Poll: Voters split on mayoral oversight of DPS

DETROIT — Eighty-two percent of those surveyed in a recent poll gave a negative rating to the quality of education in Detroit Public Schools, while 54 percent said they would favor having the mayor be accountable for the school system, and 28 percent said they would oppose mayoral oversight, according to a poll commissioned by New Detroit and reported in the Detroit Free Press.

The telephone survey of 600 likely Detroit voters was conducted by the Washington-based Mellman Group in mid-May and has a margin of error of four percentage points, according to the Free Press.

New Detroit and a community organization named Change for Better Schools want the Detroit City Council to place an advisory question on mayoral oversight of the city's schools on the November ballot, a move that the council so far has declined to make, according to the Free Press.

"The poll is pretty strong in saying that we do need change," Shirley Stancato, a member of Change for Better Schools and president of New Detroit, told the Free Press.

The poll is the first scientific look at what voters think of the debate, the Free Press reported. In other results, 61 percent of those surveyed gave the school board an unfavorable rating and 64 percent gave Mayor Dave Bing a favorable rating.

Tyrone Winfrey, Detroit Board of Education vice president, questioned why Detroit has been singled out among Michigan school boards, The Free Press said.

"A sole line of authority is not the clear answer," Winfrey told the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "Poll: Voters favor mayoral oversight of Detroit Public Schools," July 25, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit's Schools Are Going Bankrupt, Too," Aug. 4, 2009