Detroit: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Like many large urban school districts, the Detroit Public School District has struggled mightily to maintain a quality level of education in the face of such daunting problems as loss of population, budget shortfalls due to a dwindling local tax base and state-supplied resources, political infighting, and the enormous social implications of a largely impoverished city population. In 1999 the Michigan state legislature authorized the Detroit mayor's office to take control of the Detroit Public Schools after years of failed efforts at reform by the school board. The mayor appoints six of seven school board members, but the chief executive of the school district makes all the decisions. By 2005, under new CEO Kenneth C. Burnley, the district was able to report some positive gains in state-mandated test scores, as well as an ongoing school consolidation plan that sought to make the district more financially workable. A large number of state-mandated charter schools also provided some relief to the district, giving parents more options in placing children in smaller schools, many of which stress discipline, fundamental education in reading and mathematics, and even institute a dress code or school uniform policy. In addition, Rogers High School, Renaissance High, and Detroit Cass Technical High School consistently rank among the best schools in the state in the numbers of students that graduate and go on college.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Detroit public schools as of the 2003–2004 school year.

Total enrollment: 173,742

Number of facilities elementary schools: 168

middle schools: 85

high schools: 40

other: 12 alternative education; 4 vocational-technical schools

Student/teacher ratio: 30.6:1

Teacher salaries average (statewide): $54,020

Funding per pupil: $10,031

Several private and parochial school systems offer educational alternatives at pre-school, elementary, and secondary levels, including at the highly regarded University of Detroit Jesuit High School. In 2004 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese was forced to close several of its schools within the city limits and suburbs due mainly to declining populations in some parishes. Specialized curricula have been designed by the Japanese Society of Detroit Hashuko-Saturday School, Burton International School, Liggett and Waldorf schools, Friends School, and W.E.B. DuBois Preparatory School.

Public Schools Information: Detroit Public Schools, 5057 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202; telephone (313)494-1010

Colleges and Universities

Wayne State University is Detroit's largest institution of higher learning and Michigan's only urban research university. Approximately 33,000 students are enrolled in 12 schools and colleges, including the colleges of medicine, nursing, and pharmacy and allied health, and the law school. More than 350 major courses of study are offered; particularly strong programs are offered in the college of engineering and the school of fine and performing arts, which includes a nationally recognized drama program. Wayne State is one of 98 universities nationwide to be designated a Carnegie One Research University. The university's 203-acre campus forms part of downtown Detroit's cultural center along the Woodward Avenue corridor; nearby are the Detroit Institute of Arts, the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, and the Museum of African American History.

The University of Detroit-Mercy, a Roman Catholic institution run by the Jesuit order of priests for more than 125 years, enrolls more than 6,000 students in baccalaureate, master's, and doctorate programs in the arts and sciences; the university also administers schools of law and dentistry. Approximately one-third of its students are minorities, and the university has been called one of the most diverse and one of the best educational values in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Marygrove College, located adjacent to the University of Detroit campus, is also affiliated with the Catholic Church.

The Center for Creative Studies in Detroit's Cultural Center is a private, four-year college that offers bachelor of fine arts degrees in animation and digital media, crafts, communication design, fine arts, industrial design, interior design, and photography. Colleges located in neighboring suburbs include Detroit College of Business in Dearborn, Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, the Dearborn campus of the University of Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, and Oakland University in Rochester. Greater Detroit has a wide selection of community colleges. Central Michigan University maintains centers throughout metropolitan Detroit. Additionally, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan are within a 40-minute drive to the west of the city; Michigan State University in East Lansing is about a 90-minute drive northwest.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Detroit Public Library, founded in 1865, is not only the city's largest library, it is the largest municipal library system in the state, maintaining 23 branches. The main facility houses more than 3 million book volumes and bound periodicals in addition to 7,200 periodical subscriptions, more than 738,000 microfiche and microfilms, and recordings and videos. Special collections include materials pertaining to national automotive history, Michigan, the Great Lakes, the Northwest Territory, and African Americans in the performing arts.

The Wayne State University Libraries system ranks among the top 60 libraries in the Association for Research Libraries. It is comprised of a central facility with about 3 million volumes and five departmental libraries with separate holdings, including law and medical libraries. In addition, the university offers a nationally ranked American Library Association-accredited Library and Information Science Program. A United States documents depository, the library has special collections in oral history, children and young people, photography, social studies, chemistry, and women and the law.

The University of Detroit-Mercy Library system maintains four separate libraries—the McNichols Campus Library, the Outer Drive Urban Health Education and Dental Library, the Instructional Design Studio/Outer Drive, and the Kresge Law Library. Together they house more than one-half million volumes, 5,000 leading literary, health, scientific and professional print and electronic journals, 11,000 audiovisual titles, and a collection of over 90,000 U.S. Federal and State government documents.

Research centers affiliated with Wayne State University conduct activity in such fields as labor and urban affairs, ethnic studies, folklore, bioengineering, human growth and development, automotive research, manufacturing, and technology. At centers affiliated with the University of Detroit-Mercy, research is conducted in aging and polymer technologies. The Budd Company, an engineering and manufacturing resource specializing in automotive design, recently opened four research and development centers in southeastern Michigan.

Public Library Information: Detroit Public Library, 5201 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202-4007; telephone (313)833-1000; fax (313)832-0877