Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Riddance to Detroit's Public Schools?

The Detroit public school system has a 75% dropout rate. That's right, 75%. This is a failure of the school system in Detroit by any definition of the term. Yet, E. D. Kain must think things are just fine since he has nothing but criticism for Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb, who has used new Financial Martial Law known as Public Act 4 (which he also criticizes) to issue a layoff notice to all 5,466 public school teachers. Well, if a 75% dropout rate isn't an emergency, I certainly don't know what is. And if the school system is producing a situation wherein 75% of students are dropping out (which doesn't address the failure rate), then all 5,466 public school teachers who created this situation ought to be laid off.

What is worse for Kain is that Bobb is a recent graduate of the Broad Foundation’s Superintendent Academy which -- horror of horrors! -- promotes school choice and privatization. This is horrifying to Kain because, as a public school propnent, he is in fact a proponent of central planning. For some reason we are to believe that top-down central planning of schools is supposed to work, even though it fails in every other social order. That is what public school proponents all believe, anyway. Never mind the laughable complaint about top-down apprpaches to school reform. That is a red herring. Kain doesn't believe in bottom-up reform any more than Bobb probably does -- though Bobb's apparent intention to dismantle the top-down bureaucratic nightmare known as the Detroit public school system is at least a move in the right direction. Whatever replaces that monstrosity is so unlikely to produce worse results, that it ought to be celebrated.

My own position is that there should be complete privatization -- a separation of school and state -- so that children can actually learn something rather than merely be schooled. Is that Bobb's intention? I cannot speak for him, but it's probably unlikely. Nevertheless, whatever reforms he does put in place are bound to benefit the children of Detroit. One has to wonder why Kain wants to prevent this from happening there.
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