Detroit Should Be a Warning for Public Education

23 Jul

A few days ago, we heard that Detroit’s Emergency Manager had attempted to avoid Detroit’s financial obligations by filing for bankruptcy.  What followed was glee by right wing conservatives who looked at Detroit as proof that socialism doesn’t work.  I really don’t get how the city of Henry Ford became a socialist icon, but whatever.

However, a very smart former Detroit resident was then posting his thoughts about why Detroit hit such hard times and he said Detroit was a victim of it’s own success.   Detroit died because the surrounding suburbs thrived.  The wealthy and even the middle class residents left the city for Birmingham, Pontiac, Auburn Hills, etc.   The result was the city not only shrunk depriving it of needed tax revenues, but those who stayed behind were those who most needed help.  This taxed Detroit as the most prosperous residents were gone and the ones who needed the most city services remained.

Certainly, there is a lesson from Chicago here as what they are doing to the schools is really ramping up not only “white flight”, but the mores successful people of all races are leaving the city in droves.  Chicago will never thrive as a beautiful downtown commercial district, trendy neighborhoods for young singles on the North Side, and slums on the West and South Side. 

However, the connection that I make is to our nation’s public schools.  If charters schools are allowed to cherry pick our best and brightest and those that can’t handle that environment are left for the public schools to take care of, we will be left with all the most expensive students.  When you then give charters equal funding per student, there is no way to sustain this model.  Make no mistake, charters will erode our public schools the way the suburbs eroded Detroit, if we don’t draw the line before it’s too late.

Dip Into TIF Surplus to Help Schools, Progressive Caucus Tells Mayor

“The public sentiment citywide is `stop doing what you’re doing.’ Reverse the layoffs of these teachers so that their kids have gym teachers, they have math teachers and they have art teachers,” Waguespack told a City Hall news conference.”

What in the World are You Doing CPS?

:”People often ask me how I want to be a teacher when I see what’s happening to public education and the profession. It’s teachers like Xian who show me reasons why. When you see something you love getting attacked, you don’t run away and hide in fear. No, you stand up and fight like hell to protect it.”

CPS Math

“Now, let’s be clear.  We added above and subtracted above that.  This means that according to CPS,
$1 billion + ($750 million – $550 million) = $1 billion
I bet you said that last one right with me.  You’re catching on, aren’t you?”

Yes, I was Fired and We Still Will Win

“And as it happens again and again, the message that the district sends to our students is clear, “You are uncared for. Even those you thought loved you dearly have abandoned you, and it’s your own fault.”  Again, this is not just a happenstance; it is a regular matter of practice. When I was let go in 2010, my principal first told students that I simply left, (He didn’t care about you) and later told them that “There wasn’t enough interest in Japanese” (You didn’t care enough). Both were lies—lies that made students feel worse about themselves.”


3 Responses to “Detroit Should Be a Warning for Public Education”

  1. Dienne July 23, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    What’s your source that white flight is increasing? Seems to me that upscale neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Jefferson Park, West Loop, etc. are jammed packed and expanding every day. In fact, based on my observations, I’d say exactly the opposite of what you’re saying. Seems to me that Rahmbo is trying to drive out the poor and minority residents of the city to make way for more upscale development to attact more affluent whites back into the city. After all, the schools being closed are almost exclusively in black (and to a lesser extent, Hispanic) areas.

    I went on one leg of the West Side three-day march, and as we were marching through the last sliver of what used to be Cabrini Green, it struck me how the whole school closure thing is just a massive land grab. Clearly Rahmbo wants that last stretch of block apartments filled with poor blacks out of there so the gentrification of that area can be completed. I get the same feeling about a lot of the areas on the West Side – the areas conveniently near the Green Line El stations and trendy Oak Park on one side and trendy West Loop on the other. I think by closing those schools, Rahmbo is intentionally trying to drive out the current residents until only the poorest of the poor (and the prostitutes and drug dealers) are left. Then he’ll be “justified” in sending in the sweepers to clean out the whole blighted area and then he can sell massive swaths of land to his rich developer friends for pennies.

    I think ten years or so from now, Chicago will look exactly the opposite of Detroit. The inner city will be packed with rich whites, while the poor and minorities will have to seek shelter where they can in the low rent suburbs like Cicero, Blue Island, Dolton, etc. Or, better yet I’m sure Rahmbo is thinking, they can migrate back south where they came from.

    • retiredbutmissthekids July 24, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      Dienne, I quite agree with you. The same goes for Uptown–Stewart and Stockton sit on quite valuable property (although I seem to have heard that one of those two will not be closing–please correct me if I’m wrong). Uptown has been undergoing gentrification for quite a number of years, and just look at the recent Cappleman/Salvation Army/Wilson Men’s Club kerfuffle. In my travels, driving past McCutcheon (which has always looked tiny to me!), I’m wondering how they can fit even more students in that school. I looked at a chart (it was either in the Trib. or the Times) of current numbers & capacities for receiving schools, then projected numbers for those schools. At least six would be overcrowded, and one would be severely overcrowded. Guess CPS is betting that a whole lot of those displaced students will be going to the new charter schools that will be housed in some of those newly vacant buildings that just got new lighting systems!

      • cps299 July 25, 2013 at 2:27 am #

        My source on the white flight is simply anecdotal. You may well be right. I just have seen a lot of families leaving and I’m seeing it in the school I teach, (though it’s not really white flight) as well as in friends I have. 22 year olds will always be drawn to the Lakefront, but 30-40 year olds with families seem to be leaving from my observations.

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