Detroit Inner City Education

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Detroit Inner-City Education

2. Persona and POV statement Persona: Persona name: Emily Brown Age: 38 School/Occupation: Fast food cashier Location: Detroit    Quote: "The school can't teach my children anything! They are way behind the average for kids their age."   About:
  • Often works multiple shifts in order to support her own family financially
  • Needs help of her older child to raise her younger children (total of 3 children: 13,10,8.)
  • Doesn't have much time to teach or spend time with her family because of work
Goals:
  • Wants to give children resources needed to succeed in school
  • Walk her children to school
  • Find a better job that provides better financials, but still allows her to spend time with her children

 

POV Statement:
  • User: Emily Brown, a hard-working and burned fast food cashier 
  • Need: Needs the school to improve its conditions and academic capabilities 
  • Insight: Because without scholarships, she won't be able to afford to send her children to college.
 

 

3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Change the foundation on what determines how much funding schools receive and put more restrictions on students changing schools in the middle of the school year.

  • As of now, schools receive funding based on the number of students enrolled in the school on a single day in October.

    •  This is problematic because it forces schools to focus on enrollment only for October and once they receive the funding, they are incentivized to push out the students who are more challenged academically.

 
  • Funding should be determined by either the average of fall and spring enrollment so that schools care more about keeping students throughout the year and not just in the first month or the average of student enrollment over the course of about four years.

 
  • With schools caring more about keeping their students over the course of the entire year, students won’t feel the need to leave or change schools constantly. 

    • Schools also don’t keep track of students who decided to change schools, leaving the teachers at the first school completely unaware of the situation.
       

  • Teachers have stated that the inconsistency of the students attending the same schools deeply affects the way they learn.

    • More consistency will allow students to focus more on their current school work and not on where they will be attending in the next few days.

 
  • Furthermore, with schools looking closer at the enrollment numbers over the entire year, they will also take better care of daily attendance.

SOLUTION 2: Improving the learning conditions of Detroit schools in terms of general surroundings and the internal learning environment

  • Mold and flooding in the roof should be repaired to better the smell and aesthetics of the learning environment

 
  • Fix the heat/cool system in the schools so kids are comfortable and don’t get sick from the drastic change of temperatures

 
  • Teachers in the district called in fake sick days to get out of the school resulting in 88 out of the 100 schools in Detroit closing, this needs to result in finding more dedicated and well-trained educators to be role models for the students

 
  • Make sure every water station in every school is producing clean drinking water, a simple thing that goes a long way for the mental state of the parents thinking that they `sending their kids to go and learn in a healthy learning environment

 
  • These schools need to have smaller class sizes to better enhance each student’s participation and one on one opportunities with the teacher

 

SOLUTION 3: Create a hardworking and passionate learning environment

  • Teachers must be able to inject positivity and confidence into their students so they can learn and apply to the best of their ability.

  • Create a good system of extra-curricular activities and sports so students can get involved in their school and generate a passion for their learning environment.

  • Offer a lot of extra help, having teachers that are willing to stay after hours to help the students better learn the curriculum gives the students more of a passion to put in the extra effort to get the results they should be achieving.

  • Building a new culture of learning that is filled with energy and the desire to learn will go a long way for the parents and the teachers that didn’t have confidence in the school before.

  • The more the community is behind the school, the better the conditions will get and the more support the community will give towards necessary reforms.

  • Offer a variety of classes for students to take so everyone can find their interests and have a strong desire to come into school and learn.

  • The more passionate the students are to learn, the better the education system will flow as there will be fewer instances of trouble amongst the students.

 

 

BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH PROCESS Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

One effect of Senate Bill 436 is the appropriate funding for and use of the Michigan Education Corps. The Michigan Education Crops is an organization that specifically helps make math and reading less of a challenge for elementary and middle school students. The program works by placing interventionalists, volunteers who care and what to make a difference about the issue, into classrooms to help struggling students. These interventionalists can either work one on one with students or in teaching sessions. The creation of this bill acknowledges the need for improvement regarding education and teaching. It notices the struggles of the younger generation and how they are not receiving the attention necessary to be successful. This proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan because it will help students build a strong educational foundation for their future endeavors. Education has always been cumulative. What is learned in one year is almost always needed for the next year and so on. However, students who are not understanding the lessons taught in the beginning will only get more and more lost as they progress through the school curriculum. Targeting the young, elementary and middle school students and providing them the help they need with a better school system will provide them a higher chance to succeed when they are older. Education is the foundation for success and with a better educational system, the future of not only the kids, but the city and state as well will be in better hands.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

We learned about the issues underlying the need for a better educational system through the posts and comments by our peers in the caucus. There have been several posts about how Michigan's reading and math scores are far lower than other states and one even stating that although they have been improving over this past year, they are still average at best. Through responding to the comments and posts, we took the initiative to dive deeper into the problem and do our own research. We wanted to find the true causes of what is holding back students from succeeding in Detriot public schools and how to mitigate them. Both of us are not from the Michigan area and wouldn't have known about this issue if not for the Michigan Student Caucus. We believe others in our situation may not know as well and we want to take it upon ourselves to help solve the issue.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Sam's service activity had more influence than Oliver's service activity. Sam's service activity, Books for Benefit, involves promoting youth interest in reading and literacy. This directly connects to our proposal because as we have both researched, reading scores for elementary school students are way lower than they should be. By working with the students directly, it is more evident that they need help and more attention. While Oliver's service activity, Food Gatherers, isn't directly associated with children's education, it is still indirectly related. Through volunteering, I was able to see how many families and children need help. This also demonstrated how the families in Michigan live in poverty and many may not know and need to prioritize where they will get their next meal.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Detroit Inner-City Education

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1:

After speaking to an advisor as my sister's middle school in Los Angeles, it has become clear that an after school program that helps students with homework and projects can be beneficial. Her school was experiencing a similar situation where student scores were not meeting expectations. Therefore, the after school program where teachers would stay for an extra hour to help students in need was developed. A program like this for the Detriot public schools could be very beneficial for the students who need help. Funding for after school programs would require the support of local citizens and a very slight increase in annual taxes.

CONSULTATION 2:

My aunt's partner in marriage works for a small liberal college in Minnesota. When I recently decided to ask her about the allocation of funds to schools in her area, she told me that she thinks teachers getting paid insufficiently is a problem that contributes to a lack of improvement in urban places such as Detroit. She believes that because many of these inner-city schools have low budgets, they must pay their teachers' low salaries, and the teachers become less motivated than they would be with a more fair salary. She brought up the idea of incentivized learning in order for teachers to be more motivated in improving their student's performance in school.

CONSULTATION 3:

I spoke to my Spanish teacher about her opinion on Detroit schools, as I was aware that she had lived in Detroit for a number of years during her childhood. She told me that while the public schools aren't as bad as people say they are, they do not get the job done in terms of developing kids into devoted students. She believes that this has to do with a lack of value on education in the community, as she would regularly encounter families that did not place a sufficient amount of importance on their children's performance in the classroom. Therefore, she believes that our task is extremely tough to handle, as a majority of the problem regarding educational success in Detroit stems from a cultural sentiment that no one can make disappear. 

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

After speaking with James, it became clear that we needed to get more concrete numbers regarding what would make our proposal possible: funding. This funding would be used to provide the after school programs and improve the school conditions as mentioned in our solutions. By speaking with James, we realized that more specifics needed to be used instead of vaguely stating what we wanted to change. Instead, we would need to explain how we can help and how our proposal can help make these changes. Furthermore, James also opened up the idea of finding cost-effective ways to achieve some of our solutions. This includes using the Michigan Education Corps. By using organizations such as this, we can achieve our goal while also saving some of the funds. Lastly, what James also helped us think about was the action needed from either the state or local district. This helped us answer questions concerning how taxes would change for the state or local area and the role the state would play in ultimately putting this proposal into effect.

Research process:

The first part of our process in developing our proposal was which topic our proposal was going to focus on. We sat down together and discussed which posts caught our attention the most and seemed the most interesting. From there we determined that we wanted to focus on education because we were the most surprised by how Michigan's education and academic rating were so low and thus wanted to make a positive impact. Once we established we were going to work on Michigan's education issues, we decided to do further research and dig deeper than just want other members of the caucus were posting. This included reading articles such as local Michigan news articles like mlive.com and bigger news companies like the New York Times and NBC News. From this research, we were able to become more enlightened on the true causes of academic issues. As we wanted to continue our research and be more specific with our proposal, we got stuck due to thinking too broadly. Trying to include all of Michigan gave us some of our own issues because every region had its own problems and causes concerning education. Therefore, we then decided it was best to focus on a specific region and chose Detriot.

Apart from our own online research, we realized we also needed to speak to specific people who had their own insights into this issue. Regardless of where they work and where they are from, we figured that anyone that is part of faculty in an elementary or middle school can help us solve and form our proposal. These faculty members also helped think of more outside of the box ideas that possibly require less money and funding, which can be seen as more plausible. Ideas like this include academic after school programs once or twice a week. Speaking with actual people aided us better than online research when coming up with solutions. 

Author contributions:

We tackled each process of the project together and were never separate when contributing to the overall proposal. We always sat side by side and discussed what we were going to write. We find that bouncing our ideas off of each other led to better results rather than working separately and coming together at the end.

Specifically, Oliver wrote information for the media artifact, wrote the POV and persona, solutions 1 & 2, consultation 1, first two questions of the context for the background information, and broke down the research process.

Sam did the graphics for the media artifact, solution 3, consultations 1 & 2, last question of the context for the background information, the reaction from the topic coordinator, and the author's contributions.

Even if one of us did not physically write for a specific step of the process, we edited and revised each others' work. This way, we are both involved in every aspect of the project and have even contributions. 

For the formal proposal, Sam did most of the writing and drafting, while Oliver found a few articles about Detroit test scores that were integral to the pool of evidence that we were searching for. 

FORMAL PROPOSAL

Preambulatory clauses

WHEREAS…. According to the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), out of the 27 urban districts evaluated, students in Detroit had the lowest average out of all “big city” schools in the country for the fifth straight time. 

WHEREAS....In this study, the average of the math scores for each city that reported followed a range of 214 to 248, with a clear outlier of 200, this being Detroit, at the bottom.

WHEREAS... Education experts equate 10 points on the NAEP with a year of learning

WHEREAS….“Michigan student achievement is well below the top 10 education states, such as Massachusetts, and the national average,” Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest.

WHEREAS....The average student in Bloomfield Hills receives $12,124 versus the $7,670 per student in Detroit Public Schools.

WHEREAS....State of Michigan ranks dead among all states in funding growth for K-12 schools according to a report by MSU

WHEREAS.... Michigan's allocation of funds has not been in education's favor. Funding for education has been on a consistent decline

WHEREAS.... Detroit public schools receive funding based on their enrollment numbers from a random, single day in October

Operative clauses

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

  1.  After school programs funded by a slight tax increase and reallocation of funds will provide every child access to a punctual, high-quality public education system from early childhood to graduation to maximize the ability for the students to be successful in the future

  2. Combat the impact of external factors such as poverty by providing equitable materials and resources to all students, ensuring widespread access to quality educational opportunities. 

  3. Ensure that parents/guardians are engaged and supported partners in their child’s education by increasing the number of parent-teachers from 2 to 4 

  4. Implement more standardized tests throughout the school year, and provide incentives to the schools that hold the most successful students

  5. Closely monitor each teacher’s behavior, attitude, and performance while also evaluating schools' physical learning environments consistently

  6. Provide after school programs for students who need extra assistance

  7. The state's funds will be reallocated and geared more towards K-12 education in order to provide better conditions and overall academic environment

  8. All households in Wayne County will receive an increase of annual property tax of $82, which will be used for the schools

  9. Detroit public schools will receive funding based on average enrollment numbers over the course of three years to ensure schools are retaining their students

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. Funding for solutions such as after school programs will be difficult to collect and persuading the entire Wayne County to be accepting of an increase in property tax can prove to be an obstacle as well.

2. Allocations of the funds for education between improving the buildings' conditions and the actual academics is a difficult choice, as they have an impact on the overall development of the students.

3. Using programs and organizations such as the Michigan Education Corps may interrupt the flow of the school lessons and the academic curriculum of the schools.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

The main cost of our proposal would be a slight increase in salaries for the teachers in return for staying and leading after school programs and the improvement of the schools' buildings. Funding is the main issue for our proposal, but we believe that an increase in taxes for those in Wayne County would be sufficient. This property tax increase for Wayne County would not be more than $82 for the average homeowner annually. While a tax increase is probably not what citizens of the county want to see, this investment could provide a much bigger impact in the long term. In addition to the tax increase, a reallocation of funds that the state is currently using will be greatly beneficial to the education system. Funds for K-12 education have been on a steady decline for the past 10 years and switching that around can help turn the academic issues in Detroit around. 

References:

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/01/20/how-appalling-are-conditions-in-detroit-public-schools-this-appalling/

https://www.educationnext.org/fixing-detroits-broken-school-system/

https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/detroit/2018/11/16/frequent-school-changes-are-hurting-students-heres-how-detroits-educators-want-to-fix-it/

https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/detroit/2019/08/29/detroit-district-test-scores-19/

https://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2019/08/29/michigan-reading-test-scores/2143748001/

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/2018/04/10/detroit-schools-score-lowest-in-nation-for-reading-mathematics/

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/04/10/michigan-test-scored-naep/33693921/

https://chalkbeat.org/posts/detroit/2019/10/16/a-plan-to-fund-after-school-programs-is-seeking-public-support-but-detroit-school-officials-so-far-are-hesitant/

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Total votes: 5