Archives for category: Detroit

Koby Levin of Chalkbeat reports that a study of the state takeover of Detroit’s public schools–which lasted for 15 years–was “a costly mistake.”

The state was supposed to solve intractable problems that elected school officials in Detroit could not.

It made things worse, according to a newly released report on the 15 years during which the Detroit school district was largely controlled by state-appointed officials.

The study, which was commissioned by the current school board, found a pattern of “startling mismanagement” in academic and financial matters whose consequences continue to weigh on the district’s future.

While some had hoped that the report would eventually lead to a lawsuit against the state, that seems unlikely. Instead, it provides a 172-page confirmation of what many Detroiters have argued for years: that installing state officials in place of the elected school board wasn’t enough to make the district’s problems disappear.

“The legacy of emergency management coupled with the continuing effect of inequitable school funding, will inevitably cause the District to hit a ceiling and impede its current progress toward a complete turnaround of traditional public education in Detroit,” the seven board members wrote in a statement in response to the report.

As state officials closed dozens of schools, they failed to adequately maintain the properties — “a costly mistake,” the report found, “as many of the vacant buildings have been stripped and/or vandalized.”

Tom Watkins, who was state superintendent from 2001 to 2005, said there was little hope of improving the district’s financial situation simply through effective management — not without solving underlying issues with declining enrollmentand Michigan’s school funding structure.

“It’s like trying to bail out a sinking yacht with a thimble,” he said.

The state threw everything it could think of at the struggling district–emergency management, charters galore–but not the funding needed.


Nancy Bailey writes here about the long-term damage that corporate reformers (the Disruption movement) have inflicted on two generations of students.

If only students could sue them for ruining their schools! If only teachers could sue them for ruining their profession! If only the public could sue them to disruption their schools and communities!

She begins:

Frustrated by public schools? Look no further than the corporate education reformers and what they have done to public education.

Education Secretary DeVos and her corporate billionaire friends have been chipping away at the fabric of democratic public schools for over thirty years!

The problems we see in public schools today are largely a result of what they did to schools, the high-stakes testing and school closures, intentional defunding, ugly treatment of teachers, lack of support staff, segregated charter schools, vouchers that benefit the wealthy, Common Core State Standards, intrusive online data collection, and diminishing special education services.

Big business waged a battle on teachers and their schools years ago. The drive was to create a business model to profit from tax dollars. Now they want to blame teachers for their corporate-misguided blunders! It’s part of their plan to make schools so unpleasant, parents will have no choice but to leave.

Jeff Bryant writes here about the billionaires who corrupted the school leadership pipeline. Chief among them, of course, is billionaire Eli Broad, who created an unaccredited training program as a fast track for urban superintendents.

Bryant has collected stories about how superintendents who passed through the Broad program hire other graduates of the program and do business with others who are part of their network. The ethical breaches are numerous. The self-dealing and the stench of corruption is powerful.

Bryant begins with the story of a phone call from Eli Broad to one of his graduates:

It’s rare when goings-on in Kansas City schools make national headlines, but in 2011 the New York Times reported on the sudden departure of the district’s superintendent John Covington, who resigned unexpectedly with only a 30-day notice. Covington, who had promised to “transform” the long-troubled district, “looked like a silver bullet” for all the district’s woes, according to the Los Angeles Times. He had, in a little more than two years, quickly set about remaking the district’s administrative staff, closing nearly half the schools, revamping curriculum, and firing teachers while hiring Teach for America recruits.

The story of Covington’s sudden departure caught the attention of coastal papers no doubt because it perpetuated a common media narrative about hard-charging school leaders becoming victims of school districts’ supposed resistance to change and the notoriously short tenures of superintendents.

Although there may be some truth to that narrative, the main reason Covington left Kansas City was not because he was pushed out by job stress or an obstinate resistance. He left because a rich man offered him a job.

Following the reporting by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times about Covington’s unexpected resignation, news emerged from the Kansas City Star that days after he resigned, he took a position as the first chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan, a new state agency that, according to Michigan Radio, sought “radical” leadership to oversee low-performing schools in Detroit.

But at the time of Covington’s departure, it seemed no outlet could have described the exact circumstances under which he was lured away. That would come out years later in the Kansas City Star where reporter Joe Robertson described a conversation with Covington in which he admitted that squabbles with board members “had nothing to do” with his departure. What caused Covington’s exit, Robertson reported, was “a phone call from Spain.”

That call, Covington told Robertson, was what led to Covington’s departure from Kansas City—because it brought a message from billionaire philanthropist and major charter school booster Eli Broad. “John,” Broad reportedly said, “I need you to go to Detroit.”

It wasn’t the first time Covington, who was a 2008 graduate of a prestigious training academy funded through Broad’s foundation (the Broad Center), had come into contact with the billionaire’s name and clout. Broad was also the most significant private funder of the new Michigan program he summoned Covington to oversee, providing more than $6 million in funding from 2011 to 2013, according to the Detroit Free Press.

But Covington’s story is more than a single instance of a school leader doing a billionaire’s bidding. It sheds light on how decades of a school reform movement, financed by Broad and other philanthropists and embraced by politicians and policymakers of all political stripes, have shaped school leadership nationwide.

Charter advocates and funders—such as Broad, Bill Gates, some members of the Walton Family Foundation, John Chubb, and others who fought strongly for schools to adopt the management practices of private businesses—helped put into place a school leadership network whose members are very accomplished in advancing their own careers and the interests of private businesses while they rankle school boards, parents, and teachers.

Covington’s tenure at the Education Achievement Authority in Michigan was a disaster, and the EAA itself was a disaster that has been closed down.

Bryant compares the Broad superintendents to a cartel.

The actions of these leaders are often disruptive to communities, as school board members chafe at having their work undermined, teachers feel increasingly removed from decision making, and local citizens grow anxious at seeing their taxpayer dollars increasingly redirected out of schools and classrooms and into businesses whose products and services are of questionable value.

In fact, Broad superintendents have a very poor track record. They excel at disruption and alienating parents and teachers by their autocratic style. Despite their boasts, they don’t know how to improve education. They are not even skilled at management.

What they do best is advance themselves and make lucrative connections with related businesses owned by Broadie cronies.


At graduation, the top students at Universal Academy in Detroit spoke critically of the school, and now their diplomas arebeing withheld. 

The school might have been proud of their graduates for showing independence and critical thinking, but no.

A piece of certified mail arrived for Tuhfa Kasem this week. Kasem hoped the envelope contained her long-awaited high school diploma.

What she found instead seemed to her like a threat.

Kasem, one of the top students at Universal Academy, surprised school administrators by delivering a graduation speech in May that criticized the school. 

Nearly two months after her speech went viral, an official from Hamadeh Educational Services, the company that manages the school, wrote to Kasem and Zainab Altalaqani, who delivered a similar speech, that they had committed acts “of dishonesty and deceit.” The letters ask the students to meet with administrators, noting that they “have every right to bring an attorney…”

The students say they’re being targeted for putting a spotlight on problems at their school, which sits on the western edge of Detroit. In their speeches they argued that the school employs too many long-term substitutes, and raised concerns that students face punishment or retaliation if they speak up.

The graduation ceremony at a charter school in Detroit was disrupted when the two top students in the school used their addresses to criticize the school for “an inferior education and a culture of secrecy.”

The school said the students being used by adults with an agenda, which is an odd and condescending thing to say about your best students.

The pair accused Universal Academy on Detroit’s west side of churning substitute teachers through their classrooms, backing out of promised benefits, firing teachers who advocated for kids and silencing students and parents who speak out.

CEO Nawal Hamadeh ordered the microphone silenced during the second speech but by then, the point had been made, said Tuhfa Kasem, 17, whose speech was cut short.

“She asked for me to be escorted out but the parents had my back,” Kasem said. “The cops came in. The parents were like ‘you’re not going to touch her….’ “

A YouTube video of the scene took the speech to a much larger crowd than the one that was packed into the school gymnasium earlier this month.

“I’m happy that it raised the awareness that it did,” Kasem said.

Kasem’s speech followed a shorter speech by Zainab Altalaqani, a co-salutatorian and friend. The girls accuse the school of using long-term substitute teachers and other means to save money at the expense of the education of the children…

One of the teachers, Phillip Leslie, heard about the girls’ criticisms of his former employer and later posted a video of the graduation ceremony online.

“The school had gotten what we perceived as progressively worse,” he said. “We had raised a number of concerns with the principal. When they lost teachers, they would use paraprofessionals as substitutes.”

Leslie and some of his colleagues were fired, they said, for attending a board meeting at the school to complain.

They filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and ultimately settled for lost wages and reversal of their firings, so they wouldn’t be hamstrung when they sought work at other schools. 

“They were the best teachers in the school,” said Sara Saleh, 18, who graduated last year and now attends Wayne State. “Most of the staff members that I’ve spoken with had complained about the same things.”

The school caters to a student population that includes many immigrant children, including those from Yemen and Iraq, who need additional help learning English. Saleh said her English teacher last year was a certified math teacher, who learned English as a second language herself and couldn’t help students.

See an interview with one of the students here.



Now, this gets interesting.

Two days ago, I posted about the battle in Michigan over who is responsible for the deplorable conditions in the public schools of Detroit. Critics claimed that Governor Whitmer was abandoning her campaign promises.

The new Democratic Governor Whitmer disappointed some supporters by asserting that the state was not responsible for the miseducation of the children of Detroit, although Detroit has been under state control for nearly 20 years.

The State Attorney General disagrees. 

Mackinac Island — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she will file in opposition to the governor’s position in a lawsuit alleging that the state deprived Detroit students of their right to literacy due to deplorable conditions at the facilities and dwindling numbers of teachers and textbooks.

At the Mackinac Policy Conference Wednesday, Nessel told The Detroit News that while her office has a duty to represent the governor she also is an independently elected official with an obligation to represent the people of the state of Michigan.

She intends to file parens patriae, or on behalf of the residents of Michigan, “to do what I think is best for them personally.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday argued in a response to the lawsuit filed by the attorney general’s office that because Detroit schools have been returned to local control the state should not be subject to the lawsuit..

“Sometimes I’m not always going to be in lock step with the arguments that are set forth by our clients, our client agencies or the executives,” Nessel said. “When that happens sometimes I have to go my own way and make the arguments that I feel are just and that I feel are appropriate and that’s what’s happened in this case.”

At least one state board of education member named as a defendant in the lawsuit also has said she will not be taking or supporting the state’s position made Friday in a brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals that sought a dismissal of the 2016 lawsuit.

Compensation is needed to make amends for the state’s control of the district for almost 20 years, Michigan Board of Education Vice President Pamela Pugh said.

“Anything short of Governor Whitmer and state education officials completely separating from former Attorney General Bill Schuette’s arguments, and taking responsibility for our children of color being granted the equal right to critical learning conditions that are afforded to students in other school districts is simply unacceptable,” Pugh said.

Thomas Pedroni of Wayne State University sent the following urgent message for readersof this blog.

Professor Pedroni writes:

“In 2016, seven Detroit school children and their parents joined together as plaintiffs to sue the State of Michigan for depriving them of what they deemed to be their basic right— the right to access literacy in minimally sufficient learning conditions. The plaintiffs, along with the vast majority of Detroit school children, had endured years of worsening conditions in the district— exploding class sizes, dilapidating and rat-infested schools, freezing or searing classroom temperatures, classrooms with no teachers and no books, profit-driven experimentation by self interested ed tech companies— all during a time of direct and unchecked control of the district  by a string of state-imposed emergency managers.

“The students’ class action lawsuit, brought pro bono by California law firm Public Counsel, was dismissed in 2018 by Judge Stephen Murphy of the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit. Judge Murphy argued that although students were inarguably being subjected to what he called deplorable learning conditions, and although literacy was clearly necessary for the full enjoyment of life in the United States today, there was no constitutional right to access literacy. The students  immediately filed an appeal.

“Candidate Gretchen Whitmer campaigned for Michigan Governor in part on an agenda of strengthening the state’s public schools. She explicitly addressed the lawsuit in interviews, arguing that, “Despite what the federal court said, despite what Bill Schuette and Governor Snyder say, I believe every child in this state has a constitutional right to literacy.” In the fall, an independent audit of the state of the district’s buildings concluded that an investment of at least $500 million would be required to bring the city’s schools, which had simply been neglected during the period of state emergency management, to minimally acceptable condition.

“But on Friday, the administration of newly elected Governor Whitmer submitted the state’s brief in response to the plaintiffs’ ongoing appeal. According to the brief, all of the parties named as defendants in the filing, including the Governor, the state superintendent, and the elected State Board of Education, asked the court to dismiss the appeal on mootness of grounds. The defendants now named— including Governor Whitmer— were no longer the defendants named in the original case, the state’s brief argued, and some local control had been returned to the Detroit Public Schools; moreover the Governor has committed to increased educational spending in her new budget.

“In fact, not all members of the State Board of Education saw things as stated in the State’s filing. While seven board members held that the case was moot, with the two Republicans on the board also rejecting outright the notion that the state constitution guaranteed access to literacy, one member’s perspective was not represented in the State’s brief at all. Board Vice President Pamela Pugh, a Saginaw Democrat who is also the Chair of the NAACP Michigan State Conference Education Committee and the Chief Public Health Advisor to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, withheld her fundamental agreement with the arguments of the plaintiffs in the case.

“Instead, Vice President Pamela Pugh has issued the following statement, titled The Time is Now for Governor Whitmer, Education Officials, and Michigan Lawmakers to Guarantee Michigan Children’s Fundamental Right to Learn to Read and Write.”

Vice President Pamela Pugh wrote:


This message serves to inform you that relative to the Detroit Right to Literacy lawsuit, I have notified the office of the Michigan Attorney General that I did not communicate in any way that I would be taking or supporting the legal position that the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit should dismiss Plaintiffs’ appeal on mootness grounds. It was represented in the reply brief filed by the State Defendants on Friday, May 24, 2019, that this is the legal position taken by all named defendants in this litigation.  I have also confirmed with the office of the Attorney General that I am exploring the options available to me, as a member of the Michigan Board of Education, to properly and procedurally address this matter.

This case has caused me to reflect deeply upon my beliefs, my values, and the very reason that I decided to run for the office of the State Board of Education; a role that the framers of our state constitution created to function distinct from that of the Governor and the state’s Executive Branch

I am reminded that in 1964 Rev. Dr, Martin Luther King pronounced, “the walling off of Negroes from equal education is part of the historical design to submerge him in second-class status”.  Dr. King went on to say, “As Negroes, we have struggled to be free and had to fight for the opportunity for a decent education.”  Now in 2019, 55 years later, with African Americans still struggling and fighting to be free, and to have an opportunity for an equitable and decent education, I am reminded of the urgency of the matter. 

Michigan ranks among the worst states in the nation for the educational performance of African American students.  While our children and educators are being labeled as failures, Michigan’s K-12 public education has been built on a crumbling foundation of racism and historic segregationist practices; many of which were sanctioned by our very own state government.  There is no doubt that these practices, and the policy makers who were unwilling to determinedly address the inequitable effects of them, are ultimately responsible for the failure of our children, their parents, and their teachers/educators.  

Through decades of inequitable funding and disastrous education program experiments, there’s been a perpetuation of children of color being deprived of the basic and proven conditions necessary for them to learn. Classroom learning is thwarted without literacy. Essential to a decent education are an adequate number of well trained teachers, sufficient teaching resources, and school buildings that aren’t environmental health hazards.  

Compounding this is the misuse and overuse of standardized tests, and, more importantly, the manipulative and abusive consequences that now accompany them.  These devices, and their penalties, such as “Read or Flunk” and “A-F” Laws, are now the primary tool, or the new and improved 21st century mechanism, used to submerge and maintain African Americans and communities of color in second class status.

In 1947, as an undergraduate at Morehouse College, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King told us that, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

I am reminded of our beloved Martin’s call for us to think for ourselves, to be outspoken and committed to what’s moral and right. As the Vice President of the Michigan State Board of Education, I am motivated by his words which call for us to speak with clarity and boldness in standing against the real and imminent threats to a decent and equitable education for all Michigan children.

Anything short of Governor Whitmer and state education officials completely separating from former Attorney General Bill Schuette’s arguments, and taking responsibility for our children of color being granted the equal right to critical learning conditions that are afforded to students in other school districts is simply unacceptable.  This is especially true for Detroit Public Schools where special compensation is needed due to state control of the district for almost 20 years. In my opinion this robbed Detroit children of the basic right to literacy, a fundamental right which I believe should be determined to be guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution, as well as other constitutional rights which require literacy skills. .

The time is now for Michigan lawmakers, the Governor, and state education leaders to move with urgency, clarity, and boldness to call for an appropriate level education funding for all our children. We owe the children of our state a decent education that includes adequate literacy skills as a core component to their training. This is an urgent matter, especially in the face of the cumulative effects of destructive policies that have derailed the educational progress of our low income children and children of color, and caused the failure of Michigan’s K-12 public education system.

Pamela L. Pugh, DrPH, MS
Michigan State Board of Education

Vice President


Koby Levin, reporter for Chalkbeat, tried to attend meetings of the board of 10 charter schools in Detroit. It was challenging, to say the least.

When parents have an issue with their child’s school, there’s at least one place where they’re guaranteed a hearing on anything from school finance to student discipline: a school board meeting.

Yet in Detroit, a city with an infamously troubled school landscape, dozens of charter school board meetings are hard to find or poorly attended — if they happen at all.

Even finding the meeting times can be difficult. When a Chalkbeat reporter called to inquire about the board meeting at Covenant House Academy, the person on the other end of the line said “I don’t have that information,” and quickly ended the call.

David Ellis Academy did post its meeting schedule online, but the April meeting was set for Easter Sunday. It was canceled without notice.

These schools had not broken the law. But critics view such incidents as proof that charter schools in Detroit, which bring in more than $350 million from taxpayers for the 36,000 students they serve each year, aren’t doing enough to engage the community

A reporter tried to attend 10 charter board meetings, proceeding roughly in alphabetical order. Four were canceled. When meetings took place, the reporter was the only person in the room who didn’t work for or oversee the school, except for one meeting where an advocate spoke on behalf of a student she believed had been wrongly expelled.

This is a pattern of disrespect.

As a side note, I will add that this story exemplifies why I admire Chalkbeat. Even though it is funded by billionaires including Gates, Walton, and Broad, it’s journalism is not tilted to favor the funders’ clear preference for charters. That’s why I make a small annual donation to Chalkbeat. It is informative and honest.




Andre Agassi was once a famous tennis star. Several years ago, he decided to open a charter school in Las Vegas, with his name on it. It was going to be a national model for sending poor kids to elite colleges. But it failed and was eventually taken over by charter chain Democracy Prep. During the school’s first decade of operation, it went through six principals and multiple teachers. Former teachers said there was “a chaotic learning environment.”

Then Agassi went into partnership with an equity investor who put up $750 million for a new company that would build and lease charter schools. This is a very profitable venture.

Unfortunately, the charter schools it builds are forced into financial straits by the burden of the rent they must pay to Agassi and Turner.

In Detroit, a school built by their firm is closing, in part because of the crushing debt required to pay the landlords, Agassi and Turner.

A Detroit charter school is shutting down amid financial woes brought on by its lease agreement with an investment fund headed by tennis star Andre Agassi.

The closure of Southwest Detroit Community School, which was announced to teachers at an emergency meeting at the school Tuesday afternoon, caps a six-year existence marred by academic struggles and, more recently, dissatisfaction among parents and the teaching staff over the school’s direction. 

“I feel one part betrayed, but also, I think it was inevitable,” said Mitzy Tripp, who has two children at the K-8 school, including one who will soon graduate from eighth grade. “But I honestly didn’t think that they would do this to the families.”

When Michigan lawmakers lifted the cap on new charter schools in 2011, it sparked a spree of more than a dozen school openings within a few years. Several have since closed, including Delta Preparatory Academy for Social Justice, which shut down abruptly at the beginning of this school year.

It’s the latest upheaval for a city where the school landscape has become severely fractured, forcing schools to compete for teachers, students, and resources without some of the safeguards that bring order to charter school systems in cities like New Orleans and Washington. Efforts to put such controls in place in Michigan have been stopped by well-funded political opposition…

The closure means the families of 347 students, many of them Spanish-speaking, will have to find a new school for their children. School changes have been shown to hurt student learning and behavior at school…

In the end, though, any hope for the school’s future collapsed under the weight of its lease with Turner-Agassi, an investment fund connected to the retired tennis legend that helped open the school as well as 89 others across the country.

The lease was designed like a residential rent-to-buy plan. The school would pay rent for the first few years, then, once it had enough students, it would buy the building outright. Turner-Agassi would make roughly $1 million on the deal, according to the lease agreement.

These arrangements aren’t unheard of in the charter sector. Michigan charter schools get no money from the state for facilities, often forcing them to rent buildings. Traditional schools generally own their buildings, taking advantage of public bonds that aren’t available to charter schools.

When the school failed to amass the more than $8 million it needed to buy the building, it paid a steep price. The rent went up sharply, increasing by 57 percent between 2017 and 2018, per the lease.

The school’s inability to keep up with its lease payments set off alarm bells within the Michigan Treasury Department, which flagged it as a “potential fiscal distress school” and required it to submit regular reports.

The rent, which grew to $769,910 annually this year, was higher than what other schools in the neighborhood pay. The payments suck up 19 percent of what the school brings in from the state to educate children.

Agassi and Turner made a handsome profit.


Tom Ultican posted this research about the damage wrought by the Destroy Public Education movement on Michigan and Detroit last March. I missed it. It is still painfully current.

What is the DeVos agenda? It is an aggressive version of Christian evangelism that opposes public schools.

He writes:

The destroy public education (DPE) movement’s most egregious outcome may be in Detroit and it is being driven by a virulent Christian ideology.

In 2001, Dick and Betsy DeVos answered questions for the Gathering. Dick DeVos opined that church has retreated from its central role in communities and has been replaced by the public school. He said it is our hope “churches will get more and more active and engaged in education.” Betsy noted “half of our giving is towards education.”

Jay Michaelson writing for the Daily Beast described the Gathering:

“The Gathering is a hub of Christian Right organizing, and the people in attendance have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine “religious liberty” (as in the Hobby Lobby case), fight same-sex marriage, fight evolution, and, well, you know the rest.”

“The Gathering is an annual event at which many of the wealthiest conservative to hard-right evangelical philanthropists in America—representatives of the families DeVos, Coors, Prince, Green, Maclellan, Ahmanson, Friess, plus top leaders of the National Christian Foundation—meet with evangelical innovators with fresh ideas on how to evangelize the globe. The Gathering promotes “family values” agenda: opposition to gay rights and reproductive rights, for example, and also a global vision that involves the eventual eradication of all competing belief systems that might compete with The Gathering’s hard-right version of Christianity.”

In the Gathering interview, Betsy talks about how she and Dick both come from business oriented families. From their experience, they understand how competition and choice are key drivers to improve any enterprise. She says public education needs choice and competition instead of forcing people into government run schools.

She was also asked how she felt about home schooling? She replied, “we like home schools a lot,” and humorously shared, “not sure our daughters do, they were homeschooled for three years.” Then Dick added how impressed he was with Bill Bennet’s new project, K-12. He said it wasn’t a Christian oriented on-line curriculum but it was a complete education program that could help homeschoolers.

By the 1990’s Dick and Betsy DeVos were successfully influencing Michigan education policies and using private giving to drive their agenda. Christina Rizga wrote about the DeVos’s philanthropy for Mother Jones.

“… [T]here’s the DeVoses’ long support of vouchers for private, religious schools; conservative Christian groups like the Foundation for Traditional Values, which has pushed to soften the separation of church and state; and organizations like Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which has championed the privatization of the education system.”

As the new century opened, the DeVos agenda was being ever more adopted in Lancing. If improving the education of children in Michigan was the goal, then the DeVos education agenda has proved to be a clear failure. On the other hand, if destroying public education to accommodate privatized Christian schools was the goal, they are still on track.

Betsy and Dick DeVos got a referendum on the ballot in Michigan in 2000, aiming to revise the state constitution to allow for vouchers, so students could use public funds to attend religious schools. Their constitutional amendment was overwhelmingly rejected by the voters. So, the DeVoses turned to charter schools as their means to promote choice.

From 2000 to 2015, Michigan’s scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress fell from 14th in the nation to 43rd.

Ultican describes what happened to Detroit. First, the state wiped out the elected board and established mayoral control. Then the state restored an elected board. Meanwhile the district’s debt kept rising as its enrollment was plummeting. Detroit was flooded with charter schools, most of which operated for profit. The district was left with “stranded costs” as students transferred from public to charter schools.

He writes: The extra-costs associated with privatizing DPS were all born by the public schools.

As charters continued to open and enrollment continued to fall, the state stepped in again:

Not acknowledging their own role in creating the financial crisis in Detroit, the state government again pushed the elected school board aside in 2009. Education policy was theoretically left under the purview of the school board but financial management would be the responsibility of a governor appointed emergency manager. This time it was a Democratic Governor, Jenifer Granholm who selected a graduate of the unaccredited Broad superintendents’ academy class of 2005, Robert Bobb, to be the manager.

Not only did Granholm select a Broad academy graduate, but Eli Broad paid part of his $280,000 salary. Sharon Higgins, who studies the Broad academy, reports that a civil rights group and a coalition of teachers who oppose charter schools questioned “whether Bobb was in conflict of interest for accepting $89,000 of his salary from a foundation that supports private and charter schools.”

Bobb made significant cuts to DPS. He closed many schools and eliminated 25% of the districts employees. He also sold several school buildings. The Detroit News reported in March 2010, “Instead of a $17 million surplus Bobb projected for this fiscal year, spending has increased so much Bobb is projecting a $98 million deficit for the budget year that ends June 30.”

Bobb blamed unforeseeable costs related to declining enrollment. Curt Guyette at the Metro-Times relates that many people blamed spending on high priced consultants and contracts. Guyette provided this example:

“Of particular note was Barbara Byrd-Bennett, hired by Bobb on a nine-month contract to be the district’s chief academic and accountability auditor. She received a salary of nearly $18,000 a month plus an armed personal driver. In addition, Byrd, a former chief executive officer of Cleveland’s public schools system, ‘brought with her at least six consultants who are collectively being paid more than $700,000 for about nine months of work,’ according to a 2009 Detroit Free Press article.”

In 2011, Republican Governor Rich Snyder ushered through two laws that had a negative effect on DPS. The first law, Public Act 4, gave the emergency manager total control and removed all powers from the elected school board. The second law, Public Act 436, created a state school district called the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) which took effect in 2013.

The EAA’s first task was to take over 15 of Detroit’s lowest performing schools. This immediately removed another 11,000 students from DPS and further stressed its finances.

Counting Robert Bobb there were five emergency managers at DPS between 2009 and 2016. Mercedes Schneider reports that “The most recent Detroit Public Schools emergency manager, Darnell Earley, is chiefly responsible for water contamination in Flint, Michigan.”

By 2016, the schools of DPS were in such a disgraceful condition that the New York Times called them “crumbling” and “destitute.” The Times’ article included this quote: ‘“We have rodents out in the middle of the day,’ said Ms. Aaron, a teacher of 18 years. ‘Like they’re coming to class.”’

July 1, 2017 the EAA returned the fifteen schools to DPS and the Michigan legislature finally acted to mitigate the debt crisis created in Holland and Lancing not Detroit. Also on July 1, 2017 Nikolai Vitti the new superintendent of DPS took on the challenge or rehabilitating the public schools of Detroit.

Robert Bobb was handsomely paid. So was John Covington. So was Barbara Byrd-Bennett (who is now in prison, after being found guilty of taking kickbacks while CEO of the Chicago public schools). The leaders made lots of money.

The charters were a disaster. The Educational Achievement Authority was an even bigger disaster, consuming high administrative costs and producing nothing for the children of Detroit.

Ultican identifies one of the villains in this chain of events that harmed the children and the public schools of Detroit: the Skillman Foundation of Detroit. With “the best of intentions,” this local foundation has supported every raid on the city, its children, and its public schools. It continues to support the Destroy Public Education Movement despite its repeated disasters and its failed experiments on children.