Detroit Branch NAACP Says Detroit Public Schools (DPS)-Governor Reform Plan 'A Significant Approach,' Calls on Parties to Address Classroom Overcrowding and Structural Inequalities in Public School Funding

Jun 20, 2011, 21:42 ET from Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT, June 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, at Detroit's Renaissance High School, a jewel in the City's public education system, Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts announced an education reform plan to restructure failing public schools in Michigan. At its core, the reform plan gives parents, teachers, and the community more autonomy in providing students with the resources and environment they need to get a quality education.  Eastern Michigan University will assist this new "Education Achievement System," as will generous donors who will commit to provide college grants to achieving students.  

"The concept outlined today is a starting point for creating a world class educational system in Detroit," says Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP.  "However, the critical issues still remain in the details.  The NAACP has a long history of fighting for education equality for all children, and particularly those who come from challenged backgrounds.  Every child deserves an equal opportunity to succeed in the classroom, We look forward to meeting with Emergency Manager Roberts, and with our Membership in the community to see how the system would work and what can be done to make even greater improvements."

Earlier this year, the Detroit Branch NAACP began an investigation of the school overcrowding epidemic by filing Freedom of Information Act Requests with the Governor's Office, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Emergency Manager, seeking their records on the issue. The Detroit Branch NAACP has obtained records through this legal process which confirms that state and city officials planned to put 62 students in a classroom as part of their restructuring.  "With 62 students in a class, teachers can't teach and students can't learn. It's not education at all, it's warehousing. And it would take us back to the days of Brown v. Board of Education, 'separate and unequal.'" stated Rev. Anthony.

As the investigation has developed, EM Roberts has stated publicly that he would not place that many students in a classroom, though, according to Detroit Branch NAACP General Counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell, "This statement from EM Roberts is very encouraging, but more is needed.  Namely, an agreement to cap class size must be converted to enforceable policy by putting it into DPS approved budget.  Then we'll know it's real."

Rev. Anthony stated, "No honest or meaningful conversation about reform can take place without addressing the discriminatory and woefully inadequate way in which we finance public instruction in Michigan.   Students in Detroit Public Schools receive 45% less funds for their education than do students in Bloomfield Hills. Michigan students have seen per pupil spending slashed year after year. The K-12 budget just passed by the State, cut our public schools, yet again, by $470 per student, while at the same time Michigan continues to lead the nation in incarceration rates and corrections spending. The State's priorities are backwards in this state. This has to be turned around," says Rev. Anthony.  "Governor Rick Snyder needs to understand this very clearly: education is not a business model, and students are not commodities."

The Detroit Branch NAACP is the organization's largest branch.  It holds monthly meetings that are free and open to the public.  For more information please call (313) 871-2087 or visit

SOURCE Detroit Branch NAACP