Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Joke of A State Lawmaker by Akindele Akinyemi

I have grown sick and tired of lawmakers in Lansing conducting this crusade against charter schools in Detroit. The latest comes from State Representative Bettie Cook Scott. She just reminded me why I am supporting Carol Banks for State Representative in Scott's district. I will work to defeat Scott on August 5, 2008 and here is why.

First, Detroit Public Schools is classified as a so-called first class district. First class meaning the student population is 100,000 and above. Rep. Scott introduced a bill back in February that states the following:

To reduce from 100,000 to 75,000 the number of students that qualify a school district as a “school district of the first class.” Detroit is the only such district, which is a statutory device to allow the Detroit School District to be exempted from a variety of regulations that apply to other districts, and receive special treatment in other ways. The Detroit district has lost tens of thousands of students in recent years, and is expected to fall below the 100,000 threshold soon.

Apparently, she is not for charter schools but is working with the Detroit Federation of Teachers to make this a reality. This bill shows favoritism towards a failing school district.

The Michigan School Code clearly states the following:

380.402 First class school district.

Sec. 402. A school district that has a pupil membership of at least 100,000 enrolled on the most recent pupil membership count day is a first class school district governed by this part.

This bill that Rep. Scott has introduced into legislation is a direct attack on charter schools, families and those who are trying to escape failing schools in Detroit. Not only it is a severe criminal act but it is absolutely ridiculous to introduce and promote such a bill that prevents competition in the educational arena.

However, this does not surprise me one bit that Rep. Scott would introduce such a bill for that she aligns herself with anti-charter school mavericks State Sen. Irma Clark-Coleman and State Sen. Martha G. Scott. So she cannot think for herself to begin with. I still do not understand why we did not elect Carol Banks into office. Banks understands educational options. This is why we must get behind her in August.

Scott is the same lawmaker who has ran for office since 1974 trying to get elected to something.

Perhaps, Rep. Scott do not understand why charters are needed more than ever in Detroit.

Detroit Public Schools are very violent. Two kids died at Martin Luther King H.S. in Detroit. The media reported that one of the boys died from asthma. This is far from the truth. The boy died from a seizure AFTER her was jumped by a group of boys.

The following pictures come from the abandoned Detroit Public Schools Book Depository.

According to Sweet this is a building where our deeply-troubled public school system once stored its supplies, and then one day apparently walked away from it all, allowing everything to go to waste. The interior has been ravaged by fires and the supplies that haven't burned have been subjected to 20 years of Michigan weather. To walk around this building transcends the sort of typical ruin-fetishism and "sadness" some get from a beautiful abandoned building. This city's school district is so impoverished that students are not allowed to take their textbooks home to do homework, and many of its administrators are so corrupt that every few months the newspapers have a field day with their scandals, sweetheart-deals, and expensive trips made at the expense of a population of children who can no longer rely on a public education to help lift them from the cycle of violence and poverty that has made Detroit the most dangerous city in America. To walk through this ruin, more than any other, I think, is to obliquely experience the real tragedy of this city; not some sentimental tragedy of brick and plaster, but one of people:

Pallet after pallet of mid-1980s Houghton-Mifflin textbooks, still unwrapped in their original packaging, seem more telling of our failures than any vacant edifice. The floor is littered with flash cards, workbooks, art paper, pencils, scissors, maps, deflated footballs and frozen tennis balls, reel-to-reel tapes. Almost anything you can think of used in the education of a child during the 1980s is there, much of it charred or rotted beyond recognition. Mushrooms thrive in the damp ashes of workbooks. Ailanthus altissima, the "ghetto palm" grows in a soil made by thousands of books that have burned, and in the pulp of rotted English Textbooks. Everything of any real value has been looted. All that's left is an overwhelming sense of knowledge unlearned and untapped potential. It is almost impossible not to see all this and make some connection between the needless waste of all these educational supplies and the needless loss of so many lives in this city to poverty and violence, though the reality of why these supplies were never used is unclear.

  • At Cody High School a senior high school student was killed. Some educators say the violence is so bad, they are afraid for their lives.
  • A shooting in the alley near Denby High School left a girl in critical condition on April 4, 2008. A riot broke out at the same time at the high school.

  • Gay and Lesbian gangs run Detroit Public Schools. The epicenter is at my alma mater, Mumford High School.
Furthermore, how in the world is Rep. Scott going to try to have a bill like this passed when two of her high schools in her district are struggling schools?

Finney High School
2007 Reading and Math Proficiency

Reading Scores: 35.6%
Math Scores: 4.8%

Southeastern High School
2007 Reading and Math Proficiency

Reading Scores:50.7%
Math Scores: 22.3%

Here are the people who sits on the House Education Committee in Lansing.

Committee Members:
Tim Melton (D),
Committee Chair, 29th District
Mary Valentine (D),
Majority Vice-Chair, 91st District
Kathy Angerer (D), 55th District
Terry L. Brown (D), 84th District
Barb Byrum (D), 67th District
Brenda Clack (D), 34th District
Marc R. Corriveau (D), 20th District
Robert Dean (D), 75th District
Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D), 22nd District
Steven Lindberg (D), 109th District
Andy Meisner (D), 27th District
Fred Miller (D), 31st District
Gino Polidori (D), 15th District
Bettie Cook Scott (D), 3rd District
John Moolenaar (R), Minority Vice-Chair, 98th District
Judy Emmons (R), 70th District
Jacob Hoogendyk (R), 61st District
Glenn Steil Jr. (R), 72nd District
Tom Pearce (R), 73rd District
Tonya Schuitmaker (R), 80th District
Marty Knollenberg (R), 41st District
Paul E. Opsommer (R), 93rd District
Phil Pavlov (R), 81st District

Contact every last one of the lawmakers and tell them that you do not want special treatement for Detroit Public Schools. Detroit Public Schools are not designed to help children but designed to fail our children. Special treatment for DPS is a slap in the face for families who are seeking better options. And then vote Bettie Cook Scott out of office on August 5, 2008 and replace her with Carol Banks....a true proponent of educational options.

9 comments: said...

Those pictures are horrifying... almost... apocolyptic.

Talk about a thousand words.

Thanks for this story, Akindele. Pretty stark reminder of what the education battle is all about in Detroit. The kids there deserve better than this.


maidintheus said...

Carol Banks thinks that the Detroit area can do much better.

Maybe State Representative Bettie Cook Scott knows something we don't. She feels that they can't do better and wants to continue the "special treatment" that encourages the devastation.

This has been going on for years. It doesn't get this corrupt and ruined overnight.

The people get to decide. We again will see what they think of themselves.

KG-1 said...

I'm curious, have you spoken to the good representative to get her feedback on how the DPS manages its supplies?

I'd be curious to hear what her response would be.

Jgillman said...

I followed back and looked at more of the pictures. Is this on the same planet?

Though it doesn't happen often... I am speechless.

Dutch said...

hello Mr. Akinyemi. I am the photographer and author of the piece you quoted heavily from above without attribution.

Please note that the photographs and written material you have adopted is copyrighted--- everything from "this is a building where" to the word "unclear" is copyrighted text written by me that you have integrated into your post without quotation marks or proper attribution.

I am a little concerned about the way you have lifted both my text and photographs. The way you have cut and paste my writing makes it look as though you yourself wrote those words. A link is usually "good internet manners" in these circumstances, and a request to use both the photographs and text would also have been appreciated.

I am an intellectual property attorney, and though I certainly don't want to get to the point where I would have to take legal action, I do hope that you will change this post provide a link to the original blog post where you found this material as well as credit me for the portion of this post that was actually written by me.

Also, on a friendlier note, I would encourage you to take a look at this post where I explore the history of that building and why it came to look the way it does now:

Akindele F. Akinyemi said...

I sent you an email. I hope you receive it. Thanks.

Mumford Teacher said...

I was more than a little surprised at your generalization regarding Gay and Lesbian gangs running DPS, especially at Mumford High School, your alma mater, the alleged epicenter of these gangs, and the place where I am proud to work. Do you have statistics to back up this claim, or are you relying on rumors and the talk on the street? As an alumnus, I should hope that you would be proud of the FACT that the graduation rate at Mumford was 82% for 2006-07, according to the August 26, 2008, edition of the Detroit Free Press. Now that's worth shouting about.

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