Random Musings: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Some interesting morning reading...
The video-game geek in me was happy to read that Ford Field may soon become home to Wonderstruck Studios, an upstart digital animation-and-EFX studio run by Detroit native Michelle Richards.
Wonderstruck, also known as Detroit Center Studios, still plans to create 413 permanent jobs and use the state's tax incentives, Richards said. She said the studio will feature a new production technology that doesn't exist anywhere else.
I was a more than little curious, however, about why Ford Field reps declined to comment on the announcement. Seemed like a chance to ballyhoo the fact that the complex is more than just a football field, but also host to 230,000 feet of office space. And I also found it strange that, according to a Crain's report on the deal, the employment figure had been revised down to 60 after an earlier deal to house the company at the old MGM site broke down.
Still, Wonderstruck sounds like it could be a cool company doing the sort of work that helps buttress a creative class. And I really hope this deal is really a done one -- because if it does pan out and the studio follows through, who knows what kind of pipeline something like this might be for the city's ridiculously vibrant artist community? Or how it might further burnish Detroit's growing reputation as a hub of cinematic creativity? And 400-plus permanent jobs are always welcome. (If that's what we're really talking here, of course.)
Deron Snyder over at the Root issues a thoughtful, bitingly funny and resounding answer to the question of whether it matters that a Detroit school board official has severe writing deficiencies: "Hell to the yes!"
I know we've touched on the matter here, too, and I know most of us Detroiters hate when the national media intensifies the spotlight on these kinds of embarrassments. Me, I hate it when they're right.
But the piece also makes me think more about the ever-growing push to reshape public education in Detroit, most recently highlighted by DPS emergency financial manager Robert Bobb's five-year plan that includes shuttering 54 schools between now and 2012 (including 41 by this summer). And of course his plan comes on the heels of an announcement by a coalition of powerful philanthropic groups that it will fund the opening of 70 new schools in the city and seek the elimination of the elected school board.
I've heard some people applaud the effort. And for many people who are desperate for anything that resembles change, the plans seem like a life-preserver in storm-tossed waters. But there are also many in the city who complain of a gnawing sense that they are losing control, that voters are being shunted aside by rich and influential interests. They worry that these efforts are driven by a desire to develop a "second school system," one that will utilize public property and tax dollars -- but not be obligated to Detroit voters. Their criticism of the closure plan is straightforward: If you close schools, you lose students to other districts. You lose students, you lose state funding, thus negating whatever savings you figured you'd achieve by closing the schools in the first place.
But what everyone seems to agree on is that we can't keep going like this, and even the staunchest progressives I know point to the cast of characters who've served on the school board over the years as cases in point. No, Detroiters who vote for a school board president who can barely write a proper sentence shouldn't lose their right to vote for their school board -- no more than Bush supporters should lose their right to vote for a president -- but, for the sake of our kids, voters need to treat that right like it means something. Otherwise, folks leave themselves wide open to these broadsides and incursions. Because as Snyder writes:
But virtually anyone else who produced writing like his and applied for such a position would be summarily dismissed before the competition began—and rightfully so.
Some idiots vandalized posters belonging to the Detroit Area Coalition of Reason. That's some shameful stuff right there, people. When I talked with Detroit CoR spokeperson Ruthe Milan last week, she seemed to go out of her way to emphasize that the ads weren't meant to anger theists, but rather to promote discussion among fellow non-believers and to remind them that they aren't alone in their skepticism. Still, I just knew some bozo or two would probably think that defacing the posters would be his or her way of scoring a point for Jesus.
The one mildly funny thing about it all, though, was to read the headlines screaming that the atheist ads had been "desecrated." Not to be a stickler or anything, but to desecrate is to taint or destroy something regarded as divine and holy. Given that CoR doesn't subscribe to the idea of ...Well, you know where I'm going with this.
Still, metro Detroit is better than this. If nothing else, I think we can all just agree to disagree, no?