Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The Death of Detroit Public Schools by Akindele Akinyemi
I was talking to State Representative and U.S. Senate candidate Jack Hoogendyk over the weekend at our State GOP Convention in Novi, MI when he asked me a question.
He told me he wanted to do a press conference about dissolving the Detroit Public School System in the City of Detroit. He asked me what did I think about it.
I kept my real feelings to myself. I told him I would get back with him.
Then I went to a education meeting last night at Second Ebenezer Church on the city's North End. The discussion was dealing with the new high school requirements for graduation. I could not believe how many people were raising hell over these requirements. The Detroit Delegation of State Representatives were supposed to host the meeting but instead the only two representatives that were present were State Rep. Hoon-Yung Hopgood from Taylor and Rep. Robert Dean from Grand Rapids. No reps from Detroit were there. Unfortunately, they had to take the beating from the crowd.
Of course you had two of your "school" activists there. Tristian Taylor and Steve Conn (both from BAMN). I actually pulled Steve Conn out of the room to talk to him about his anti-stance on educational options. While he tried to make it seem like charter schools are adding on to the problem of education in Detroit he could not answer any of my questions on how to make DPS better. In fact, I specifically asked him where would I send my child if I do not want to send him to DPS if there were no charter schools? He was stuck.
He was passing out false propaganda on charter schools (specifically targeting University Prep Academy). He compared the MME 2008 scores from UPA to ALL of Detroit Public High Schools. Of course those numbers may be higher from DPS high schools because of the population. But he could not answer how 58% of those students graduate from DPS graduate with a 6th grade education.
The other thing about UPA is the fact that it is a safe school environment. DPS high schools are mostly NOT safe and this is the core reason why parents send their children to charter schools. Steve Conn was doing just that last night..."CONNing" people to believe something that is false.
And what proof that charters fail regularly on tests? Again, 89% of charter public elementary and middle schools made AYP in 2007, up 14 percentage points over the previous year.
Here is the REAL problem here. We had people crying about high school requirements last night because too many parents are too lazy and too trifling to get up off their asses and see what their children are actually learning in school. What I saw last night was an exposure of adult illiteracy in our community. The harder the requirements for graduation the further the parent of that child falls behind because he/she never learned those skills in school. In fact, DPS School Board member Ida Short took it a step further by saying that the requirements are NOT stringent enough because of the global outlook on education. People on my side of the room were mumbling about her comments but she is correct.
Keith Johnson from the Detroit Federation of Teachers felt that teachers and principals should have had a hand in developing the high school requirements. That was a code word for the Michigan Federation of Teachers should have developed the requirements for high school graduation. Haven't we heard enough of these teacher unions messing around in educational and public policy? These are the same people that fought to keep DPS as a first class school district to protect the funding of the school system without checks and balances. Now they want a hand in determining who can graduate.
These are the same Black people who run Detroit Public Schools who cannot curve the violence in DPS, cannot balance a budget, has a superintendent who is in Korea while there is no gas to fill up the buses, classrooms have not been cleaned since June and it is almost September, shooting at 5 year old students on a playground, high level of molestation in both the girls and boys bathrooms by gay and lesbian gangs as well as teachers, no textbooks for the children, breaking both legs of a girl who was supposed to attend Pershing High School who cannot walk and its leadership wants a handout instead of a hand up. We are running Detroit Public Schools like a welfare system and not a high performance system. I cannot understand why that meeting was even convened last night. It was a waste of complete time and embarrassment. That time could have been used to get our children ready for the first day of school.
I support the notion of Bay Mills Community College as well as Wayne County Community College authorizing charter schools in Detroit. We do need more school choices other than a factory model system. I find it NOT surprising to see the people who were in the room were mostly people over 50 years old and stuck in their ways. They still want to hold on to this dinosaur in hopes of bringing the school system back. Well, Detroit Public Schools were never designed to succeed, never designed to support our children and if your children made it out of DPS alive it was because of what's left of a family structure in the neighborhood. DPS is designed to fail and that is the hardline truth. It is a political monopoly that must be taken down.
The meeting was horrible and Rep. Hoogendyk is right. Perhaps we need something drastic to happen in DPS and maybe we do need to dissolve it and replace it with schools that work. Those schools that are high performing in DPS should be converted over to a chartering system. A dissolution of DPS would help Detroit moving again. I know Rep. Hoogendyk wants to mobilize parents and school activists to get the ball rolling. It's time to call Swanson Funeral Home and place a wreath over the Detroit Public Schools. It is a dead system that will not come back to life.
Overall, all DPS done is made our city dumber and dumber. And for those who are anti-educational choice they are only against charter schools because they have no way to control the money coming from the state. Tell the truth and shame the devil.