It’s reality check time for Roy Roberts, the Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools. In a recent correspondence with his staff, he all but admitted that the Emergency Management scheme is seriously flawed. Referencing the free-fall in student enrollment as seriously problematic, he told employees the following:
…the reality remains that if we continue to lose students the district will have no choice but to continue to shrink. I know that this is not what any of us wants to see happen. My goal is for all of us to work together to grow the district.”
Projections through 2016 forecast the loss of over 1000 jobs, a $180 million dollar drop in the per pupil foundation grant, the closing of up to 28 more schools, and for the current school population to shrink from 50,000 to 38,400 — less than half of the over 100,000 prior to Emergency Management. This enrollment decline did not occur in a vacuum — it happened under the watch of two unelected Emergency Managers, with unchecked absolute authority, who have run roughshod over the financially stressed district since 2009. They wielded brutal cut-back management fiscal axes — a tactic borrowed from the corporate world, leaving the district under-staffed and unable to manage class sizes.
Under the Snyder administration things got worse — much worse. With the governor’s blessing, Roberts launched the Education Achievement Authority so he could cut the academic dead-weight of the district’s 15 lowest performing schools. The EAA is projected to absorb up to 60 new schools statewide, with many of them coming from DPS.
But, the straw that broke the district’s back is the recent expansion of brick and mortar charter and charter cyber schools — for-profit operations that see students as dollar signs. They have proliferated in the beleaguered Detroit area under the anti-public education policies of the governor. Snyder has systematically dismantled DPS like a true corporate raider.
Is this his idea of success?
Amy Kerr Hardin This article also appears in Voters Legislative Transparency Project