July 30, 2014

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op-Ed

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John Telford

We Must Fight to Save DPS

Now that Detroit Public Schools’ Emergency Manager Roy Roberts has once again assumed full control of Detroit Public Schools under Public Act 436 — the unconstitutional replacement law for the EM law the people of Michigan voted to repeal — he has lost no time issuing an executive order to fire John Telford as the DPS Board’s appointed probonosuperintendent, and relegate board members to a mere “advisory” role. 

However, all of us Detroiters who cherish our right to vote and have our votes count will never yield to this injustice simply because its perpetrators have changed the rules on us so they could cheat to win this single significant battle. 

In various op-Eds, and on radio and television, Dr. Telford revealed that Mr. Roberts never ceded academic control to the Board and Superintendent despite two Wayne County Circuit Court judges having ordered Roberts to do so. 

It is crucial that everyone understand why we have now added our names to the Federal lawsuit that was filed on March 28 challenging PA 436. Since one of us is an elected DPS Board member and the other is the board-appointed superintendent, we stand as two representative physical manifestations of those millions of Americans whose right to vote has been, in a very real sense, bought and paid for with the blood of martyrs over the course of many decades. 

Now, a half-century after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, our very own governor — aided and abetted by Roy Roberts, Kevyn Orr, and all the other emergency managers throughout the state — is trying to argue that only he should have the power to determine who will and won’t benefit from his brand of so-called “democracy” in this state and under what conditions. 

Suddenly it is somehow supposed to be up to the governor to decide whose vote will count and whose won’t. 

Gov. Snyder and Mr. Roberts claim that what they’re doing is best for the children of Detroit, but those children’s parents have overwhelmingly voted otherwise. 

DPS has been under unwarranted state control for 12 of the past 14 years, and state control of DPS has clearly been an unadulterated disaster, with the district’s test scores far lower than they were in 1999, when the district had a $93 million surplus as compared to the current $76 million deficit (which actually is $276 million deficit, since Mr. Roberts has borrowed $200 million against the future to cover the debt). 

There is no reason to believe the state finally and miraculously has the right answers and solutions. It is past time for it to butt-out and let the elected board and its chosen superintendent clean up the mess that the state made, and take back the 15 schools that Mr. Roberts gave to the state-created “Educational Achievement Authority,” which by all accounts is overridden by gang violence, abysmal attendance and disgraceful test scores. 

Sadly, unless the governor somehow comes to see the light of reason, this fight is shaping up to take considerably longer than we had planned. And, so far, it has been an unfair fight that — for our children’s sake — we Detroiters can ill-afford to lose. 

 

Dr. John Telford

Former Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools

 

LaMar Lemmons

President, Detroit Public Schools Board

 

Dr. John Telford can be heard on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. on NewsTalk 1200 AM.

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