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Dear Shepard Smith: Button It

Yikes. I'd bet Shepard Smith of the Fox Channel wishes he had a "rewind button."

On Wednesday, the popular Talking Head took on the recent story about poor Detroit Public Schools test scores during an interview with Sharlonda Buckman of the Detroit Parent Network and Detroit school board member Tyrone Winfrey. Smith told viewers:

"69 percent of the kids who took the test scored as if they just guessed on every one, and you're talking about adequate, adequate advancement. I don't care. If my kid were in Detroit, I'd try to burn the place down."

He came back today and said people "are taking his comments out of context and should not divert their focus away from the real problem, low test scores and poor student performance," according to Fox 2 Detroit.

Here's the whole comment he made on air:

"During that segment, I offhandedly remarked that if my kids were in Detroit, I'd burn the place down. Now, I immediately said that I meant that figuratively, that we'd all be upset. Obviously, who in the world would advocate such a thing, burning the place down. But these words have become a story in Detroit with the comments taken out of context. The real story here, Detroit, is seven out of ten of your fourth graders answered math questions with no greater accuracy than one would had a person not even read the question, as if at random. Seventy percent. Some parents say teachers and administrators should be jailed. The basic truth of all this is Detroit, you have a problem. Diverting attention to the sideshow that is outsiders' observation of this crisis will not make it go away. You fail tomorrow's leaders in the fourth grade, it's all lost."

I don't think he needs to apologize, but can we PLEASE avoid the "burn the place down" reference? That's so tired.

Detroit Public Schools superhero (and emergency financial manager) Robert Bobb told some reporters "there's nothing wrong" with the minds of Detroit's students, according to

Here's a link to the discussion about it on the DetroitYes! forum. Always a great place to sound off.

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Comments (22)
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  • 1

    I agree he does not need to apoligize and we should shut down DPS right now! It is a toxic institution that deserves to be shut down.

  • 2

    He should apologize. On the other hand, the schools are just one problem in a city of many problems. And the problems can't be swept under the rug if the city is to survive.

  • 3

    I find it troubling that some people are more upset with the stupid throwaway comment of a talking head than the actual performance, or lack thereof of Detroit students.

    I agree with gthrasher, DPS should be shut down. Students are not being educated and are being put in dangerous, violent environments. Government once again is infringing on the freedom of citizens to educate their children as they see fit and in places like Detroit not giving them any return on that infringement. This would open up the marketplace for more creative, effective education solutions like the examples of U of D Jesuit HS and Cornerstone schools, where Detroiters are actually being educated.

    • 3.1

      The government is not infringing on anyone's right to educate their children. No one is being forced to attend DPS instead charter or private schools, or opting for home schooling.

      Smith's comment was unprofessional, asinine, and totally unneccesary. I question whether some of his comments would have been made had the subject not been Detroit. (BTW, in comparative rankings the schools in his home state of Mississippi score lower than Michigan schools do.)

    • 3.2


      Where do you think funding of public schools originates? No they are not "free" like some dimwits would tell you, they are paid for through public taxation. Every state locality in the U.S. is required by law to provide education on a public basis. What results is a mismanagement of resources everywhere, and in cases like Detroit a complete waste of resources. There aren't enough private schools or parents with the resources to home school because the government is crowding them out of the marketplace. If the government was prevented from doing so, there would be an unending amount of free market creative solutions to education.

      So Michigan's claim to fame when it comes to education is that we aren't as bad as Mississippi? Wow, anyone who is really that offended by Smith's comments is missing the point. He can slander or praise Detroit all he wants, the fact of the matter is that children are not being educated. Detroit through all the government mismanagement of the public school system and welfare state is institutionalizing poverty.

  • 4

    The government is crowding home schoolers out of the marketplace? What a joke!!

    • 4.1

      You are astounding. Do you realize that regardless of whether your children attend public schools, you are funding those schools through your tax dollars? For many working class Americans, the property taxes they must pay to the government for public education could instead be used towards paying private school tuition or affording home schooling resources. If there were no public schools that parents could put their children in, there would be a much greater demand for education, and the marketplace would respond with new, innovative education solutions.

    • 4.2

      I'm fully aware of how public schools are funded. I'm also aware that without that public funding basic education becomes increasingly a benefit for the wealthy, as it was in the past, and as post-secondary education is once again becoming today.

      I've stated before that I believe the education industry, particularly at the college level, is a bubbling industry right now and the present trend of increasing costs to the students, in both private and public schools, is not sustainable.

  • 5

    Actually literacy rates in America before compuslory education and public schooling were much higher than they are currently in some areas of the U.S. including Detroit.

    Private businesses satisfy the demands of consumers both rich and poor much better than bureaucracies can. The reason why post-secondary education is so expensive (and becoming more so) is because of government intervention, the same way health care has been growing increasingly more expensive since government began trying to regulate and hold down costs. Don't let the rhetoric of politicians fool you.

    • 5.1

      "Actually literacy rates in America before compuslory education and public schooling were much higher than they are currently in some areas of the U.S. including Detroit."

      Comparing past overall literacy rates with the current rates of select areas is a false comparison. There is no way the historic overall literacy rate in the US was higher prior to compulsory education. The denial of education to the masses is a method of control used throughout history by those seeking or trying to maintain power, including the Catholic Church and southern slaveholders.

    • 5.2

      PS: Your political rhetoric is of a nature I despise. I support working for the common good of the commonwealth. That does not mean allowing abuses of the system and also does not mean pure socialism nor pure free market capitalism. The US has, and has always had, a mixed economy. If you don't understand or agree with that then perhaps you need to give some deep thought to the entire concept of "UNITED STATES."

    • 5.3

      My point regarding literacy rates is that even with compulsory education and billions of dollars spent, education and literacy levels are worse in places like Detroit. That's indisputable.

      I'm not advocating denial of education to anyone, you misrepresented my point. I want more and better education for everyone, which will happen without public schools and government regulation. The indoctrination of the masses by the government is a method of control used by those seeking or trying to maintain power.

      When children are taught in public schools that your country is always right and the solution to any economic or social problem is more government, you end up with the current problems facing this country. I

      In terms of your understanding of history, as the government has grown since the nation's founding, we've had more and more taxation, regulation, and government intervention in the economy. The current size of government and unprecedented role in economic affairs would be unrecognizable to the nation's founders.

      It's no wonder then we are in the economic state we are in. The government not only doesn't have the right to intervene in the economy, it actively destroys and distorts the free market. We would be much better off and richer without government coercion in our lives and an economy solely based on voluntary interaction. This would help everyone.

    • 5.4

      I'm sure you're all in favor of government policies that protect YOUR interests.

  • 6

    No I'm not, I am an anarcho-capitalist :)

    • 6.1

      Then you won't mind when someone puts a gun to your head and pulls the tigger.

    • 6.2

      "trigger", dammit, or better yet, wipes out everything you've gained from your free market profiteering by white collar con scheme or blatant property theft

    • 6.3

      Believe it or not I've actually thought beyond that point. Law enforcement can also be provided through a market system. There are many libertarian anarchists that can explain how legal institutions will function and form without a government better than I can. It's always better to have competition than be subjected to the whims of a monopoly!

    • 6.4

      Here's a thought for you: Detroit essentially had a non-functioning government for years during the last mayor's term and, other than brief periods, hasn't had a really strong government since, probably, the mid-1980s. It's been about as anarcho-capitalist as you can get in the US, with those who were supposed to govern really just being part of the anarcho-capitalist system. Only now that elements of functioning higher level government (state and federal) are stepping in to re-establish the rule of law is the city starting to get straightened out.

  • 7

    We shouldn't get upset when people use figurative language. Seriously, when will the American people get it. It's time for a change. I've posted my full thoughts here:

    Love to hear what you think.

  • 8

    Compulsory education, funded by tax dollars is a necessitity. It benefits everyone regardless if they have or do not have kids in public schools. Without it, religion, governments and the wealthy, as anounceofaction said, use ignorance of the masses as a method of power and control. However, publicly funded education is no guaranty. The DPS is proof of that.

    The problem, which Robert Bob is finally bringing into public focus, is the lack of parental support and involvement. Too many "parents", for the lack of a better term, think of schools as a baby sitting service and nothing more. Education is meaningless to them and that attitude is passed on to their children. Those kids, in turn, threaten and intimidate, through bullying and example, those who want to learn. Not to defend the DPS, they have failed miserably, but they can't be expected to succeed without the support of the "parents."

    That does not mean that there is no room for privately funded schools.The Detroit Teachers Union, a government within a government, maintained control of the status quo when they flagrantly rejected Bob Thompson's gift of $200 million for charter schools. The competition was too much of a threat to their security. Until we find a way to ensure wide spread responsible parenting, charter schools provide an education for the children of those parents who value it.

    It can not be emphasized enough. This city will not survive unless we, once again, promote married, two parent families who value education, love their kids, and supervise their behavior.

  • 9

    Why is it that we are always the bad guy when someone else criticizes the city? Shepard Smith says he'd burn the city down...of course he wasn't serious but how did he think we'd react? We didn't like it, to say the least...and that means we're "sensitive"?. Well duh. Any statement with the words "fire" and "Detroit" is gonna cause a bad reaction. For him to say his comment was taken out of context is absurd...he knew exactly how it would be taken....then he could criticize us again for "not paying attention to the real issue". Way to plan ahead, Shepard.

  • 10

    "Fuel on the fire" is EXACTLY what Detroit needs!!!! Way to go Shep! They're attacking you b/c they are embarrassed. How sad for those kids.

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