By Shea Howell
February 8, 2017
The announcement by the state School Reform Office that it is considering closing 25 more schools in Detroit is being met with widespread outrage. Students, teachers, parents, and community members rallied quickly to denounce the proposed closures. Alycia Meriweather, the interim superintendent for Detroit Public School Community District vowedto fight the closures saying, “School closure is not an option.
Even Mayor Mike Duggan, who has absolutely no authority over schools, weighed in to say he would “fight the irrational closing” of schools. The Mayor, in announcing his bid for re-election, said he had called Governor Snyder to tell him the announced closures are “wrong” and that the school reform office efforts are “immoral, reckless … you have to step in.”
On Sunday February 5 the Detroit Independent Freedom School initiative spearheaded a community town hall to develop strategic responses to this latest assault on our children and their futures. Over 300 people gathered to talk about how we can support our children and parents.
By Shea Howell
January 31, 2017
The first week of the Trump administration has been met with resistance at every level.
People by the thousands gathered spontaneously at airports around the country to protest Trump’s ban on immigrants from 7 Muslim countries. Protesters chanted “No Ban, No Wall” and “Let them in!” Mayors issued statements affirming their cities as welcoming places. Sheriffs announced they would not cooperate with immigration and border patrols. Governors stepped forward to stand with immigrants. Lawyers set up card tables to offer legal advice. Others filed lawsuits. University presidents and student leaders are issuing statements in support of immigrants. Congressional leaders have taken to the streets. International leaders and organizations condemned the ban. Reporters are chronicling the stories of lives interrupted, people and families put at risk. Business executives are setting up special funds to support resistance. Non profit organizations, churches, and people of faith are issuing declarations in opposition to the ban. Judges are ruling against it and the Acting Attorney General refused to defend it.
New Board must fix Priority schools
by Dr. John Telford
Lansing Republicans and sellout “Democrats” and their toadies have used draconian laws and complicit judges to neutralize our unions, contrive a massive municipal bankruptcy, commandeer Belle Isle and other city parks–plus Cobo Hall, Eastern Market, our public libraries, our public lighting system, the Health Department, and the Water Department, which has been shutting off thousands of residents’ water. and causing resultant skin diseases among those whose water has been shut off. For the past decade-and-a-half, they have also controlled DPS and mismanaged our once-fiscally-solvent and academically viable school district into bankruptcy and dissolution, with many of its public assets (school buildings, radio station, TV studio, state-of-the-art Special Education center, airplane-piloting curriculum, music, art, and vocational programs, etc.) having been illegally shut down, sold off, or given away, school names and sites changed to kill Detroiters’ sense of community, a unique-to-Detroit law permitting our district to employ uncertified teachers, and its once-competitive student test scores having now become America’s worst. Meanwhile, our local major media have been selectively silent. Only a few un-bought talk-show hosts, the Metro Times, the Detroit Native SUN, and recently this newspaper have told the full damnable truth. In the face of all this, a few of us have continued for the past several years to interact with a small handful of like-minded fellow citizens attempting to save our schools from becoming entirely chartered, which is what Betsy DeVoss, President Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education, wants to do nationwide, using Detroit as her model.
The QWK2LRN agency, WSU Prof. Tom Pedroni, and Curt Guyette of the ACLU have shared their research that charts the decline of DPS during the state’s long and unwarranted takeover, which for all intents and purposes remains unjustly extant today. Detroit now has a “new” public school district with a new and power-limited school board (unlike the fully powered boards in Livonia, Gross Pointe, Birmingham, etc.), and our rightful and lawful old one has been totally and unlawfully disempowered. This state-engendered new Detroit Board of Education is the final and far-reaching effectuation of the1999 state takeover of DPS and its disenfranchising followup emergency management law that Michigan citizens voted in vain to repeal in 2012. In1999, DPS had a surplus of $114 million and its students’ scores were at the state midpoint and rising. After all those years under state mismanagement, DPS is billions of dollars in debt.. For the children’s sake, this new board is going to need to hire its own new and knowledgeable superintendent (preferably a Detroiter) by no later than the end of April and focus now on getting the 65 Priority schools (state’s lowest 5 percent or lower) up to speed to avoid having them all closed, sold, and chartered. Community activists and indeed all Detroiters must insist that the new Board embrace every one of the following goals if they sincerely wish to save public education in our city:
* Immediately direct the Interim Superintendent to implement the research-based and proven strategies developed at WSU and pilot-tested and verified in some formerly low-performing DPS classrooms to raise grade-level reading proficiency beyond national norms in order to turn around all of our Priority (failing) schools within two years. Curiously, the current occupant of that office makes no mention of this in her academic plan, whereas it should be her most urgent and crucial goal.
By Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
January 16, 2017
Originally posted on eclectablog
This movement moment is calling on those of us who believe in the vision of Dr. King to respond. This movement moment is calling on us resist. But, what does resistance look like?
In 2014, I published an article in the beloved, but now defunct, Michigan Citizen newspaper called, “A Time for Visionary Resistance”. In that article, I said in part:
We live in a time where those who have the illusion of power attempt to continue their authoritarian rule with increased militarism at home and abroad. We live in a time where those in government and corporate America continue to evade the global environmental crisis, while flip flopping sides on where they stand, leaving the American people to suffer as a result of their indifference.
It is no coincidence that we continue to experience this never-ending turmoil in America. America has not been honest with herself when it comes to her identity as a country, her coming into being, or the violence she inflicted and maintains at home and abroad in order to continue to exist in the way that she has since her inception. Many have been harmed and killed by the values carried forward by pursuit of the American Dream. In order for us to transform this country we have to start being honest about what we stand for.
By Shea Howell
January 25, 2017
People around the globe came together to affirm the possibility of a future based on justice, love, and peace last week. There is no question that this was much more than a protest. This was a march to call forth the best of what we can become. Organizers said the Women’s March was to “affirm our shared humanity and to pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.” The organizers offered a “Guiding Vision and Statement of Principles that emphasized “Women’s Rights are Human Rights;” “Gender Justice is Racial Justice is Economic Justice;” “Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of violence;” and “accountability and justice for police brutality and ending racial profiling and targeting of communities of color.”
The organizers drew on the legacy of revolutionary leadership naming 31 women who “paved the way” for us to march and who represent the global fight for freedom. They also acknowledged inspiration from “the movements before us – the suffragists and abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, the American Indian Movement, Occupy Wall Street, Marriage Equality, Black Lives Matter, and more – by employing a decentralized, leader-full structure and focusing on an ambitious, fundamental and comprehensive agenda.”
Whatever the contradictions, this was a moment to be celebrated. Marches that move us toward stretching our humanity are an essential part of creating a better world. But they are not sufficient. The real question is what do we do the next day, and the next, and the next?