“Blessed are they who seek after righteousness, for they shall be fulfilled.”
Longtime DPS activist Helen Moore, Detroit Public Schools Community District Board member LaMar Lemmons, and this writer–the former Board’s chosen Superintendent pro bono during 2012-2013 and now the current Board’s Poet-in-Residence–all uphold an educative vision for our once-exemplary school district that capably educated all three of us. To poeticize:
We have a VISION for Detroit / That’s in our spirits and our souls / That all our children in Detroit / Will never have to pay the tolls / Of poverty, and ravaged mind, / Or end up dead, or on the doles– / But will through EDUCATION find / Their life-fulfilling future goals!
The state arbitrarily took over the Detroit Public Schools in 1999 when DPS enjoyed a $93-million surplus and our students’ test scores were at the state midpoint and rising despite our city’s myriad social problems. Due to the incompetence and outright thievery demonstrated and committed by that decades-long line of assorted CEOs, superintendents, assistant superintendents, and emergency managers who misruled DPS during that unwarranted takeover–one of whom handed over fifteen of our schools to the state’s so-called “Education Achievement” Authority (EAA) which proved to be a total disaster, dozens of our schools have been boarded up or sold. Now two decades later, our school district is $3.5 BILLION in debt, its student-test scores are the nation’s worst, and it has lost three-quarters of its population to suburban districts and to the encroaching proliferation of for-profit charter schools. These unregulated charters have corporate-collusive boards who aren’t responsible to the voters but are publicly funded–a textbook example of taxation without representation. As a world-ranked sprinter during the 1950s whose performances on the track were measured by the unforgiving stopwatch, I have always welcomed swift competition. I would therefore have no problem with charter schools, were they to be fairly measured by the same evaluative instrument that the public schools must submit to–but so far they aren’t, and they avoid accepting Special Education students, who are expensive to educate. Thus, I’m opposed to giving charter schools any additional form of public assistance, and I’m troubled that our mayor and current school board president, in accord with the governor, have announced that they’ve unilaterally cut a collaborative deal with the city’s multiple charter schools without first consulting community activists and other grass-roots leaders regarding this move and openly airing its questionable implications publicly at a Board meeting.
Meanwhile, our new school board and superintendent have a FIVE year plan that doesn’t address our 65 schools which are scoring BENEATH THE FIRST PERCENTILE and will be closed and ultimately chartered within THREE years by Lansing’s Republican-majority legislature if those scores don’t drastically improve, and more than 90 % of DPSCD 3rd-Graders will repeat the grade via state edict if their scores don’t improve.. Had Public Act 4, the emergency manager law that Michigan voters overwhelmingly defeated in 2012, not been unlawfully retooled in 2013 as PA 436 to enable DPS’ gubernatorially-appointed-and-imposed emergency manager to disempower the existing elected Board and fire me from the Superintendency, those 65 schools would by now be well out of danger of closure, because I had intended to use the research-based, field-proven QWK2LRN Agency to accomplish this. For the sake of our city’s schoolchildren, I’ve beseeched this newest Board (in vain) to demand that Lansing pay for an audit to determine into whose pockets that squandered and stolen $3.5 billion went during the eighteen years of the disastrous takeover. I also continue to pray every night that this board and superintendent will engage the services of that pay-only-for-success QWK2LRN Agency without further foot-dragging. The QWK2LRN program will skyrocket DPSCD’s student test scores dramatically. By resultantly foiling U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ nefarious plan to charter all Detroit schools and then charter every other black-and-brown-populated school district in Michigan and ultimately charter every urban school throughout America, QWK2LRN will save for ALL American children their TRADITIONAL PUBLIC EDUCATION–which is and has historically been the cornerstone of our democracy.
Hear the John Telford Show Saturday mornings at 9:30 and Monday evenings at 6:30 on WCHB1340 AM. The call-in number is (313) 837-1340. Get Dr. Telford‘s Detroit-oriented books at The Source Booksellers at 4240 Cass Avenue, at any Barnes & Noble book store, and on www.amazon.com. Contact him at (313) 460-8272 or at DrJohnTelfordEdD@aol.com, His website is www.AlifeontheRUN.com. .
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