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EM ‘inflates’ numbers

By Eric T. Campbell
The Michigan Citizen”

DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools (DPS) emergency manager and Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) board chairman Roy Roberts is “inflating” his administrative success, according to a new study. Despite promises otherwise, the EM is directing more resources to his administration than the classroom.

Roberts has consistently criticized DPS bureaucracy, saying it directs only 55 percent of its revenue to the classroom. He further promised to increase that number to 95 percent in DPS and the state-mandated reform school district, the EAA.

A new report by the Detroit Data and Democracy Project contradicts Roberts’ numbers, indicating that Roberts has used differing formulas to support his claims.

The report, entitled “Emergency Manager Roy Roberts Pledges 95% of Funds to Classrooms: Ambition or Deceit?” was authored by Dr. Thomas C. Pedroni, Wayne State associate professor of Curriculum Studies and director of the Detroit Data and Democracy Project.

“Roberts greatly inflates his success in the area of classroom dollars and achieves the 90 percent figure by calling every expense category, except administration and debt service, ‘school based costs,’” the report states.

Using the same formula utilized by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), the one that Roberts uses to disparage DPS’ recent classroom expenditures of 55 percent, Roberts is actually putting even less into DPS classrooms.

Pedroni estimates that number to be 48.3 percent.

“Roberts was using a much more generous assessment for his own performance,” Pedroni told the Michigan Citizen. “And it’s not just that his numbers are wrong … remember this is the whole basis for his existence.”

Pedroni says that, in general, charter schools use the same tactics that Roberts employed. National studies conclude that charter schools dedicate more money to administration than to classrooms compared to public schools.

Roberts appeared before City Council July 17 to give his 2012 report on the state of DPS. During his statements, he announced that the DPS budget deficit is now only $72 million.

Detroit Board of Education President Lamar Lemmons says that number is also skewed to fit the appearance that Roberts has led the district out of financial despair.

Lemmons told the Michigan Citizen that DPS is really $272 million in debt if you include the long-term payments associated with the $200 million deficit elimination bond negotiated by Roberts in November 2011.

“You can show anything if you change the formula to get the results you want,” Lemmons told the Michigan Citizen. “He’s certainly done that before.”

To read Detroit Data and Democracy Project’s report on Robert’s classroom expenditures, visit https://sites.google.com/site/detroitdataanddemocracyproject/

Contact Eric T. Campbell at ericcampbell@michigancitizen.com

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