As a former Western High School teacher I’ve watched the selection process of the new superintendent from afar and, at times, chuckled to myself. I’ve read the stories about the candidacy of Alycia Merriweather and her supporters — all well deserved.
I thought all of that ended in March when she was not included in the final pool of candidates, but now in the post “What Detroiters Say New Schools Superintendent Nicolai Vitti Should Tackle First” is quick to rehash the views of a high school advisor who supported Merriweather and wants the new superintendent to promote more extracurricular activity and work “side by side” with Merriweather.
From there, the article delineates the views of those with vested interests:
- The head of the Detroit Federation of Teachers wants higher salaries to off-set the teacher shortage.
- A principal wants teachers to receive bonuses and more buses to improve student attendance.
- The same principal wants more flexibility in managing budgets and curricula at the local level.
- Another counselor wants more counselors.
- A community action leader calls for tight fiscal controls.
No wonder the Board picked a leader from a national pool of seventy-five candidates—the Detroit Public Schools don’t need more of the same. The community doesn’t need an attitude of what’s in it for me nor does it need a return to the backbiting, sniping, political posturing and grandstanding of the past.
Check the facts: What better investment could Detroiters make than in Dr. Nikolai Vitti?
- A nationally recognized leader.
- Former chief academic officer of Miami-Dade County Public Schools with over 50,000 students of which 64% were African-American and 33% were Hispanic.
- The superintendent of Duval County Public Schools (Jacksonville, FL), the twentieth largest school district in the country, with over 130,000 students.
- A superintendent who led that school district to historic high school and college graduation rates.
- An educator who raised over $40 million in local philanthropy during the last five years.
- A statewide leader whose district surpassed all Florida urban districts in African-American graduation rates.
The Detroit Public School Board picked the person most qualified person to lead the city’s schools. The challenges are many. It’s time for everyone to come together in support of Dr. Vitti. He’s demonstrated that he’s a leader who’ll work determinedly for the young people of the city. Regardless of his leadership skills, he can’t do it alone!
Dr. Nikolai Vitti needs everyone’s support. The youth of the city deserve the best every segment of the community can offer. Elevating the schools from the depths of mediocracy requires a level of teamwork unmatched in the city’s history.
It’s more than the:
- Impact the Mustang had on the auto industry
- Influence of Motown on the nation’s music industry
- Feat of the Tigers winning the World Series
- Success of the Red Wings capturing the Stanley Cup
Improving the city’s schools is about improving the way of life of every person in Detroit. It’s not a challenge that can be achieved by the efforts of one man nor can it happen by the independent effort of groups. Rejuvenation of the city’s schools requires the reinvigorated enthusiasm of everyone — a team effort that leaves out no one and leave no one behind!
-Les Cochran, Former Teacher at Western High School and Former President of Youngstown State University
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