Monday, February 29, 2016

Rhodes faces skepticism, defiance as he takes DPS the state’s largest school district

Rhodes faces skepticism, defiance as he takes DPS reins:

Rhodes faces skepticism, defiance as he takes DPS reins

2015 281619679-TDNBrd_11-06-2015_DETROIT_2_A001~~2015~11~05~IMG_Rhodes-03_2_.jpg
teven Rhodes, the retired United States Bankruptcy Judge who presided over the City of Detroit's historic bankruptcy case. Photos taken on Friday, October 23, 2015. (John T. Greilick, The Detroit News)
(Photo: John T. Greilick / Detroit News)

 Retired bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes’ appointment Monday as transition manager of Detroit Public Schools’ was greeted with a mix of hope, skepticism and defiance by stakeholders in the state’s largest school district.

Gov. Rick Snyder officially announced Rhodes, who presided over the city of Detroit’s trip through bankruptcy, as the new leader of DPS, which is in danger of running out of money in April.
Although some argue it’s a matter of semantics, Rhodes is not an emergency manager but will handle most, if not all, of the duties previously assigned to Darnell Earley, the emergency manager whose resignation took effect Monday.
Rhodes’ tenure is expected to run through July 1. By that date, the Snyder administration hopes to have won approval from state lawmakers for a $715 million plan to rescue and restructure DPS.
Ivy Bailey, interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, expressed cautious optimism that Rhodes can improve conditions in DPS, which is struggling with millions of dollars in debt, low test scores and poor conditions in many of its school buildings.
“Rhodes has signaled support for local control and a willingness to listen to and work with educators, parents and the community,” she said. “This is in contrast to the approach of past school leaders, which included filing lawsuits against educators, banning health inspectors from hazardous public school buildings, and racking up a school debt of a half-billion dollars with no accountability.”
Teachers cited health and safety problems in some DPS schools, including water damage, rodent infestations and a lack of heating, for triggering a series of sickouts that closed dozens of schools between November and January.
Bailey said the DFT hopes to work with Rhodes but issued a warning.
“We will not stop fighting until school conditions improve, Lansing pays off the debt incurred under the state’s appointed emergency managers, classrooms are adequately resourced and our students get the high-quality education they deserve,” she said.
Percy Bates, a professor of education psychology at the University of Michigan and a critic of emergency management, questioned how much change Rhodes will be able Rhodes faces skepticism, defiance as he takes DPS reins: