The water in northern Michigan must be different then the water down in this part of the state. Before the Detroit Chamber of Commerce’s Mackinac Island Conference started last week. The Governor and Senate (Republican) Majority leadership sound as if they would push hard against the House Republican DPS legislation that passed in Lansing, while Senators were networking with corporate and philanthropic leaders on Mackinac.
But apparently after two to three days of networking and drinking a different type of water, there has been a change of heart and will from the Governor down to a number of Senators who originally supported the Senate backed proposal. I know. It is hard to keep up with. Now, these same leaders see positives in the House passed version of the DPS legislation. In recent weeks, these bills were called “abrasive” or they don’t fix any of the long term problems that have plagued DPS, EAA and charter schools in Detroit. During the conference, the conference’s host the Detroit Chamber of Commerce and the rest of the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren worked feverishly to help legislators understand the importance of supporting the original Senate sponsored DPS legisaltion.
Essentially, if this legislation passes. It will resolve DPS’s debt and deal with the short term financial issues that plagued the district for years. It will set into motion for the DPS school board to be empowered with a board election this November. Which is great!! These are very important, but if certain reforms are not put into place. DPS could be back where it is financially in six years or less. Parents will not have the assistance and resources they need to identify good schools for their children to attend. Traditional and charter schools in the city will continue to be disconnected from each other and educators will continue to have to spend their time chasing kids to get them into their classrooms. Instead of using that energy to teach kids and empower teachers in the classroom. Families will continue to make uninformed decisions on where to enroll their children and kids will continue to jump from school to school for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because no one helped them figure it out. Education in Detroit has become education run amuck and their is not a traffice cop or an authority such as the proposed Detroit Education Commission to direct the rush hour traffic.
If you have read one of my previous blogs, you know that I struggle with identifying my daughter’s next school. As an 8th grader, she is a twice pinned National Junior Honor Society student. She was her middle school’s starting point guard and she is active in her community with her parents. She has been accepted into the Honors program at our local traditional public high school. But she has been accepted to a very good charter high school as well. My wife and I support school choice as most parents. And we are more fortunate than most, because our traditional school district is a great district. But if it is a hard decision for my household (we are not rich), can you imagine how difficult it is for families in Detroit who have to work multiple low income jobs or their is only one parent in the home. And there are alot of kids who are being raised by their grand parents or don’t have anyone at all! So whatever decision we make for my daughter won’t be as potentially damging as the same decision thousands of parents are pondering as you read this blog.
Because of my work, I can be my own authority (Detroit Education Commission) to research and identify great options for my child. As I stated before, most parents do not. I have the resources to be my child’s (and the 23 Detroit youth I mentor) advocate for what is a good location for her to receive her education. Simutaneously, I feel blessed (because I can do for some) and I feel horrible at the same time. Because it should never be about the few over the many, especially when it comes to kids. “All” of our children deserve a great education.
As of this moment, the MI Senate is still deciding on a vote and the forces on both sides of the issue are fighting with both gloves. Now that the Mackinac Conference is over and everyone is back in their boxing corners. I hope they are drinking water that helps them relax and say,…..How does this help all of our children.