Today I read a newspaper column by a very prominent black newspaper columnist suggesting the hope for improving and building a quality urban education system is in the hands of Detroit’s corporate leaders. Immediately, I thought, once again no one has faith or confidence in the black community and faith leaders, parents or the citizens who ultimate pay the price for this democratic system.
Perhaps the writer has selected short-term memory and needs to be reminded that for a little over 18 years, the district was under the control of state government, corporate leaders and the behind the scenes of undercover prodding philanthropic leaders and individuals. But maybe we should blame their lack of memory on the JOA which fired, laid off and/or destroyed any concept of institutional newspaper memory within the Detroit journalistic community. It seemed as if after the JOA, it was open season to destroy black leadership of all kind.
Since the early 80’s, there has been a systematic dismantling of Detroit Pubic Schools under the banner of “school reform”. Our “destructors” have used every excuse from governance, capitalistic charter school infusion to Education Achievement Authority EAA and more. They even convinced the electorate (the citizens of Detroit) that the democratic system of government for the people by the people does not work in Detroit. Less not forget the 18 plus years they used the media to bamboozled us almost daily that they had a better way and appointed individuals who were Black but with little to no educational leadership experience either from a pedagogical perspective, school governance or school finances. Most had stellar corporate or government backgrounds but no personal investment in both the city or its black children. So the DPS took a dive below the point of hell (if that is even possible).
Now we are hearing again, just when we regain public control that the solution for building a quality educational system rest in the hands of government and corporate leaders. That is CRAP! They don’t give a DAMN about black children and it should be obvious by now. They had 18 years which in educational years represents two generations of children attending a failing school system. When will the people we elect understand that the citizens are quite capable of doing an effective job of restructuring our educational system so that all of our children will both thrive and excel if given both the opportunities and resources.
Yes, we will probably need to have a “come to Jesus meeting” with leaders in the faith and neighborhoods. But we are most capable and willing. Yes, we will need to redefine the priorities of government, churches and the social service systems to make urban children and youth number one. But we can and are very prepared to do it if some of you will stop paying our representatives to carry your water, which is not the agenda and policies of the citizens.
Someone would ask don’t you want the Detroit financial tycoons to be successful and to that question we say yes. But not off the backs of the struggling residents and not without making room for others to enjoy the pleasure of capitalistic success in Detroit. We want policies that are inclusive of more than crumbs of the table and positions beyond Vice Presidents of Diversity and Inclusion or Vice President of Public Affairs. Don’t get me wrong, we are thankful for each of those individuals but the people want and demand more.
One final quick thought, it’s time to stop the bait and switch strategic moves. We see though the destruction of our neighborhoods costing us billions in exchange for the few millions in gifts, donations and philanthropy. So enjoy the Policy Conference at a Pure Michigan site, enjoy the weather and the drinks and food, but don’t think for one minute that these policies represent the dreams and aspirations of the people of Detroit. I’m just saying. Enjoy!