One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

Parental Guidance Suggested

Simply put, this is nothing short of collective child abuse...

"These numbers are only slightly better than what one would expect by chance as if the kids had never gone to school and simply guessed at the answers," said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban school districts. "These numbers ... are shocking and appalling and should not be allowed to stand."

Unh-uh, Mr. Casserly, Detroit Public Schools students posting the worst math scores in the 40-year history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test isn't just a shock or outrage. Michael Vick's mistreatment of pitbulls is a shock and outrage. This, my man, is nothing less than an indictment of our entire city school system on the grounds of sheer criminal neglect.

And while there are plenty of reasons for these dismal numbers -- corruption, incompetence, underfunding, mismanagement, laziness, racism, blind arrogance, materialism, nihilism, resignation, "the low bigotry of soft expectations" -- I'm stunned at how few people, at least in the early reports, want to take to task the people I think are most directly responsible for this crying shame: Sorry-ass parents.

Kick all the political footballs you want, but this isn't about just policies and programs. This isn't about whether the teachers' union needs a new contract. This isn't about whether Robert Bobb, the state-appointed emergency financial manager, can bust enough shady teacher's aides and lunchroom workers to help balance the books.

This comes down to whether mothers and fathers in this city really give a damn about their babies.

Teachers and administrators can only say such things in whispers, of course. And Bobb is loath to say it at all, given how hard he and Bill Cosby are trying to woo these same parents into keeping their kids in, or returning them to, the financially strapped district. In fact, judging by the reports I've seen, he spent more time calling out the school board than anyone else.

"The real fault lies squarely with leadership," he said. "It's not the kids' fault. There's nothing wrong with these kids' minds."

I beg to differ. I mean, sure, physically, Detroit children come with all the same equipment as any other kid, if not more so. Children here are born as capable as kids anywhere else. And as I mentioned when I wrote about Boys Hope Girls Hope just yesterday, many of them are most definitely putting their intellectual tools to good use.

But you're crazy if you think that children who grow up poor, in broken homes, amid violent streets and bombarded relentlessly by the vapidity of American popular culture—read: 12 nonstop hours of MTV/BET—aren't already being set up to fail. And you're even crazier if you think that their parents don't have a big part to play in all this. (A pause here for the standard caveat: Of course not all DPS parents are neglectful. I've met many who are active in the schools and working hard to make things better. But they are too few, too far between.)

School isn't a holding pen where you send your child to get him out of your hair. And neither is school the sort of institution that will run on auto-pilot if parents aren't involved. Given that, classrooms, hallways and PTA meetings citywide should be teeming with moms and dads determined to not let their children go down in the midst of a rotten system. That more of them aren't is more tragic than even those recent test scores.

Quick story: About a year ago, my son's school (which isn't in Detroit) announced that it was introducing a high-tech learning program for its third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students. In this same announcement, school administrators said they didn't have enough room for all of the students and would hold a lottery to determine which children got into the program.

When the suburban parents of this blue-chip school found out that there was a chance that their kids could miss out on this initiative, all hell erupted. E-mails flew. So did threats. There were talks of boycotts, of calling in the ACLU. Either all the kids were going to be eligible for the program, angry parents said, or the school just wasn't going to have a program.

In less than two months, the lottery idea got dumped like an ugly girlfriend, and the school announced that all third- through fifth-grade students would be admitted into the program.

That is how you avoid allowing your children to be part of embarrassing fiascos like the NAEP test. You pay attention. You care, from kindergarten to college. And you act, fearlessly, time and again, until you get the teachers, administrators, schools and students that you want.

Of course, I realize that educating kids is not a job for parents alone. And it's certainly not wrong to criticize everyone else who has a part to play in the city's school woes, be it trifling teachers or thieving administrators. It's going to take a Herculean effort to revitalize education in Detroit Public Schools, and it'll require a whole lot of hands. But even if you brought in the best teachers in America tomorrow (and believe it or not, some of them are already teaching in Detroit), I doubt that you'd move the needle much on those NAEP scores without assists from mom and dad.

These test scores are what they are in large part because we have far too many parents in this town who're more concerned with what their kids wear out of the house than what's in their heads, who'd rather beat up a teacher for flunking or chastising their children than take their own kids to task, who spend more time looking into the latest rumors involving pop stars than they do investigating the schools they send their kids to.

In short, we've got too many stupid parents raising their children to be just as stupid as they are.

And, sadly, it's working.

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  • 1

    The realization that the students in DPS posted the worst math scores in the history of a national test assessment is so disheartening not because of the dysfunctional parents nor the selfish teachers and their impotent union nor the ego driven demeanor of the state empowered headhunter or even the greedy real estate professionals who like many others before them fed at the trough of the DPS at the expense of the their education.

    None of these ugly realities powerful and impactful as they are defeated the will of DPS students. Yet today was the realization that it finally appears that now the students of DPS have succumbed to the insanity of being educated by DPS. The students of DPS have given up on themselves. The students of DPS who have weathered every trendy and novel educational theories dumped on them have now accepted the self inflicted wounds of low self worth, defeat and surrender. They no longer believe in themselves.

    The most important component of a student's education is the belief in self. How tragic it is to witness that in the DPS the students themselves have abandoned their own self worth and accepted failure. What a tragic lesson plan to finally master and excel in.

  • 2

    All along, I've said that until parents buy into the improtance of education, nothing will change in DPS. When I did my student teaching in Detroit, we had one parent show up at parent-teacher conferences. The school district where I live has 95% parental attendance. I myself have four good students, including one National Merit Scholar, and I go to every conference for every child. If I don't act like I care, why should they?

    Some years ago, I taught English at a local college. I taught students who didn't pass the entrance exam for the college. Most of them had come through Detroit Schools. After teaching them basic grammar and verb conjugation for several weeks, they asked me how they were supposed to learn all of it in 10 weeks! What happened in the previous 13 years? The scary part was that these were the kids that actually graduated!

    I used to give my 4th-grader the tests I wrote to be sure that they made sense. She consistently scored better on those tests than most of my class did. The exceptions? My ESL students. I taught a girl from Romania, a boy from Russia, etc., and their work ethic was totally different that most of the kids who came through DPS.

    I urged them all to read, and they were pretty unanimous when they told me that they had no reading material in their homes. There were no books, no magazines, no newspapers at all! How can these kids, who have loads of potential, be all that they can be when their families don't place any value on education?

    You can throw loads of money and books and curriculum revisions at an education system, but if you have no parental backing, none of it will matter. Until parents believe that a good education is the key to a productive life and invest the time in making sure their kids believe it and work for it, all of the fine teachers, new textbooks, modern desks, and remodeled facilities in the world won't make a difference.

  • 3

    The parents indeed....

    Teachers, 'Bricks & Morter' Facilities, Administration/Management, etc. while very important pale alongside the significance and neccessity of parental motivation, guidance, encouragement, example,and participation in their children's lives...

    One cannot expect teachers to do in 6 hours a day what isn't done in the other 18 hours at home. Good education begins in and with the parents and home. NO AMOUNT of additional funding, studies, etc will change this...

    This situation is not an indictment of DPS - rather it is a startling condemnation of too many of the people who reside and raise children in Detroit

  • 4

    My Grandmother always said that there is no such thing as a bad child, just bad parents.

    I hold true to this statement, every day I see a parent who succumbs to the will of their children, and lets their children rule the roost. This is the generation that is coming into the work force. What will become of our futures if we don't get a hold of it now.

    The schools are defeated and real teaching has been on the decline for a long time. Kids sports has become a game of everybody wins and gets medals of success, even the losing team becomes winners for losing. What does that teach our children? Nothing but mediocrity.

    Grading on a curve is hopeless, but is done to insure that schools get funding that they need. Schools have had to compromise teaching not for lack of funding but to get more funding.

    What incentive is there to learn when the smartest student does not get to revel in their intelligence because their grade was based on the worst grade first.

    This is just one of the many problems we face as a society. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for children. So what if you are the smartest kid in class, you can't possibly get out of the ghetto to get a job using you intelligence, because you have to suffer the sins of your parents.

    When the very fabric of education is dismantled to make for more students to graduate, the failing of parents to not support the very schools that educate their children and the demise of true parenting this is the outcome that we will all have to live with.

    Parents should demand more from their children, and more form their schools.

  • 5

    It is also true that the current staff of educators in DPS should all be fired it is quite apparent current to feedback of the test results the instruction and teaching reflect the true reality of 'low expectations"

  • 6

    I am all for encouraging people to exhibit good character and to take responsibility for their own lives. But it would be naive to think that a surge in personal morality -- or any amount of praying for the favor of the Almighty -- could eradicate the impact of jobs lost to globalization or the hollowing out of the American middle class. Those impacts were the result of political, policy and business decisions, not “culture.”

    Sure, we absolutely need all men to stand by their families and be fathers to their children. I would not for a minute want to downplay the profound impact that alone would have on the prosperity of the nation. But, if we rely solely on those kinds of remedies, we'll be waiting a long time for anything to change. We need to make new kinds of political, policy and business decisions if this country is to regain its footing.

    The root cause of all of this isn't "culture" (which often is used as a racial code word), unionization of teachers, or even the corruption and incompetence of some school officials. The real, deep-down cause of lack of achievement in the Detroit Public Schools is poverty, plain and simple.

    Before you write me off as a soft-headed liberal, hear me out. I know the world is full of examples of poor people who pulled themselves up through the power of education to reach great success. And there is nothing about poverty that necessarily keeps a motivated person from becoming educated. This is nation in which people can and do beat the odds all the time. I get that.

    But populations and communities are not individuals. And the thing about odds is that most people do not beat them, even some people who try hard to do it.

    The way life usually works is this: Communities where people have good jobs and stable incomes do not have astoundingly low levels of student achievement. They also are far less likely to have high levels of crime, drug addiction, absentee fatherhood and numerous other symptoms of social dysfunction seen in chronically impoverished communities.

    What this tells me is that, rather than count on kids to beat the odds and grow up to do better than their parents, a far better strategy would be to change the odds.

    Fixing Detroit and creating a future for its children is part of a larger project: That of recreating the great American working middle class, upon which was built the strongest, most vibrant economy in the world.

    The more we neglect the importance of economic opportunity and good wages to building a stable society, the more we will be faced to deal with the kinds of problems we see in Detroit.

    • 6.1

      jdm, poverty is a problem, but if you dig into the report you'll see that even when poverty levels are similar, DPS does significantly worse than its peers. And while DPS has to deal with poverty, it doesn't have the issue with non-native English speaking kids like other, better performing districts. I believe it was Houston that had similar poverty levels as Detroit but around 40% non-native English speakers yet they performed better than Detroit.

  • 7

    One more thing: It is important to note that DPS suffers from a severe "negative selection" problem.

    If Detroit students have parents who have their acts together, it's very likely they have been moved to charter schools or to suburban "schools of choice" -- and out of the DPS.

    To a large degree, DPS has been left with a student population that presents the greatest challenges. That's no excuse for the test-score numbers. But there is more to that data than meets the eye.

    • 7.1

      JDM you are on the right track. Sadly, we live in a world where such politically incorrect talk is relegated to the dining room table and semi-anonymous blogs. Until political leaders speak the truth and admit the obvious Detroit's descent will continue unabated. Certainly, Detroit student are handicapped by a corrupt system and incompetent teachers. However, the biggest handicap for most of them is their limited intellectual capacity that was bestowed upon them at birth and that will follow them throughout their lives regardless of all the well-meaning social programs foisted upon them. They are human beings and they deserve dignity and respect -- but they also deserve the truth.

  • 8

    Well done Darrell. As a parent who's involved in my children's schools your post is right on. Absolutely spot on. I don't agree with much of what you write but I'm happy to give you an A+ on this.

    While DPS's management has been suspect for a long time, and some teachers have retired on the job, parents are the key ingredient. Even in my suburban blue-ribbon school district I think the administration requires constant watching and there are too many marginal teachers. Yet the kids excel because parents put the time and effort into making sure they do. It's not always easy to find the time but it's so important and it's free, unlike so many of the high-cost solutions offered to make up for the fact that too many parents are AWOL when it comes to their childrens' education.

  • 9

    Blaming parents certainly has a place in this ugly saga but they are the usual suspects at some point in this saga we must demand from the students excellance and performance...

    At the end of the day the students must want to excell and be somebody..It is painfully apparent that DPS kids simply have little faith and self worth of course the reasons for scuh low self esteem are numerous but it is tragic to observe such an entire city beleive thier are worthless, road kill and not worthy of even self love and respect..

    So where do we go from here..It is all about attitude, attitude, attitude

    The transormative change for city residents begins here ATTITUDE and it does not require a passive welfare poverty program nor a bunch of religious people or some missionaries from the suburbs...

  • 10

    Child abuse, indeed. You couldn't be more correct. This is shameful--for Detroit, for Michigan, but most of all, for the parents. What opportunities will these children have once (if) they graduate? How will they compete in a world with no math or grammar skills? Who will hire them, and for what? Too sad to think about.

    Thanks for aiming the primary responsibility where it belongs.

    Now the question is, how do those of us who want to help plug in and provide support to these kids--who deserve a brighter future than the one they're headed for?

  • 11

    I'm absolutely certain that parental involvement is a huge factor (if not THE biggest factor) in a good educational system. BUT.. DPS is so far from a "good" educational system that ANYTHING that can be done to show these kids that the community (everybody in this state owns some of that community responsibility) actually cares about their education... about them, needs to be done as big and fast and strong and true as we can possibly prod ourselves into doing. As religious people, business people, politicians, citizens, taxpayers, educators, letter writers, bloggers, bartenders, barbers, and bankers... we need to let our shame at this atrocity of a school system motivate us to pitch in... somehow. We're all going to have to shake off some of out political ideology and support the BIG changes that might help the average kids have an average chance. More charter schools? Lefties (me), think about it. Higher statewide tax support? Righties, think about it.

    Anyway... parental involvement is something educators have thought about because it is so essential. Maybe there is something we can actually do about that too... see:

  • 12

    I think its a 50/50 split between schools being horribly underfunded, staffed, and the teachers in the DPS shouldnt be allowed to teach a dog tricks let alone teach human beings. I live just outside of Detroit, and have seen 1st hand how badly the kids have it. Having tutored some of the kids when i was younger, and it was downright scary seeing kids with 1st grade reading levels at the age of 12, and almost nonexistant ability in mathematics.

    The teachers who do care end up hitting a brick wall with parents who just ignore the problem, or you have teachers who dont bother telling the parents until its too late, and the damage has been done. Finally you have the worst case scenario which is parents and teachers who dont care. Unfortunately i think that is what occurs the majority of the time, and when that happens you need to call the police, or that child is as good as dead.

  • 13

    hardwatermark: I totally get your point. I am not trying to make excuses for the DPS. Yes, even given the problems it faces, the school disttrict is doing a bad job. That is why this Detroit resident send his son to a charter school.

  • 14

    I'm currently a university student in the city of New Orleans and as part of Tulane University's public service requirement I had to help tutor in one of the local charter schools that have developed with the recovery school district that removed N.O. public schools from the Orleans Parish school district (i think). The system has been very beneficial to the city and is turning around the education system that was one of the worst in the country. Charter schools can require parental involvement via contracts signed at the time of students' admission. It sounds to me like Detroit needs a similar system to require parental involvement. Granted I only took one actual course on the schools themselves and 3 classes on local Louisiana government but it seems like Detroit needs to try something new and New Orleans is providing a pretty good example as far as I can tell.

  • 15

    One problem with standardized tests is the perception by the students the test's do not matter. In most schools the MEAP or in this case the NAEP will not affect the student's grade. Even if the student or parents care about the grades they know that this is just something extra. The tests need to have teeth to be important.

  • 16

    I am a DPS Teacher who has been on the frontlines of the other war this country has been fighting for years: this war is called public education in the city of Detroit. There are so many layers to the problem of public education in this city - not the least of which includes too much apathy on the part of parents - that to look for simple, short-term solutions is a waste of time. These parents are raising (or not) children in the poorest, most segregated city in the nation. The challenges for many of these parents are so great that the children are, for the most part, neglected. The parents do not encourage their children to do homework nor do they look over it when they are finished since they leave the first job and go straight to the next. Abject poverty is driving a lot of what is NOT happening in homes and communities in this city.

    Young people who cannot add, subtract, multiply, and divide are failing not just because Teachers are overburdened and yes in many cases, not well prepared for the rigors of the urban classroom. Young people in Detroit are failing because too many adults are pointing fingers in too many different directions.

    My suggestion: Parents - do a better job of parenting. Love your kids, feed them, nurture their minds and their spirits. Teachers - understand and take seriously your responsibility to Detroit and the larger global community to prepare young people for a future where they can take care of themselves and their communities. AND TO ALL THE OTHER ADULTS WHO CARE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THIS NATION: It truly takes a strong village to raise a healthy, self-sufficient child - It is time to become a part of a solution rather than contributing further to the problem.

  • 17

    Are the parents in a position to do all of the things the posters suggest? Where there are no books to read, can the parents afford to provide them? Is there an accessible library?

    Are the parents themselves educated? Do they have confidence that a focus on education by their children will help them escape their circumstance, or are they themselves products of the environment who have lost hope?

    Is their focus just on getting by? I work full time, and by the time I get home from work, make dinner, bathe and put to bed the little one, my teenager is only an hour from bedtime. We spend some of that time reviewing what's going on in school, but it's certainly not enough time to be as involved as I might otherwise be. And I know kids whose parents work schedules don't even get them home at dinnertime!

    Attending parent-teacher conferences means missing work, which some employers don't tolerate, and which some parents cannot afford to do.

    Last I checked, it is the job of the educators to prepare students for these tests. Parents are not usually professional educators.

    I agree with the teacher who indicates it takes a village to raise a child. Let's make sure parents have the support they need to be the best role model and participant in their child's education as they can be.

    For the example where the school changed policy based on parent complaints, the school must have somehow found the money to make the program available to all. Can the Detroit schools make that same decision? Do the parents in those communities have the same leverage? I try to communicate with my daughter's teachers via email (as advised by school administrators as the best way to get in touch), but some of my daughter's teachers don't bother to even respond. Some are great, but some don't support parental involvement.

    Before we judge these parents in Detroit as "sorry-ass", let's make sure we understand where their coming from and why their involvement isn't up to your standards.

    • 17.1

      correction... "where they're coming from"... ironic mistake posting on an article about education!

  • 18

    this is a good example of why blacks do not and will not succeed in American: they do not care about education. we have spent billions of dollars on education in places like Detroit and it is like throwing money down a rat hole. they have been given special treatment and extra chances. blacks only care about cell phones, gold chains and fancy cars. their role models are gangsters, foul mouthed rap singers, corrupt politicians and overpaid sports figures. the few blacks who try to better themselves and value education are laughed at. their culture is one of lies and denying responsibility for their actions. blacks are all too willing to play the race card and blame society for their failures. when will America realize that education is not just about the money but the attitudes.

  • 19

    I want the shut down the DPS now. It is a toxic venue and it is creating more harm by staying open. I have zero faith in the educators, administrators, parents and all those non-profits who for years pitched thier worthless services and now we get these dismal and criminal results.

    I want a Federal Intervention similar in scope to our intervention in Iraq. We must rebuild our urban venues from Detroit to New Orleans ..

    I am also indicting the entire state of Michigan our educational systems are 3rd world not just in the city but in rural and suburban school districts where great inflation and excessive gpa's are the norm.

    Recently MSU repoted that 85% of its freshman class required remedial classes and the majority of these students were white and not DPS or urban venue graduates these students also attended the expensive private schools we all know these schools are in Oakland County.

    We must not accept what is taking place in DPS or other educational venues in our state. It is easy today to demonize DPS but the depth of failure is much larger..

    Let's do something right here..right now!!

  • 20

    Finally, somebody has the guts to say where the problem really lies. And in public. Congratulations and I hope you aren't run out of the country for this.
    NCLB calls these 'failing schools' and forces changes on the teachers and administration. That is not the problem but, of course, parents vote so they can't be recognized as the cause of the failure.
    So now that the root cause has been recognized, we can address some remedies.
    Obviously, the home environment is not conducive to these children succeeding. The KIPP schools address this fact. Having a safe, nurturing environment where the children are present for 8 or more hours per day and 5 plus days per week will reduce the time they are in their dysfunctional homes. We're not talking about homes where there is little support for the child's learning. We are talking about negative support, where parents actually belittle the efforts of the children. My wife voluntarily worked with first graders on their reading development. One little girl was obviously not getting much support at home but was eager and trying hard. One day, the girl saw my wife at the grocery store and introduced my wife to the girl's grandmother as the lady that was helping her learn to read. The grandmother put the child down by saying that the girl would never learn to read.
    Having the schools run 52 weeks per year with several weeks of 'camp' or other travel type breaks will allow the children to develop. Of course, the curricilum has to be enforced - watching videos is not generally a learning experience.
    Politically, to get to there from here is fraught with difficulties - but Obama said change would occur, so let's get with it.
    The children of DPS are in a downward spiral - their parents are likely products of these schools and their future children will be worse off than these neglected (abused) children are.
    Again, congratulations on publicly identifying the root cause. Let's see who pushes back! Expect the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, etc. And pray for the children.

  • 21


    I was more referring to the middle school population and above....Clearly this report in an indictment of the educators and instruction of those in elementry school populations in DPS..It is quite apparent that these educators did nothing for these kids ..Nothing!!!!!

  • 22

    This phenomenon is not only in the Detroit school system. It is, unfortunately, prevalent across the United States. We are in Houston, TX, and it isn't much better here. My daughter graduated high school here, and when she entered community college it became apparent that the school system in no way prepared these students to move on to that next level even though she passed all the assessment tests the college administered. I spent the first two years of her college education teaching her the skills that should have been taught in high school. I made myself available to her any time of day or night for assistance. I checked her papers for correct grammar and punctuation and explained the reasons why something was incorrect. My point is this: There is a real disconnect between what the schools are teaching and the skills that are needed to succeed in a college environment.
    I truly believe when children are very young they need to be monitored closely to ensure they are gaining reading and comprehension skills. If they aren't and are very young, early intervention and correction of the problem would help immensely. If a child can barely read and can't comprehend what they do read, how can they learn anything at all? After all, reading is the foundation of learning. It all becomes an exercise in frustration for the child who is having reading problems and they soon give up trying. Why do so many children these days think that reading is drudgery? Do teachers no longer teach children that reading is a chance to have an adventure without ever leaving home? Reading is a basic foundation all parents can become involved with even if they only have fifteen minutes to devote to listening to their child read. As for not having any reading material at home, schools do still have libraries if I am not mistaken.

  • 23

    What's Now??????

    1. Ignore the CYA comments of the DPS Union, DPS Adminstrators, All those radicals in the Union, All of the Non-Profits ( Skillman Types) Religious Leaders and of course the Media Punits and Political Folks

    2. On Jan 2, 2010..Select a DPS school appear with your friends/associates/seniors/interested parties and informed the school principals you are ready for duty.

    3. Adopt one child for balance of the school year, allow that child to be a part of your life, your home, your presence

    4. Do not educate at the beginning of the contact but connect with the child that you have come to assist and that will assist you.

    5.Create a space, a bond, a presence and love for education via books. reading, counting, whatever..

    We do not need the blessing or certification or affirmation of those who have for decades now provided nothing of value to these kids.. They have been assaulted with the emptiness of shallow education capital, They have been wounded by the lessons of pretend and nothingness cloaked in the costume of education..

    We can right here, right now alter and change and impact the lives of these kids right here and right now..

    I know what I am going to do on Jan 2, 2010 @ 8:00 AM on the campus of a DPS venue....

  • 24

    I disagree so completely with this article!

    Research has shown over and over again that effective schools CAN teach kids in areas with historically low parent support. Why? Because effective educational leadership increases parental support by providing open communication and reducing barriers.

    Effective schools. That means effective from the top to the bottom- good boards, good administrators, good principals, good teachers. Failure in any step is going to cause schools to fail.

    Check out "value added" evaluation of educational programs and what they've found out about how much a GOOD educational institution can affect even the most deprived children.

  • 25

    I would like to share some experiences I have had in the educational arena in Detroit, and it's surrounding suburbs.

    In the 1980's I had a job for awhile teaching beginning and intermediate computer skills, word processing and data entry skills at an Adult Trade School/Community college. The school had campuses both in Detroit and Southfield (a bordering suburb).

    I began in Southfield, and as a "new" school we didn't have a greatly well defined curriculum - we teachers had to put most of it together. To be honest, it was probably overly strenuous - especially at first. Most of our student body were former students of the DPS - and many of those that weren't from the DPS were from a neighboring district like Southfield, Ferndale, Royal Oak or Oak Park.

    Our teaching staff was a pretty even mixture of black and whites - with most of the African American faculty members having had 1000 times the experience of the white faculty members in teaching urban students.

    In a similar way that classes vary on a college campus from Professor to Professor, each of us had a lot of autonomy in how our classes were run, even though we had basically the same areas of responsibility academically.

    I (being one of the inexperienced ones), faced a lot of pushback from my fellow faculty members in how much I expected from my students. Pretty much all of their fellow African American teachers predicted doom for my classes as there was a well articulated sense that my students wouldn't "make it".

    It would be a lie to say that all of them did "make it". There were some that transferred out of my section into some of the others that were "easier" - but to my surprise they were replaced by just as many (if not more) students from the "easier" classes and teachers.

    I knew my students were behind academically. Most of this deficit couldn't be entirely fixed in a year or two. However, I was very impressed by the students desire to learn and achieve and even though some of the standards I set for them were very hard to achieve they worked very hard to get where they needed to get.

    Now for the bad news. I did get some complains about racism at the time - both from students and fellow faculty members. A small number from both groups thought I was too "hard" on the minority students. Mind you, no one suggested I had any double standards or played favorites - just that I somehow owed it to those students to "dumb things down" on their behalf. (as if that would do anyone a favor!)

    As the end of the day however, I was clearly getting results. Test scores - attendance - punctuality - pretty much everything in my class sections were far superior to anything other teachers were getting.

    This isn't about me, and I apologize if I went on too long about this but I do wonder if a lot of this problem stems from most people in these children's lives being a little too sure they also can't "make it". Combining this with accusations of racism or other types of pushback that I would hazard to guess teachers get if they try and have standards may also contribute to this mess.

    The question is does anyone have the guts to try and fix this?

    Personally, I had hopes for Obama that he might have the guts to speak to people in places like Detroit about the embarrasment that the city has become. I'm thinking now that he doesn't have the guts I had thought he did, because for sure no one in urban areas is going to listen to a Republican - even if they speak truth.

    If I'm not mistaken, Detroit hasn't had an elected Republican official in 47 years of any kind.

    Not to say that would fix anything - but I do think when people say that Detroit is America's most segregated city only speak of race. Detroit is way more segregated politically than it ever has been racially.

    So, the party in power doesn't have to have any results either.


  • 26

    Thanks for writing what so many people in elected positions are just flat out afraid to say.

    As a 33 year old male, recently married, my wife and I are preparing a move from the suburbs to the city. We want the city loft living (for a very reasonable price) that Detroit has to offer for a couple of years. But we're both in agreement that as soon as we start having kids, we're going to moving right back to the suburbs... as are so many of our friends who are in Detroit.

    I spoke with a suburban city commissioner who owns a very successful business in Detroit and this was the number one problem to which he pointed. Parental involvement in their children's schooling (followed by their involvement in their children's health). And how difficult it is to sit in a room of angry parents and tell them they are the problem.

  • 27

    Bobb is a bean counter and does not have any credentials or academic skills to lead any school district. Bobb should stay focused on his agenda regarding the fiscal shortcomings of DPS..

    Our state educational leaders should be indicted for criminal negligence and violations of the children of DPS civil rights in thier dismal administration of DPS..

    The DPS Board of Education should also be indicted as well..

    The DPS should be defunded and shut down ASAP It is a toxic state funded insitution than is lethal to kids 24/7.

    One other note all of the suburban school districts who are under the false belief they are educating children need a wake up call as well recently MSU issued a report about the freshman class which was so ill prepared that the majority needed remedial classes and BTW the bulk of these freshamn are white students and not DPS graduates....Great inflation and Excessive GPA's are the norm in suburban school districts..( the nasty little secret no one wants to discuss..)

  • 28

    Fingers are being pointed in all directions. Parents. Media. Schools. Detroit. Society.

    If humanity could divert it's focus from blaming others to working together, the world would be free of the troubles we face today. As a result we have instances such as Schultz's article containing only 4 sentences addressing the needs of children.

    We need to start owning up to our mistakes. if we don't, then we are honestly no better than gossip columns.

  • 29

    Here's something to consider - the STATE of Michigan posted scores lower than the national average - close to the natl average, but lower. Also, the MEAP test our education system clamors about is not respected nationally. As a whole, the "grade level content expectations" in Michigan do not come near helping kids pass the NAEP, which is why DPS chose to take the test and try to align its new education plans to the NAEP. And reading is key to the MATH portion because it includes lots of essay-style open-ended questions. So, while we talk about DPS, we should consider the state's problems - even our good suburban schools don't measure up on this test!

  • 30

    Further, i submit that we need a "yes we can" type of people's movement that will mobilize the community. "parents - which are you - part of the solution, or part of the problem?" type of movement. See a parent whose 8th grader can't read, ask them "parent - which are you?" Call 'em out to their faces! Instead of saying, "good morning" when you walk your kids into school, say, "which are you" as a greeting, to which any adult should know to say "part of the solution."

    we need a movement, my people!!

  • 32

    [...] will suggest are being used to suggest the thing missing from our schools is hard work, but that too is an incomplete picture. While all schools could be improved marginally with more [...]

  • 33

    You can't separate the test scores from the agenda. The agenda is to give Bobb academic control. This will foster a system of patronage. Its still children before contracts and people before policy in detroit.

    Bobbs recent move to start an reading program has me answering more questions about his proposed partnership with local media and corporate interest then him. In fact I'm wondering why am I getting all the questions and I didn't come up with the plan. This is a funny situation.

    First of all you can't attack media by saying they only write negative news, then attack media when they decide to join a program to improve urban education. There has to be an understanding here. You should applaud anyone or entity that steps up to the plate to make any situation better. While we can raise an eyebrow at the involvement of the corporate community's paternalistic role in Detroit Public Schools we should question Bobbs motives.

    One should ask why is an Emergency Financial Manager who has already admitted he can't balance the budget (what he was hired to do) pushing a war against illiteracy? Shouldn't his war be against the deficit? Why are we utilizing the results from a test(NAEP an audit test) which isn't aligned to the curriculum and state standards as the benchmark of effectiveness? This goes with other questions. Why is there a double standard in the prosecution of petty thieves at Detroit Public Schools and media circus hearings against real culprits?

    Well this is wag the dog politics. Instead of focusing on the budget he's creating a new war. So I've decided to develop the Wag the Dog Award. This award will be distributed to an individual or organization that creates a diversion to shed light off the real issues they're charged with addressing. So this months Wag The Dog Award goes to Robert Bobb for his great job of creating diversions from the fact that he can't fix the finances of DPS. Heres the clip.

    Now thats politics in Detroit. The beat goes on.

  • 34

    [...] Wednesday, the popular Talking Head took on the recent story about poor Detroit Public School test scores during an interview with Sharlonda Buckman of the Detroit Parent Network and Detroit school board [...]

  • 35

    [...] Not just the worst scores but the worst scores ever in the history of the test. “These numbers are only slightly better than what one would expect by chance as if the kids had never gone to school and simply guessed at the answers,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban school districts. “These numbers … are shocking and appalling and should not be allowed to stand.” (source) [...]

  • 36

    [...] so much so that being ticked off seems to be as much our birthright as our past time. Hey, I know I've done plenty of venting about what's wrong with our schools, our teachers and the parents of our students. And I don't plan [...]

  • 37

    DD (article-writer) --- You've STILL missed the point, as good as your article is, which it is. The point is, you can't just CHANGE parents of current 1,2,3,4,5,6 -year olds. so that the 'home environment' will be conducive to learning, and so that the home environment will mimick good grammar, speech patterns, conversational skills, etc.

    Can' need to elaborate into the obvious.

    What's needed is to change govt programs so they don't encourage, or enable, or pay for, bad behavior of having babies without a husband but with a high-school dropout teenagel mother. Govt programs have gone amok. They should be changed with 12 months notification to all citizens. The goal should be a HUGE reduction in # of children born in the future to parent(s) who have no (non-govt assistance) means of supporting supporting the babies. Incentives must be changed 180 degrees. The next generations will continue to be toast if they're not. There just aren't enough jobs to continue the current irresponsible madness

  • 38

    "School isn't a holding pen where you send your child to get him out of your hair."

    Um, I'm afraid you are either blind to the truth or are using the wrong verb. That is exactly what compulsory "public education" is. Exactly.

    Perhaps you meant to say: " School should not be....". In which case I agree completely. But when you compel the warehousing of children daily, paid by the collective, the devolution into "holding pen" status is unavoidable, simply varying by degree of geography for parental involvement.

    I venture another radical idea: school should be bought by parents who care, and those who do not are free to truthfully declare that they simply do not. It's called privatization, and even in ghettos you'll get better results. The holding pens will lose their funding, and children will suffer only as much as they do today anyway--from parents who couldn't care less.

  • 39

    […] Take a break, relax. Heck, we have a government that engages in the worst sort of leftism while terrible tragedies go unattended. The proles are useful when needed apparently. The less education the better, the […]

  • 40

    […] their magic. It dismantled the culture and social institutions which once built its factories. Time reports Detroit had posted the lowest math scores in the history of the National Assessment of […]

  • 41

    […] their magic. It dismantled the culture and social institutions which once built its factories. Time reports Detroit had posted the lowest math scores in the history of the National Assessment of […]

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