I believe Malcolm X said it best, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” As parents, we expect the educational system to provide a sufficient foundation for our children to build upon during the next steps in their life. After Brown vs. The Board of Education, there was a blanket of security wrapped around black people who assured them they would receive the same education and opportunity as their suburban neighbors. During a time of great social unrest and concern for #BlackLivesMatter, we find ourselves in Detroit preparing to go to battle regarding education and its numerous failures to our children. Sit back and read my frustrations mingled in with the facts being presented in relation to how DPS and the political machine have left these children and teachers out. This is an extended emergency and too many have turned away.
Over the pass several weeks, the teachers here have become “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and have been demonstrating through sick-outs. The first I heard of this was one day when I pulled up to drop The Kid off at school. He said, “Aww man Ma, I might have to go back home because these teachers have been talking about a sick out.” WHAT?! With no time to drill him about this, I went on to work and classes were not canceled. It was later on that day that I learned what was going on.
I completely agree with the sentiment expressed in the video. After countless messages via email and my representative about books with limited to no response. This was puzzling to someone who is only 17 years out of high school herself. Yes, I attended public schools in Detroit and they always gave us the ” it’s not in the budget” speech. However, look at how much enrollment has decreased in the city. I’m not making these numbers up. Not as many kids, would mean to me, there are more resources to allocate to the students. Right?
They’ve closed numerous institutions within the city to cut the cost of under-populated schools and pushed kids to other schools that are not in their neighborhood. All in an effort to become more efficient. So far the plans they hatched, cracked, cooked and shitted out are not working. As I said, I attended and graduated from DPS and here is the short version of the history of my former schools. The first school I ever attended was Sanders Elementary School.
This was the only picture I could find of the place because it was demolished very early in this century. As you can see, once I left there it was no question where I was going next. The school right across the baseball field was my next stop and that was – Harry B. Hutchins Intermediate School. Every day I looked forward to crossing through these doors in anticipation to learn ANYTHING.
This school held a special place in my heart. It was here that I was exposed to my love of science through DAPCEP, was inducted into the National Junior Honor’s Society, developed my personal style, learned to swim, got paddled on the hand when I was out of line and experienced my first school dance. It was a wonderful time but as times and populations changed so did my beloved middle school. Here’s a small slide show of the place that cultivated someone eager to learn continually. (Some pictures including are courtesy of this site.)
You will notice that my middle and elementary schools were a standoff point during the Detroit ’67 riots. After leaving this school, some family concerns forced me to split from my friends and I entered Beaubien Junior High School and went to Mumford for a short spell. All to return to the same high school my entire Detroit family graduated from – Northern Senior High School.
This is the only institution still in functioning order. The only difference now is it’s home to the Detroit International Academy for Young Women. I’m sure you can imagine all of the memories I created within these halls and the expectations I had as I became a parent. The education was sufficient even though we could have had more but the budget never allowed us to get everything the teachers wanted for us. We made due with what we had, we succeeded and I graduated in 1998.
So you can imagine my frustration when I kept looking for the answers to where his educational tools were. The tools I was looking for were books. Books for all his classes. There was one day I asked him about homework and he showed me a picture on his phone. What kinda lazy shit was this?! He told me, this is what he needed to do because they do not have books to give each child. WHAT?! Are you implying they don’t have money to get you all the supplies you need? He couldn’t give me an answer but in his 3 years within the Detroit Public School system, he has only brought a book home twice and that was when he stole it out the building. So, you need to steal to get an education in Detroit in 2015? This was and is unacceptable. I had more questions the teachers/administrators could not answer. So when the shit hit the fan about the “sick outs”, I was on board. These are the concerns I have been having. Not only for my son but all of the children. Why? I’m seeing the reports stating “Detroit students are not prepared for college when they leave high school.” Was this a bad side effect of no child left behind? My mind continued to race for information and resources to get answers. My mom told me about a state representative that was explaining all the details at the church and brought me some literature to read. I read it but it still wasn’t clear to me. I didn’t get any solid answers until the beginning of 2016. The SICK OUTS finally hit Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School. In a quick crawl through social media, I was given an over abundance of information. Let’s start with a declining timeline which begins right after my graduation year.
The writing is right there in this infographic supplied by one of the educators within my circle of Facebook friends. Feel free to open it up and take a good look at it. From Surplus to bust with almost 120k missing students in the last 17 years. Where are the students? Falling over into neighboring districts for an opportunity at better.
This wasn’t even an option for me. The kid wanted to go to KING and who was I to deny him his dream. I graduated from DPS and I was alright. I needed to know what was so wrong that they needed to go this far to protest in the middle of a school year. Things should be better by now. Nope, my timeline was littered with the truth. This information was disturbing. Here’s some of it:
These were the answers I had been looking for but didn’t want to find. The system was failing our children on a higher level and the parents had no idea. The teachers have taken all they could and now they wanted action. In my support for them I found more upsetting information about our schools:
I posted these things and videos to show what was going on and my frustration with the way our children’s welfare is being handled. The institution my son attends does not have any visible signs of wear, I can see, from my numerous visits inside. This for me was about the community and being a voice for those that I felt needed my help. During all of this the one thing that kept jumping out at me, was everything minorities have been through to obtain an education in a land that provides it to its residents and I became angrier and focused on learning how I could help. I used my social media pages to spread the word to parents of DPS kids, charter school kids and children outside the district. The community needed to become outraged. Generally speaking, we all are products of DPS that have ventured off but this is the system that showed us there was more for us in this world. How dare them deny our young for whatever reasons they may have?! Hell, we’re only one generation out of school before this decline began happening.
This system was already FUCKED up when my son got there in 2013. I made a plea to leave this place for better and he chose to stay in this school. He and I have talked about teachers that have walked out on them and never returned. He’s been through more substitutes and abandoning teachers than I have had my entire scholastic career. Then people wonder why the students are having an even harder time learning. They can’t adjust to the daily changes that are happening at home and then school as well. The only consistent thing some of them have is their friends. That’s also lofty idea because there are still parents ripping their kids from the district in search of better than THIS. He’s been bounced around from class to class in search of instructors or lack there of. They don’t know if the teacher is coming back or they have to fend for themselves. This certainly isn’t a way to learn or trust the education system.
It’s not enough to say the system was already bad. It’s not an option to relocate these children in haste. It’s not fair to give the appearance that learning is being done and it’s not. Have we lost our will to fight for what we believe is fair? Have we turned a blind eye to the educational needs of our children? Is the future of our children less important than our own? I do not want to accept yes to these questions. With four Emergency Managers over the Detroit Public Schools, no one has found solutions for the EMERGENCY of these children not receiving a proper education in the wake of financial ruin – year after year. As the old saying goes, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” We’re desperate if you can’t tell.