Emergency management is ruining DPS

John-Telford

Telford’s Telescope

Nov. 7, 2014

Emergency management is ruining DPS

 

For one recent hopeful, glorious moment, it appeared that Detroit Public Schools’ long and unjust nightmare of state control and mismanagement would finally be over. In a special Board meeting at Renaissance High School on Monday, September 29, 2014, the seven Board members who were present and one member who called in voted unanimously to remove the emergency manager, and they invited me to the table to sit with them as Superintendent again. After one tumultuous year as Superintendent, I had been fired by the then-emergency manager on March 29, 2013, the day after the unconstitutional Public Act 436 became law and enabled him to remove me and disempower this good, duly-elected board. In attendance at that September 29 meeting were Board members LaMar Lemmons, Herman Davis, Ida Short, Juvette Hawkins, Elena Herrada, Rev. David Murray, and Tawana Simpkins. Voting affirmatively with them by telephone was Wanda Redmond. Members Annie Carter, Judy Summers, and EM appointee Jonathan Kinloch did not attend.

However, two days later, a corporate-collusive ruling by Ingham County District Judge Joyce Draganchuk illegally dismissed the Detroit Public School Board’s motion seeking the removal of DPS emergency management. Emergency managers appointed by Governor Rick Snyder have been in place since May, 2011, following 26 months of unwarranted gubernatorially imposed emergency financial management, and following nearly twelve years of state control of the Detroit Public Schools.  The current EM came in July, 2013. In the Ingham County Courthouse on October 1, the DPS Board vainly pointed out to Judge Draganchuk that the language in Public Act 436—the replacement law for the EM law that the citizens of Michigan had voted to have rescinded—clearly specifies that after eighteen months an elected local unit can opt by a 2/3 vote to dismiss emergency management and return the district to the rule of the elected board and its appointed Superintendent. The current DPS EM’s eighteen months were up on September 29.

This has been far from the first time that a judge has turned a blind eye to the law in motions by the DPS Board— but being so late in the game now, it may prove to be the most destructive time.   The rule of law is obviously dead in Michigan. The deck has been stacked against Detroit’s public schoolchildren ever since Gov. John Engler unfairly took over DPS in 1999 when the schools enjoyed a $100 million surplus under well-regarded Superintendent Eddie Green and DPS students’ test scores were at the state midpoint and rising. At that time, Detroit voters had approved a $1.5 billion bond to renovate old buildings and construct new ones, and people close to the governor were hungrily eyeing the lucrative contracts to be let. Ten years later, EM Robert Bobb departed and left behind a $327 million deficit and a school district with test scores which had plummeted so far under state control that they had become the worst in America.

At the time of the state takeover, DPS had nearly 200,000 students. Now it has less than 50,000—and more than 100 schools have been closed, including special-needs and advanced training schools that were state-of-the-art.   Art, music, and physical education have been curtailed. Fifteen DPS schools—including six high schools that include the new $50.5 million Mumford— have been given away to a miserably failed and gang-plagued experimental quasi-district euphemistically called the “Educational Achievement” Authority, which Gov. Snyder inexplicably continues to prop up.

I now invite every freedom-loving Detroiter to support Helen Moore’s Keep-the-Vote-No-Takeover, the NAACP, the School Board, the Sugar Law Center, the National Action Network, and D-REM (Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, which meets every first and third Wednesday at 6:00 at the church at Michigan and Trumbull), to unite and save our children from this insidious new form of Jim Crowism.

A Very Crucial Election

 

John-Telford

Telford’s Telescope

October 21, 2014

A Very Crucial Election

Detroit and Michigan, this is the most crucial election day (non-presidential) in my 79 years on this planet.  We’ve got to get Snyder out of there and Schauer and the other Democrats in–and the Detroit school board election is one of the most significant in memory.  Vote LaMar Lemmons, Ida Short, Reverend David Murray, and Victor Gibson for DPS board.  All four have worked tirelessly to rid DPS of the ineffective and detractive emergency managers.  Also, I support Vicki Dobbins for River Rouge school board and Margaret Weertz for Grosse Point school board.  Spread the word.

P.S. Hear Sen. Coleman Young and Rev. David Bullock on my show this coming Sunday.
P.P.S. – Check out my column this week (Oct. 19 – 25) in the Michigan Citizen on a Lansing judge’s oppressive and illegal ruling on DPS.

Also, with permission from my good friend and colleague Russ Bellant, I would like to add his excellent comments about what is at stake for all of us in November.

On November 4 on the nonpartisan ballot will be four at-large seats for the Detroit Board of Education. There are 16 candidates. Eleven of those candidates have not attended any school board meetings.

One has a felony record.

Two represent Excellent Schools Detroit, which formed to create a network of high schools outside of DPS, but with the stated intention of taking over DPS buildings.

Twelve of the sixteen were asked to stand with the school board at a press conference when they called for the removal of the “emergency” manager. Remember, DPS has been under “emergency” management for over 67 months and under Lansing control for 12 of the last 15 years. The law says after 18 months an elected body can remove the “emergency” manager, but that language is not adhered to when it comes to our school district. Apparently these 12 board wannabes do not  care either.

The same twelve have not been active or visible in standing against school closings, even the closings of Kettering West Wing, the School for the Deaf, Oakman Orthopedic and other irreplaceable schools for special needs children. They have not spoken out against the blatant corruption and abuses of power by “emergency” managers. They have no demonstrated interest in the future of the Detroit Public School system yet want voters to hand them the keys to the district.

The only four that are not included in this narrative are three incumbents, LaMar Lemmons, David Murray and Ida Short and also a retired teacher, Victor Gibson. They have attended meetings regularly, called special meetings and worked aggressively to tell the world what was happening at DPS. Even though their legal power was usurped by Gov. Snyder they worked within the severe limitations of the law to try and help preserve DPS and fought in court battles over principled issues. The commercial media generally ignored the Board’s efforts and the EM abuses.

The four are working together in this campaign and have literature for those who want to help. You can meet with Keep The Vote president Helen Moore for literature tomorrow at 6 pm at Dexter-Elmhurst Community Center, 11825 Dexter.

There will be four elected to these seats. Please ensure that those seats go to people who will not collaborate with Rick Snyder’s emasculation of voter control and dismantlement of our district.

DPS sands are shifting like quicksand

 

John-Telford

 

Telford’s Telescope

October 17, 2014

DPS sands are shifting like quicksand

For one recent hopeful, glorious moment, it appeared that Detroit Public Schools’ long and unjust nightmare of state control and mismanagement would finally be over.  In a special Board meeting at Renaissance High School on Monday, September 29, 2014, the seven Board members who were present and one member who called in voted unanimously to remove the emergency manager, and they invited me to the table to sit with them as Superintendent again.  After one tumultuous year as Superintendent, I had been fired by the then-emergency manager on March 29, 2013, the day after the unconstitutional Public Act 436 became law and enabled him to remove me and disempower this good, duly-elected board.  In attendance at that September 29 meeting were Board members LaMar Lemmons, Herman Davis, Ida Short, Juvette Hawkins, Elena Herrada, Rev. David Murray, and Tawana Simpkins.  Voting affirmatively with them by telephone was Wanda Redmond.  Members Annie Carter, Judy Summers, and EM appointee Jonathan Kinloch did not attend.

However, two days later, a corporate-collusive ruling by Ingham County District Judge Joyce Draganchuk illegally dismissed the Detroit Public School Board’s motion seeking the removal of DPS emergency management.  Emergency managers appointed by Governor Rick Snyder have been in place since May, 2011, following 26 months of unwarranted gubernatorially imposed emergency financial management, and following nearly twelve years of state control of the Detroit Public Schools.   The current EM came in July, 2013.  In the Ingham County Courthouse on October 1, the DPS Board vainly pointed out to Judge Draganchuk that the language in Public Act 436—the replacement law for the EM law that the citizens of Michigan had voted to have rescinded—clearly specifies that after eighteen months an elected local unit can opt by a 2/3 vote to dismiss emergency management and return the district to the rule of the elected board and its appointed Superintendent.  The current DPS EM’s eighteen months were up on September 29.

This has been far from the first time that a judge has turned a blind eye to the law in motions by the DPS Board— but being so late in the game now, it may prove to be the most destructive time.    The rule of law is obviously dead in Michigan.  The deck has been stacked against Detroit’s public schoolchildren ever since Gov. John Engler unfairly took over DPS in 1999 when the schools enjoyed a $100 million surplus under well-regarded Superintendent Eddie Green and DPS students’ test scores were at the state midpoint and rising.  At that time, Detroit voters had approved a $1.5 billion bond to renovate old buildings and construct new ones, and people close to the governor were hungrily eyeing the lucrative contracts to be let.  Ten years later, EM Robert Bobb departed and left behind a $327 million deficit and a school district with test scores which had plummeted so far under state control that they had become the worst in America.

SPORTS HALL OVERSIGHTS; A FAMILY WEDDING

John-Telford

Telford’s Telescope

October 2, 2014

SPORTS HALL OVERSIGHTS; A FAMILY WEDDING

I had meant today’s Telford’s Telescope column to be entirely about my son Steven Telford’s September 20 marriage and the multiethnic heritage of the wedding guests.  However, before I write about Steve’s wedding, I need to say that in my last column about the Detroit Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame dinner at Bert’s Marketplace Restaurant a week earlier wherein I was inducted with Miller High School’s Jocko Hughes, King High’s George “the Iceman” Gervin, Southeastern High’s Marchel McGehee (my former student), and other old-time PSL stars, I listed some track sprinters who should have been inducted with me—and a few of them before me.  Now three readers have reminded me that in that list I overlooked Mackenzie’s Charlie Robinson, Northwestern’s Stan McConnor, Mumford’s James Grace, Kettering’s Deon Hogan, Ford’s Mike Holt, Osborn’s Don Robinson,  and old Eastern’s Willie Atterberry—my 1950s rival with whom I traded wins.   Since I’ve now included them, I should also add Cass Tech’s Paris (Sandy) Whittington, plus Andre Broadnax, Elliott Haskins, and Tom “Outlaw” Jones—all three luminaries whom I coached at Pershing in the 1960s.

Those oversights having been duly noted, let me tell you now about my son’s wonderful wedding at the little White Wedding Chapel in Fraser.  At the advanced age of 48, Steve married Patty LaDuke, a pretty young lady who now adds Scots and English to her Irish/Polish heritage, my father having been born in Scotland—and Steve’s mother, the former Corinna Ditta, being of old Kentucky-English stock.  At the reception at the Fraser Lions’ Club, my first wife Lynn, an Irish girl to whom I was married for 28 philandering years, and Judith—my longtime lady throughout those years—sat at our table with their escorts.  Also seated with us were my Danish/French/Native-American godson Rick and his lady Janice and my Scottish cousin Jeff and his Scottish wife Betsy.  My Russian Jewish wife Adrienne sat on my right, with the Balkan/Polish Judith on my left.  My son’s mother, who had happened to be married to someone other than me when Steve was conceived, also attended with her former Italian in-laws.   My second wife Gina had been close to my son, but she wasn’t invited for fear it would upset Adrienne, a retired DPS principal.   Had Gina attended, she would have been the crowning ornament of multiculturalism around the table, being of African/Irish descent.

When Lynn surveyed the reception seating, she joked to me, “If Gina had been invited, you’d have nearly your entire harem sitting around this table!”  For a moment I feared her edgy observation that two of my former lovers and one former wife were present at the festivities—and that my second wife Gina’s presence would have made my ‘harem’ nearly complete—might anger Adrienne.  If it did, she didn’t show it—and a good time was had by all (except for my 40-year-year-old daughter Katherine, who attended the wedding but not the reception).  Nor did Katherine bring my granddaughter Tori or my grandson RJ, because her relationship with me remains semi-inexplicably strained.

All of this drama brings to mind my 1998 poem entitled ‘On Philandering’:

Unfaithfully meandering / Toward practicing philandering / Has four extremely hurtful sides / That will not sit well with your brides: / One of them portends, of course, / The chance that you may well divorce; / Two’s the gladless, gloomy badness / That there’ll be some tears and sadness; / Three’s the chance that your friends’ wives / Might decide they want to ‘pound’ you; / Four’s the fact that during their lives, / They won’t want their spouse around you. / (These are wives who think the practice / Hooks their husbands like a cactus.)  

Be all that as it may, Steve and Patty’s wedding proved itself a truly joyous affair.  Also, I’m sure that Steve will be a far more faithful husband than for many years was his father.

 

An NCAA All-American quarter-miler in 1957, Dr. John Telford is also a recent DPS Superintendent. Four of his explosive books are available on Amazon, including Poetic Prancings, which features hundreds of his poems, including the one in this column.  His website is www.AlifeontheRUN.com.  Contact him at (313)460-8272 or at DrJohnTelfordEdD@aol.com  to invite him to speak  or to sponsor or appear on his Sunday afternoon show at 4:30 on NewsTalk1200. 

DPS Sports Hall of Fame Dinner

John-Telford

Telford’s Telescope

September 9, 2014

DPS Sports Hall of Fame Dinner

By the time you read this column, I may already have been inducted into the Detroit Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame at Bert’s Marketplace on 2727 Russell.  If you happen to be reading this before September 13, tickets for that 7:00 p.m. dinner on that date are $50—available at Bert’s.  I’m in other athletic halls of fame, but this one is special to me because I’m being inducted for races I ran in high school at Denby more than sixty years ago.  Other inductees are Bertha Smiley, George “the Iceman” Gervin, the late Leroy Dues, the late George “Baby” Duncan, Robert Dozier, Debra Walker, Robert Smith, Elbert Richmond, and my old Southeastern student Marchel McGehee.

Ella Willis—the greatest female long distance runner to come out of DPS—belongs in that Hall, too.  She should also be in the Michigan Sports Hall.  Now 57, Ella wasn’t born yet when I was a world-ranked sprinter at Wayne State and went undefeated competing on the U.S. national team in Europe in the mid-1950s, later running on record-breaking relay teams with the Detroit Track Club.  Allan Tellis—my old mile relay teammate at the Penn Relays who succeeded me as head track coach at Pershing—had Ella train with his male distance runners.  Girls’ track wasn’t a high school sport until 1975, her junior year.  She then set PSL records—and while still at Pershing, she was the first-place woman finisher in the Detroit Free Press 13th Annual Motor City Marathon.  Throughout the more-than-fifty-year history of that marathon, Ella was the youngest runner, male or female, to win it, and the record time she set stood for thirty years.  She won that prestigious race an amazing four times.  Her clockings for that 26-mile distance ranged well under three hours, and she often outran some of the elite male marathoners.  She joins old Miller High’s Aaron Gordon (U-M), Olympian Lou Scott of old Eastern (Arizona State), Ronnie Philips of Denby (Illinois), and old Finney’s Ken Howse (Illinois), among elite DPS middle-distance and long-distance-running alumni.  And speaking of elites—Mark Smith of Northwestern, an NCAA high jump co-champion at WSU in 1953, also belongs in the Hall, as does Charles Fonville, Miller’s and the University of Michigan’s  world record-breaking shot putter.

Over the past century, DPS has been better known for producing champion sprinters.  In addition to Olympians John Lewis (old Northeastern and WSU), Eddie Tolan (Cass Tech and U-M), sprinter/long jumper Lorenzo Wright (old Miller and WSU), Otis Davis (old Miller and Oregon), Henry Carr—Northwestern’s great “Gray Ghost” (Arizona State), Darnell Hall (Pershing), and internationalist Marshall Dill (old Northern and MSU) and world  70-yard record-holder Buddy Coleman (old Miller and WSU), my WSU and Detroit Track Club teammates Cliff Hatcher (Central) and sprinter/hurdler “Bullet Billy” Smith (Northwestern) should be in the Hall.  So should Jerry Green (Miller and Texas Southern) and sprinter/hurdlers Allan Tolmich (Central and WSU), Paul Jones (Pershing and WSU), Thomas Wilcher (Central and U-M), and Randy Williams (old Cooley and Kentucky State).  So should George Wesson of Southeastern (a state 440 champ in a record 49 seconds on cinders), Cooley’s Claude Tiller (U-M), Pershing’s Reggie Bradford (U-M), and Mumford’s Ken Burnley and Homer Heard (U-M and WSU respectively).   So should Stan Vinson of old Chadsey (EMU), Eliot Tabron of old Murray-Wright (WSU and MSU), and Bob Wingo of Hamtramck High and WSU (Hamtramck was in the PSL then).  So should Lauryn Williams, an Olympic medalist in the women’s 100 meters.

Cliff Hatcher set an incredible mark of 48.8 seconds for the full 440 yards (not the shorter 400 meters) on an archaic dirt track in 1951.  Then one of the five fastest times in American high school history, that 48.8 stood as a PSL mark until 1971.   Cliff later ran with me and “Bullet Billy” on winning teams at the Penn and Ohio Relays.  I’ll be mentioning some of these fabulous speedsters in my five-minute acceptance speech when I’m inducted on Sept. 13.

I hope to see Ella Willis inducted next year, along with others listed here.

An NCAA All-American quarter-miler in 1957, John Telford is also a recent DPS Superintendent. Four of his books are available on Amazon, and his website is www.AlifeontheRUN.com.  Contact him at (313)460-8272 or at DrJohnTelfordEdD@aol.com, and hear him at 4:30 Sunday afternoons on NewsTalk1200.

How to take the public out of public education

 

John-Telford

Telford’s Telescope

September 2, 2014

How to take the public out of public education

Public education is a threat.

It really is that simple, and once you internalize the dangerous simplicity of that statement, it should become painfully clear why public education has come under attack. A good education provides freedom, the kind of freedom that should be enjoyed by all Americans regardless of background, race or ethnicity. A good education provides the qualifications necessary to acquire a good job, which provides the freedom to make a decent living, which provides the freedom to support a family and live a reasonably comfortable life. Certainly there are those who have managed to accomplish these things without the benefit of a great education, but I think we can all agree those numbers are few. And although it is true that a college degree no longer offers anywhere near the job security that it did once upon a time, I think we can agree that it provides a much better chance at security than a GED.

But there are those who aren’t interested in freedom, or at least not in freedom for all. Because freedom for all means equal access for all, which means fewer special privileges for the few which…well… is kinda scary for those few. So instead of embracing equality, these terrified yet mighty few prefer to work overtime (or to hire those who will work overtime on their behalf for a considerable sum)  ensuring that the few remain the few and not the many. Which brings me to the rather interesting article I ran across recently in the Daily Kos  discussing what’s going on in Wisconsin public schools entitled “The price of a ‘free’ public education turns out to be damn expensive”.

Pretty self-explanatory I’d say. I’d suggest reading the entire article, and here’s a peek to show you why:

“Thirty-three years ago when I started high school (GO PURGOLDERS!), my parents did not have to pay any fees for me to attend school. There were no fees for me to play football, and no fees for textbooks or consumables. As I recall, the only fees my parents paid while I was in high school were $20 for a season pass to all athletic events (total of $80 for four years), and $60 for driver’s education my sophomore year. That was it.

Now, 30-some years later due to a shifting of the tax burden from the wealthy and businesses, school funding has taken a hit. Now my taxes no longer cover what it costs to educate a child.

And yet, Article X Section 3 of the Wisconsin State Constitution states:

The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable; and such schools shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years…

Well, this does not look like free to me:

Off-season football camp: $75.00
Athletic fee (per sport): $115.00 x 2 (Football and Wrestling)
Off-season Speed, Strength, and Conditioning: $70
Spirit Pack (Clothing required for football): $45
Activity Fee: $30.00
Consumable Material Fee: $17.00
Planner: $5.00
SCI111-Course Fee Yr: $4.00
Textbook Fee: $35.00
Gatorade Fee: $20.00 (Added fee for football to pay for post-game refreshments)
Optional Yearbook: $47.00
Optional Student Athletic Pass: $20.00″

Not only are our public schools being allowed to crumble and fail, but we, born with the mark of the Beast (otherwise known as the mark of not being rich), are being asked to use our own tax dollars to set fire to one of the last best hopes we ever had of achieving a better life.

If that’s not a crime I don’t know what is.

U.S. Still a White-Supremacist Nation

 

John-Telford

June 19, 2014

Telford’s Telescope

U.S. Still a White-Supremacist Nation

“There’s a lot of folks who don’t believe that people whose skin color isn’t the same as ours can be free and self-govern.” – George W. Bush, in a speech affirming Iraqis’ capability to rule their country. The color he referred to, of course, is white. His statement implied that nonwhite U.S. citizens are less American. Ever since slavery and the Native-American genocide, America has remained a white supremacist country. Most whites—even some “liberals”—can’t recognize what nonwhite America sees and suffers every day.

The unconstitutionally separate, unequal schools nonwhite children attend in white-abandoned urban centers like Detroit half-a-century after Brown vs. Board of Education are concrete evidence of white supremacy and discrimination. So is what happened after Katrina. So are attacks on affirmative action and on reparations for slavery. So is the so-called “Patriot” Act and random wiretaps of Arab-Americans and other racial or ideological bogeymen. So is an imperialist U.S. government that invades nonwhite nations—most recently per a treasonous lie. So are the Third World labor and raw materials America greedily feeds on. So are the illiteracy and infant-mortality rates in cities like Detroit, our country’s disproportionately high African-American incarceration rates, the woeful 2% of corporate chairs occupied by nonwhites, and Hispanic/black salary disparities compared to whites’ significantly higher averages?

What can we do? Start with our schools. First, challenge the constitutionality of Michigan’s most needful schools getting less state funding than Michigan’s least and write in support of Rep. Lamar Lemmons’ House Bill 5600 that would forgive the debt the Detroit schools’ “reform” administration incurred. Second, set about the controversial but crucial task of desegregating them—an undertaking that failed in the 1960s and 70s thanks to White judges who compromised and White liberals who weakened.

These two explosive enterprises require renewed commitment from fair-minded whites. Without the efforts of Eleanor Roosevelt and martyrs John Brown, Robert Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and C.O.R.E. freedom riders Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, significant non-White progress wouldn’t have occurred.

Locally, we’re indebted to the martyred Viola Liuzzo, Underground Railroad conductor Seymour Finney, Methodist pastor Ed Rowe, Focus HOPE’s Fr. Bill Cunningham, Senator Carl Levin, Wolverine Human Services’ Robert Wollack, former Anti-Defamation League director Dick Lobenthal, ACLU director Kary Moss, State Senator Liz Brater, NCCJ director Dan Krichbaum, attorneys George Washington, Deborah LaBelle and Robert Plumpe, WCCCD’s human-rights-oriented foundation director Josh Bassett, Common Council members Sheila Cockrel, the retired Mel Ravitz, and the recently-passed Maryann Mahaffey.

As Deputy Superintendent of Rochester Schools, I aggressively recruited and hired Black administrators in the 1980s and 90s, there was an outcry akin to my having committed bloody murder even among many who regarded themselves as non-racist.

In that era I appealed to the dormant consciences of white citizens like the group who saved my job by forming UPWARD (United Parents Working to Advance Rochester’s Diversity). Now I’ve been appealing to fair-minded whites statewide. Circulate copies of this column to your white suburban friends, and beyond. Separate and unequal schools cheat all children of their birthright. Segregated cities foster pervasive poverty and national divisiveness. Americans who look like me are morally obligated to effect a long-overdue re-distribution of resources. It is time for whites who venerate democracy to join hands with people of color and mobilize to dismantle discrimination, separation, and the imperialistic ideology of white supremacy.

Leave those kids alone

 

John-Telford

May 22, 2014

Telford’s Telescope

Leave those kids alone

“In Knox County, Tennessee teenagers who were caught with cigarettes or skipping school can find themselves in handcuffs, facing steep fines and even criminal records, all without being represented by counsel.”

Teenage Mischief Can Lead to Jail Time in Tennessee

Tell Me More, NPR

What scares me most about this is the lack of national uproar as a consequence, probably because most of the nation isn’t even aware this is going on. In our age of increasingly dumbed-down infotainment, when the objective is to give the masses all the candy they can eat  and to hell with what they need, stories such as this which stand as a stark warning sign along the road to oblivion are forever muffled by the deafening white noise of irrelevance and trivia.

Our children are being criminalized for acting like children, and we are OK with this because either we have accepted the ludicrous right wing/religious tough on crime stance that no punishment is too harsh for an errant child in need of correction. Or because we simply don’t care or don’t want to know.

But the future has a memory, and when she looks back at how ignorant we allowed ourselves to be, and how we tossed our own children onto the funeral pyre like so much cordwood as a willing sacrifice to that ignorance which we cherish so dear, there will surely be hell to pay.

The never-ending assault on public education

 

John-Telford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 6, 2014

Telford’s Telescope

The never-ending assault on public education

It’s not anything new, and I’m sure certain folks might suggest that I should just calm down and get used to it, but as anyone who has known me for longer than a day or two already knows, ‘getting used to it’ just isn’t my style when it comes to injustice. And the continued assault on public education, which is synonymous with an assault on the poor and far less powerful, is something that I will never allow myself to accept.

What got me riled up all over again on this subject was an article I read recently entitled “Our students are NOT for sale!”, written by Bob Peterson, president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, on his blog “This is What Democracy Looks Like.” The title of the article alone was enough to peak my interest. The content satisfied it. Specifically, Peterson discusses an Economic Policy Institute study which raises important questions about the blatant risks of turning over Wisconsin’s public schools to private interests, despite the reckless support of the state’s legislature.

Here is a quote from that study, which sounds oh-so-familiar to anyone knowledgeable about what Gov. Rick Snyder is trying to pull right here in Michigan:

During the past year, Wisconsin state legislators debated a series of bills aimed at closing low-performing public schools and replacing them with privately run charter schools. These proposals were particularly targeted at Milwaukee, the state’s largest and poorest school district.

Ultimately, the only legislation enacted was a bill that modestly increases school reporting requirements, without stipulating consequences for low performance. Nevertheless, the more ambitious proposals will likely remain at the core of Wisconsin’s debates over education policy, and legislative leaders have made clear their desire to revisit them in next year’s session. To help inform these deliberations, this report addresses the most comprehensive set of reforms put forward in the 2013–2014 legislative session.

Backers of these reforms are particularly enamored of a new type of charter school represented by the Rocketship chain of schools—a low-budget operation that relies on young and inexperienced teachers rather than more veteran and expensive faculty, that reduces the curriculum to a near-exclusive focus on reading and math, and that replaces teachers with online learning and digital applications for a significant portion of the day. Rocketship proposes that its model—dubbed “blended learning” for its combination of in-person and computerized instruction—can cut costs while raising low-income students’ test scores (Rocketship Education 2011).

The call for public schools to be replaced by such tech-heavy, teacher-light operations comes from some of the most powerful actors in local and national politics: the major corporate lobbies, including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). It is these groups, rather than parents or community organizations, that provided the impetus for legislators to consider proposals for mass school closure and privatization in Milwaukee.

This attempt to swallow public education is going on in cities across the country, but so is the resistance to those efforts. We can’t stop fighting this madness until we win.

Expand the EAA? You’re kidding, right?

 

John-Telford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 28, 2014

Telford’s Telescope

Expand the EAA? You’re kidding, right?

Why it is called the “Education Achievement Authority” I will never understand. The EAA has virtually no achievement to speak of while it has managed to strip authority over public education away from those who are most qualified to exercise that authority. Although Gov. Snyder is trying his best to convince Michigan residents that stealing public education away from the public and putting it in his hands is the best thing for children, the truth is beginning to expose the lie.

From Sarah Cwiek of NPR Public Radio:

“It was like being thrown into the lion’s den”

But as the EAA goes through its second full school year, there’s more solid information on the district’s performance. It reveals some problems.

One major problem is enrollment. The data show that about one-quarter of all EAA students left the district between its first and second year (district officials have said this drop was “expected”).

The EAA’s first batch of state test results weren’t too promising, either. You can find some bright spots among the data. But overall, most EAA students’ MEAP scores dropped, or stayed about the same, as the previous year.

And a small but growing number of former teachers and administrators have started speaking out publicly about the EAA’s troubles.

“It started from the very beginning of school. It seemed like I was set up to fail,” said former Nolan teacher Delbert Glaze. “I pretty much felt like I was thrown into the lion’s den, and left to fend for myself the whole year.”

As an educator with more than 50 years experience teaching in the Detroit metro area, and who has been intimately involved with this issue since it first began infecting Detroit public schools, I can say with some authority that the full story of the EAA is far worse, and if the EAA is allowed to expand it will be disastrous for Michigan children. Any attempt to expand this disaster simply must be stopped.