Michigan orders DPS to make huge cuts
Jennifer Chambers / The Detroit News
Via Detroit News, swift and severe changes are coming to Detroit Public Schools. State education officials have ordered Robert Bobb, the District’s Emergency Financial Planner, to immediately implement a financial restructuring plan that balances the district’s books by closing half of its schools, swelling high school class sizes to 60 students and consolidating operations. In a letter, Mike Flanagan, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the Michigan Department of Education gave preliminary approval to Bobb’s plan to bring the 74,000-student district out of its financial emergency. As a condition of approval, Flanagan said Bobb cannot declare the district in bankruptcy during the remainder of his contract.
Bobb, appointed emergency financial manager in March 2009, filed his deficit elimination plan with the state in January, saying it would wipe out the district’s $327 million deficit by 2014. Bobb confirmed he is working to implement the plan that will shrink the district to 72 schools for a projected 58,570 students in 2014.
State Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, said, “I don’t feel the taxpayers of Michigan are willing to become liable for that money with all the structural and institutional problems that exist. We need a long-term solution for public schools…we just don’t have the solution right now.”
Back in 2009, the DPS cut 1,700 employees. This was necessary to deal with a projected $408 million shortfall. Of course, the Socialist Equality Party opposed the school closures. They stated, “Detroit—already devastated by decades of spending cuts and job destruction—is being turned into an economic wasteland. Bobb, who is paid some $260,000 a year for his services, is firing principals if he determines they will be insufficiently aggressive in carrying out his right-wing demands. This past week, Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, visited Detroit to demand ‘an absolutely fundamental overhaul’ in the education system, by which he means: closing schools, laying off teachers and staff, and implementing a series of right-wing measures previously demanded by the Bush administration. These include the expansion of charter schools, increased testing, and the introduction of merit pay for teachers. If we are to defend our communities and our livelihoods, workers must strike back through class struggle, including demonstrations, occupations, and strikes.”
The Socialist Equality Party also stated, “To fight for its interests, including the defense and expansion of public education, workers throughout the city, across the country and around the world must unite on the basis of their independent class interests.”
Notice how it’s all for the children, I mean class interests. Both Wisconsin and Detroit (as well as many other districts across the US) need a major financial overhaul to be sustainable in the long run. I pray Governor Walker can lead the fight to help change the system throughout the Country. Otherwise, we are bound to continue clashing and living beyond our means.