Friday, April 20, 2007

We Need To Close DPS for More Options by Akindele Akinyemi

While I was reading this article from Rasieda Addison-Keith in the Detroit News recently I noticed she was talking about how school closures are a method of divide and conquer.

I wanted to shed some light on this issue.

Everyone know in educational circles that I stress the importance of family values through educational choice that creates generational wealth. That wealth does not have to necessary mean money but also building legacies. For example, if I open a charter school and run it until my child can run the business on his own I am passing down a legacy. Most cultures embrace this except us. If we die we leave nothing for our children because we have been programmed to work for someone else for the rest of our lives.

So now let's see what Rashieda is saying in her article on charters:

She begins by saying:

"The Mayor (Kilpatrick) speaks as if the Detroit Public School District is asking him to be their savior or the messiah when he states, "I tried to take over the schools, and there was a vote, and they voted's the craziest thing!"

What's really crazy is that a person whose very foundation was established in this "great city" is planning to divide and conquer. With the onset of more charter schools, the city will further become comprised of the "haves" and the "have-nots" which often translates into "who knows whom!" We have already experienced segregation into our schools district (application schools) and charter school advocacy will further separate the community.

Of course she does not have a clue of what a charter school is so I will give you a working definition:

(1) A public charter school is a publicly funded school that, in accordance with an enabling state statute, has been granted a charter exempting it from selected state or local rules and regulations. A charter school may be newly created, or it may previously have been a public or private school; it is typically governed by a group or organization (eg, a group of educators, a corporation, or a university) under a contract or charter with the state. Source:

(2) Charter schools are public schools that must implement open enrollment, employ educators who hold valid teaching licenses, and comply with most of the same regulations as other public schools. Source:

So what segregation is she talking about in her tirade? Charter schools are open to everyone regardless of race, creed or color.

Another definition:

(3) In the United States, a charter school is a school that is created via a legal charter. Usually they are created with an express purpose or philosophy and typically they are controlled in-house and not controlled by the local school district. Source:

So Rashieda you yourself (along with an organization) can start a charter school in your neighborhood to compete with traditional schools. Why throw bricks for the Mayor or myself who are charter advocates?

Then she goes on:

Additionally, I'm very disappointed in the Mayor's approach to "rescuing" Detroit's students. If the Mayor really had the children's best interest at heart, he would step in and assist where possible-despite the vote-simply based on the fact that he is a citizen.

Now she is quite confused about the role of the Mayor. There is no where in the city charter of where the Mayor is supposed to step in and "assist" as Rashieda pointed out. In fact, the benefits of a free market education is to keep big government out of the picture. Parents, and the private sector, not the Mayor, should be free to determine what is and what is not acceptable academic education for the same reasons they are free to determine what is proper education.

She then says this:

The Mayor's efforts to establish Charter Schools will cause further flight from this city. Detroit is already suffering from a stressed economy. Respectfully, no matter how you slice it, Mayor Kilpatrick's and his accomplice's endeavors are union busting and pocket fattening tactics! Such efforts will only continue to lead to the demise of the Detroit Public Schools system and further segregate our city.

This is nonsense and allow me to explain why we should not engage in the art of ignorance. The Mayor is giving parents educational options because we are losing population in this city. You see Detroit ranks #76 out of 100 cities nationwide that are literate. On the other hand 47% of Detroiters are illiterate and therefore jobs are not coming to the city because we cannot read, write and comprehend information. Rashieda do you remember how Proposal 2 was passed in Michigan? People could not understand the ballot language.

What about the number of poll workers in each Detroit election precinct where they have to fill out the voter information for the voter because most are illiterate and cannot even write their own name? When we look at why there are so many people that are illiterate it is because we have a failing school district called the Detroit Public Schools.

We are victims of intergenerational illiteracy within our own homes. Add a school district that is historically known for social promotion and here we are: the land of zombies.

Young people, Rashieda, are leaving the city (like myself), because there are no jobs, it is hard to start your own business without being taxed to death, failing schools and astronomical crime. We have a massive arms race in our community (guns), home invasions and other factors that are forcing people to leave Detroit.

If we allowed educational entrepreneurship to flow in the City of Detroit it would create a landscape where resources are being under-used, that is, devoted to the production of goods and services that consumers value less highly than other things those resources might be devoted to. What lures entrepreneurs to discover those instances is profit. Nothing approaches its power to stimulate discovery. Profit accrues when an alert entrepreneur, noticing what others have overlooked, switches resources from producing things consumers value less highly to producing things consumers value more highly.

It is the same thing in education. Michigan has to become more entrepreneurial and less unionized because of the changing global market. Detroit Public Schools are not up to the task. Bureaucracy is the opposite of enterprise. It stifles enterprise. DPS domination of education assures that the entrepreneurial innovation and creativity we are accustomed to in, say, the computer industry will be missing from education. There is no good substitute for the decentralized, spontaneous entrepreneurial process that full privatization of education would stimulate. But entrepreneurship has preconditions: freedom and private property on both the supply and demand sides.

Rashieda then says:

He does not have the "antibiotic" for what ails Detroit Public Schools. This is the very reason why citizens did not want to give him power to control the schools. If more charter schools are established in Detroit, this taxpaying educator will take her credentials, her taxes and her 7,500 son to another state.

And you might have to do just that Rashieda. That is your right. However, Charters are a national phenomenon across the country. And more than ever more parents are turning to educational options (charters, vouchers or tax credits) to promote a 21st century education to help children compete in a global society. People are moving towards the idea of no more school boards, no more school taxes, and no more school-attendance laws. A process where parents, in their role as consumers, are as sovereign as they are in the software and computer industries. A system in which families decide the best educational vehicle for each of their children and in which entrepreneurs are leapfrogging over themselves to best satisfy the ever-increasing demands on them.

Educators are also pushing for alternative teacher certification in Michigan.

She later says:

"Stop trying to alleviate the "budget crisis" on the backs of the students. Stop allowing for "pockets to be fattened" on the backs of our students! You owe the students, parents and community members of Detroit your integrity and dignity! Whoever lacks dignity and integrity...this is not a threat but a will have to answer for your acts."

Let us put things in proper perspective here . Rashieda take note:

Charter Schools work and here is why.

Charter schools operate within the public school system, but without most of the red tape. They are free to experiment and - most important - free to fail and be dissolved, replaced by something better. They have grown fast across the nation the past 15 years.

For example, American Indian Public Charter School in Oakland, CA, founded in 1996, was floundering. Then it hired as principal Ben Chavis, an Indian himself and businessman. He hired "high-quality teachers" and created "an achievement-oriented academic culture," according to the book. He pinched pennies because the school, like most charters, gets less per-pupil funding than traditional public schools.

Teachers at American Indian also get bonus pay for achievement - something still anathema to the teachers unions so influential in traditional public schools.

Montague Charter School in Pacoima, CA was a traditional public school with a lot of problems when Diane Pritchard became its principal 13 years ago. After many meetings and much study, she oversaw its conversion to a charter school in 1996. It's 96 percent Hispanic with 57 percent English-language learners.

The new model of instruction she and her team developed includes, the book notes, "Full English immersion for English language learners" - that is, no bilingual ed that holds students back. "Unique on-campus reading intervention clinic that teaches children how sounds are made." And, "Direct-instruction teaching methodology and curricula emphasizing practice and review."

Montague's Academic Performance Index rose to 704 in 2004 from 585 in 2001.

Let's bring it home right here in Metro Detroit. Detroit Edison Public School Academy and Henry Ford Academy are excellent charter schools.

The problem with people around these neck of the woods running charter schools is their mentality. I guarantee you this, if you see a charter school failing in Detroit I guarantee you it is because the educational leadership has a very liberal mentality on how the school should be ran.

However this trend is changing. Charters and private schools are outpacing Detroit Public Schools on tests. And parents are beginning to understand what Dick DeVos meant by the need for more educational options.

Rashieda, we need solutions not verbal jousts. The solution is embracing a free market educational system. I urge you to join me as we continue to push for free markets to promote generational wealth in our community.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Akindele,
I happened upon this article and was once again amused at your extensive response to my thoughts on paper. At any rate, I just wanted to update you...I have taken my credentials and my $7,500 son to a new state. In the new state in which I live, I have yet been embarrassed by my connections to Detroit. The level of negative behavior displayed by city officials, school board officials and the continued state of disarray in Detroit Public School system makes me "guilty by association."