. We believe that individual is Ralph Godbee. We acknowledge that there were some unfortunate personal mistakes made in the past.However, after speaking to him directly about those incidents, and looking him in his eyes as we discussed it, he has taken ownership of those mistakes and knowing over a decade has passed since they occurred, he, like all individuals, should have a second chance. His previous service to the city warrants that opportunity,” said Superintendent Vitti.

Godbee will oversee the District’s Police Command Center and ensure all campuses are monitored and patrolled as students arrive, attend and depart from school. DPSCD is the only full-service police agency in the state that provides 24-7 service to its schools.

A family’s experience with the Parent Teacher Home Visit Program

The impending rollout of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Program (PTHVP) by the Detroit Public Schools Community District took Tiffany Kirksey completely by surprise. “I was shocked,” she says. “I hadn’t heard of teachers doing home visits since way back when I was in school.”

Tiffany follows this statement with a wry laugh which echoes through the walls of Nolan Elementary. She leaves the exact number of years that have passed since “way back when,” a mystery.

Tiffany’s three children–ages 10, 9, and 6–all attend Nolan, where they are star students. Much of their success is owed to their parents’ unique engagement with the school. Tiffany is an involved volunteer at Nolan as a Parent Action Leader (PAL, a parent volunteer that works to engage other parents), and the children’s father, Keith Tye, is an employee with the district as a custodian. They were among the first to find out about the program, and quickly agreed to participate. Although Tiffany and Keith were excited to be involved, they were also a bit nervous about what they might have gotten themselves into.

“I thought it was a good idea, but honestly, I was still a bit skeptical,” Keith shares.

Tiffany is very familiar with that skepticism. As part of her PAL role, she was asked to help recruit parent participants for the PTHVP. A lot of the parents she talked to were uncomfortable with the idea of opening up their homes. Others worried that the PTHVP was really about investigating parents, not engaging with them. However, providing clearer details about the program’s requirements, and its goals, helped to lessen those fears.

In particular, many parents became more open to participating once they knew that the visits can be held at the park, library, or even a local restaurant in addition to the home, just somewhere off-site from the school.

The same details that Tiffany provided to other parents, helped her and Keith to overcome their own anxiety about participating. By the time their first visit came around, her biggest concern was making sure she was a good hostess.

“Oh my God. I was a mess,” she says with a laugh. “I cleaned up and everything, but then I’m thinking ‘Ok the house is clean, but what else do I need to do? Am I supposed to cook for them?’ I wanted to make a good impression.”

Thankfully, the teacher participants who visited Tiffany and Keith were determined to make a good impression, too. And they did; when asked to sum up their experience with the PTHVP in one word, Tiffany chose “Awesome.” Keith’s word was “Excellent.” The parents shared that the program has resulted in better communication with their children’s teachers, stronger relationships with them, and increased awareness of what is going on in their children’s classrooms.

More importantly, they can see that their children experienced the same outcomes. Being able to interact with their teachers outside of a school setting increased their comfort, resulting in them being more engaged as students.

“My advice to parents is to give the program a chance; just check it out,” Keith says. “Because it’s not about us, it’s about the kids.”

For more information on PTHVP, please contact the Office of Family and Community Engagement by phone (313)873-7490 or by email parent.acdemy@detroitk12.org.

Employee Highlight: 41-year Army Vet leads students

As the director of Army Instruction for the District’s JROTC program, Colonel George S. Pettigrew lives up to the mission of motivating young people to become better citizens.

The 41-year United States Army veteran grew up in the foster care system in Chicago and accredits many in his past to motivate him. “I would not be where I am now had it not been for my teachers, counselors and principals in school. They embraced me and gave me support and guidance and now I’m able to do the same thing for students around the District,” stated Pettigrew.

In 2009, after a host of tours and travels that took him across the globe, he received a call from his mentor while in Iraq who convinced him to come to Detroit to teach students what he had learned in the Army. He served as a senior Army Instructor at Cass Tech for five years before he transitioned to the director of Army Instruction.

Currently he acts as an administrator, taking care of day-to-day responsibilities including accountability of instructors, developing curriculum for instructors and ensuring the JROTC program meets requirements for accreditation.

Not many would disagree that his years of service and dedication to our country has been duty enough, but Pettigrew insists on doing more. He credits a strong spiritual background and finally being placed with a nice foster family to grow up with who endeared him to want to do the best he can for his fellow man.

He recently established a foundation with the goal of helping youth adapt in society and assume their place in the global economy as well as assisting veterans develop skill trades and providing housing for homeless veterans.

Colonel Pettigrew, we salute you as exceptional talent to our students and society.

DIA alumna turned DPSCD summer intern

Nikebia Brown-Joseph was born and raised in Detroit, and is passionate about helping her community. Nikebia, a junior at Michigan State University majoring in social work, joined DPSCD as an intern through the university’s InnovateGov program and spent the summer working in the District’s Enrollment Department at the Fisher Building.

As an alumna of Bagley Elementary and Detroit International Academy, Nikebia sought out the InnovateGov program in hopes to learn more about how she could use her degree to help children and families right here in her home town.

“Working here was really cool because I saw specific jobs I could go into after college,” said Nikebia. “I’m thinking of going into social work at the school-level because it’s an intersection between community and youth, and those are the two things I care most about.”

Nikebia’s DPSCD experience is unique because she has experienced the District from a student perspective during a time where the District was under emergency management, and as an evolved District, with an elected school board and superintendent for the first time in nearly a decade.

“Everyone at Central Office really does put ‘students first,’” said Nikebia. “Everyone I’ve met is dedicated to serving the students of Detroit, from the superintendent to assistant staff – they are all working on behalf of our students and families.”

As one of several InnovateGov interns at DPSCD, Nikebia was able to create and own an enrollment project with her fellow InnovateGov intern partner Blair Baker. Their creation of an online system could help streamline the admissions process for students interested in applying to DPSCD examination high schools.

Nikebia’s leader and Executive Director of Enrollment Kisha Verdusco, knew her interns could help make a lasting impact on their department, and they did. From engaging with community organizations to helping assess school needs, the interns left with skills they will be able to use in their careers moving forward.

“It was a pleasure working with Nikebia and Blair this summer,” said Kisha. “They made a real impact across all of our department’s work streams, but the biggest was their contribution to the examination high school admissions process, which was the focus of their culminating project. As DPSCD alumni and native Detroiters, they also brought a unique perspective to their work and were living proof that DPSCD is providing a world-class education to its students.”

Nikebia added, “I’m really happy with my experience. This internship at DPSCD was important to me because it was in Detroit, and I was able to tie what I’ve been learning in school and apply it on a larger scale.”

New leader of Exceptional Student Education (ESE): Welcome Lohren Nzoma

The District is delighted to announce the recent hiring of Lohren Nzoma. The former assistant director of special education at Ann Arbor Public Schools, was originally recruited as director of gifted and talented for DPSCD in May and recently transitioned to senior executive director of Exceptional Student Education in July.

In her new role, Lohren will help teachers create programs for student with exceptionalities, which includes exceptional students and those with disabilities.

As the department formerly known as Special Education, transitions to ESE, Nzoma is particularly focused on the overarching goal: building capacity through best practices to improve student outcomes. She explains, “We have to give students every opportunity to be successful—engage in the curriculum, understand the curriculum the best they can. Increase the opportunities, enhance the opportunities and make sure they have the opportunities.”

In describing her passion, she notes that while she’ll always be an educator, she’s also a learner. “I relish in the fact that everybody has something to teach you and students with exceptionalities, are no different,” she says. “It’s what you put into them and how you approach them. We get to cultivate what their life experiences look like which ultimately shapes the type of folks they are and how they become contributing members of society. That’s up to us and I have nothing but passion about that.”

Welcome to the DPSCD family, Lohren and thank you for committing to embracing the rise of all of our students inclusive of all of their gifts, talents and abilities.

DPSCD Day! 2018

In partnership with the Michigan Science Center and sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund, the District will host its annual back-to-school event DPSCD Day!

Saturday, August 11

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Michigan Science Center

Admission is FREE, but you MUST register for your tickets before the Saturday. Families who do not register will be unable to attend. REGISTER HERE NOW!

Don’t miss this exciting back-to-school event with a special surprise guest, games and prizes throughout the day (while supplies last)!

There will be FREE immunizations and additional health services onsite.

Exceptional Student Education services (formerly known as special education), translation services and enrollment opportunities will be available onsite for you to learn about DPSCD’s 106 schools and our unique programming to fit your child’s needs.

FREE parking and shuttle transportation will be offered at Ben Carson High School and the DPSCD Support Services Complex at 1425 E. Warren Avenue, less than a mile away from the Michigan Science Center.

For more information, call 313-240-4377.

Be sure to get your FREE tickets today by registering at: https://mi-sci.secure.force.com/ticket/?acode=bb0fdc95d267c53b42829