Detroit week in review

Week in review: Taking a look at Superintendent Vitti’s first year

Next week will mark a full year since Superintendent Nikolai Vitti arrived in Detroit. To mark the occasion, we looked back at the application he submitted to get the job and added our own commentary on things that have happened in the last year.

Also this week, we checked in on the 13 district-authorized charter schools that have been in limbo since Vitti announced last year he doesn’t believe the district should be in the charter school business. We wrote about the four principals and 12 central office administrators who face firing unless they can convince the school board that they should keep their jobs. And we noted the possible departure from the board of a member who is now running for state Senate. He says the superintendent and his fellow board members are well-meaning but argues that they’re listening to the wrong people.

Scroll down for more on these stories and the rest of the week’s headlines. But first, please join me in congratulating Chalkbeat Detroit’s Erin Einhorn, who was named the best education beat writer in the nation in the small staff category by the Education Writers Association. Erin was among several Chalkbeat reporters who were honored for their work in 2017. Read some of Erin’s award-winning stories here.

Enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts!

— Julie Topping, Chalkbeat Detroit story editor

In Detroit

  • A year after Vitti’s arrival, the district has a strategic plan, a new curriculum coming next fall, and plans to put gym teachers, counselors, and other staffers in every school. But Vitti is still grappling with hurdles that have long made it difficult to improve schools in Detroit.
  • The Detroit Free Press marked Vitti’s first year by spending a day with him — something Chalkbeat did earlier.
  • Here are 10 changes Vitti made in the district.
  • Impatient with the rest of the school board, one Detroit member put his name on the ballot for state Senate, hoping he’ll be better able to help Detroit schools.
  • In the months since Vitti said he thinks the district should stop authorizing charter schools, three district-authorized charters have fled to new backers. Other schools are nervously watching and waiting.
  • In recent years, the main Detroit district has issued “non-renewals” to all principals and top administrators in the district. This year’s more targeted pink slips went to 16 people who were offered hearings to plead for their jobs.
  • A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal from a former district principal trying to overturn her conviction on corruption charges.
  • A former Detroit educator who was a national leader of a school administrators union has died.

Across the state

  • The state Education Department has named an interim superintendent following the death of Brian Whiston last week.
  • The department has rolled out a new teacher certification system that’s designed to better prepare teaching candidates to work with young children on literacy and mathematics.
  • Just 61 percent of 2017 Michigan high school grads enrolled in college within six months of earning their diplomas — the lowest percentage since the state started keeping track in 2010. See the college enrollment numbers for every high school in the state here.
  • The state attorney general is challenging a court decision that barred the use of state money to reimburse private schools for state-mandated upgrades.
  • This teacher loved teaching math in Michigan. Now he’s managing a Chick-Fil-A.
  • A new poll of Michigan teachers shows they do not want to be armed.
  • Here’s how one suburban school is trying to prevent suicides and help students cope.
  • A charter school advocate warned that he thinks Democratic candidates hope to shutter charter schools and force the students “back into the failing public schools they already escaped.”
  • The state principal of the year says these are the secrets to school success.

In other news