Let me first describe what we’re doing in Detroit with one simple word: Transformational.


This school year is beginning with the transformation of DEPSA (Detroit Edison Public School Academy) from a K-8 Academy into the opening of its Early College Prep School, beginning with grades 9 and 10. Additionally, DEPSA – largely because of the standards of excellence it continues to successfully employ – is serving as the model for change within the Charter School initiative begun this year by Detroit Public Schools (DPS).

Earlier this year, DPS sought Mr. Bland’s counsel in addressing the current plight of its system and adapting proven approaches and methodologies that will affect the transformational change so desperately needed within the Detroit school system. As a result of both this ongoing counsel provided by Mr. Bland and the stellar reputation and performance of DEPSA, DPS thoroughly vetted and selected New Paradigm for Education (NPFE) – the supervisory and administrative educational association created by Mr. Bland that oversees DEPSA – as one of three selected administrative educational associations that will run DPS’ five new Charter Schools (converted from former failing elementary schools). Specifically, NPFE will run both Glazer and Loving Elementary Schools.

Preparations to get both schools ready for the new school year have been running at an absolutely frenetic pace. Scores of volunteer cleaning crews from the communities have been working within each school, while NPFE associates have been working with parents and kids, addressing concerns, laying out new standards and expectations for parents, students, and teachers, and introducing themselves to the community at-large through open houses and neighborhood barbeques designed to establish lasting, positive relationships. Needless to say, everyone at NPFE has been working long hours in an effort to meet the demands of the impending school year, yet the atmosphere is one fueled with anticipation and excitement.

In addition to leading the growth of NPFE, Mr. Bland has also committed to turning around education in Detroit through his position as a founding board member for Excellent Schools Detroit, and is actively working with other key leaders in the community on change outcomes for children. He was also appointed to an Education Policy Fellowship with Michigan State University. This yearlong program has provided Mr. Bland with additional tools that will help him navigate the Michigan legislature to affect the right policy outcomes for children.

Again, there is no more appropriate word to describe what’s going on here in Detroit than “transformational.” The future of Detroit education; the future of our kids; of an entire generation is at stake right now. And once again, Detroit is serving as the nation’s petri dish as other communities around the country look to see whether or not we’ll be able to successfully turn around a failing system. We at NPFE are proud to be part of a group of successful school programs in Detroit that can step up to that challenge and lead the way in this effort. And we’re confident in our ability to do just that. Mr. Bland has created a strong, committed team that collectively carries numerous years of experience and fortitude to succeed in educating the children of Detroit and shaping the future leaders of our community.

The challenge is monumental. But, we will succeed…

…because we are Schools That Can.

Tom Constand

To learn more about Ralph and how he got his start, check out his interview with STC from the Newark Forum.