The Spark

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

Bobb Guts Detroit Schools

Aug 3, 2009

Robert Bobb, the “emergency financial manager” for the Detroit Public Schools, has committed to hire four separate private “consultants” to redesign seventeen of the district’s schools.

Bobb, claiming the district is 259 million dollars in debt, has already closed dozens of schools and laid off 2,500 employees. But now he’s spending 20 million dollars of federal stimulus money – to hire these private firms.

These four companies are for-profit charter school management firms. All four have track records that are mediocre at best. The most notorious of the four is EdisonLearning, Inc., which took more than 20 schools in the Philadelphia School District, only to see performance DROP since 2002.

Because there was a big protest against turning more schools into charter schools, these companies won’t run the Detroit schools outright – they’ll only “assist” the staff in redesigning the schools, recreating the curriculum, and providing training. So, they’ll be given 20 million dollars but will have no accountability!

Bobb has also declared that 41 of the district’s schools will be “reconstituted”: the principals there were replaced, and all 2,600 of the teachers who work at those schools had to reapply for their jobs or be moved elsewhere. This will do nothing but throw those schools into utter turmoil. It can only hurt student performance there, and drive even more students into charter schools and neighboring school districts.

Robert Bobb’s program is only more of the same rotten policies that have been going on in the Detroit Public Schools for years: gutting the schools, handing millions of dollars to private contractors, and handing the schools themselves over to private charter firms. It’s a local reflection of what’s been happening nationally – first under Bush with “No Child Left Behind,” and now under Obama and his renamed “Race to the Top” program.

From the beginning, it’s all been a plan to open up a trillion-dollar “industry” to private corporations. The excuse has always been that this competition for profits would increase quality, but that’s always been a lie. Corporate control of schools can only cause the quality of education for the poor to drop straight into the toilet as money is drained out of the schools, many of which are severely underfunded.