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OPINION: Emergency Managers are destroying Detroit Public Schools

Elena Herrada

Elena Herrada

By Elena Herrada
Elected member, DPS Board 

The elected Detroit School Board has voted repeatedly to get rid of emergency managers even after the people of Michigan voted to repeal the Emergency Manager Law, PA 4, which became the repeal-proof PA 436.

Sept. 29, 2014 marks the 18-month period at which, according to PA 436, the governing body can vote to end the term of the emergency manager.

At our regularly scheduled meeting last month, we voted to get rid of the emergency manager. This week we will meet to vote against the giveaways of DPS real estate to Southwest Solutions. We will not concede to mayoral control, which is the goal of the Skillman Foundation and Excellent Schools Detroit so they can privatize our schools further. We defend public education and will not accept mayoral control, which means philanthropic control.

We have witnessed the emergency manager give away valuable property (Woodward and Delaware) to Cornerstone multimillionaire Clarke Durant; Southwestern High School, newly renovated, was closed and left to vandals and arson.

Slum landlords are allowed to purchase property when they have already shown their contribution to blight in Detroit, (i.e. Dennis Kefalinos purchased Burton and still has done nothing with the Western YMCA).

Oakman Orthopedic School, the only school for physically-challenged children was closed and left to vandals, leaving the children with no school that can accommodate them; Detroit Day School for the Deaf was closed for no reason, leaving the students no deaf program; Davis Aerospace was closed and the students shoved into Golightly Vocational Technical, which has no airport, no hangar, no planes as did the only aerospace school in the state; Golightly Vo-Tech’s horticulture program was shut down for no reason and no programming exists for either of the vocational techs, Randolph Vo-Tech has less than one hundred students, down from 700 before emergency manager;

Detroit School of Arts was handed over to University of Michigan, the principal position given to a 20-something, white male with no prior experience who did not have to interview for it and who has alienated parents, teachers and students to such a degree they are urging the University Michigan Board of Governors to remove him. Cronyism and nepotism are rampant at Western High School, where one of the emergency manager’s seven assistant superintendents has hired family and friends with impunity;

Fifteen schools were removed from Detroit Public Schools and handed to the intentionalLY failing Educational Achievement Authority, a separate and unequal district that would never be allowed in a white community; EAA reneged on its own bogus agreement by not returning the schools to DPS if they fell below their enrollment goals, which each of them has; students are not allowed to leave the EAA because it needs their bodies. They are not given transcripts until October, having lost yet another year.

These were schools that taught viable job skills and in many cases, provided professional certifications. Now, no Detroit schools have any job preparation for our students, while Governor Snyder brings in 50,000 “professional” immigrants to fill jobs that Michigan residents cannot fill.

We ask all residents, voters, students, parents, teachers and supporters to attend the board meeting on Sept. 14 to support the board in its ousting of the emergency manager.

More than half of our schools have been closed while the debt has tripled, while the emergency manager contracts to cronies. The EM, due to much community pressure, rescinded his decision to pile 43 students to a classroom and cut teachers’ salaries that would have totaled 30 percent since 2009.

Thank you for your support. We will see you at the board meeting, and on September 29 at the Fisher Building at 8:30 a.m. to say goodbye to Jack Martin and to take back our schools. We know this is a protracted struggle to take back our schools, but that does not mean we don’t do it.

We have to restore our schools, or our children will be parking cars for Ilitch and cleaning up downtown for Gilbert, while others run our schools for outsiders. Enough is enough!

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