Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine: Can vans help in the battle against chronic absenteeism in Detroit?

Good morning!

It’s been a busy week on the education beat in Michigan. A Detroit charter school with ties to tennis star Andre Agassi is being evicted. The Detroit school district has a new approach to combating absenteeism. And a new report concludes that Michigan has little to show for years of efforts to improve schools.

We’ll start with Koby’s story about Southwest Detroit Community School, which is shutting down due to financial problems caused by a lease agreement with an investment fund headed by former tennis star Andre Agassi. 

I remember the excitement that surrounded this school when it opened in 2013. But it’s been plagued by problems almost from the beginning. Its management company bailed. There have been five principals in five years. And the state identified it for improvement. Read Koby’s story for more details.

Last month, I attended a school board subcommittee meeting where Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti talked about a plan to purchase passenger vans to help get some kids to school.

Just a week before, Erin and I had published an inside look at district efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism amidst data that shows 70 percent of students were chronically absent during the last school year. Read my Wednesday story to find out more about this new effort.

Finally, on Tuesday I posted a story about a new report that says Michigan’s efforts to transform into a top-performing state academically has made little progress, and academic achievement is projected to get worse in some areas.

And a quick reminder: We’re a nonprofit news site, and in order to keep bringing you important news stories like the ones I just mentioned, we rely on reader support. If you donate by May 28 every dollar you give will be doubled up to $5,000, thanks to a generous dollar-to-dollar match from Chalkbeat supporter John Fox. Thanks for your support.

Don’t forget to scroll down for more education news in Michigan and beyond. And enjoy your Thursday!

Lori Higgins, senior reporter


Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox.


EVICTED CHARTER The families of 347 children who attended a Detroit charter school will be looking for new schools after learning their school is closing this summer. Chalkbeat Detroit News WDIV Michigan Radio

BATTLING ABSENTEEISM The Detroit school district will pilot using vans to help pick up chronically absent students. Chalkbeat

NO PROGRESS A report released this week says Michigan has little to show for years of investment in education reforms. Chalkbeat Detroit News Michigan Radio Bridge Magazine Lansing State Journal

BIG CHANGES IN CHICAGO Chicago’s new mayor says she will disband the school board that has been appointed by the city’s mayor for years, a move that will please those pushing for a return to an elected board. Chalkbeat

RESPECT TEACHERS The superintendent of the Detroit school district pens an opinion piece in which he makes the case that Detroit teachers should be given the respect they deserve. Detroit Free Press

WORK OUT Schools in these Michigan school districts are getting new fitness centers. WDIV

PUSHING LITERACY Some Michigan lawmakers are pushing for more libraries in state schools. WXYZ

CLOSING SCHOOLS As many as three schools could be closing next school year in this Wayne County school district. Hometown Life

SAD NEWS A former member of the Detroit city council, who also served on the school board for the Detroit school district, has died. Detroit Free Press Detroit News

TEACHER PAY The head of the largest teachers union in the state says in this opinion piece that too many teachers in Michigan are facing low and declining pay. Detroit News