Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Difference Between Dr. Womack and Dr. Weaver on Education by Akindele Akinyemi

Any effective education policy will need to acknowledge the importance of family involvement in the education of children. Family members will usually have a stronger understanding of each other than any outside bureaucrat, and this connection is a vital tool in passing on knowledge, tools, and values. Parents both deserve and need to be involved in our educational systems, for the good of the students, the teachers, the community, and the families themselves. This is why Dr. Carol Weaver position on education is the best solution to the development of the City of Detroit.

Dr. Jimmy Womack is in this race to protect the funding for the Detroit Public Schools. However, he has no position on improving education in our city. Let me ask you a question. Would you elect someone who was president of the Detroit Public Schools who graduated 24% of their students under his leadership? He tells people that DPS has a graduation rate of 67%. What he is not telling you is that Michigan school districts are only required to report the graduation rate of current seniors. In other words, they calculate it by taking the number of students who start the 12th grade and dividing it by the number of students who graduate that year. So he is lying to people when he is going door to door about DPS's graduation rates like we have caught him in Sherwood Forest and the University District areas in Detroit.

Yet, people will vote for him because of name recognition.

Dr. Carol Weaver is for educational options for families. Her plan for improving education in the City of Detroit is tying in educational reform with creating an emerging sector of businesses for the city. In order to make Detroit an financial market and emerging sector we have to view education differently.

Dr. Womack does not embrace the theory of creating a financial market for the City of Detroit. Dr. Weaver embraces an emerging sector to develop a financial market for our community through education.

While there may be an important role for government in providing education to our children, the bureaucratic systems that dominate so much of public education could learn a few things from our free enterprise system. While Jimmy Womack supports a failing school district that has kept children trapped for decades Carol Weaver supports educational options for all families, accountability, and an emphasis on results generate high quality choices in the private sector – these same principles need to be applied to our public schools. Bureaucracies that exist for their own sake will never be able to provide the kind of education that our children deserve.

Dr. Weaver, on the other hand, believes in real reform. For example, she believes with the ever increasing pace of technological developments she believes our community and city must consider changing high school from a four year program to a five year program. There simply is not enough time in the day for student athletes to complete their work at a very high level. Dr. Weaver believes that high school should be stretched out over five years, with one fewer class per year, with a particular emphasis on math, science and American history and government (not the revisionist sort our kids are currently getting).

She also concur with the community regarding the idea to reward students financially for a job well done in math and science. One mother who I spoke to in District 7 yesterday told me that her son's job at present is his school work and athletics. She told me that he is also a good student, but he has little time for much else. He would like to have a job like several of his friends who either do not participate in athletics or who don't work as hard at scholastics. He wants to be able to "earn his own money" and know what it is like to enter the work place. He has no time for this at present - his job, as mentioned, is his academics and athletics. She reward him for that. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the average student to be well rounded. It is difficult enough for above average students to perform well scholastically, participate in athletics, volunteer time in some area of interest, possibly have a part time job, etc. There simply aren't enough hours in a day. Hence, Carol Weaver supports the concept of extending high school to a five year program something Jimmy Womack opposes.
Dr. Womack, on the other hand, ignores the significant calls for the Detroit Public Schools to cooperate more with charters, including renting abandoned schools to charters, and to learn from successful charter schools. When Dr. Womack was the DPS president he indicated that he was not interested in creating schools that are not part of the traditional public school system.

In fact, while there were many times Dr. Womack could have used his influence as school board president to open the door for more choice in Detroit instead he chose to play politics by telling people current charter schools have yet to prove that they can provide a better education for students than traditional public schools. He consistently told residents and businesses alike how so-called low test scores of charter school students as evidence that charter schools are not improving education for Detroit's youth. Since charter schools compete with traditional public schools for students, and thus per-pupil funding, Dr. Womack argues consistently that unless charter schools can show improvement the cap should remain in place to prevent traditional public school districts from losing more resources. This is far from the truth and lying to parents who are struggling to educate their children is wrong.

You have to remember why he is running for state representative in the first place. State Rep. Bettie Cook Scott (who MUST be defeated by Carol Banks for that seat), as well as a group of state legislators have introduced a bill that would allow the district to keep its first-class status by lowering the threshold to 75,000 students. It is the most criminal legislation that I have ever seen coming from a Detroit lawmaker. This is the real reason why Womack is running for office. He cares nothing about the children in education. This is the type of politics we do not need in Detroit. He wants to make sure that he (along with Annie Carter and Terry Catchings who are also running for state representative) secure that DPS funding and keep politics first and not increase educational options in Lansing. We, as parents and educational activists, must prevent this from happening ever.

Under Dr. Womack's leadership in Detroit Public Schools:

24.9 percent graduated on time. One out of four students graduates from DPS.

76% have dropped out. They are on the streets or at home NOT in charter or suburban schools as Womack continues to cry about.

11.0% have a 4-year degree

4.2% have a graduate degree

80% of graduates from Detroit Public Schools function on a 6th grade level.

55% of the general population graduating from DPS are functionally illiterate.

Voted for Dr. Connie Calloway to receive a salary of $280,000 while only $55 is going into the classroom for children in DPS.

Conducted secret meetings behind other Board members back violating the Open Meetings Act.

Against homeschooling. Supports HB 5912 (a bill that would have parents who homeschools their children to sign their children up with the failing school district to receive state aid money restricting educational freedom for parents).

Against charter schools.

Supports policies that protects gay and lesbians in DPS but will not support prayer in schools.

failed to negotiate a quick deal with the Detroit Federation of Teachers to stop a two week strike in 2006 that resulted in 25,000 students leaving Detroit Public Schools. That resulted in $186,725,000 in loss state aid money under Dr. Womack's leadership.

$43 million deficit under Dr. Womack's watch that may result in a second DPS state takeover this year.

$200 million deficit under Dr. Womack's first year as Board President which resulted in 40,000 students leaving the district. That's $298,760,000 loss in state aid money under his leadership.
Thirty Michigan high schools made Newsweek's ranking of the best high schools in the country. Not one came from Detroit under Womack's leadership on the school board.

Does anyone wonder why the enrollment at charter schools in Detroit is skyrocketing? Tens of thousands of students in DPS are stuck in a utter dismal failure of a school district because the cap on charter schools has been reached. Jimmy Womack continues to pander to the teachers unions under the table and refuse to charter schools in Detroit. Meanwhile, another generation of kids in DPS is being denied an education, and consequently is condemned to continue the cycle of poverty, crime, drugs, etc. Thanks to Dr. Womack's leadership. Now he wants to become a state representative in District 7. Dr. Weaver's solution? Go out and identify the worst schools. To start with, there should be no tenure and no binding contracts in the worst 20% of schools.

Dr. Carol Weaver fully understands how education is a very important ingredient when trying to attract knowledge-based jobs to create a financial market. As your next state representative Dr. Carol Weaver will be capable of transforming the state of education by drawing upon the principles and methods of free enterprise. Competition, innovation, and incentive structures need to be applied to schooling systems, particularly with regard to math and science, in the same way that they are applied to most of the private sector. Free enterprise will demand accountability and competence from math and science teachers and will promote hard work and motivation from students in these fields.

While Dr. Womack's bid for state representative is operating on fumes (even though he has lawn signs out in the district) and the lack of educational focus Dr. Weaver realizes that Detroit's high schools overall are obsolete and cannot teach kids what they need to know to succeed today. Winning the challenge of China and India will require profound academic transformations, especially in math and science education, for Detroit to continue to be the most successful economy in the world.

The collapse of math and science education in the Detroit and the relative decline of investment in basic research is an enormous strategic threat to the City of Detroit. There is a grave danger that the Detroit Public Schools will find itself collapsing in basic scientific and technological capabilities in our lifetime unless we call on those who want to help families in our community. That is why Dr. Weaver is the best candidate for District 7.

This is among the most important decisions our generation will make about our city's future and our children's future. For the last thirty years, we have tried to improve education in Detroit while accepting the fundamental principles of a failed system, guarded by the education bureaucrats and teachers unions.Our leadership must now transform math and science education or fall behind.

While Dr. Womack accepts his endorsements from groups like Pride PAC to keep his gay and lesbian base strong in the district Dr. Weaver has outlined six major changes that we, as her supporters and constituents, believe are necessary to leave our children with a Detroit that is prosperous, free, and safe.
Dr. Weaver believes:

(1) We must reassert and renew Detroit. Until we re-establish a legitimate moral-cultural standard, our city is at risk.

(2) We must accelerate Detroit’s entry into the Global Information Age. Second only to renewing the city is making the intellectual investment necessary to understand these changes and harness them to our lasting advantage.

(3) We must rethink our competition in the world market. We want our labor to add the highest value so that we can be the most effective competitor on earth.

(4) We must replace the failing educational system with a free market educational system.

(5) We must replace our centralized, micro-managed, Lansing-based bureaucracy with a dramatically decentralized system more appropriate to a city-wide country.

(6) We must be honest about the cost of city ran government programs and balance the state budget without raising taxes.

This is why Dr. Carol Weaver, not Dr. Jimmy Womack or any other candidate in this race, is the best candidate for District 7 in a very intense state representative race. I hope people from all demographics, political affiliations and family and educational backgrounds help me elect Dr. Weaver as our next state representative.

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