Most Read
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    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to The Sugar Clouds’ Partners Don’t Do That (They Watch and be Amazed) (Wax Splat) is a nostalgic look at the psychedelic days of ’60s grooviness. Even the album cover looks like a lava lamp. The male-female vocals have a sort of Jefferson Airplane feel, and the songs are blessed with both sugary sweet pop melodies and a garage-y earthiness. The story of the band’s formation is rather interesting; the two vocalists, Greg and Melissa Host, are a divorced couple who wrote the songs in their living room. The band is still together, so this divorce was a hell of a lot more civil than any we’ve ever known of. Steffanie Christi’an has friends in fairly high places. Her new Way Too Much mini-album is being put out by Nadir Omowale’s Distorted Soul label, and she is also a regular feature on Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock revue. Maybe the choice of cover image isn’t the best – she looks a bit like a Tina Turner tribute act here. But that can and should be […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’

      There’s at least one city councilmember who’s less than pleased with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to increase all parking violation fines. Councilman Gabe Leland, whose district represents the city’s west side, issued a statement today, calling Orr’s plan a potential “deterrent” to attracting people to the city. I don’t believe the argument to raise the parking ticket fines from $30 to $45 and eliminate the $10 early payment fine are justification for this action. The emergency manager’s order to increase ticket fines places city government inefficiencies on the backs of our residents who need to do business in downtown and other parts of our city. And, this will increase the barrier for people to frequent Detroit-based establishments; likely to be a deterrent for some to shop and dine in our city. Leland suggested implementing a plan that maintains current rates for fines and reduces operating inefficiencies to collecting parking fines. “In my view, generating revenue by increasing fines when residents from neighborhoods must go downtown to get licenses and permits, attend court appointments and do other necessary business, is the wrong direction,” Leland said. “…Additionally, generating revenue using fines when we are trying to grow this city and attract […]

    The post Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

Rights, reading & race

The state must give every student an education, and is failing woefully

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Nobody, I suppose, would be surprised to learn that children in what remains of the Highland Park public school system aren't getting anything resembling a decent education.

Most of them are residents of what amounts to a horrid, largely burned-out slum. More than three-quarters of Highland Park seventh-graders utterly fail state reading tests.

By 11th grade, things are even worse, with more than nine out of 10 Highland Park kids less than proficient in reading and math. Small wonder too. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, they sit in classrooms that are too hot in the fall and spring, and freezing in the winter. The ceilings leak. The bathrooms are beyond filthy.

In at least one case, homeless people were living in the basement of one operating school. But nobody cares.

Not enough, that is, to do anything about it, except flee, if at all possible. Highland Park, a small independent enclave embedded within the city of Detroit, had 3,179 students just six years ago.

At last count, there were only 973 left. Nearly all are black and wretchedly poor. Nobody, including the district's politicians, has been speaking up and trying to get something better for them.

Until now.

Last week, the ACLU filed what may be a truly historic lawsuit, claiming that these students' civil and constitutional rights are being violated, that they have a right to learn how to read.

They cite not common sense and common decency, things that should be more than enough reason, but which have little legal standing. Instead, the ACLU is basing its argument on Michigan's education law, which says in part, "a pupil who does not score satisfactorily on the fourth or seventh grade reading test shall be provided special assistance reasonably expected to bring his or her reading skills to grade level within 12 months."

Highland Park schools aren't doing that. They aren't even providing textbooks, paper, other supplies or adequate heat.

The situation was most succinctly put by one ACLU lawyer from southern California, Mark Rosenbaum. He called the situation in Highland Park "the shame of Michigan," adding that, "it explains everything that is wrong in the state."

Well, pretty much.

But who is to blame for this? The ACLU filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of eight Highland Park students, a lawsuit against the schools, now run by Emergency Manager Joyce Parker, but also the state Department of Education and the state of Michigan itself.

The lawsuit lists the dreadful conditions the kids have to endure, and charges that the Highland Park district has completely failed to provide a structure so that these kids can attain literacy.

They provided a writing sample from one of the students, a seventh-grader whose name they kept secret, to save him public embarrassment. "You can make the school gooder by getting people that will do the jod that is pay for get a football tame for the kinds mybe a baksball tamoe," it begins.

Shame of Michigan, indeed. What always surprises me is not that the smug politicians who have cut education funding again and again don't care about poor kids like these. What bothers me is that the rich aren't scared shitless by the thought of the hundreds of thousands of starving, unemployable adults they are becoming.

Do they really think the Bloomfield Hills and Grosse Pointe police forces will be enough when the dam bursts? Oops — I'm sorry. Being a good Republican today means never thinking at all.

However, if you do have a brain and lack a heart of stone, it is hard not to sympathize with what the ACLU is trying to do here. I do have one objection; I think it may not be fair to sue Joyce Parker, the emergency manager, as part of this. Whatever her failings — or strengths — she has been in the job less than two months. (Her predecessor, Jack Martin, was there not much longer.)

Clearly, however, the state has a responsibility to provide education for every student, and is failing woefully. Yet I don't think anyone has figured out how to do this, especially in a place like Highland Park. Consider this: Suppose the state went out and hired the best teachers it could find, and sent them here?

How could they be successful with children who in many cases are hungry and abused? Worse, in most cases they come from families where there is little or no tradition of reading and education. Back in the 1990s, a friend of mine named Euni Rose was hired to fix up the library in one of Clark Durant's Cornerstone Schools.

"These kids came from parents who were paralegals, cops, secretary types," she told me; a cut above most of the Highland Park kids on the socio-economic ladder. "However, there were no books in their homes, and education for their kids ended at their front door. They expected the school to do everything for them. I often wonder what happened to these kids," she said wistfully.

Well, we know they aren't working on the line at Oldsmobile. A few probably made it. The rest — she might not want to know.

These days, Euni reads to kids in the Southfield district, where she sees the same thing: kids from families where there is no reading or intelligent conversation in the home. That's bad enough.

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