While most of the anxiety you’re surely feeling today is appropriately directed at the presidential race, people who care about Detroit should also be paying attention to the city’s historic school board election.
Voters on Tuesday will choose seven Detroiters to help shepherd our schools out of a difficult period that’s been defined by financial distress, academic turmoil and emergency management.
How will voters choose? A Chalkbeat review of campaign finance records found that the vast majority of the 63 candidates have raised no money at all and will be entering Election Day without tools to get their message across to voters.
To help you make sense of the candidates, we’ve compiled nine endorsement lists from the city’s major newspapers and political organizations. Read on to see which four candidates made six of the lists, as well as the rest of the week’s headlines. And — please — don’t forget to vote!
Four days away
Of the 63 candidates running for school board, most are running shoestring campaigns — though one union-connected candidate will benefit from $127,000 in campaign spending.
There are also a number of statewide and local school issues on ballots throughout the region. Among the most contentious: the Wayne County tax hike that could mean an extra $385 per student in county school districts.
Three suburban superintendents explained why they’re urging voters to support the measure, calling it “one of the most significant and necessary investments in … public schools in generations.” But critics charge that Wayne County school leaders are misleading voters.
Meanwhile, WDET looked at what the tax vote says about the way we fund schools in Michigan.
In other news:
- Critics have charged that the state’s tougher new promotion requirements for third-graders are punitive without extra resources to help kids who’ve fallen behind. But the GOP chair of the House Education Committee defended the measure, saying the state spends hundreds of millions of dollars on early literacy programs to help kids read. “The fact is that our educators are receiving adequate funding,” she wrote, “but their mind-sets and focus need to change.”
- A national study on state school turnaround strategies includes an assessment of mistakes made during Michigan’s experiment with the Education Achievement Authority.
- Few parents attended the first “listening tour” event hosted by the governor’s education commission.
- For Detroit’s truancy officers, getting frequently absent students into school means going door to door — and sometimes helping parents deal with big problems.
- The education director of a pro-school choice think tank called for better data and more parent input in school closure decisions.
- Michigan schools are facing rising pension costs.
- A program that helps city kids learn math has won a national award.
- Twelve Detroit principals charged with bribery accepted plea deals. Now, one plans to defend herself in court.
- This suburban school was ranked the safest high school in Michigan.
- Michigan Courts have limited the use of laws targeting drug use near schools.
- The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case this week about a western Michigan girl who asked to bring her service dog to class. The school argued that the since the girl had a human aide, she didn’t need the dog (who was named Wonder the Golden Doodle).
- Muskegon schools will be returning to local control after years of state-imposed emergency management.
- Western Michigan schools have a substitute teacher shortage.
- A suburban high school football coach is facing charges for sending inappropriate Twitter messages to students.
In the race for Detroit school board, there are lots of candidates. To help sort them out, Chalkbeat synthesized the endorsement lists from nine organizations — three newspapers (The Free Press, the News and Michigan Chronicle) and six community and political groups: the Detroit Federation of Teachers, the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce, the Fannie Lou Hamer (FLH) political action committee, Declare Detroit, the Black Slate and the 13th Congressional District Democrats.
Though many of these groups have different agendas, quite a few candidates appeal to endorsers across the political spectrum.
Candidates with six endorsements:
- Leslie Andrews: Free Press, News, Chronicle, Chamber, FLH, Declare
- Sonya Mays: News, Chronicle, Chamber, Black Slate, 13th District, Declare
- Angelique Peterson-Maybury: Free Press, Chronicle, DFT, Black Slate, FLH, 13th District
- Misha Stallworth: Free Press, Chronicle, Chamber, DFT, FLH, 13th District
Candidates with five endorsements:
- Iris Taylor: Chamber, DFT, Black Slate, FLH, 13th District
Candidates with four endorsements:
- Penny Bailer: Free Press, News, Chamber, Chronicle
- Kevin Turman: Free Press, News, Chamber, Chronicle
- Ryan Mack: Free Press, News, Chronicle, FLH
Candidates with three endorsements:
- Mary Kovari: News, Chamber, Declare
- Deborah Hunter-Harvill, DFT, FLH, 13th District
- Keith Whitney, DFT, FLH, 13th District
Candidates with two endorsements:
- Wanda Redmond, Black Slate, 13th District
Candidates with one endorsement:
- Phillip Caldwell II: Free Press
- Brandon Brice: News
- LaMar Lemmons: Black Slate
- Ida Carol Short: Black Slate
- Tawanna Simpson: Black Slate
There are surely other endorsement lists that didn’t come across our radar, but the vast majority of candidates — 46 candidates, or nearly three quarters of the total — don’t appear to have outside support at all.
More From Chalkbeat:
- No one quite knows why an influential national education reform group is backing an obscure school board candidate in a tiny Indianapolis district.
- New York City’s Public Advocate is calling for a “chief diversity officer” to desegregate schools.
- A moratorium on charter schools? You won’t hear those calls from Tennessee’s NAACP chapter.
- A frustrated teacher thought her students were lazy. Then she took them to a farm.