After the Fall: Continuity and Change in Detroit, 1981–1995

  • Jeffrey Mirel


In 1988, a group of reformers—blacks and whites, Democrats and Republicans, business and labor—forged a well-financed and apparently powerful political coalition to take control of the Detroit Board of Education. Running as the HOPE coalition (the anagram made up of the first letter of the last name of the three candidates: Hayden, Olmstead, and Patrick for Education), these reformers promised to change the Detroit schools in ways that were quite similar to those the “new Progressives” had implemented in other cities. Upon their election to the board, the HOPE candidates worked diligently to place the school system on a firm financial footing, to run it in a more efficient manner, to establish closer ties with the city’s business community, to decentralize the district by empowering principals and local schools, and to create schools of choice that would enable parents to have alternatives to neighborhood schools. Despite some notable successes in these areas, in 1992, the HOPE initiatives abruptly ended as voters turned most of the reformers out of office following a series of bitter confrontations and crises.


School System Board Member Urban School School Board Urban Education 
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© John L. Rury 2005

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  • Jeffrey Mirel

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