Friday, September 13, 2013

My Detroit News editorial from Sept. 10, 2013

Now that the Detroit mayoral primary is over and the inadequately-funded candidates — including me — were soundly defeated by the two lavishly-financed and media-anointed frontrunners, I will offer fresh ideas for the sorely-needed revitalization of Detroit and its traditional public schools.

Our schools must ensure that upon high school graduation, all DPS students are masterfully fluent in the written and spoken English language, free of dialect or poor grammar.

In order for Detroit Public Schools to be enabled to impart these skills successfully, it must become a single unified and autonomous district once again, governed by its good, elected school board without further state interference. The ill-advised 1999 state takeover with its subsequent decade-plus of inept leadership and its 2012 jettisoning of 15 buildings to the failed EAA have brought the vast majority of our city’s public schools to the brink of academic and financial ruin.

Detroit Public Schools enjoyed a $93 million surplus in 1999 and the scores were at the state midpoint and rising. When emergency manager Robert Bobb departed 10 years later, he left behind a $327 million deficit and the scores were the worst in America. If that was the reformers’ concept of what constitutes reform, I’d hate to see their concept of what constitutes deformity.

John Telford is a former Detroit Public Schools superintendent

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