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December 09, 2009


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Jack, I share deeply your views and comments about the value of education and the commitment of parents and other stakeholders, especially parents,valueing education with regards to recent publication of the 4th and 8th graders' math test scores. All stakeholders must resist the temptation of pointing fingers at others or blaming one another. Actually, parents as adults have been educating their children, or they should, before those children ever set their foot on school ground or sees their pre-school or kindergaten teachers. While teachers play an immeasurable role in educating children, their roles do not negate parental and school official roles. As a village, society has enormous role to play in the educating of a child. As an African, we know that it does not only take a village to raise a child, according the Igbo and Yoruba proverb, but also it takes a village to educate a child. The chief of the village, represented by the superintendent or the elders of the village, represented by the board and principals are no less important in the process than teachers and parents. While teachers are village facilitators, parents should serve as village supervisors of their own children. When they are not qualified to carry out this responsibility, they will team up with teachers and other adult villagers to instill in theyoung the value and love of learning. I hope that these test results would compel every stakeholder to come to the table with fresh plans devoid of blaming and finger pointing. I hope that the Free Press or Detroit News will publish an article I am writing to air my person views on the value and valueing education by all the stakeholders.

What law(s) should be enacted, to get better test scores out of public schoolkids in the City of Detroit?

Should more money be spent on those kids? If so, what sort of spending would solve the kinds of problems we now see?

Here are some selected Michigan school districts, and their per-pupil spending as of 2009:

Detroit - $7580
Lansing - $7835
East Grand Rapids - $7867
Berkley - $8197
Charleviox - $8424
Midland - $8904
West Iron County - $7316
Muskegon Heights - $7919
Alpena - $7316
Monroe - $7326

As you can see, Detroit per-pupil spending is not the most, nor the least.

As much as I suspect the Detroit Federation of Teachers, I do not presume that teachers in the City of Detroit are universally incompetent.

So there is something about Detroit Public Schools, besides per-pupil spending, and apart from teacher contracts and qualifications, that is profoundly dysfunctional.

So what exactly is that dysfunction, and why would anyone suppose that more laws, or more money coming from the Michigan legislature, would address that dysfunction?

Of course even if we knew what sort of a legislative "fix" might work, and even if we could fund whatever that "fix" might be within the existing state budget, can any student in Detroit, or any parent of such a student, be satisfied if someone said, "We can fix this problem, but it will take us four years to do it."

In four years' time, a student's one and only high school career comes, and goes. Students have no time for "legislative plans." They need an answer this year; "now, if not sooner," as the saying goes.

I can't think of any effective option other than to encourage, or at the very least, allow, a wholesale institution of charter schools in Detroit, for students who want to learn, and for the parents of children who earnestly want their kids to excel in school.

In a general sense, the Detroit Public Schools are a failure, and they are failing to produce functional graduates. No innocent families who wish to make education a priority ought to have to endure the Detroit Public Schools.

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