The Detroit school board has proven time and again that it only cares about one thing – and it’s not about the welfare of the children who attend Detroit Public Schools. Right after it became apparent last month a ballot proposal challenging the state’s emergency manager law, Public Act 4, is heading for the November ballot, the board chose to hire an interim superintendent to take the reins. Of course, this decision is pretty much meaningless until all the details are sorted out regarding the proposal.
But that doesn’t stop the board from trying to grasp power as quickly as it can. Emergency Manager Roy Roberts is the best thing that’s happened to the district in a long time, and his ability to get things done is largely because he has more authority under the new law. If that’s taken away, he’ll struggle to make much of a difference – financially or academically.
That’s just what the school board is hoping will happen. They want full academic control (yes, that should make you worried). If Public Act 4 is officially challenged and defeated, the law will likely revert back to the previous law, P.A. 72, which didn’t give emergency managers authority over academics.
If the board cared at all about kids and not its power trip, members would choose to keep on the very capable Karen Ridgeway, the current superintendent for academics appointed by Roberts. But no, they can’t have anything to do with her because THEY didn’t choose her.
So, instead they chose 76-year-old John Telford. Telford gave his first “formal address” to the board a few days ago. Here’s some of the pearls of wisdom he had for the board relating to his academic vision (which includes Ebonics!):
*I will begin to establish my plan for the Detroit Public Schools’ long-overdue reformation. This plan will include the who/what/when/why and how components of accomplishing it, and it will include the recruitment of retired educators and educational administrators like me and practitioners of other professions (e.g., Business and Law), plus several community activists, to come in voluntarily and work pro bono.
*The re-institution of fair collective bargaining for all bargaining groups. Relatedly, this will include paying earned sick days to union retirees who didn’t get them, and it will include as well the affording of appropriate remuneration to those DPS staff who are on long-term disability.
*The re-institution of Ebonics-anecdotal instruction in the English and Social Studies curricula and the re-emphasis of Afro-centered instruction in those curricula.
*The preparation of a plan to go to court to get the fifteen un-Constitutionally hijacked schools back into the DPS fold.