We Detroiters will ultimately win the war to restore the educational lives (and in many instances save the actual physical lives) of some 100,000 Detroit schoolchildren. We will achieve this despite voter suppression, impoverished families’ water/utility shutoffs, foreclosures per sub-prime bank loans, park closures, the surrender of Belle Isle to the state, job scarcity, gang violence, high youth imprisonment, corporate-collusive giveaways of downtown land, administrative disruption in the DFT, emergency management’s sale of our schools (sales UNauthorized by our good elected school board), emergency management’s giveaway of fifteen schools to the Governor’s so-called “Educational Achievement” Auhority (a giveaway UNauthorized by our elected board), closure of more than 100 schools (closures UNauthorized by our board), and emergency management’s 2013 disempowerment of our board and firing of the board’s chosen superintendrnt (namely, me). We will win because–as Joe Louis said near the outset of World War II–“God’s on our side.”
The heroes who will go down in Detroit history as having achieved that restoration and that salvation at the sacrifice of hours, days, and years of their time, their treasure, and even perhaps in some cases their health, are listed here: LaMar Lemmons, Helen Moore, Herman Davis, Elena Herrada,Tom Barrow, Tom Pedroni, Rachel Casteneda-Lopez, Brooke Harris, Aliyah Moore, Sherry Gay-dagnogo, Russ Bellant, Kate Levy, Claude Tiller, Tawana Petty, Monica Lewis-Patrick, Ellen Lipton, Jeff Robinson, Victor Gibson, Malik Shabazz and the late Joe Hudson and Charity Hicks. Those meriting similar commendation include the Detroit Native Sun‘s Valerie Lockhart, Keith Owens during his first stint at the Michigan Chronicle and later the Metro Times, plus additional elected board members and other officials, and my intrepid pro-bono attorney Drew Paterson, as well as Tracey Peters, Tom Bleakley, and other lawyers who donated services to the cause. I have been honored to work with them all in this sacred crusade. LaMar, Helen, and the two Toms–Barrow and Pedroni–deserve specific accolades for having done (and for still doing) the long-term heavy lifting. My wife Adrienne, a retired Detroit principal, is finally venturing from her wheelchair and from her months of away-from–home residential rehabilitation following her March 9 bone-shattering tumble on black ice outside Cass Tech. (She had come to hear my address to the Governor’s education coalition.) I have recovered from the heart attack that hit me during my year as the board’s appointed pro-bono superintendent. However, folks may have noted that I’ve suffered a recent neurological setback that has affected my speech and my balance–undoubtedly caused at least partially by the ongoing frustration of fighting our battles against the stacked deck of emergency management and having to deal with some sellout media and judges, as well as with an attorney general who continues to seek $35,000 from my own pocket in high-priced defense-attorney fees from our tax dollars expended in the state’s initially successful suit to recoup those monies it spent defending against my in-vain attempt to regain the superintendency).
It remains now for all of you children’s advocates out there to avail yourselves of the recent serendipitous discovery of two new social-justice organizations with which we should ally ourselves–one of them in Florida and in Washington D.C (Go Left America, which has decried our governor’s draconian destruction of DPS), and the other one in Detroit (Michigan United, whose director, Ryan Bates, can be contacted at email@example.com). I have already shared with DPS’ board my interactions with these two organizations, and I encourage our board’s many supporters to reach out to them as well.
Another positive development has been the return of Keith Owens–a capable and courageous advocate for children–to the editorship of the Michigan Chronicle. My column will now return periodically to the Chronicle. This will give like-minded advocates an added media arm supportive of our children to go with my monthly column in the Native Sun, plus Teresa Kelly’s online Michigan Citizen, Diane Bukowski’s on-line articles, Shea Howell’s and Richard Feldman’s pieces in the Boggs Center newsletter, Tom Stephens’ email essays, my and Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s ones on the website of D-REM (Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management–administered by astute young activist Rich Samartino), features in the Metro Times by Curt Guyette, and Cliff Russell’s broadcasts on WCHB NewsTalk1200. (Due to health challenges, I’m taking a break from my Sunday afternoon show on that station. In the meantime, I’ll stay at the table as DPS’ ‘superintendent-in-exile’ every second Thursday at 6:00 at Douglass High on West Warren and remain reachable at 8900 E. Jefferson, at DrJohnTelfordEdD@aol.com, at (313) 460-8272, and by ‘friending’ me on Facebook. My website is www.AlifeontheRUN.com). I also invite readers to revisit the following pertinent column on this D-REM website: ww.d-rem.org/telford-telescope-zeitgeistian-wishes-3/
John Telford is a Detroit author and poet whose most recent book is a biography of iconic Miller and Pershing coach Will Robinson. There were some problems involving a Virginia company that wss distribut ing the book, so if you didn’t get your copy directly from the author, that option remains open The book is also available on Amazon.