After being awarded as Michiganite of the Year in 2015, Tonya Allen refused an offer to take over the function of interim superintendent for Detroit Public Schools. Tonya Allen is well-known for her desire and significant effort in creating a high – quality school system in Detroit.
Allen was seen by many as an adequate person to cope with this job and tough situation, but the only thing she offered is to make herself available as an external member in the helping team of experts. The idea of a transition team of educators and experts that would help the district deal with the disastrous financial situation was proposed by retired judge Rhodes, the future leader of Detroit Public Schools.
The School system is heading for a bankruptcy and it’s dangerously sinking under the burden of financial and structural problems. We are talking about severe debts, and it will take hundreds of millions of dollars to get it back on the feet, but the radical strategy moves have to be made as soon as possible.
Some of the changes have already been made, such as last year’s budget amendment, and the results of the fiscal year 2016 show slight improvement. This is certainly not enough.
In order to gain financial stability for Detroit School system, Tonya Allen over viewed some of her ideas and suggestions made by Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren where she co-chairs. They oppose the idea of employing another emergency manager, as it has been routine during last several years. As some of the major aims necessary for saving district’s educational system, Allen sees local control of DPS, instead of state’s control as it is now. Furthermore, she calls for paying off district’s debt, returning Education Achievement Authority back in the district and she supports Judge Rhodes’ program. Tonya Allen asserts her three stages concept of approaching this problem based on triage, transition and transformation. The middle phase, transition, is planned for newly formed transition team of experts that would push the necessary legislations and enable the School system to reach the possibility of applying structural changes. She offered to help this team as an external member. Tonya Allen is known to public as the president and CEO in the Skillman Foundation. She dedicated to helping Detroit’s children go through school system successfully, prepare for the future career and get fair chances for a business start. As the first person of the Skillman Foundation and strong promoter of educational reforms in Michigan, she was named one of five nonprofit innovators in 2015.
As a co-chair of the Coalition for the Future of schoolchildren in Detroit, she stated a list of demands, suggestions and possible solutions. Due to all these qualities and previous activities, it is understood why officials and public equally saw her as adequate for the job of interim superintendent for Detroit Public Schools, but according to her current statements – someone else will have to deal with that function.
Nevertheless, Tonya Allen accents her wish and plans to continue focusing on all schoolchildren and helping with all District’s problems in that sector, just not in the role of superintendent.