Detroit giving schools their ‘Worst Shot’

Go Lean Commentary

Want to give it ‘your best shot’ …

… then we strongly caution – anyone and everyone – against the practice of taking on debt. Many bad things happen when people depend on debt. A “slippery slope” can ensue … from dependence, to reliance, to requirement, to vital, … to debt slavery. The further one stays away from debt, the better.

Even the Bible admonishes:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…”. Romans 13:8 New International Version

Joe Louis Fist

The Fist – Detroit’s Tribute to Boxing Legend Joe Louis

The problem with debt is that it trades the future for the past! It gives the ‘worst shot’, not  the ‘best shot’. To continue the boxing analogy, debt burdens the boxer down with additional pounds and pressure; bad formula for success.

This is truly the experience in Detroit today. The City’s well-documented Failed-City status (and Bankruptcy) not only impacts its past, but apparently also it’s future – as in the education of its children. The schools in Detroit are below standard, below quality and below acceptability. This applies to their physical structure, budgets, teacher appreciation, student experience and student preparation.


Detroit, both the “City” and “School District” had been too indebted, so that the first priority of all revenues/funding has to go to debt servicing. This means other vital functioanlities (physical structure, teachers and students) must be de-prioritized or many times outright ignored.

The relevant stakeholders for Detroit Public Schools are truly giving the ‘worst shot’, not the ‘best shot’.

(For Detroit, the municipal City and the School District are separate legal entities. While the City of Detroit filed for Bankruptcy protection and re-organization in 2013, the School District has not).

This dire disposition is not exclusive to Detroit. Unfortunately, this applies to many other communities around the world (think Greece); and even in the Caribbean.

See the news article here conveying the harsh realities that many in the Detroit Public Schools are now faced with:

Title: Detroit school system wants judge to end teacher sickouts

An attorney for the Detroit Public Schools has asked a judge to issue a restraining order and preliminary injunction to force teachers to stop sickouts and return to work, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

The motion names the Detroit Federation of Teachers, interim teachers union president Ivy Bailey and 23 Detroit Public Schools teachers.

“DPS has requested the court’s intervention in addressing the ongoing teacher sickouts that are plaguing the district,” Michelle Zdrodowski, the spokeswoman for the Detroit Public Schools said in a statement.

CU Blog - Detroit Giving Their Schools Their Worst - Photo 3

CU Blog - Detroit Giving Their Schools Their Worst - Photo 1

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The teachers union responded to the filing, noting “Detroit deserves better.”

“It is regrettable that the Detroit Public Schools seeks to punish those who speak out about the deplorable conditions in our schools,” Bailey said. “It would be so much more productive to actually do something to fix Detroit schools rather than file restraining orders against those who expose the miserable conditions.”

Nearly all Detroit’s public schools were closed Wednesday as many protesting teachers called in sick, turning what was supposed to be a day to celebrate into one shining a harsh spotlight on one of Michigan’s struggling cities.

President Barack Obama was in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. He praised the American automotive industry’s resurgence, which many people view as a major victory for Detroit.

But those inside the city tell a sharply different story, one illustrated in leaflets showing pictures of dead rats found at public schools, mildew taking over ceilings and walls and damage to school buildings.

Detroit teachers have pressed their case against what they call deplorable conditions and inadequate funding. They’ve also decried decisions made by the school system’s emergency manager, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder — criticism that echoes complaints in Flint, a Michigan city mired in a water crisis after state officials largely took over because of budget troubles, just as they did in Detroit.

Detroit teachers have backed up their words with mass sickouts, starting January 11, when 62 schools closed as a result.

Bailey estimated the doors of “over 30 schools” ultimately would be affected.

Zdrodowski said there would be no class Wednesday in 88 schools, about 90% of those in the system.

But as of Wednesday night, the Detroit Public Schools’ Facebook page indicated all schools will be open Thursday. The announcement included a request for students and parents to check the page again for updates.

The speaker of the House in Michigan called for absentee teachers to be dismissed.

“These teachers deserve to be fired for turning their backs on the children in their care,” said Kevin Cotter, a Republican from Mount Pleasant. “Their actions also go against any possible resolution on potential (Detroit Public Schools) reforms, because any long-term agreement on Detroit schools has to put the kids first.”

Cotter said more than 700,000 instructional hours have been lost.

Budgets leave children by wayside in 2 Michigan cities

Obama meets with Detroit’s mayor

The timing — on the day of Obama’s visit to the Detroit auto show, with the national media attention that it brought — was no coincidence.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers indicated as much on its website, saying now is the time to “fight for Detroit kids (who) are struggling in schools with hazardous environmental and safety issues (and) educators have made significant sacrifices for the good of students.”

“As the city celebrates this ‘ultra-luxury’ automobile event,” the teachers union said, “Detroit’s public schools are in a state of crisis.”

Protesters planned to hand out fliers to car show attendees and urge them to sign a petition — which had over 11,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning — entitled “Our Kids Deserve Better.”

“Enough is enough!” the petition states. “… We demand real answers and fully funded schools.”

Obama had lunch with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Before the meeting the White House said they would likely discuss the mass school closures as well as larger funding problems plaguing the city.

Duggan has “met with several teachers and understands what they’re going through,” his spokesman John Roach told CNN. But he doesn’t think that calling in sick is the right approach.

“(The mayor feels) the best thing for them to do is go back to school and teach,” Roach said.

Governor: ‘Time to act is now’

This isn’t just Detroit’s problem. It’s one for all of Michigan, which took control over much of the city’s government due to its well-documented financial woes.

One man who has been a frequent target of critics is Darnell Earley, appointed by Snyder a year ago to oversee Detroit Public Schools.

Michigan Senate Democrats took a swipe at him in a tweet: “Crumbling #DPS schools are a direct result of damage that can be done by unelected emergency managers.”

Bailey, the teachers union chief, piled on, saying, “If the goal was to destroy DPS, emergency management has done an excellent job.”

Before going to Detroit, Earley served as the emergency manager in Flint. He was in that position in April 2014 when Flint’s water supply switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a decision reversed more than a year later after reports of corroded pipes and elevated blood lead levels.

How tap water became toxic in Flint

Earley has said he was not responsible for the decision, only for implementing it after it was approved. Whoever was to blame, Flint still faces a serious health crisis and the costly, complicated task of cleaning up its water and possibly replacing damaged water pipes across the city.

Another person Detroit and Flint have in common is Snyder, the governor who sent Earley to both cities and who is officially in charge.

In his State of the State address Tuesday night, the governor called for money spent on debt service, close to $1,200 per student, to be shifted into classroom funding to give teachers what they need to do their jobs.

“(The) time to act is now,” he told lawmakers. “The Detroit schools are in need of a transformational change.

“The state needs to ensure that a complete failure to educate schoolchildren never again happens to this extent in one of Michigan’s districts.”

Governor’s outlook for school reforms

‘Teachers are fed up and have had enough’

A proposal introduced last week in the state Legislature would appear to find a way of doing that while handling the school system’s massive $515 million debt.

It would create a second school district within the city that assumes control over all of its schools and students, while leaving the current Detroit Public Schools system with only the district’s debt, said Republican state Sen. Goeff Hansen, author of the proposal.

“It’s a high priority. It’s an emergency situation,” Hansen said.

About $7,400 of school funding is allocated per student each year. But close to $1,200 of that goes to pay down debt and other costs, Hansen said.

Under the proposal, tax revenue would continue to pay off the debt isolated in the DPS system, but the state would gain room to inject additional funding into the new school system.

It has left many teachers worried that Detroit Public Schools will go out of existence, said Bailey, the teachers union leader. Under the current system, funding could run out by April.

Teachers feel pushed over the edge to protest against a litany of resulting troubles. There have been recent concessions. The school district agreed to demands on staff meetings, sick leave accrual and a labor-management committee on curriculum, the teachers union said.

And last week, Duggan ordered inspections of all the city’s public schools.

Duggan hopes to have the first 20 school buildings fully inspected by month’s end and all of them wrapped up in about three months, according to Roach, his spokesman.

Yet Bailey says a lot more still needs to be done.

“It’s because of the lack of respect that has been displayed toward teachers in this district, the hazardous working conditions, oversize classes, lost preparation periods, decrease in pay, increase in health care cost, uncertainty of their future,” she said.

“I could go on and on. Teachers are fed up and have had enough.”

Detroit teachers demand fix to ‘hazardous’ school

CNN’s Jean Casaraz, John Newsome, Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, Phil Gast, Steve Almasy, Mallory Simon and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.
Source: CNN – (Cable News Network); posted January 20, 2016 retrieved January 21, 2016 from:


Complimentary Story/VIDEO – Detroit’s Teachers Are Tired Of Their Schools

Published on Jan 20, 2016 – Teachers in Detroit have been protesting about their working conditions by taking to the internet. After a mass “sick out,” they’re now going on social media to share the daily difficulties they and their students face in schools.

CU Blog - Detroit Giving Their Schools Their Worst - Photo 4The petition for Judicial action was denied.

Good! Do not just “swipe these issues under the rug”. Deal with them!

A “crisis is a terrible thing to waste”. Detroit needs to use this crisis to re-boot its school eco-system.

First, the School District – see Appendix – needs to petition for its own Chapter 9 Bankruptcy. There is the need to write-off much of that previous debt; “pay pennies on the dollar”. That debt – from the past – is shortchanging the future for Detroit’s children. And since the City is smaller today, population-wise compared to decades ago, many more schools can be closed – sold to creditors – and consolidated to a smaller number (from the 97 today).

Jesus answered … you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only few things are needed… prepare the good part, and it will not be taken away. – Bible Luke 10:41-42 World English Bible paraphrase.

This strong prescription for Detroit Public Schools is a lesson learned from another crisis, the Great Recession of 2008. The events of September 15, 2008 parallel Detroit Public Schools today; this is when the American Investment Bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. This action brought the US (and the world’s economy) to the brink of disaster. The ultimate solution for Lehman in 2008 was dissolution and a wind-down of those assets and excessive debt.

Death can sometimes bring peace!

The economy eventually re-bounded. The old debts are only in the past, no future considerations.

This 2008 consideration is part-and-parcel of the book Go Lean…Caribbean which serves as a roadmap for the introduction of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) to provide new oversight for the Caribbean region’s economic, security and governing engines. The book was conceived as a result of this 2008 crisis, by stakeholders intimate with the anatomy of the 2008 crisis – worked for Lehman Brothers – and composed a prescription for Caribbean turn-around.

The pretext of the Go Lean roadmap is simple, and applies equally to the Caribbean, and any other community:

Only at the precipice do they change!

The lessons learned, and codified, in the pages of the Go Lean book can now be enhanced with the examination of the realities of Detroit’s Public Schools. This examination considers the reality of the economic, security and governing aspects of this distressed community.

The publishers of the Go Lean book are here in Detroit to “observe and report” the turn-around and rebirth of the once-great-but-now-distressed City of Detroit and its metropolitan areas, including the even more dysfunctional community of Flint. There are so many lessons to learn from Michigan: good, bad and ugly.

Lessons learned from Michigan communities have been frequently conveyed in previous blogs/commentaries. Consider this sample here: Flint, Michigan – A Cautionary Tale Before and After Photos Showing Detroit’s Riverfront Transformation Education & Economics: Welcome to Detroit, Mr. President Caribbean Diaspora in Detroit … Celebrating Heritage The Dire Straits of the Unions and Collective   Bargaining A Lesson from an Empowering Family in Detroit Ann Arbor: Model for ‘Start-up’ Cities De-icing Detroit’s Winter Roads: Impetuous & Short Term NEXUS: Facilitating Detroit-Windsor Cross-Border Commerce M-1 Rail: Alternative Motion in the Motor City Detroit to exit historic bankruptcy Michigan Unemployment – Then and Now A Lesson in History: Community Ethos of WW II Blue is the New Green – Managing Detroit’s Water Resources JP Morgan Chase $100 million Detroit investment not just for Press

The CU is designed to do the heavy-lifting of organizing Caribbean society to benefit from the lessons from Detroit and other Michigan communities. The Go Lean book details the community ethos to adopt, plus the executions of the following strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to impact the rebirths, reboots and turn-around of Caribbean communities:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – “Crap” Happens Page 23
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments (ROI) Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Help Entrepreneurship Page 28
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact a Turn-Around Page 33
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Integrate a Single Market for more Financial Leverage Page 45
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Modeling Post WW II Recovery: Germany – Marshall Plan Page 68
Tactical – Modeling Post WW II Recovery: Japan – with no Marshall Plan Page 69
Separation of Powers – Public Works & Infrastructure Page 82
Separation of Powers – Housing and Urban Authority Page 83
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Ways to Re-boot Freeport – A Sample Caribbean city needing turn-around Page 112
Implementation – Ways to Better Manage Debt Page 114
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State   Indices Page 132
Planning – Lessons Learned from 2008 Page 136
Planning – Lessons Learned from Detroit Page 140
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Education Page 159
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Local Government Page 169
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social   Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Urban Living Page 234
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Cuba Page 236
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Haiti Page 238
Appendix – American Student Debt Crisis “Ripping Off Young America” Page 286

The Go Lean roadmap posits that change is coming to Detroit, (many Go Lean blog-commentaries have even reported on the change that is now afoot) and also that changes need to come to the Caribbean. Though Detroit is out-of-scope for the Go Lean movement, we can observe-and-report; we can apply the lessons – the good, bad and ugly – for optimization in our Caribbean homeland under the scheme of a Single Market. With the integration of 42 million people in the 30 member-states we will be able to do so much more – effect more turn-around – than anyone member-state can accomplish alone.

The Go Lean book declares: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste” – quoting noted Economist Paul Romer. The opportunity exists now to forge change in the economic, security and governing engines of the Caribbean, as this cautionary guidance is gleaned from the Detroit crisis.

The roadmap calls for a confederation of the 30 member-states of the Caribbean into a Single Market of 42 million people; thereby allow an adequate size to absorb economic shocks and downward trends. The Go Lean roadmap provides the details for the creation of 2.2 million new jobs and GDP growth to accumulate to $800 Billion. This vision is at the root of the Go Lean roadmap, embedded in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 13):

xxiv.    Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxv.    Whereas the legacy of international democracies had been imperiled due to a global financial crisis, the structure of the Federation must allow for financial stability and assurance of the Federation’s institutions. To mandate the economic vibrancy of the region, monetary and fiscal controls and policies must be incorporated as proactive and reactive measures. These measures must address threats against the financial integrity of the Federation and of the member-states.

xxxiii.   Whereas lessons can be learned and applied from the study of the recent history of other societies, the Federation must formalize statutes and organizational dimensions to avoid the pitfalls of communities like … Detroit …

Detroit Public Schools should recover…eventually! Their status will go from “bad-to-clean-to-better” but then they would have a reboot, much like many communities around the country and around the world – consider Iceland. This is an established best-practice; paralleling a forest fire in many ways; except these are human lives being impacted, not trees.

The Caribbean also has Failed-State issues to contend with. There are real-and-perceived Failed-States now (Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico) and many more that are almost there, so we have to master the art-and-science of turn-around strategies for our region.

The Go Lean roadmap declares that the responsibility for fixing the Caribbean though must fall first-and-foremost on the Caribbean, its people and institutions.

The Caribbean must also reboot and “bounce back”; to “step back from the precipice”. The effort is not easy; the Go Lean book describes it as heavy-lifting. We need to burn-off old debris and build new eco-systems. The returns – new Caribbean structures – will be worth the investments and sacrifices. This is true for Detroit … and the Caribbean.

This is the goal of the Go Lean roadmap: set aside the past, catalog the lessons, then forge the future. This is the only way to make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.  🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – Detroit School District

Detroit Public Schools (DPS) is a school district that covers all of the city of Detroit, Michigan, United States and high school students in the insular city of Highland Park. The district has its headquarters in the Fisher Building of the New Center area of Detroit.[6][7]

Students 47,959 (2014–15)
Teachers 3,235 (2012-13)
Staff 15,535 (2007)[3]

Besides DPS, the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) operates 15 of the district’s schools totalling 6,556 students as of the 2014-15 school year.

Emergency Financial Manager

The district is currently under a state of a financial emergency and is currently run by an emergency manager instead of the school board and superintendent.

Currently all matters are under the control of Emergency Manager Darnell Earley was appointed as the new emergency manager for the school district by Snyder, appointed by Governor Rick Snyder in January 2013.[4]

From 2009–2011, DPS finances were managed by Robert Bobb who was appointed by former Governor Jennifer Granholm[33] and from 2011 to January 2015, Roy Roberts who was appointed by Governor Snyder.

Source: retrieved January 22, 2016.


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