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Should the Mayor of Detroit Control the City's Schools? Cont'd.

The more I look at the debate over control of the Detroit Public Schools, the more paradoxical it seems.

I mean, on one hand, here's a fight whose stakes -- the education of our children -- are as a high as they come, right? On the other hand, for all that's at risk, the outcome of this whole issue of "mayoral control of schools vs. an elected board" could wind up proving to be utterly meaningless in the long run. Because no matter who wins,  I worry that Detroit schoolchildren will continue to be the biggest losers.

For the record, I favor the idea of communities having a direct hand in how their schools serve them. And despite the antics of past and present members, I can readily acknowledge that there've been some board members who have proven to be conscientious and thoughtful and good for the schools.

But they are far too often offset by the clowns and the crooks, not to mention the semi-literate. I hear people around town complaining often about a dearth of leadership in this region, and the local school boards are regularly held up as Exhibit A. But it's more than just personalities. These days, I also wonder whether the Detroit board is structurally viable anymore. With shrinking resources and fewer students, why do we still need nearly a dozen people to administer the schools? With 11 seats, the Detroit School Board as currently configured presents an open invitation to far too many agendas that have nothing to do with the children. And over the years, the board has indeed become an outpost for opportunists more intent on using their seat to line their own pockets, serve patrons and/or pave personal roads to higher echelons of politics. At the very least, why shouldn't the board be trimmed to a more manageable number of seats, say, 3 or 5?

Or does that mean you try to concentrate all responsibility for the school system and its $300-million-plus deficit in the hands of Detroit's mayor? Biggest problem is, the city's flat busted, too, sitting on a $400-million deficit of its own, racing desperately to stay ahead of bankruptcy and/or receivership. Meanwhile, the same dearth of serious leadership reflected by the board seems to have spread to the mayor's office over the years. (Would you have wanted Kwame Kilpatrick overseeing school contracts?) For his part, current Mayor Dave Bing often seems alternately detached from and overwhelmed by the problems already on his plate and seems unable to delegate effectively. I understand that, as mayor, he has to sweat the quality-of-life issues that bad schools present and thus is vested in the success of DPS, but why should any parent think he can make anything better of the system? Hell, why would Bing himself think so?

I still wonder, though: Taken on its merits as an idea, does mayoral control work anywhere, particularly in cities burdened by overwhelming deficits apart from school operations? I've heard conflicting opinions on this. Some say cities like D.C. and New York have seen gains. However, other reports suggest that mayoral control brings no guarantees. And what does "mayoral control" mean for us exactly? How do you configure a system that gives Detroit children the best chance for success? How absolute would the mayor's power be? What role does the City Council play?

How do we make sure we're not just exchanging one backwards, self-interested, myopic and comically incompetent bureaucracy for another?

Whoever wins this battle for control of DPS will wield a powerful tool, one that could drastically shore up the crumbling quality of life in our battered city...

...or leave us screwed yet again.

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  • 1

    I say, "why not?" Why do Detroiters keep failures around for so long? The DPS Board has been a failure for years and are STILL blaming the state takeover which ended years ago for current academic failures. Robert Bobb may not be the answer, but the current board sure isn't either. Let's at least try having the Mayor "control" DPS. Doing the same thing keeps producing the same results. Something has to be changed and this is a start.

  • 2

    I think that ignores the reality that Robert Bobb has himself mixed in with some very unsavory characters.

    The press refuses to look at the reality of it.

    The way things are looking now the Thompson/Ross charter schools are going to blow out the DPS both in physical facilities and in curriculum.

    The New Thompson High School for Science and Math behind Fudruckers will blow away the new King because of the incredibly inept way King is being designed.

    Design a high school in one week? Give me a frigging break! Best High School in America? No way! Boy, they sure snookered Dave on that one!!! A complete inversion of the facts.

    And absolutely no transparency at all.

    An organizational chart with 7 entities to do the building? Come on now! It only requires 3... The owner, the Architect, and the General Contractor. Someone knows absolutely nothing about business.

    Sticking architects under Contractors??? Absolutely no oversight and proper certification in that proposition.

    And the Detroit Press would have you think that everything is absolutely Hunky Dory and we have found God!

    It isn't! And we haven't!

    Bing would inherit all that.


  • 3

    Since I am going to be videotaped next to Tom Hayden and Bill Moyers prior to the reenactment of the Peace Corps Speech , thought that I would look up Bill's latest.

    Sad to hear that he retired but he interviewed one of his idols and friends and the fellow was talking about the Texas Press ignoring certain realities that existed and the horrible sense of unreality coming from the Press.

    Looks like we have that here now.


  • 4

    There is only one "school board" that is needed and the only one that has ever been successful 100% of the time - stable, committed, responsible 2 parent families.

    Drunk, high, perpetually pregnant by God only knows who, women and the irresponsible grade school dropout jerkoffs who keep them in that condition, need not apply.

  • 5

    Where are all the St.Robert Bobb cheerleaders today after the media reported the DPS under his watch is $166,000,000 more in debt!!

    Of course St.Bobb has recommended that the Mayor should take over the schools never mind of course like St.Bobb Bing has zero educational credentials, like Bobb Bing has never prepared a lesson plan.. But wait the non-profits of the world whose body of work in the DPS is as worthless as any has also recommended the Bing take over DPS..

    Tragic on so many levels is how people love to experiment with Black folk's children..

    Makes you wanna holla and throw up both your hands..

  • 6

    @Thrasher, you like to holla and throw up your hands about many of the issues associated with DPS, Bobb especially, but I don't know that I have once see you put forth, or agree with any solution. I don't think anyone would disagree that the current system is flawed, if the poor performance wasn't enough, illiterate "young men" folding themselves at school board meetings has made the systems failure painfully clear. Since you seem to disagree with what anyone else says should be done, I am interested to hear what your plan for DPS would be?

  • 7


    I have posted numerous comments on this site about my ideas, solutions and programs for DPS and educating Black youth living in urban venues...

    I have posted countless times about my firm's 'Universal Candidacy' Proposal to change the leadership in the city and the region..

    With regard to DPS I have posted they should hire Dr. John Telford as superintendent and they should create learning center communees/dorms where our youth is rnoved from the decay of a post industrial city..

    I have posted many times about how white non-profits have destroyed the city and DPS..I have posted many times about white special interests groups like ACLU which have handcuffed Black schools with thier myopic posturing on security issues at the expense of Black cutural themes of which white interests like ACLU and countless other white groups are f*cking clueless about Black folks from our youth to our seniors..

    I have posted countless times about my firm's outside/inside the building approaches to educating our youth from home educational audits to Black male gurus posted up in these failing schools..My firm has created a number of alternative and progressive paradigms to educate Black youth but no all white folks and Black apologists want is messiah driven people like St.Bobb with the aid of failed non-profits like the Skillman Foundation and others leading the way into more debt and decay and failure..

    I left my corporate career years ago and I was a building sub in DPS ...I have some insight...I have mentored at risk youth and many have college degrees etc..I am a parent of Black children who have college and law degrees both magna cum laude graduates yada, yada, yada..

    To be continued...

  • 8

    Compare this:

    Thompson/Ross school for Math and science behind Fudruckers. Stunningly Beautiful, spacious, interesting features, deck overlooking the River, fantastic view of the City Purposely framed. Carefully programmed and designed.


    The new King. Designed in one week, no program for the project but identified Architectural Programmer... at the meetings. No discussions with key faculty members. Woops, no proper space for the Band, Chorale, Drama, ROTC, and the Athletic facilities in the pathetic new design that they told Dave to say would be the finest in the Country. BS Bigtime.

    250$/sf. for inadequate facilities.

    And now Barpara Byrd Bennett has decreed the use of a Trash calculator that is overly expensive and mind bogglingly complex and costs way too much and has a hideous display. Neat way to continue screwing the kids. The stupidity of American math ed personified.


  • 9

    I was in the midst of completing a long comment and hit return and it disappeared..

    exasperating... the website is not fully perfected.

  • 10

    [...] since we all love Detroit, I want all my fellow LionsDetroit fans to check out detroit.blogs.time and tell me what you think about[...]

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