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Michigan: Roberts: DPS isn't training kids to be 'globally competitive'

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Wed Jul 20 2011

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(From The Detroit News) Detroit - Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts appeared before the City Council this morning and said his focus is eliminating the deficit and educating children.

"When I leave here, the thing I hope you remember is I'm here for one reason: that's to educate kids," said Roberts, 72, a former General Motors executive who was appointed to the post last month.

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"You can take any measure you find of our performance, any one you want, and it will tell you we're not training our kids to be globally competitive. That's the only reason why I'm here, not to run for (a political) office or take any other job. I'm too old for that."

Roberts discussed some plans for the district, including his proposal for placing 34 low-achieving schools under the control of a new district. The new statewide district will be run by Roberts. The plan gives more autonomy to schools and seeks to puts 95 percent of funding in classrooms.

Other initiatives include upgrading technology to 57 schools with 40,000 laptops by the end of next school year, paid for with federal stimulus funds. The district also is in the middle of a project to renovate or rebuild 18 schools under the $500.5 million Proposal S bond issue, which voters passed in 2009.

"The same way we need to repopulate Detroit, we need to repopulate the Detroit Public Schools," said councilwoman JoAnn Watson, a longtime critic of a state takeover of the schools. "We need to have deliberate, strategic conversation among the leadership in the city to make sure all of us are working in the same alignment of achievement."

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