Defend Public Education

Lansing Asks if Bobb should control academics, Detroit Answers NO!

Posted in Uncategorized by Nicole Conaway on March 1, 2010

Outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center downtown Detroit this mornin, bus drivers rallied to defend their jobs in front of “The Spirit of Detroit”. Marching and chanting “Keep jobs in Detroit” and “Keep jobs, Fire Bobb!”, the group was joined by Detroit teachers and students and supported by many drivers honking horns.

 Inside, the  Michigan house education committee hearing on whether to give academic control to emergency financial managers began at 12:00. As the group made its way to the 13th floor auditorium for the hearing, security screenings stopped and no one was being admitted. Then a security guard claimed the 13th floor was closed because today was a furlough day. Nice try. Eventually we made it in and FILLED the auditorium.

The official question was “Should academic control be given to an emergency financial manager whether or not ther is an academic emergency?” The consensus of the crowd and speakers who were able to testify? NO. Not Robert Bobb in Detroit, not any other emergency financial manager, in any district.

One speaker, representing The Skillman Foundation(who receives more funding than any other foundation/non-profit from DPS) said yes. But when asked by the chair what skill set that manager should have to be able to make such academic decisions, he could identify none.

Notably, DFT President Keith Johnson did not take the opportunity to “unite for teachers’ rights” but instead delivered Bobb-like rhetoric, saying it’s not about any one leader, it’s all about the kids. If he truly believes this, he might have said something about how they are impacted by Bobb’s policies. He didn’t, but luckily there were some students there to speak for themselves.

Those who testified included parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and lawyers for the Safeway bus drivers and Detroit teachers. All declared that Bobb, nor anyone else, should have that much power, and that the purpose of such a move would clearly be to gain more control of money for privatization.  Speakers described the ill effects of Bobb’s Q@ test, lay-offs, cuts to fine arts programs, and threats of 40 school closings, as well as the damage done by past state take-overs of DPS and the need for self-determination and democracy for Detroit.  DFT member and Defend Public Educatin/Save Our Students Slate delegate candidate Steve Conn called the legislators out, insisting that they simply tell the truth about what this is really about, and reminded them that their political careers will forever be connected to the Robert Bobb problem. Conn and lawyer George Washington called for a fully integrated regional school system to realize the promise of Brown v. Board and strenghten all school districts for all students.

The audience made it’s feelings known, cheering and standing in support of several speakers and voicing disapproval clearly enough to be heard in Lansing.

More to come…

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