AFRICANGLOBE – Garden City Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Cline recently told her staff she did not want the district to become the first predominately white one to end the fiscal year in a financial deficit. She was correct in her assessment that all the Michigan school districts that have been taken over are predominately African-American. She made a mistake, however, in assuming that the Black districts that have been taken over by the state deserved it.
Currently in Michigan, there are 55 predominately white districts in deficit. When the districts are mostly white, they are given two, three, four or more chances to make things right. So, Cline and others need not worry too much about being taken over by the state. Unfortunately, Garden City will probably have to let some of its teachers go and raise its class sizes to meet those directives. But they will not be asked to fire all or most of their teachers so the district can hire Teach for America workers to replace them. They will not have to take $1,000 out of every student’s state allotment to pay down their deficit, as Detroit has been forced to do.
What Cline and leaders of other school districts in debt may fail to see is that there is a control issue involved. When schools or cities fall into deficit, there are always those who think they know how to solve the problems. When the districts or cities are predominately African-American, there are people willing to immediately step in because the assumption is that the residents mismanaged their finances and don’t have the know-how to make the needed corrections. Whites are usually ready to believe these assessments made in general about African-Americans.
In Detroit’s case, the state (governor, Legislature, state superintendent and Department of Education), from 2006 to 2009, the only years since 1999 that DPS has not been in takeover mode, used the $200M deficit it left DPS in 2005 as reason for retaking the district in 2009.
Robert Bobb, the first emergency manager, whose previous management positions rested on his support for building sports stadiums, closed over 30 schools, increased the debt and hired people who never produced anything. He was rewarded by the then governor with heading up DPS academics.
Roy Roberts, the second EM, cut teachers’ pay by 10 percent and gave 15 newly built or recently remodeled school buildings to the Educational Achievement Authority. The EAA provides no oversight and no accounting of how money is spent. It has despicably used children as experiments for unproven and ultimately useless software on broken-down computers. Jack Martin tried to cut teachers’ pay by 10 percent, but a statewide howl caused him to retract the move.
Emergency managers have failed wherever they’ve been in power, yet the state persists in appointing them while cutting back on education funding, then has the audacity to punish those districts for not being able to operate with little or no finances. In Highland Park, the EM emptied out its public library filled with treasured and valuable books painfully collected over many years. They were accidentally found in the trash.
Garden City will never have to bear the ignominy of such heartless people in charge of their district. Their elected school board will not be cast aside with no budget; with not even enough money to mail a letter. These things don’t happen in predominately white districts.
Marianne Yared McGuire
State Board of Education
Former trustee, Warren
Woods Board of Education
We’re All Detroiters Now – THEBLACKCHANNEL.NET