Thursday, March 22, 2007

For Sale: Detroit Public Schools by Akindele Akinyemi

I am celebrating the demise of the Detroit Public School System. It has been a long time coming. After years of crooks running the system the end has arrived for this failing school district.

The following schools are closing:

Atkinson, Berry, Brady, Clinton, Courville, Dossin (fall 2008), Fairbanks, Genesis, Greenfield Park, Guyton (fall 2008), Hanneman, Healy, Kosciusko, MAAT Imhotep Tech Academy, Mason, McGregor, Monnier, Northwest Early Childhood Center (fall 2008), Von Stuben, Angelou, Cadillac, Cooper, Courtis (fall 2008), Detroit Open (fall 2008), Grant, Sherrard, Winship, Hancock, Joy, Miller, Phoenix, Communication and Media Arts (fall 2008), Mackenzie, Millennium, Redford

Program relocations and building closures: Barsamian, Bates, Crosman, Detroit International Academy, Douglass, Sampson, Stewart, Mark Twain

Program closures/relocations with buildings that remain open: Beaubien, Boynton, Detroit City Alternative High School, Hutchins, Barbara Jordan, Lessenger, Longfellow, MacCulloch, McMichael, Munger, Murray-Wright, Northern, Ruddiman, Webber, Greenfield Union, McNair and Nolan

I was hoping they would increase the number of schools closing so DPS can get out of the red financially.

I have always maintained that the best thing for parents right now is to jump on board with building a coalition with our sister group, One Choice, to help lobby for more educational options. It is now evident that parents are fed up with DPS and are seeking alternatives. Our sister network, One Choice, can help provide concrete solutions for parents who are looking to promote more educational options for our children in the community.

Detroit Public Schools have missed the boat and I am terribly sorry that our children have been caught in the crossfire. But I have a solution to this madness and I feel that we should take a deeper look into how we can save our families. Poor, uneducated people with children will be stuck in failing schools and I feel that this is wrong. We should give our children choices.

Since Detroit Public Schools have failed its customers, tax paying citizens in Detroit, we should seek other alternatives. Some talking points for discussion and eventually taking action.

1. We need to understand that the poor level of education quality in our city places our young at great risk. This seriously impacts the economic future of our youth, including their future living standards - as they face the most internationally and technologically competitive era in history.

2. I was excited to see schools like Redford and Murray-Wright slated to close. The reason? The larger the school the greater the rate of crime, violence, discipline problems, absenteeism and tardiness. Large schools have 4 times rate of serious discipline problems than small schools: '38% of principals in large schools reported serious discipline problems compared with10% in small schools. This leads to serious problem in schools with enrollments of more than 1,000 students'.

3. Perhaps smaller school districts and schools provide opportunity for more parental influence, as used to be the case with higher test scores, and more student motivation to excel. Further, from my own experience small schools offer the opportunity for students to consider themselves more a part of a one-clique family fostering achievement and better knowing each other (and more inclusion) and better respecting teachers.

4. In prior generations, when local school districts were small, the local PTA was a strong common-interest coalition between parents and teachers for education quality & discipline. In 1998 the National Congress of PTA will celebrate its centennial, but today fewer than a quarter of public schools have active PTA chapters. Why this drop? Because the growth of school size reduces individual parental influence. And, because the National chapter of the PTA became subservient to the two largest education unions (NEA and AFT), as the PTA completely supported union agendas - - locking out parents.

5. Our children's future (and Detroit's future) is at risk: from grade 1 through college. And, the problem has ZERO to do with money (proof abounds there is too much spent today). Its the failed delivery system and centralized control, with less control by parents and the good teachers, than ever before.

6. Mandating un-natural social engineering burdens on school boards and teachers further diluted quality achievement of the majority, just as quality & efficiency is diluted in the private sector when too many un-like objectives are mixed at the same location or within the same organization. (The proven private sector solution is to eliminate centralized staffs, and relocate power of decision to the lowest unit possible - the only central staff remaining is to monitor and report area-wide results).

7. Restrict state union influence of local school board policies, such that all officers must be a full-time resident within the school's district.

8. Employment of teachers: without tenure or compensation packages exceeding that in the surrounding non-government schooling sector - exceptions granted for skills in short supply in math and hard sciences.

9. Detroit Public School should adopt a waiver appeals rule such that parents under certain conditions may have their child transferred to any other public or private school in that district that will enhance education quality. Approved transfers shall be together with a grant for the average per student cost saved.

10. Have you ever asked yourself why teachers in the Detroit Public Schools will not send their own children to Detroit Public Schools? They are not stupid.

11. Look what is happening when most of our children are leaving Detroit Public Schools. Excessive percentage of college freshmen require remedial work,because they did not learn the basics in high school. Dramatic evidence of poor output quality of high schools of the 12 California state university colleges, 60% of students need remediation; a Florida study showed at least 70% of recent high school graduates need remedial courses when they enter community college. The same is going on in Michigan. Massachusetts is one of four states now considering charging back to high schools the costs of remedial courses for their graduates.

12. Nothing less than 100% free market economic competitive pressure will cause school districts to shape up.. Perhaps high school administrators should be fined for poor performance since such lack of quality is effectively 'stealing' from the young generation.

13. Parents should demand that states (and each local school board) should annually collect and publish the percentage of graduates that require remedial courses, and estimate the costs in incurred by students and parents - - and publish the results to parents.

14. Public and private colleges should charge back to the graduating high school district all costs associated with remedial courses, as well as notify a parent of each student involved.

15. Local school boards should obtain the data from items 1 and 2, and take appropriate disciplinary action regarding the offending administrators - - including reprimands, financial penalties, and dismissal. Record of said actions should be public information.

16. Government-backed student loans and grants should not be allowed for any student requiring remedial courses. They should make up that missed in high school prior to going to college - - or, go to college on their own money.

We have teachers (and administrators) in Detroit Public Schools that are allowing unacceptable and error-laden textbooks in the classroom and teaching this to our children. Many textbooks appear more aimed to political and cultural correctness as a priority instead of aimed only to 100% accurate AND relevant information and disciplined learning of the subject. As a result, student mastery of a subject is not only diminished or partly destroyed but it's often skewed to information that is plain wrong (or slanted, or one-sided) due to major text errors and other objectives - - a form of child abuse.

What concerns me is how the hell can a teacher of English or Math not be educated enough in said subject to identify AND correct every single error in a text BEFORE using in the classroom? It would seem to me that this is also a teacher responsibility, and if errors are found by the teacher then he or she would take appropriate action to protect the students.

Some teachers call the above 'teacher-bashing', and while admitting that books are error-laden they blame administrators, and their 'experts and publishers' as if to try and fully exonerate teacher responsibility. Some teacher responses said the only solution is to sue publishers. Others said they had no choice but to use textbooks assigned to them for class use and errors are the responsibility of non-teachers. However, it is only the teacher who presents learning and assignments from the textbook to students and therefore the teacher is the one that must be both sufficiently educated to recognize all errors and to make sure said errors are not passed to students in addition to so informing the selection committee that said text is unacceptable for use.

The bottom line is this. Detroit Public Schools are a thing of the past. Parents are making their exodus by the thousands and this number is going to increase. We should place a for sale sign right in front of the Fisher building as well as the New Center One building showing that the highest bidder can purchase Detroit Public Schools. In fact, it is probably cheaper to buy DPS right now than to purchase a car.

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