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article imageOp-Ed: Detroit public schools in peril; would you send your kids? Special

By Matt Harding     Feb 13, 2010 in World
Detroit - Detroit public schools are in financial despair. The dropout rate in the district is around 75 percent. Would you send your child to school in Detroit?
It’s the ultimate decision a parent has to make: What school do I send my child to? If you live in Detroit, chances are they’ll enter into the system all of America’s eyes are focused on: Detroit Public Schools. It’s no secret that DPS posted the worst scores on record in the most recent test of students in large U.S. cities. Also, DPS is ranked lowest in graduation rates throughout the country. Only around 25% of students graduate.
While the school system may be flawed and currently in financial disdain, would you put your child into a Detroit school? No, not one of the 29 schools that will be closing this upcoming year; instead, how about Cody High School, located on the city’s southwest side? A graduate of the school said on, “I love the staff and my peer but i would Never send my children there for their education.” She also mentioned her 30+ absences in one class and 20+ in another; she managed to graduate with a 3.7 grade point average. This doesn’t sound like a world class education to me.
Still, there are two sides to every story. I contacted the principals of an elementary and middle school in the city, George Washington Carver Elementary and Earhart Middle School, respectively. They both had some interesting points. Principal Ronald Peart of Carver said in response to how he’d persuade a parent to attend his school that Carver is qualified as a “Skillman Good School.” It has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Skillman Foundation’s Good Schools: Making the Grade Initiative. Principal Linda Lewis-Tucker of Earhart said, “Earhart has a multicultural student population who share the common characteristics of poverty and adolescence. We take a firm ‘old school’ approach with an infusion of technology.” Ms. Lewis-Tucker also told me the school has computers and internet in every classroom. Some classrooms even have Apple interactive white boards. These are the schools that Detroit’s parents should want to send their children to.
I tried to contact DPS’s Financial Manager, Robert Bobb. My futile attempts to contact him went virtually unanswered. Not too long ago, I opened my e-mail and saw Bobb’s name. I was excited to see the answers he’d leave to my tough questions. I wondered what he replied when I asked him this question: “You made a comment that unless the problems with DPS are fixed, the city of Detroit ‘has no future.’ By this, are you saying that currently there's no future for DPS students?” When I opened the e-mail, I was disappointed when the entire message consisted of:
Please handle...
In any case, neither Steve nor Jennifer “handled” the hard-hitting questions I asked. Perhaps Mr. Bobb would answer an actual parent, unlike me. If you’d like to contact Robert Bobb, e-mail him at one of the following addresses: < > or < >.
While I wasn’t satisfied with where I got with Bobb, I did get a response from Local 4 anchor Devin Scillian. I asked his opinion on the future of Detroit Public Schools. He believes that success is possible in urban schools. On the other hand “getting there means divorcing ourselves from long held very old ideas and routines.” Devin said, “I’ve always been a little pessimistic on the chances for success among students who don’t have active committed parents.” Here, a terrific point was brought up…we shouldn’t rely on just teachers to educate our children; our reliance should be placed on the shoulders of the parents. Like Mr. Scillian, I’m “cautiously optimistic” about the future of Detroit Public Schools.
I can’t yet say whether or not I’d send my children to a Detroit school. What remains to be seen is if the system can get its act together, as a whole, and produce students with better test scores and a better future. What remains to be seen is if the graduation rate can rise from the appalling 25% that it’s at.
Would you send your child to a Detroit public school?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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