Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out. Proverbs 8:1-3
To the Governor and the Legislators of Michigan:
With Wisdom, we cry out for public education in Detroit, we cry in support of the Public School Board, elected by the people of Detroit, and in opposition to 6 years of state controlled emergency management. Therefore, we oppose the provisions of both the House and Senate bills. Too long we have suffered the assault on democracy and witnessed the theft of our children’s futures, our city’s resources and the blatant dismantling of public education. We demand the immediate restoration and recognition of the authority of the elected Detroit Public School Board and a forensic audit of the years DPS spent under emergency management.
We confess that people of faith and spirit are overdue to voice their convictions publically on the takeover of public education in Detroit. That takeover has commodified our children as students, closed schools and resources for the most vulnerable, figured in the destruction of our neighborhoods, recreated apartheid education in Detroit, charterized and privatized the district into unaccountable chaos, suppressed and denied the legitimate authority of the Detroit electorate. It has resulted in school buildings unfit for human use, a spiraling decline in student population and financial chaos which is the one thing the takeover was touted to prevent.
The take-over began in 1999 when the DPS was in the black with a surplus of $93 million, enrollment was stable, there was an Afro-centric curriculum in use, test scores were middle range in the state and rising. But Detroiters had passed a $1.5 billion bond for construction and improvements which the State wanted to seize and control, leaving the District $200 million in debt. Now that debt has been further compounded by 6 years of continuous direct gubernatorial control: Emergency Management.
We say the state is responsible for the debt it created through mismanagement and corruption and should repay it outright. Detroiters must not be required (Old Co/ New Co) to pay their taxes directly to the banks for loans arranged by the Governor’s emergency managers. Moreover, we call for a forensic audit, heretofore effectively prevented by emergency management, to be paid for by the State of Michigan. Where did the money go? Who is criminally culpable for the theft?
We are in agreement that the proliferation of charters has created educational chaos in Detroit and harmed our children. However, we oppose an Education Commission (virtually controlled by the state) to do what could be done by authority of the elected school board, as in other states.
The opening and closing of schools should be in their hands alone. Again, the state creates the chaos of charters and now proposes new powers to itself to control them. Nor do we believe the Financial Review Commission should exercise oversight and control.
Plainly put, we call for the recognition and implementation of the ballot referendum repealing the Emergency Manager Law in 2012. We support the constitutional and voting rights challenges to PA 432 which has been imposed on the African American cities of this state.
We resist law which would allow charters to contract for the running of an entire school district, privatizing in total the functions of public school administration.
Freedom schools are being organized in Detroit, education outside the control of Governor Snyder and Emergency Manager Rhodes. We support real alternatives.
We demand what white and suburban districts retain: the right to govern ourselves and our schools.
The Spirit of Detroit inscription reads: “Now The Lord is that Spirit, and where The Spirit of The Lord is, there is Liberty.” (I Corinthians 3:17) As People of Faith and Spirit we refuse to accommodate disparity and injustice and demand full-unencumbered voting rights, citizenship rights and universal human rights.
Bill Wylie-Kellermann, St Peter’s Episcopal
Rev. Norman Thomas, Sacred Heart RC
Sr. Gloria Rivera, IHM
Rev. Edwin Rowe, UM pastor, retired
Dr. James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary
Paul Perez, Mission and Justice, Detroit Conference UMC
Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Justice Team
Fa. Tom Lumpkin, Day House, Detroit Catholic Worker
Rev. Denise Griebler, Richmond UCC
Rev. Tom Airey, Ministry Teams, St Peter’s
Rev. Jill Zundel, Central Methodist, Detroit