Hansen introduces legislation to reform Detroit’s schools

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Goeff Hansen introduced legislation Thursday that would provide a fresh start for Detroit’s public school children by restructuring the district.

Hansen, R-Hart, authored Senate Bills 710 and 711 to reform Detroit Public Schools.

“In all of our education reform efforts, we must put children first, and children in Detroit are not receiving the education they need and deserve,” Hansen said. “Michigan cannot reach its full potential without a healthy, vibrant Detroit. That must include functioning schools that deliver the same standards that other students receive.”

SBs 710 and 711 would create a new public school district known as the Detroit Community District. The new district would operate the schools, and the current Detroit Public Schools district would remain only for the purpose of retiring the district’s debt.

The Detroit Community District initially would be governed by an appointed nine-member board — five members appointed by the governor and four members appointed by the mayor. Starting in January 2017, the appointed board would become an elected board, with elections taking place in November 2016.

Hansen noted that Detroit’s student population continues to decline, student achievement continues to underperform, and graduation rates lag behind state and national averages.

“Detroit is on the rebound, with a sound financial footing, improving economy and a rising population, but numerous efforts to improve K-12 education there have not worked,” Hansen said. “It’s time the city’s public education system joined in the turnaround.

“We want to establish stringent academic standards and strict financial measures in the city’s public school system. That is our goal in this legislative process. I’m committed to working with my colleagues in the days ahead to refine a Detroit education proposal that ensures strong, thriving public schools in the city.”

Hansen said the legislation is a first step toward a long-term solution for the schools, and he is eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate to craft final legislation to make Detroit schools successful.

SBs 710 and 711 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations.