The Spark

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

Detroit:
A Proposal to Dump the Children

Mar 19, 2012

The state of Michigan announced the make-up of its proposed “Educational Achievement System.” It’s yet another step in attacking teachers and students in Michigan, and further privatizing the school system.

The Educational Achievement System (EAS) was announced in August 2011 by Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Emergency Manager Roy Roberts. They claim this school district will collect and reorganize “low-performing” schools across the state. But so far, only Detroit schools have been included.

Fifteen DPS high schools and elementary/middle schools, with 12,000 students, will be split out of the district and reorganized into the EAS.

All teachers, and principals, must apply anew for all positions in the schools.

Up to 200 of the 600 teachers will be taken from Teach for America: inexperienced, untested college graduates working for next to nothing, and leaving after two years. The officials have not yet revealed whether those teachers will still be part of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, or any teachers union. The wage rate has not been revealed either. We’re just supposed to take their word for it that the rate will be good.

One thing HAS been clarified, though: the EAS teachers will not be part of the state-wide public teacher pension system that all DPS teachers currently belong to. Instead, these teachers will be receiving some undetermined 401(k). In other words, they’ll be starting from scratch with their retirement plans. This virtually guarantees that only new, young and low-paid teachers will be interested in those jobs. The older, higher-paid teachers – the ones with experience in those classrooms, the ones who have been holding those students and communities together despite all the problems – are being dumped.

Roberts makes lots of noise about how the students in the schools will have “Individualized Education Plans,” and will be organized by “instructional level” rather than by age group. They say different groups of students will be working on different things in the same classroom. But this could only allow individualized instruction in classrooms with VERY low student-to-teacher ratios. They would have to hire many more than the 600 they say they’ll hire, for teachers to really give students individual attention.

What they’re REALLY saying is that students will be left on their own in the classroom, working “individually” with almost no teacher input and guidance. Teachers will be reduced to room monitors, not educators. They’re talking about warehousing all of these students – tossing them onto the trash heap!

Of these 15 schools, up to two-thirds of them will be charter schools or “contract” schools – contracted with private, for-profit companies. Roberts claims that 95% of the district budget will be spent directly in the classroom. Really? After the charter and contract companies all take their cuts? Only if you count their profits in the 95%!

This new district is a huge boondoggle to shift public money into private hands. This district will receive 82 million dollars in state funds. That’s 82 million dollars that the DPS will NOT be receiving. And, private companies will control two-thirds of that 82 million dollars.

This is nothing but an attack on students and teachers – both in the fifteen schools, and in the remaining DPS schools.