The school bus drivers in Hartsville, South Carolina used to do two things: pick up kids and drop them off. But now they do a whole lot more and are an integral part of the school community. In this New York Times piece, we learn about how this S.C. district utilizes school bus drivers to help identify students at risk. "As the literal transition guides between home and school life — and the first and last adults with whom children interact before and after school each day — bus drivers can help recognize how children are faring emotionally, respond to behavior problems in thoughtful ways and set a welcoming tone for the day."

There are almost as many charter schools in Detroit as schools run by the Detroit Public Schools. There are 86 DPS schools and 85 charters, a difference of one.

There are also more seats in all these schools than kids to fill them. But that didn’t stop 28-year-old Kyle Smitley from opening up her school this year. Smitley opened the Detroit Achievement Academy in one wing of an old church on the city's northwest side.

At the school one day this fall, about 30 kindergarten and first graders were sitting very quietly and cross-legged on the rug in front of the principal. The school culture is being built here as kids sing songs about reading and going to college. They are all slowly learning the school-specific lingo about behavior and achievement (words like "appreciation" and "habits of character"). 

Smitley has high expectations for the school. "Being the best school in Detroit isn’t good enough for us," she says. "We have to be the best in the state."

40-year shadow cast by Detroit's failed busing plan

Nov 12, 2013
clipping courtesy of Ray Litt / via Detroit Free Press

Next week marks the 40th anniversary of the day the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about busing and segregation in Detroit’s schools. The case eventually became Milliken v. Bradley, a seminal civil rights case that nevertheless few people outside legal circles remember.

The great Detroit draft of '70

Nov 8, 2013

When the order to send kids to schools outside their neighborhood came down, one of our colleagues here at Michigan Radio recalled that it was almost like receiving a draft letter. And while these kids were too young to actually be drafted into the Vietnam War, they were, in a sense, foot soldiers in a conflict that they had no control over.

Outtakes: How race shapes Detroit

Nov 7, 2013


For a few months now, I've been working on a series about the end of the neighborhood school as most people know it in Detroit . The stories will air next week. 

My question going into this work was how much a failed plan to racially integrate Detroit's schools contributed to changes in the educational landscape. I came away thinking the impact of that case was profound, but in many ways I didn't expect.