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K-12 Education

Child advocates call on Detroit leaders and community facilities to step up in service of kids

This ain’t workin’!”

These words can be heard anywhere you go in Detroit; from carry out diners to dining room desktops and zoom-enabled board rooms to virtual classrooms. It is the frustrated expression of isolated parents and caregivers, wrestling with devices that do not work for them and their kids, and sometimes do not work at all.

Through conversations, virtual townhalls, and parent/caregiver listening sessions, it has become apparent that this remote learning experience brought on by COVID-19 is not working. Students are not engaging on a regular basis. Employees are not able to work. Businesses are limping along as key staff have taken on the added responsibility of serving as an emergency substitute teacher.

It is time to transform the perception of this school year from being that of a gap year, to an adapt year.

Every School Day Counts Detroit (ESDCD), a coalition of over 30 community organizations from across Detroit, has taken the lead in organizing and connecting resources and supports to families to increase student interactions and engagement with structured learning. Through the Count Me In Campaign, community partners are connecting to their families, identifying needs, and developing systems that meet the needs of their neighborhoods. 

As COVID-19 cases rise, traditional in-person learning has been removed as an option for most students and families. Detroit families are in dire need of safe spaces for their kids during the school day. Families need resources that support stability in their homes and for their children in order to weather any hardships escalated by the pandemic. 

Detroit, it is time to prioritize our children and youth

Governor Whitmer, State Superintendent Dr. Rice, State Legislators, Mayor Duggan, Detroit City Council, school education leaders, human service and childcare providers, faith-based leaders, and philanthropy: the community invites you to join our movement to prioritize Detroit children and youth during this crisis. Partner with us to explore what can be done to minimize barriers to learning and maximize the health and wellness of our youth by considering the following action steps:

  1. Establish coordinated supports and resources for Detroit families
  2. Work collaboratively with community partners to adapt physical spaces in our city that meet the needs of students and families.
  3. Partner with Every School Day Counts Detroit to resource these learning spaces with supports that provide students with needed academic, social, and emotional resources necessary to enable positive community-wide learning experiences.

Detroit’s children and youth deserve for the leaders of their community to work together.  We invite you to join the movement. 

We envision a Detroit where half of the city’s 4,000 churches take 20 students each, equaling 40,000 students that would have a safe place to learn. If every child-care provider and community organization welcomed 10 students each, at least 10,000 more children could be served. If Detroit’s 200 K-12 schools opened to receive the balance of students, in small classroom sizes, another 20,000 could be served.

This is a community-wide emergency that deserves a coordinated, community-wide response.

Giving Grace

While we must get serious about coordinating a plan for our children, we also must give one another grace. We are all pressed, stressed, and weary. To this end, parents and caregivers, call your child’s teacher or school leader and express your appreciation. Detroit educators, please do the same. Parents and caregivers are not trained educators. They are doing the best they know how. Encouraging their efforts will go a long way to building critical, positive parent-teacher-student partnerships.

Our ask is for all state and local leaders who impact Detroit children, youth, and families, to pull together with community to do things differently.  Because what we are doing now, it ain’t workin’.

This is our call to action! We are the Motor City. We know how to invent and adapt. We can do this.


Abigail Sacco, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit
Andrea Meyer, Success Network
Annette Howard, Life Directions
Beth Hagenlock, Detroit Creativity Project
Christine Bell, Urban Neighborhoods Initiative
Denise Smith, Hope Starts Here
Jason D. Lee, Junior Achievement
Kim Johnson, Developing KIDS
Leah Van Belle, 313Reads!
Marvis Cofield, Alkebulan Village
Peri Stone-Palmquist, Student Advocacy Center
Terry Whitfield, The Skillman Foundation
Rev. Larry Simmons, Brightmoor Alliance
Robert Jamerson, Detroit Police Athletic League
Sara Plachta Elliott, Detroit Youth Development Resource Center
Rev. Sharinese Jackson, Vernon Chapel Detroit
Sharnese Marshall, Life Remodeled
Steve Wasko, St. Suzanne Cody Rouge Community Resource Center

Ramona Washington, Wayne State University, Center for Urban Studies
Jametta Lilly, Detroit Parent Network
Maria Adams-Lawton, Healthy Kidz Inc.
Laura Bakosh, Inner Explorer 
Jim Ryder, Life Directions
Marcell Copeland, Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan
Ralph Bland, New Paradigm for Education Now
Jennifer Erb
Camarrah Morgan, Detroit Champions for Hope
Cynthia White McPhaul, Community Education Commission

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