There has been a great deal of information about the state of Detroit Public Schools lately. Some of what I’ve read…
- Detroit teachers are using Twitter to document poor school conditions
- Detroit announces city-wide school inspections
- Detroit Public School Teachers Turn To ‘Sickouts’ In Protest
- The Deplorable Learning Conditions Of Detroit Public Schools Are Unethical, Not Our Protests
As an educator, you can’t help but bleed when you read these stories. Years ago, I did a few workshops in a couple of schools in Detroit and, you know what? Both the teachers and students there are just as delightful and energetic and eager to learn as anywhere. I remember visiting a brand new school and an older school to observe how they were fitting them with computer cabling to provide network access as we struggled with how to do things on this side of the border. Sadly, I don’t recall the names of the schools. I just remember how cutting edge they seemed with providing network access. I do remember doing a workshop in Hamtramck Public Schools, a district completely surrounded by Detroit schools and left with the same impressions. I’ll confess it was because they took us to the Legion for lunch and it was my first introduction to Dill Pickle Soup. I’ve met Detroit teachers at MACUL conferences where it’s always wonderful to sit in on sessions and see how technology is being used in their classrooms.
The bottom line? They don’t deserve to be working in the conditions described in the stories. Even worse, while it’s their working conditions, it’s also the students’ learning conditions. How can working in a school with a visible bullet hole, broken toilet seats, or rat droppings be considered acceptable at any level? Something is very wrong here.
The Detroit Free Press website takes on the issue and shares its perspective this Sunday morning.
The Detroit News website also reports.
In fact, the News website has a whole section on Schools with many related stories.
The sad part is that these schools are just a short drive from the glitz and glamour of the North American International Auto Show. Working in the auto industry used to be a natural destination but, as we know, that’s not today’s reality. Instead, students need to be prepared for jobs in other fields. Education is the magic wand that enables but all the forces that make education successful need to be aligned.
But let’s not just pick on Detroit. Things didn’t deteriorate to this point over night. It would have been an ongoing process that could have been halted when issues first were noted. Where were those in charge of maintenance or the overall running of the school? Was anyone listening to the voice of teachers and students? How about in your district? What is the measure for accountability for the proper operation of a school. Even your local department store or fast food restaurant encourages patrons to contact the management if something is wrong. Should all teachers and students not have a mechanism to report something wrong and expect it to be righted?
Timely, comes this Twitter message.
There should be a state law that school board members must visit a different school at least once a week. #eduality
— Blunt Educator (@BluntEducator) January 17, 2016
Or what about regular meetings? Instead of located in some fancy meeting room, why not meet in an actual school? If it’s good enough for teaching and learning, surely it’s good enough for a meeting. If it isn’t, then you have a problem, school board member.
There’s lessons to be learned from this. In business, you have the opportunity to not shop at a store that isn’t neat, tidy, rat droppings free. You just go elsewhere. A student doesn’t have that option. Every child deserves the opportunity for an education that’s publicly funded in a safe environment conducive for learning. Nothing less should ever be acceptable.