cross posted at Right Michigan
How long has it been since the average Detroit Public School graduate measured up to national academic standards? Further, how long has it been since Detroit's graduation rate itself measured up to national standards?
Most of the cream of the crop (that is, students with involved parents that will not accept failure from their children) long ago were removed from DPS. Whole families moved out of district to avoid the DPS while still others did whatever they could to afford a private education.
While there remains many good students and many more potentially good students at the mercy of a DPS classroom, these students are handicapped by block headed teachers' unions worried more about their benefits and pay, knuckle headed administrators worried more about power and territory, and boneheaded vendors and money changers more worried about heavy wallets.
Things are so bad that Detroit measures at the absolute bottom of the nation in both graduation rates and in standardized student testing scores. Dead last. Good grief, worse than Cleveland.
Parents can send their kids to an average public school in the Bronx with all of their teacher rubber rooms and administrative graft, and still have a better chance of success with their kids' education than their counterparts in Detroit.
After years of mismanagement and quantifiably disastrous results Gov. Granholm, moving at a snail's pace, finally installed Robert Bobb to start cleaning up the mess. Of course, by that belated time tens of thousands of students had already had their best opportunity for a good education stolen from them, but Granholm's motto has always been "better late than never."
Bobb has been in place for more than a year and the very preliminary initial results have been nothing less than spectacular, at least on the money end of things and in the realm of community involvement. Tens of millions of dollars in waste and fraud have been eliminated. Many ineffective and disaffected administrators have been ridden out on a rail. The unions have been put on notice that now is not the time for business as usual, and Bobb's efforts to recruit volunteers to help teach Detroit kids to read has swelled to over 6,000.
Had Detroit's established education complex kept its eye focused on the sole purpose of the DPS, that of educating children, things could never have gotten so far out of hand. However, after that focus was lost, the state had little choice but to take over from the incompetent and selfish locals the responsibility of the schools.
I mention all of this because it is still evident that Detroit has a long way to go if it is even going to reach average when compared to other urban school districts around the country.
Despite its paring of fraud and cutting other costs, DPS is still broken. Despite its volunteer reading army, most children within the district are solidly behind the learning curve. And, perhaps worst of all, despite all evidence pointing to the childrens' needs for rapid change, members of the power hungry old guard are still fighting Robert Bobb tooth and nail for every smidgen of privilege and pomp it can muster.
From the Freep:
The warring Detroit Public Schools board and the district's emergency financial manager Robert Bobb agreed this week that they need to hash out a truce. But each side set conditions that appear to be unfavorable to the other.Well geez, why wouldn't he want to partner with the same panel of entrenched idiots to which most of this mess can be attributed?
The push to cooperate comes after state Superintendent Michael Flanagan sent a letter saying the two sides must jointly sign an application for DPS to be eligible for a chunk of Michigan's $115 million in federal school improvement grants.
Bobb made the first move, writing a letter Tuesday saying the two sides can adjust the working protocols devised last year for "much more civil" engagement -- if the board drops its lawsuit against him. It alleges that Bobb does not consult the board on financial matters, as required by law, and is illegally making academic decisions.
In a letter dated Thursday, board president Otis Mathis wrote that the board will "come back to the table" if Bobb halts implementation of his academic plan, for which the board had no input, and reconsiders the number of proposed school building closures.
"The board has been ignored," board vice president Anthony Adams said. "The issue is whether he's prepared to accept us as a partner."
I am reminded of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. There was gross incompetence at the local, state, and federal levels, and President Bush finally appointed General Russell Honoré to command the relief efforts from one centralized point.
Gen. Honoré was given the sole authority to get things rolling. Erased from the discussions were the disaster relief panels that had performed so poorly under pressure, hand wringing lawyers who clogged communication lines, politicians with territory to protect who had failed to follow their own disaster relief plans, and civic boards setting contrary priorities that made unreasonable demands on resources.
One man was entrusted to wade through the crap and things began to get done.
I heartily applaud the necessary changes that Robert Bobb has made. I'm not going to declare him a miracle worker as there are still too many changes that need to be made, but he is the closest thing to a miracle worker the DPS has seen in many a year. Yet he is being fought nearly every step of the way.
It is time for the state of Michigan to pursue every legal means possible to remove every atom of power away from the Detroit school board until such a time that the DPS has been set on a new course. At that point it can take over a district from Mr. Bobb that is both less bureaucratic and actually concentrated on the education of students.
Each year the Detroit Public Schools graduates approximately 30 percent of the students that entered its doors as kindergartners. More than half of those that graduate do not meet national standards. In the process of that thirteen years of enrollment, that institution spent hundreds of millions more than it took in, took in tens of millions more than it legally should have, and lavished extravagant salaries and benefits on thousands of employees who were incompetent and thousands more that were corrupt (and a few that were dead.)
It is laughable that the school board continues to insist on what it considers its rightful power and prestige after such a long term of performing at a level too poor to be thought of as merely incompetent.
Robert Bobb needs to have the sole authority to make the changes to get the DPS back on its feet and into a position to where it can begin to educate all of its children more effectively. The last gaggle of buffoons failed miserably.
It is time for the state to give it to him.