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
Northwest Early Childhood Center
* 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.