Despite rosy predictions of Detroit’s rise and improved student achievement, we are doubtful and wary of state intervention. In 1999, Detroit Public Schools had more than a $1.5 billion budget and a functioning school board. Today, we have nearly half that in funding and state efforts to end what is remaining of the once largest district in Michigan. The state took over the schools in the late ‘90s with the promise of improved student achievement. Save one or two school terms, that state oversight has continued over the past decade. Today, we’ve yet to see any improvement and continue to see conditions in our schools worsen. Contrary to the corporate media reports, foundations and those who seek to promote the status quo, students are no better off with state intervention.
We hope someone will listen to the thousands of Detroiters who are warning policymakers of the mistakes they have made and are about to make — disenfranchisement worsens conditions for Detroit. With the myriad lawsuits, appeals and other legal wranglings, democracy in Detroit continues to be threatened. Krystal Crittendon’s second attempt to invalidate the Consent Agreement and have the circuit court hear the debt dispute was lost. We hope the efforts of the three Detroiters who picked up Crittendon’s battle with be more successful. There is no immediate effect to stay Public Act 4 and it is still not clear if it will make it to the November ballot.
Hundreds of city works will be let go in July with the closing of three Detroit departments: Detroit Workforce Development, Department of Human Services and the Department of Health and Wellness. It is not clear how these services will be delivered to residents. Mayor Bing announced last week that 164 firefighters will be laid off before the end of the month.
Detroit is changing and we fear that change is not for the better — at least not for those who make up the majority population of the city. We receive federal funding because of its populace. All of this effort, on the part of Lansing, will concentrate resources in fewer hands. This means less representation for the most vulnerable.
It’s time more of us pay closer attention to what’s happening in this city. These lawsuits matter. The upcoming elections — primary and general — matter. Please be vigilant. Vote. Choose your state reps and county commissioners accordingly.
Approve the DIA millage
Too often Detroit is blamed, criticized and ridiculed for mismanagement when the fact is Detroit disproportionately carries much of the region’s financial responsibility. In other metro areas the costs are shared from public transportation to regional assets such as art museums. The Detroit Institute of Arts is asking Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to contribute to an Arts Authority. At a price of family admission for four, the region could offer free admission and expanded programming. The region regularly visits the institution and the DIA is now asking that we support it. Too often Detroiters are the only ones voting to tax themselves to improve schools or support institutions. Now, it is time the suburbs step up and be a part of the regionalization effort that everyone from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson to Gov. Rick Snyder is always touting. If you live in the suburbs or city, visit one of the campaign offices to pick up literature — spread the word. Regionalization goes both ways. Talk to neighbors and tell everyone how important it is to keep the DIA open.