Saturday, April 6, 2013
State should bow out of Detroit Schools
This is a copy of the letter written by DPS Board president -in-Exile LaMar Lemmons and myself that ran in Friday's April 5, 2013 edition of the Detroit Free Press:
Now that Detroit Public Schools' Emergency Manager Roy Roberts has once again assumed full control of DPS under Public Act 436, he has lost no time issuing an executive order to fire me as the DPS board's appointed pro bono superintendent and relegate board members to a mere "advisory" role.
However, all of us Detroiters who cherish our right to vote and have our votes count will never yield to this injustice simply because its perpetrators have changed the rules on us so they could cheat to win this single significant battle.
It is crucial that everyone understand why we have now added our names to the federal lawsuit that was filed on March 28 challenging PA436.
Now, half a century after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, our very own governor -- aided and abetted by Roy Roberts, Kevyn Orr and all the other emergency managers throughout the state -- is trying to argue that only he should have the power to determine who will and who won't benefit from his brand of so-called democracy in this state and under what conditions. Suddenly, it is somehow supposed to be up to the governor to decide whose vote will count and whose won't.
DPS has been under unwarranted state control for 12 of the past 14 years, and state control of DPS has clearly been an unadulterated disaster, with the district's test scores far lower than they were in 1999, when the district had a $93-million surplus, as compared to the current $76-million deficit, which actually is $276 million since Roberts has borrowed against the future to cover the debt.
We have no reason to believe that the state now miraculously has the right answers and solutions. It is past time for it to butt out and let the elected board and its chosen superintendent clean up the mess that the state made and take back the 15 schools that Roberts gave to the state-created Educational Achievement Authority, which, by all accounts, is overridden by gang violence, abysmal attendance and disgraceful test scores.
Sadly, unless the governor somehow comes to see the light of reason, this fight is shaping up to take considerably longer than we had planned. And so far it has been an unfair fight that -- for our children's sake -- we Detroiters nonetheless can ill afford to lose.
Once-and-future superintendent, Detroit Public Schools
Board president-in-exile, Detroit Public Schools