Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Detroit News on Monday suggested that without government aid, the city of Detroit will be forced to close down nearly half of the city’s public schools in the next two years. That would put over 60 under educated students per classroom. It's not all bad new in the Detroit school district. The teachers will be getting yet another raise thanks to all the good work they have done for the students. That's what the teachers unions think, but we know the truth about Detroit public schools and the academic scores. There is another factor in this mess. The Clintondale school district,my school district, has made it's high school a school of choice for Detroit students. Clintondale schools did this for the extra money they would get from gaining these students. The problem is those students were so low performing that they have been added to the list of schools to be closed because of student performence. We will see what the suburbs do to bail out Detroit's liberal local government. I think we need to let Detroit fail or succeed on their own. That is the only way they will learn from what they done to themselves.The Wall Street Journal notes the city’s decaying public school system:
“Additional savings of approximately $12.4 million can be achieved from school closures if the District simply abandons the closed buildings,” the proposal explains, purging costs like boarding up buildings, storage and security patrols.
Steven Wasko, a spokesman for Mr. Bobb, said that urban property sales have been difficult, in part because until recently the state board of education banned transactions with “competing educational institutions” like charter schools. Once buildings are deserted, even if the doors and windows are welded shut with protective metal covers, scavengers break in and dismantle them for copper wire, pipes and so on.
Under the emergency plan, consolidated high-school class sizes would increase to 62 by 2014, “consistent with what students would expect in large university settings.” Yet under the terms of the Detroit Federation of Teachers contract, the district must pay bonuses for class enrollment over 35, thus imposing some $11.1 million in new costs through 2014.
Note that this dispensation carries about the same price tag as the school abandonment windfall: In other words, Detroit may end up destroying serviceable capital assets so it can pay its public workers more over the short term.
Mr. Wasko cautions that the school closure plan is a last resort, and Mr. Bobb has floated other ideas, including a financial restructuring similar to the GM bailout/bankruptcy. Detroit Federation of Teachers president Keith Johnson rejected even that because “The children of Detroit are not consumed products of a profit-driven corporation like a car,” as he wrote in an op-ed this week. Maybe his real objection is that the GM model might allow the district to rationalize its labor liabilities.
The budget gap is party due to the property tax revenue collapse as the Motor City crumbles, as well as financial mismanagement and a surge in pay and benefits for public employees. The Mackinac Center, a state think tank, reports that average Michigan teacher salaries outpaced those of all other states from 2003 to 2009, when adjusted for state per capita income as a proxy for the local ability to pay.
It’s hard to think of a sadder commentary on a government so fiscally desperate and so captured by its workers that it may be forced to abandon property to thieves. But are they the scavengers or the union? My heart goes out to these kids. I have been working with an inner city youth singing group. It's a group of about 20 kids between the ages of 8 and 12. When we started with these kids they couldn't sit still and many of them couldn't read. And when I say they couldn't read, I don't mean they were slow readers either. These weren't dumb kids by any means. These kids were as bright as any group of kids.