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Detroit Public Schools Decentralization Study Committee Records

Identifier: LR000882

Scope and Content

Important Subjects: Community participation in city government Detroit politics, 1969-1978 Open Hearings on education in Detroit, 1977 School board and staff and community surveys on education in Detroit, 1977 The struggle for civil rights Urban education Women in education administration and community affairs

Important Correspondents: Dr. F.W. Bertolaet Dr. D. Delia-Dora Mr. John G. Gist Dr. Arthur Jefferson Governor W.G. Milliken Mr. Horace K. Sheffield Mr. Darneau V. Stewart Dr. Clifton K. Wharton

Series Description: Series 1: Members' list, project tasks, staff roster, correspondence, media information, memoranda, agenda, minutes, staff reports, presentations, working papers, and reports of the Committee. Similar materials exist for the various sub-committees.

Series 2: Correspondence and publicity information, staff reports, and presentations concerning the Committee's four Open Hearings on decentralization. There is also material regarding several scheduled "rap-sessions" on the issue for high school students.

Series 3: Academic and political reports on decentralization, official information on the Detroit school system, with pertinent legislation, articles, and press cuttings. There are also personnel lists, correspondence, by-laws, meeting notices, achievement plans and materials of the various Detroit School Regions.

In addition, 1 storage box contains: School Board, Staff and Community Surveys, Computer printouts: Board and Staff sample (roster) 26 October 1977; Board and Staff sample (alphabetical roster) [undated]; Community sample (statistical analysis) December 1977; Board and Staff sample (statistical analysis) 16 December 1977; Community sample (statistical analysis) 16 December 1977; Board and Staff sample (statistical analysis) 6 January 1978; Community sample (statistical analysis) 7 January 1978


  • 1969 - 1978


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.


The Decentralization Study Committee was appointed by Governor Milliken and Mayor Young on 5 May. It had eleven members (five of them women), with Mr. Walter Douglas and Dr. Keith Goldhammer as Co-Chairmen. The first meeting was held on 3 June, and a staff led by Mrs. DeLois Robison as Project Coordinator was quickly organized. The Committee had been instructed to evaluate three principal issues: Had greater community participation and enhanced cooperation in education been achieved under decentralization? How had it affected both administrative and educational efficiency? What had been the administrative costs before and during decentralization? How did the latter figures compare with other Michigan and U.S. cities? These questions were assigned to four sub-committees, who chose four broad methods of evaluation. Selected experts were invited to make "presentations." The views of community members were solicited through several publicized "Open Meetings". Questionnaires were devised for School Board and staff members, as well as a random sample of local citizens. Finally, the Committee's staff collected official information and academic studies about the school system, together with comparative materials from other cities.

Despite pressure to complete its work by 1 September 1977, the Committee obtained a postponement until the year's end. Their report of 1 January 1978 offered ten conclusions. Pupils in Detroit schools were about two years behind their counterparts in comparable state and national cities. Yet the available data could not "pinpoint what ... goes wrong with the [Detroit] system". The costs of decentralization did not appear to be a significant consideration. But "Community involvement [was] ... a wholesome, positive concept." It was vital in establishing and administering "effective educational programs." Detroiters "must have the opportunity to determine ... whether or not the[ir] ... Schools should be decentralized."


4 Linear Feet (6 MB, 1 SB)


On 17 December 1976, the Detroit Central Board of Education had officially requested "a management audit" of the decentralized school system from its establishment in 1970. An outline of a proposed "task force" was discussed on 7 March 1977. Three weeks later, State Representative Stopczynski introduced House Bills 4401 and 4466 respectively proposing greater parental control over school curricula and abolition of the Detroit Regional School Boards.


Arranged in 4 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Box 2), Series 3 (Boxes 2-4), and Series 4 (Boxes 4-6). Folders are arranged generally in alphabetical order by subject or type of material.


The papers of the Detroit Schools Decentralization Study Committee were deposited in February 1978 in the Wayne State University Archives. The collection was transferred to the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs the following May.

Related Materials

Detroit Board of Education Detroit Public Schools Records, Wayne State University College of Education, Dean’s Office: Detroit Public Schools Monitoring Commission on Desegregation Records, Detroit Public Schools Community Relations Division Records, AFT Local 231: Detroit Federation of Teachers Records


4 tape cassettes of an Open Hearing in Detroit on school decentralization held by Senator Jack Faxon, 7 May 1977l; 2 tape cassettes of the Decentralization Committee's Open Hearing 18 October 1977; 2 tape cassettes of the Open Hearing 20 October 1977; 2 tape cassettes of the Open Hearing 14 November 1977; 1 tape cassette of the Redford High School students' "rap-session" on decentralization 14 December 1977; 1 tape cassette of Southeastern High School's "rap-session" 15 December 1977 - transferred to the Library's Audiovisual collections.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the Detroit Public Schools Decentralization Study Committee Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA