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Parents have rights

“Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” — Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26, section 3

Detroit parents’ continued outrage over the emergency management of Detroit Public Schools (DPS) is justified. After 10 years of state control of DPS, the education picture is bleak: overcrowded classrooms, unilateral decisions from the top down, relentless privatization, dropping scores, fleeing students, chaotic school openings and a demoralized staff. No one has access to finances to know what is being spent for what or why.

We write often about the school conditions that, after a decade of disenfranchisement, have worsened and led to the near destruction of the public school system. More city kids now attend non-district schools than attend DPS.

Emergency Manager Roy Roberts has a new “vision” of self-governing schools, what is known as site-based management. The idea is a proven one. It shifts authority from the central office to the local school. However, the version implemented by Roberts is a perversion.

Parents at DSA have exposed the duplicity of Roberts’ “self-governing” schools. No local school community voice has had any input in what these nine schools are doing or who makes the decisions affecting their children. All members of the local governing board — including the parent representative — were hand-picked by Roberts and have no children attending nor live anywhere near the school they are governing. Real estate developers with suburban — not city — investments and University of Michigan researchers paid to study but not necessarily help our kids sit on the board.

Why do the state and the emergency managers refuse to recognize the rights of Detroit parents? Perhaps one DSA parent had it right when she described the imposed self-governing board as “colonial rule.”

All of this can change come the Nov. 6 election. If Prop 1 is defeated and Public Act 4 fails, the current emergency manager law will be invalid — vote “no” on 1. Undoubtedly, the state legislators will spring into action to pass a new emergency manager law but if this election can bring Democrats back in control of the House, Detroit, Benton Harbor and other Black communities under emergency management could stave off any new iterations of the EM law.

Vote “no” on Proposal 1 and support the duly elected board. Participate in the local school community from volunteering to reading to children or attending LSCO meetings.

With the right to choose comes the responsibility of participating.

But first, vote “no” on Proposal 1. That is the beginning of regaining your rights.

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