Michigan shouldn’t let Detroit kids suffer

Von Lanier

Children that attend Detroit Public Schools (DPS) have long been exposed to dilapidated buildings and a crumbling educational infrastructure amidst a quite unsanitary learning environment.

It was also recently revealed that corruption in the financial management of DPS is to blame for the perpetual state of affairs. About $12.3 million was stolen from the students of DPS by their very own administrators. Thirteen principals in the school district and one businessman have been charged with fraud for taking part in lucrative kickback schemes that are designed to cheat the school system out of money.re-Davon

The blame, however, needs to go beyond the level of local management and to the state of Michigan itself, which seized control of the school system for the second time back in 2009. With organizations like the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), the state has maintained its hold on DPS since. The EAA is made up of former DPS schools that were transferred without public consent to state control.

When the state first seized control of DPS back in 1999, they had intentions of keeping the school district from practicing “unsustainable” practices in education.

Even though the state has since backed off and took control again, the situation in DPS went unmonitored and has progressively deteriorated most if not all aspects of public education in Detroit.

No one at the local or state level has an explanation for the problem or a suggestion for how to fix it but the wrong people keep getting appointed and are still in charge. The district has had four emergency managers who were all appointed by the state to fix the problem, but no one has.

Whether it’s a coincidence that Gov. Snyder also recently appointed the same man some see as responsible for the Flint water crisis, Darnell Earley, Flint’s former emergency manager, to the position of emergency manager of DPS remains to be seen but both of these men should be held accountable for their neglectful actions in two separate cities.

The decline of DPS could also be blamed on the state’s genuine effort, or lack thereof, because even though their presence has been quite longstanding in the school district, their attempts to curb the problem has only worsened the situation and here’s how: during the recent years of budget cuts in DPS, a lot of principals may potentially have been compelled by the state to come up with their own cost-cutting measures to save a system that was already failing.

In their rushed efforts to please the state-appointed emergency managers out of fear of losing their job, a lot of their plans could have been just as ineffective or might’ve simply backfired

The administrative efforts by DPS principals to fix their own district have failed under the watchful eye of the state, and this is why they can’t just be allowed to wash their hands of the situation and let DPS fend for itself. Michigan needs to take financial responsibility of the situation for the sake of the children.

This isn’t to justify or dismiss the fraudulent behavior of known corrupt administrators in DPS, but that is another very important issue when it comes to inner city public schooling. People are timid to get behind Snyder’s proposal to bailout DPS with $715 million that would come from Michigan taxpayers. Some believe that the money won’t go where it’s supposed to and others just don’t want to clean up the mess a neglectful governor and state helped to cause, but both reasons are very understandable.

Michigan taxpayers are basically being asked to pick up someone else’s financial slack, and it isn’t cheap, but if we don’t choose to aide DPS ourselves, no one will. Dear taxpayers and fellow Michigan residents, we shouldn’t just deny our own youth the right to an education because of a situation they can’t control.

Corruption is merely half of the issue in DPS but it boils down to poor management at the state level. Of course we need to stop it somehow but we also have to be mindful of who answers to whom in the chain of command so that someone can be held accountable and the problem can stop.

Even though we [the rest of Michigan] may not be directly affected by the failure of DPS, we should still give Detroit children our support by pushing for the bailout because they too deserve a chance at a future in this country and shouldn’t continue to be underserved by our state