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At a special Detroit Public Schools Community District Board meeting in November 2017, I beseeched our board and superintendent to challenge Public Acts 192 through 197 so that our Detroit public school board may regain its full statutory powers which its suburban counterparts — unlike DPS — have continued to enjoy throughout the decades, uninterrupted. I also asked our school board to sue to oblige the state to pay for a forensic-specific, line-itemized audit of our school district’s operating budget and its bond expenditures over the past 17 years of the unwarranted 1999 state takeover with the aim of recovering the approximately $3.5 billion which was stolen and squandered during that neo-colonialist era of Jim Crowist rule.

In addition, I urged the board to facilitate a prompt signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Detroit-based, field-proven QWK2LRN Agency that has been so long mired in administrative foot dragging. If the then-emergency financial manager hadn’t prevented me in my then-capacity of DPS superintendent from putting QWK2LRN into play in 2012 or the voter-rescinded emergency manager law hadn’t been unlawfully reenacted in 2013, no Detroit public school would still be in bottom-scoring Priority status now. QK2LRN can’t be reasonably expected to undertake its extensive fundraising mode for this recuperative program until that MOI has been safely signed by DPSCD as a good-faith guarantee. The elimination of Priority schools must be this school board’s absolutely paramount and immediate concern. I have made the board aware that I stand ready to host board study sessions at the Detroit Yacht Club to better acquaint the board and superintendent with the more intricate nuances of QWK2LRN’s successful techniques for ensuring that DPSCD’s 65 lowest-performing schools escape from state-designated Priority status and from their ranking as the lowest-scoring schools in America, and that all DPSCD third-graders’ reading scores rise to a level where their specific schools will no longer be susceptible to legislative closure by the very body whose predatory meddling reduced them to that lowly status in the first place.

Further, I have invited the board and superintendent to come again onto my radio shows on WCHB AM1340 on Saturday mornings at 9:30 and Monday evenings at 6:30 to discuss these and other issues and to answer listeners’ questions and address their concerns. The call-in number for listeners who wish to participate in any of these discussions is (313) 837-1340. My AM1340 shows (subtitled “Radio Free DPSCD”) remain at the board’s and the community’s service. Each board member has also been invited to address our Poetry class at Southeastern, where as DPSCD poet-in-residence I am teaching again for the first time in 57 years. (Superintendent Nikolai Vitti addressed the class eloquently and memorably on Dec. 19., 2017.)

At that special board meeting in November, I asked the board to join us in a key lawsuit. We have now shared with the board and superintendent the Amicus Brief that our intrepid pro bono attorney Tom Bleakley (incidentally a Detroit PSL champion runner in 1958) drafted regarding the legal challenge titled “Helen Moore/John Telford, et al. vs. State of Michigan, et al.” The board has now agreed to join us as plaintiffs in that vital suit to recapture the withheld $44.5 million that the state owes DPSCD under the Headlee Amendment. The year 2018 is showing unmistakable signs of becoming a landmark year for DPSCD.

Detroit activist educator, poet, author, artist, and musician John Telford is a former DPS superintendent under state-imposed emergency financial management. Get his Detroit-oriented books at the Source Booksellers and Barnes & Nobles book tores, as well as at http://www.amazon.com. Visit DrJohnTelfordEdD@aol.com.

John Telford

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