Duggan brings ideas for improved employment through DPS
By T. Kelly
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Mayor Mike Duggan offered the Detroit Public Schools’ elected board four plans he has to make DPS graduates ready to be hired right out of school.
He also put to rest rumors that he was going to take over DPS when he told the members of the elected board, May 8, in a meeting at Amelia Earhart Middle School that he was not interested and would prefer to work jointly to improve opportunities for the city’s graduates.
President Lamar Lemmons called the meeting “historic,” as it was the first time since Coleman A. Young a sitting mayor came to meet with the school board.
Duggan laid out four areas he said he could see the city helping DPS students.
With his new appointees to the lighting authority, Duggan said he would be focusing on adding extra lighting along school-designated safe routes. The authority has installed 4,600 lights since the beginning of the year and is following the national standard of one street light every 300 feet.
Duggan said he wanted to see school sports programs expanded. He said he would use block grant money to accomplish having regular practice after school. Nothing builds school spirit and pride like wearing a jersey with your school name, Duggan said.
The city will see the largest summer jobs program beginning in 2015, Duggan said. “It will take us a year to get there,” and it will be more than just a summer job. Kids will be making connections, he said.
Duggan plans to approach every business to see if employers in the city will pitch in $4-5 for each participant and the city will match that portion of pay.
“Children will get exposed to different career opportunities, it will be a real job,” he said.
For in-school instruction, Duggan wants to prepare students to graduate from DPS with certificates to be EMS workers, fire fighters and ready for jobs in aviation.
“The city hires about 100 EMS workers every year and they come from the suburbs,” he said. “Suburban high schools graduate kids with EMT certificates.”
The former Davis Aerospace Academy located on the grounds of city airport was closed by the Emergency Manager Jack Martin at the beginning of this school year. He moved the program to Crockett Vocational, where students no longer have access to airplanes.
Duggan said the former Davis building will open in 2015 as a regional fire training facility and that he wants DPS students to attend from whatever high school they attend.
“I want the graduates of DPS to be qualified and hired right out of DPS,” the mayor said.
“The final piece is aviation,” Duggan said and listed improvements that are being made at city airport including addition of a flight simulator he wants to see used by DPS students. “Aviation training is a path to good jobs,” he said.
Duggan, who served as treasurer of Gov. Rick Snyder’s experimental school district, the Education Achievement Authority, evaded a question put to him by school activist Helen Moore about the EAA.
“All of the experiments our children are being subjected to have failed,” Moore said, noting that “Black and brown children locally and nationally were falling behind with the charter schools, emergency managers and other urban targeted experiments.
Moore told Duggan there four different systems operating in Detroit, all spending money on duplicate administrations.
“Bring back the real public schools,” she told Duggan. “Are you willing to use your considerable influence to put the system back together? Educate our children, not send them to prison.”
Duggan told Moore, “I disagree with the tone of your rhetoric. We have the EAA with significant problems and we have DPS with significant problems. I want to put forth a unified approach.”
After Duggan left, Lemmons reopened the board meeting only to gavel it to a close when board member Judy Summers brought out her own gavel, banged it to say that Lemmons had no right to be president because the board’s by-laws have been violated by not having an election in January.
Summers, an infrequent attendee, has aligned herself during her term with the emergency managers.
Lemmons said after the meeting that he was not going to tolerate “the shenanigans the board used to have that brought it such disrepute.”
The board members set elections for July, he said.
Many of the board by-laws have been suspended by DPS Emergency Manager Jack Martin.