"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, July 30, 2010

In Detroit Schools News It's Democracy 1, Oligarchs 0

How refreshing it is to see publicly elected officials responding to demands by the public.  From the Detroit News:
The Detroit News

Detroit --The City Council voted 6-3 this afternoon against asking voters in November if they want to authorize mayoral control of the Detroit Public Schools.

Dozens in the audience erupted in applause and shouts of "it's all over."

The council rejected a proposal fine-tuned this afternoon from Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown that would have asked voters Nov. 2 if they support the elected board or want the mayor to supervise schools. The plan called for the mayor to appoint the superintendent and the current board to be replaced with an advisory board of two parents, two teachers and three other stakeholders. The City Council would also play a role in school finances.

Brown supported the measure along with Council President Charles Pugh and Saunteel Jenkins. Members Kenneth Cockrel Jr., Andre Spivey, Kwame Kenyatta, JoAnn Watson, Brenda Jones and James Tate opposed it.

They killed the plan despite heavy lobbying by Mayor Dave Bing, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to let residents weigh in before DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb's term ends in March.
 . . . .
During a highly charged debate that spread out over three weeks, activists likened the proposal to slavery and claimed it subverts democracy because it could have abolished the 11-member board. Even if voters had approved the advisory referendum, the Legislature still would have had to approve changes to the district's governance.

And many activists worried that Lansing would not adhere to the wishes of the city's residents.

"This is our school system, not yours," said Mildred Madison from the League of Women Voters, who also pushed a successful advisory referendum last November calling for City Council members to be elected from wards rather than the city as a whole.

"This is a state issue and it never should have come to you. We have an elected school board. Let them do (their) job."

Activist Malik Shabazz warned council members would invite "war" if they approved the measure.

"I ask you to do the right thing," Shabazz said. "Why don't you all do the job you are elected to do? The council and mayor can do something about homelessness, (and) the loss of residency, which is destroying the tax infrastructure of this city. If you pass this, it means outright war. We're going to recall y'all and march on your houses." . . . .

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