Friday, April 01, 2011

For Detroit Schools, Hope for the Hopeless

Michael Winerip in today's NYT with an article about the educational catastrophe in Detroit.  Of course he bashes all attempts to reform the worst school system in America because he's a hack (you see, I CAN criticize someone other than Ravitch! ;-).  Here's what I wrote about him last August (


I was only a few sentences into this NYT article when I knew instantly who'd written it – it's resident hack Michael Winerip (here's everything you need to know about him:  This is yet another sob story about how terrible, unfair, harsh, barbaric, etc. the Obama administration's requirements are for turning around chronically failing schools.  It's Winerip at his biased best.


Here's the beginning of today's article:

In 2009, Detroit public schools had the lowest scores ever recorded in the 21-year history of the national math proficiency test.

The district had a budget deficit of $200 million.

About 8,000 students were leaving Detroit schools each year.

Political leaders had to do something, so they rounded up the usual whipping boys:

Wasteful bureaucrats. In 2009, the governor appointed an emergency financial manager, Robert Bobb, a former president of the Washington school board, to run the Detroit district. Mr. Bobb is known nationally for his work in school finance, and recruiting him took a big salary, $425,000 a year. He has spent millions more on financial consultants to clean up the fiscal mess left by previous superintendents.

Greedy unions. Though Detroit teachers make considerably less than nearby suburban teachers (a $73,700 maximum versus $97,700 in Troy), Mr. Bobb pressed for concessions. He got teachers to defer $5,000 a year in pay and contribute more for their health insurance. Last week, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a bill to give emergency managers power to void public workers' contracts. If signed by the governor, Mr. Bobb could terminate the Detroit teachers' union contract.

Traditional public schools full of incompetent veteran teachers. Michigan was one of the first states to embrace charter schools, 15 years ago. Currently there are as many Detroit children in charters — 71,000 — as in district schools. Now there is talk of converting the entire Detroit district (which is 95 percent African-American) to charters. Supporters say this could generate significant savings, since charters are typically nonunion and can hire young teachers, pay them less and give them no pensions.

So now, two years later, how are the so-called reforms coming along?

Not great.


On Education

For Detroit Schools, Hope for the Hopeless

Published: March 13, 2011

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