Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thank You Robert Bobb by Akindele Akinyemi

We heard today from our hero, Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager of the Detroit Public Schools, that 29 schools will close and restructure 40 more.

Schools include the following:

Cody 9th Grade
Henderson Lower*
Detroit Open
J.R. King
Northwest Early Childhood Center
Mark Twain

* indicates change from previous list last month.

Building closes and program relocates

Marcus Garvey to Butzel
Fisher Magnet to Heilmann
Finney High School to McNair Middle School
Stephens to Blackwell Institute and Holmes

Program closes and building is repurposed
McNair to Clark and Hamilton

Taken off the list: Columbus, Durfee, McNair, Westside Alternative, Longfellow

Also, Mr. Bobb wants private management companies to come in and manage some of the schools that are being restructured. Unless the management company is local or the KIPP Foundation I would be very cautious about this approach. It sounds like we are moving towards charter schools...which is very good.

Here is the deal. People are complaining about the schools being closed. I have no clue why they are complaining. Most of these schools were underperforming (except John King). The lack of parental responsibility and weak educational leadership doomed these children. This includes parents who drop their children off to school so they can get back in the bed, watch TV themselves, or watch Tyra or Days of Our Lives. No responsibility whatsoever but want to complain.

It's time for the Detroit Public Schools to start thinking realistically about their future. The battle between charters and DPS are over. DPS now must think about other traditional school districts opening their doors as schools of choice. What will the anti-intellectual organization BAMN say about this?

What will BAMN say about how DPS already charter schools?
Covenant House Life Skills Center Central, Covenant House Life Skills Center East, Covenant House Life Skills Center West, Timbuktu Academy of Science and Technology, Martin Luther King, Jr. Education Center Academy and Aisha Shule/W.E.B. Dubois Preparatory Academy are all authorized by Detroit Public Schools. So why are we fighting over more charter schools in Detroit when DPS already authorizes charter schools and even have a charter school budget?

If Detroit Public Schools are going to move into the silver rights era then we need to look at opening the doors of competition and encouraging young people to become involved in educational entrepreneurship. Breaking up the school district into 7 districts would be the ultimate solution. However, it seems like Mr. Bobb is trying to shrink the district to align it with the budget.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has made it clear that Mayors of big urban cities should take over failing public school districts. My recommendation is to not go that route but follow the Indianapolis, Indiana model of allowing the Mayor to authorize charter schools. The Michigan State Legislature should pass legislation to allow Mayor Dave Bing to authorize charter schools under a new school code (6E) in the city of Detroit. These charter schools should be high performing schools only. This will allow the KIPP Foundation to open schools, Green Dot and other high performing charter schools to operate in the City of Detroit.

The good thing is Finney High School will be closing only to reopen in two years as a brand new campus. Hopefully, the school will be smaller. They are also opening a new school in the Brightmoor district.

Mr. Bobb is seeking new leadership. My recommendation would be to hire new people whoa re thinking from a silver rights perspective. These silver rights educators will use innovation and empowerment techniques to show our children the power of ownership. It is every educator's duty to teach our children how to escape the spirit of poverty. Just because you come from a poverty-stricken neighborhood does not mean you have to accept prison culture. What it means no one has shown you that the playground you need to play on is global. That is where silver rights educators come in and teach concepts such as financial literacy, financial engineering, urban and regional planning, and other global foundations (along with their core courses) that will help them compete in a 21st century global workforce.

Leaders in Detroit Public Schools must remember that what worked 40 years ago during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement will not work in a Silver Rights Movement. Educational leaders in DPS should be about the business of ownership not dependency. Mr. Bobb is moving DPS into the 21st century and we should support his efforts.

While Mr. Bobb is restructuring DPS charter advocates need to unite and fight back the recent negative backlash of yellow journalism on how charter schools are not performing well. We need to help MAPSA, The Center for Educational Reform and other organizations who are pro-charter to help form a grassroots effort to tell the facts on charter schools, encourage educational entrepreneurship and lobby for fair and balanced polices that will help charter schools.


Orlin said...

Thanks for the article - I endorse your ideas...

Anonymous said...

While you do make some good points, overall I do not agree with what Robert Bobb is doing to Detroit Public Schools. As a teacher for DPS I feel as if he does have some good ideas, however he is not looking at a few important things.

First, how do you raise student achievement by closing the students neighborhood schools? The students will be assessed on their skills in October, so changing them and placing them in a new setting is not something that will help promote improvement in their results.

Second, opening more charter schools is not the only answer. I feel that the school district can be revamped by creating smaller school communities like they have done in Chicago and in D.C. and that would boost student enrollment and achievement. I think that the charter schools are misleading to some. As a special education teacher and a former charter school employee, I have seen first hand that charter schools are not prepared to work with special needs students. They either do not have the appropriate funding or they do not have people familiar with the disabilities to formally create a curriculum for those who can't function within the regular education setting.

Finally, I think that an area that needs to be considered is providing more funding and compensation to teachers for the jobs they do. I think that with all of the cost cutting measures, this is often overlooked. Teachers have to spend so much of their own money to make sure that their students have the things that they need. I received 12 pencils in the beginning of the year that I assume were to last me all year. As you and I both know, that's not possible. I have spent money on school supplies, bathroom supplies, cleaning supplies, backpacks, uniforms, deodorant, tooth paste, etc. for my students because it was what they needed. I think that maybe an account could be set up for teachers with a debit card so they can get purchases for their classrooms like this (with receipts, because as we know some people are not honest). I also think to go with that, there should be money set aside for parents who may need some of these things, because as we know there are many parents who can't afford these things, but they are too ashamed to speak up.

I grew up in an affluent suburb and so there are many advantages that I have had in my life. As a Black woman I feel blessed to have had those advantages and I feel that its a shame for society to continuously hold back our future black professionals. I know Mr. Bobb's purpose was to help the district financially, however I don't think that has to happen at the cost of educational quality for students within our public school system.

Anonymous said...

Hey A, love, love, love, love, love the blog. This is coming from a Michigan Conservative-Libertarian. You and Robert Bobb should run that damn city. I go to Wayne and see the potential of Detroit and it's midns like yours and Dr. Bobb's that can bring it to fruition.

Thanks for blogging,
Mike from Canton!