The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Detroit Public Schools Board backs off on closings
– for now

Apr 2, 2007

Faced with hundreds of angry parents, students and teachers, the Detroit Public School Board voted 6-5 to deny a proposal to close 26 schools next year and up to 16 the year after.

School Board president Jimmy Womack accused those who voted “no” of doing it only because they’re up for election this year. Board member Annie Carter, who voted against the closings, agreed. She said, “There were board members trying to figure out how the vote would go. They saw the handwriting on the wall. If we voted the way the district wanted us to go, we would have been voting ourselves out of office.”

School Board members know this so well because parents and others in the city have been making their opposition to closings known for months – with protests in front of schools and administration buildings, and showings at Board meetings like the one on March 23.

Even so, the Detroit newspapers were quick to say that the vote could be reversed as soon as the next Board meeting on April 4. The Detroit Free Press did their best to help that happen: a day after the vote, they reported that one of the Board members to vote “no,” Jonathan Kinloch, was driving on a suspended license. A day later he reversed himself and announced that he might change his vote to a “yes” at the next meeting.

Other School Board members, knowing that the skeletons in their closets might be plastered all over the newspapers, must have gotten the message.

The Detroit School Board must be banking on having a much smaller crowd at the next meeting – so they can vote for the school closures in peace. Whether they still feel pressure to vote “no” is up to the people of Detroit.