By Dr. John Telford
Great Fate, pray Thee:
We wish to see
The wind, and be
The rain, and know
The starlit snow.
It is particularly for our children that my poem duly sets forth those three wishes. We poets, patriots, parents, and true educators wish that all of our children may one day become able to see the wind, and be the rain, and know the starlit snow. We wish this for them whether we be Jew or Muslim or Christian, Black or White or Brown. We wish that a free, equal, and non-separate public education to which they are democratically entitled will prepare them to reach as-yet-unattained levels of knowledge within the Zeitgeist of the twenty-first century—in the time and spirit of now.
Since so many of us wish this, why do we Detroiters permit early elementary class sizes to exceed acceptable numbers? Why do we not insist that teens who didn’t learn to read during the state-takeover years be given remediation? Why do we not insist on coherent student attendance and behavior policies and annual staff evaluations? Why do we stand by and allow fifteen pirated schools to remain under the aegis of the failed “Education Achievement” Authority? Why do we tolerate the proliferation of unmonitored charters and the purchase of never-used books and the demolition or sale of sound buildings to fatten contractors and provide kickbacks? Why have we allowed the closures of exemplary schools for pregnant girls and for student airplane pilots and for severely challenged children? Why have we allowed millions of dollars of DPS television equipment to go unused and enormous amounts of federal funds to be returned unspent? Why do we not demand that the state give us the revenue-sharing millions owed us and make whole the deficit its takeover caused? Why do we allow art, music, and sports programs to be gutted? (Each generation must keep our birthright of liberty alive through the arts—including the graphic, musical, and kinesthetic arts. It was in Detroit schools that I learned the art of the violin and the art of racing a quarter mile within tenths of a second of the world record.) Why did we allow our disenfranchising Governor to install yet a fourth emergency manager in DPS when Michigan voters had rejected emergency management and when that Governor has himself pronounced DPS’ emergency management a failure?
As the city’s Emergency Manager, Kevin Orr countenanced bank foreclosures and turned off the water in tens of thousands of homes. In 1999, then-Governor John Engler took over a solvent DPS, sending it plunging toward its academic and fiscal malaise. Some local media, judges, politicians, and preachers have sold out or were caught stealing. Our then-City Council meekly allowed the unelected Orr to give away downtown land for an arena. Gov. Rick Snyder restored partial citizen governance to Detroit but balked at doing so even partially for DPS. Now he announces that despite his evident aspiration to national office, he unwisely intends to dismantle (and eventually privatize) our venerable 147-year-old district despite his own endorsed Coalition’s righteous recommendations to the contrary. DPS’ white supremacist fellow-travelers in blackface poise to collude administratively in this terminal exploitation of children. To avoid a teacher strike and protesters’ cars blocking Detroit’s incoming freeways, Gov. Snyder should seek to establish the tri-county as a single city, with an elected mayor and an ultimately integrated school district run by an elected board and its appointed superintendent. Impoverishment and killings persist here and throughout the world with no effective efforts to halt this condition and that carnage. Corporate Republican types and bottom-feeding bureaucratic banditti do all they can to neutralize our President. When men can no longer sustain their families legally, millions of hunting rifles will target something other than deer. Then White, Black, and Brown will unite in one egalitarian uprising, and a second and bloodier American Revolution will commence. We the People can only hope that reason will prevail on Wall Street and in Washington before the insurrection begins. In the meantime, consider my poem ‘The CorpoRATocrats’:
Democracy?? They tend to ban it
All across our plundered planet.
Let’s band together to demand it
Back from bureaucrat and bandit!!
For one tumultuous year, then-Superintendent John Telford shared legal leadership of the Detroit Public Schools with an emergency financial manager until the manager fired him on March 29, 2013 when the unconstitutional Public Act 436 kicked in. Get Dr. Telford’s crusading books at www.AlifeontheRUN.com, hear him Sundays at 4:30 on WCHB Newstalk1200, and call (313) 460-8272 or write DrJohnTelford@gmail.com or to 8900 E. Jefferson #1107, Detroit MI 48214 to appear on his show or sponsor it.