How to fix the graduation rate and attendance woes of Detroit Public Schools? Change the way we think about it would be a good starting point, said Rev. Jesse Jackson on “Michigan Matters” airing on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit.
The civil rights icon was in the Motor City along with comedian Bill Cosby to help DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb raise awareness of the district and attendance through its “I’m in” campaign.
The trio appeared on the Emmy Award winning show on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit airing 11 a.m. Saturdays.
“Either we wait and do nothing and things will be get worse. Or we say, here is what working. We need to encourage young people to have the same kind of passion for math and science as they have for basketball,” said Jackson.
He also believes that Detroit was poised to become a great turnaround story.
“Some urban city must break through,” Jackson said. “Detroit is small enough and manageable enough to break out. If Detroit can increase its attendance rate and its attitude and achievement, it can be a role model for the entire country.
Cosby agreed people needed to change their mindset about education.
“I think that human beings are in the way,” he said when asked what the biggest obstacles to DPS’ success were. “They believe they can’t get out from under. That they don’t have the power to do so. We need to change that.”
The entertainer has been to Motor City four times to help the state’s largest school district keep enrollment up. After hearing Bobb, who was appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm almost two years ago, talk on national TV about cleaning up the woes of the district, Cosby called and offered his help.
He admitted he was not a good student but changed after joining the military at age 19. Education has been a centerpiece of his life since. He obtained his PhD in education as an adult and is helping school districts in Detroit as well as Philadelphia and Newark, N.J.
He sees inspiring young people as his starring role these days.
“Education has to be the centerpiece,” said Cosby. “Children need to know how to embrace algebra and science.”
Cosby is also an advocate of the state keeping Bobb on when his term ends in March. Bobb said he would like to stay and will be talking with Granholm about it.
When asked what he sees ahead for Detroit, Cosby said, “Lower crime rate, fewer children murdering children, and more parents at graduation.”
Watch “Michigan Matters” on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit at 11 a.m. Saturday.