As we can see Detroit Public Schools are at it again. This time the inept Detroit School Board are upset with Michigan State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan for moving forward on appointing a financial manager to oversee how many millions of dollars have been removed from the Detroit Public Schools.
I have said MANY times before the Detroit Public School System is not designed to help our children. It is designed to fail. Period. The only way for Detroit Public Schools to survive is to open the educational market for competition. There is no way around this. The right for parents to select which public school their child attends varies from region to region. In the western US, nearly half of all school districts (47.2 percent) gave parents parents some form of choice in selecting their children's school, while only one in seven districts in the Northeast (13.3 percent) offered school choice. The Midwest and the South had choice rates of 41.8 percent and 29.5 percent respectively.
The initial problem for Detroit Public Schools is the way it is governed. One of the greatest complaints over the Michigan education system has been its top-down approach; for many years policymakers at the state level have attempted to dictate education policy at the county and local level.
The other thing about DPS is the lack of site-based management. SBM is a direct response to the overburdened bureaucracy at the state and district levels. Under SBM, the powers of reform-making and implementation are relegated to the individual schools, uniting teachers and administrators, as well as parents and students, in the hope of fostering locally determined, majority mandated reform. Schools implementing SBM create special councils in which all management decisions are made.
Along with the notion of site based management is the notion of teacher professionalization, a general term attributed to policies that expand the teacher's ability to control grading and evaluation policy, organizational decision making, staff development and peer assistance. Teachers have long had the reputation as being severely underpaid and underappreciated compared to other professions. The idea behind professionalization is to increase the status of the teacher from employee to educational professional. As teachers take on more responsibilities, their salary increases as well, in the attempt of creating the sense of teaching as a "professional" career. In many schools where professionalization is implemented, teachers are also given opportunities to partner with institutions outside of the school, especially universities. These partnerships help teachers foster a sense of contribution to education efforts beyond the local school.
So how come DPS is not screaming about serious educational reform. Try self-interests. They already fired the Chief Financial Officer, Joan McCray and the district's spokesman Steve Wasko.
The board will most likely fire Dr. Connie Calloway this coming Monday, December 15, 2009. Then hopefully, we can fire the enitre school board next year, censor soon-to-be State Representative Jimmy Womack when he takes office January 1, 2009 in Lansing due to his OWN poor judgement as a former school board president. What makes you think he will be a great state representative?
If DPS was smart they would get into the business of fully authorizing charters to schools that are doing well like Renaissance High School, Chrysler Elementary, John King and Ludington Magnet Middle School. The reason? Give the school leadership more autonomous decision making instead of fighting through redtape to become successful. Of course, I am just using these schools as an example only.
Parents, on the other hand, must turn their attention to the debate over school vouchers. Many politicians embrace the broad notion of school choice in which parents can choose to have their children sent to another public school if they are unsatisfied with their current school. The debate must move to offering vouchers in which dissatisfied parents may receive a state or federally funded voucher to pay for private school education. The only way the State of Michigan can add vouchers to the school choice mix is to amend the state's constitution. The best way of doing this is through a Constitutional Convention. The Michigan Constitution provides for the citizens of our state to decide every 16 years whether to call a convention to propose revisions to the state's Constitution. The last time that appeared on the statewide ballot was November 8, 1994. The next time it will show up will be in 2010.
To the frustration of many public school educators, many states are now experimenting with school vouchers for secular private schools. For example, the state of Florida pushed the envelope even further by passing a law allowing school vouchers for religious private schools. The law is designed so that students who attend the lowest ranking schools in the state (based on standardized tests) may receive vouchers to attend private schools, no matter if they are secular or religious schools.
Remember this is the same school district that wanted to cut back on their literacy coaches and make families pay $300 for transportation. Go figure. This is also the same school district that calls Osborn "Osborn Tech,: Denby "Denby Tech," and revamped Cody High School. Ladies and gentlemen, its the same failing schools with a different name.
One other problem with supporting Detroit Public Schools is our Detroit State Representatives going along with State Rep. Bettie Cook-Scott's HB 5765. This is a bill that reduces 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 prohibit an expansion of charter schools in the city, allow the Detroit School District to be exempted from some regulations that apply to other districts, and to subject it to some regulations that don't apply to other districts.
However, while in the House Education Committee on December 4, 2008 they adopted a substitute to lower it to 60,000 students (can you believe that)? Then it passed in the Michigan House (59 to 42). Unconsciously, ALL of our Detroit Delegation State Representatives supported this bill. The Michigan Senate will kill this bill. I have even spoken to Sen. Majority Leader Mike Bishop about defeating this bill personally. There is no reason why this bill should even COME OUT OF THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. It's a ridiculous bill sponsored by a woman who should have never been re-elected in the first place.
However, if they are willing to remove the cap off charter schools, allow Wayne County Community College authorize charter schools or get this, STRICTLY ENFORCE OTHER community colleges or ISDs to authorize charters for those of us who are trying to open our charter schools then pass the bill. Otherwise, the bill is a joke.
Furthermore, did State Rep. Bettie Cook-Scott forget about the Utica Community School District which encompasses Utica, the northern two-thirds of Sterling Heights, Shelby Township and parts of Ray, Washington and Macomb Townships. The district already has 29,575 students and growing fast due to urban sprawl. In less than 5-years the number of the students in the Utica Community School District will triple. They too will become a first-class district (if not the ONLY first class district in the State of Michigan because no one will be sending their children to Detroit Public Schools). Not one State Representative from Detroit figured that one out. Not even a discussion. The lack of vision will make a people perish.
But that is what Detroit Public Schools along with their union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, are all about. No accountability and more perks. They do not have a plan to stop the violence in the schools which is the primary reason why the dropout rate is high in DPS. Safety is primary and when the schools are not safe students skip and drop out. This is why there are waiting lists for charter schools.
Let's hope Detroit Public Schools, with their lies, deceit, cheating our children of a quality education, and bad management practices will become extinct.