Anorak News | Detroit becomes a national park of wonders: how education works in a failed city

Detroit becomes a national park of wonders: how education works in a failed city

by | 8th, August 2013

In this May 16, 2013 photo, a for sale/lease sign is displayed at the vacant Crosman Alternative School in Detroit which closed in 2007. Urban public school districts across the country, faced with enrollment losses and half-empty classrooms, are seeking ways to reuse shuttered buildings. Their answers may be found in Detroit, which is aggressively marketing dozens of closed schools to competing charter academies, community organizations and developers. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT is a dead duck.Katie Pavlic sees one problem:

“In the city of Detroit, 47 percent of adults are functionally illiterate. Students in Detroit’s public school system have a higher chance of going to prison than they do of graduating high school.”

Iowahawk has a suggestion for Detroit’s future:

Turn Detroit into a national park, to show our kids the wonders of “Government Help.”

Detroit’s emergency management means many are concerned over the city’s public schools. They might well worry. This is about the now former president of Detroit’s school board:

The debate has been over whether formerDPS board president Otis Mathis should have resigned after exhibiting horrendous behavior and poor judgment. Mathis quit after admitting to “inappropriate actions” with his hand between his legs behind his desk while the district’s female superintendent sat opposite him trying to have a conversation.

He expressed deep regret and then, inexplicably, asked for his resignation back, buoyed by the comments of fellow board member Reverend David Murray, who dismissed the behavior of the 55-year-old Mathis this way: “He’s a young man; maybe he didn’t know it was offensive to her … That’s just the way it is.”

He resigned in 2010. He cited “health problems”.

Joanne Jacobs reports on other education news:

Aproduct of Detroit Public Schools now leads the school board that’s trying to raise worst-in-the-nation literacy scores. Otis Mathis can’t write, reveals Detroit News columnist Laura Berman. The board president’s e-mails are notoriously garbled:

Do DPS control the Foundation or outside group? If an outside group control the foundation, then what is DPS Board row with selection of is director? Our we mixing DPS and None DPS row’s, and who is the watch dog?

In another e-mail:

If you saw Sunday’s Free Press that shown Robert Bobb the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, move Mark Twain to Boynton which have three times the number seats then students and was one of the reason’s he gave for closing school to many empty seats.

Mathis concedes, “I’m a horrible writer.” He was placed in special education in fourth grade and was “kicked out” of several high schools.

He graduated from Southwestern High School in 1973 with what he says was a 1.8 grade-point average but was previously reported as a .98 average. After serving in the Navy, Wayne State placed him in a special program to help academically unqualified students move forward, on the G.I. Bill.

Mathis told Berman he can read, but “sometimes needs to read documents two or three times to fully comprehend their contents.”

After working as a counselor at Wayne State, Mathis worked as a substitute teacher in Detroit schools, ran a nonprofit and served on the Wayne County Commission. He is liked by colleagues, who elected him board president on a 10-1 vote.

Mathis and some of his supporters say he’s a role model, showing that it’s possible to succeed despite limitations. He understands the problems, backers say.

One Kevin108 on

“Only in Detroit and in the public school system would someone who can’t compose a basic sentence be the best candidate for school board president. If I lived in Michigan, I would be outraged that my tax dollars were going to such an unqualified individual.”

It’s kind of scary to even talk about,” says Patrick Martin, 49, a Detroit contractor whose 12-year-old son is a student at Noble Middle School.

“If this is the leader, what does it say about the followers?

Said Mathis:

I would tell the kids about my grade point and how I survived,” Mathis told Frank Beckmann this morning on WJR AM-760.  “I’d tell them about my grandchild, who’s been identified as special needs since birth.  And that’s all I would say.  Don’t let them stop you no matter what anybody says. Don’t let them stop you. Don’t let them stop you.”

Reach for the stars…

Posted: 8th, August 2013 | In: Reviews Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink