For the news and views you might have missed
Posted on October 22, 2010
Well, well, well.
Posted on October 2, 2010
Can it get any worse? Well, apparently it can.
This Broad graduate who was placed in Detroit and who has half his salary paid for by the Broad Foundation is in deeper water now more than ever. Not even Eli Broad can buy him a personal flotation device large enough to drag him out of these waters but maybe D.C. can. Rumor has it that Vincent Gray is considering Bob Bobb as Rhee’s replacement.
Looking at folks like Bobb and Rhee, it doesn’t seem that the Broad is very selective about who they bring in to “train” and then place in these positions. Could that be because the Broad has no idea what public education , or education in general, is all about?
For those who are not familiar with Bob Bobb, you might want to start at the end of this blog and work your way up. However you approach it, I believe that you will be as appalled as I am about this man brought to you by Eli Broad.
BY CHASTITY PRATT DAWSEY
FREE PRESS EDUCATION WRITER
The former Detroit Public Schools superintendent filed a whistle- blower lawsuit Thursday against top school officials and the school board, alleging she suffered discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
In it, Robert Bobb, the state-appointed DPS emergency financial manager, is accused of having surveillance equipment planted in Gueyser’s office, stripping her of authority and making DPS “a cesspool of dysfunction, male-dominated cronyism, ego-driven, divisive and unlawful power grabs and gender-based harassment and discrimination.”
“We’ll defend ourselves vigorously against all the claims,” DPS spokesman Steve Wasko said.
School board president Anthony Adams is accused of contributing to the hostile environment by requesting that Gueyser not file a report against former school board president Otis Mathis III. Mathis repeatedly sexually harassed Gueyser, including touching her knee and buttocks, according to the lawsuit.
“I will reserve comment until I have had the opportunity to review it,” Adams said of the lawsuit.
On Friday, Mathis had intended to plead guilty to a felony charge of misconduct in office, having been accused of fondling himself in a meeting with Gueyser. Upon hearing about Gueyser’s lawsuit, he changed his plea to no contest.
Mathis told the court that he had a rash in his genital area after having suffered bladder cancer and was rubbing cream onto himself while in the meeting with Gueyser on June 16.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 26. He declined to comment on Gueyser’s suit.
Last year, Gueyser sent a letter to the governor “blowing the whistle” on Bobb, who “set out to create a hostile work environment,” according to the lawsuit. Also, within hours of notification that Mathis was being prosecuted for the June 16 incident, Bobb sent Gueyser a letter stating that her contract was not going to be renewed, the lawsuit stated.
Gueyser’s employment contract ended June 30.
Gueyser is requesting compensation in excess of $25,000 and a trial by jury.
Read more: Ex-DPS superintendent files harassment suit against board | freep.com | Detroit Free Press
Posted on September 26, 2010
A day doesn’t seem to go by when Bob Bobb, the man with the two first names, doesn’t do something else that is completely incompetent. What I have noticed is that with every misstep, and I am wording that very nicely, he always has someone or something else to blame.
47 children in a classroom?! When is enough enough for these beleaguered people in Detroit?
For those of you reading this for the first time, I have been following the story of Robert Bobb, a Broad graduate who was placed in Detroit as their Emergency Financial Officer. 50% of his salary is being paid by the Broad Foundation. After being hired, he took it upon himself to run the Detroit School System without letting the school board in on his plans. At one point, after he had fired teachers, the school board found out about it the paper the next day!
The sad part is that all of these shenanigans have disrupted the schools unnecessarily and the lives of the students. On top of that, the finances of the Detroit Public School system are no better than when Bob Bobb was hired to work out the financial troubles of the school district.
DETROIT — Some Detroit students said their biggest challenge isn’t the homework they’re assigned, but where to find a seat in their classrooms.Mumford High School senior Glen Miller is taking college-level chemistry, and said seats are hard to find because there’s nearly 60 students in the class.
“It’s like a race to get up there, and if you don’t have a seat, you’re just standing there for the whole hour. It’s just tough,” Miller said. “It’s hard to see the board because everybody is in the way and I can’t really focus on my work.”
Fellow Mumford High student Malik Hall also said his Advanced Placement English and Psychology classes have close to 60 people in them. He said he’s worried the overcrowding will affect his education.”Most of the time the teacher is trying to quiet down the class so the class can get started and then we don’t get too much work done,” he said.
Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson said overcrowding and teacher shortages are rampant throughout the district. Johnson said the district is short 300 teachers.
“We have classrooms that are not staffed with certified, qualified, contract teachers,” he said. “Which means the students are not able to get the optimal level of instruction.”
Jennifer Menzer is a fifth-grade teacher at the Mae C. Jemison Academy. She said she has 43 students in her class and it’s unfair for her and for them.
“It’s impossible for me to sit with and help and teach 43 students. It’s very difficult for you when you have 43 students sitting there and they have individual questions that you can’t answer.” Menzer said. Menzer added that teachers have to deal with shortages of supplies. “We have to share books. We have to share desks. It’s heartbreaking. These kids deserve an education and I know I can provide it but I can’t provide it to them because of the situation we’re in” Menzer said.
According to the contract between the DPS and the Detroit Federation of Teachers, kindergarten through third-grade classes should have a maximum of 25 students. The maximum is 30 students for fourth and fifth-grade and 35 students for classes in sixth through 12th-grade.
Keith Johnson says that’s not happening. “I saw a kindergarten class with 47 live bodies. I have another fourth grade class that has 43 live bodies. I have a sixth grade class that has 44 live bodies,” Johnson said.
But Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manger Robert Bobb said it’s not all the district’s fault.”We have teachers who we’ve employed but who have not shown up for work,” he said.
Bobb admitted student numbers in some classrooms might be high, but said there isn’t a single classroom with as many as 60. “We don’t have a classroom, that I’m aware of, in our high schools — other than the auditorium– that can seat 60 kids,” he said.
Bobb said the district is still focusing on its enrollment numbers.”We’re approaching well over 60,000 students, and every day they’re coming,” he said.He said that number is still 16,00 below what DPS is budgeted for from the state. Count day for the district is Sept. 29. For every student they are short, the district must give back about $7,600.
Well that’s reassuring, at least there are not 60 students in a classroom.
And this from a Broad graduate. Where do they find these people?
Posted on September 25, 2010
And to imagine that this guy will be on Meet the Press this Sunday on NBC along with Michelle Rhee who just got the boot by voters in DC and Arne Duncan who I do believe will be getting the boot soon from President Obama after the mid-term elections. NBC, the network that has been bought and paid for by Gates and Broad with their Education Nation coming up on the same channel. Money can buy a lot but not the hearts and minds of everyone. Trust me on that Eli and Bill.
Read below on the latest ineptitudes of Bob Bobb, the man with the two first names. For readers who have not been following this, it might be best to start at the bottom of this post and read up from there. I’ve been following this guy for a while now.
Detroit — “Welcome to the new Cody High School Campus,” read the banner hanging from the school’s façade earlier this week.
The new Cody High, however, looked suspiciously like the old Cody High School campus — with its broken windows, faded gang graffiti, overlooked garbage and grass that wasn’t mowed.
Either way, the welcoming meant little to LaSha Mack-Bell, a special needs student who at age 19 reads at a first-grade level, is prone to seizures and was recommended by a mental health specialist at her old high school to never be left alone because of anger issues and her disposition to wander.
Her former school, Cooley North, was closed this summer as part of an ambitious plan by Robert Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager, to consolidate schools and trim costs in a system drowning in red ink. More than five dozen kids from Cooley North were sent to Cody.
Cooley North was a center-based campus for 127 special-needs and low-functioning students who would not do well in a general population school. They studied English, art and mechanical therapy, among other things, and moved from classroom to classroom. LaSha, now a senior, flowered in the setting.
According to LaSha’s Individual Education Program assessment, her “deficits prohibit her from being successful in the general education curriculum.” What’s more, according to the assessment, LaSha “requires nurse services.”
So imagine her mother’s anger when after a week in which the bus never showed up, she was told her daughter would be funneled to Cody High, the rough-and-tumble west-side high school almost 10 miles from home.
“She’s got no schedule, no nurse to give her her medicine, nothing,” said her mother, Marsha Mack-Bell. Another daughter, Keiara Bell, is the spunky eighth-grader who told ex-city councilwoman and current federal inmate Monica Conyers to act her age. “What they’re doing is just warehousing her and children like her. They’re self-containing them like little dogs, and it’s criminal.”
Monday morning, the bus did finally come (it did not Tuesday, but it did again Wednesday), and Mack-Bell put her daughter on it. She and her husband, Harry, followed in the family car.
LaSha was escorted to a room upstairs. Her parents went to the office through a metal detector and sat and waited, and waited some more, for nearly an hour. No one could give them a class schedule for LaSha. It was blamed by administrators there on Bobb’s office.
Bobb’s office blamed it on school administrators, explaining that they did not have enough teachers for the general student population so principals decided to pull the special ed teachers out of classrooms to fill that need. Bobb issued a statement after inquiries by The News that the practice should stop immediately and that every special education teacher be used appropriately.
Bobb offered no timetable for fixing the problem, and it is unclear whether the district is in violation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act.
Whoever is to blame, there were at least two dozen other students without special needs, who, two weeks into the school year, also did not have schedules.
According to Dianne Easterling, a special education consultant with the Michigan Department of Education, the school district is bound by state and federal law to follow a student’s IEP to qualify for government special education money that can be as much as $40,000 per pupil.
Bobb’s office could not say why LaSha was transferred to Cody, a school that, according to the DPS website, does not offer special education. Nor could they say why the school did not contact the parents to inform them of expectations and dress code. LaSha went to Cody dressed in Crip Gang red, and was given a hall pass to wander the corridors, where her parents watched a boy punch a girl so hard she could not be consoled.
Apparently, there was a plan. The New York firm Alvarez & Marsal has been paid nearly $1 million for special ed services the past two school years for consulting work to improve service quality and efficiency and seek to lower costs associated with special education services, including specialized transportation.
Bobb’s office said this year the company did not manage transportation, although DPS did not provide contracts.
According to the contract, no one at A&M is a special education expert. No one from the firm returned calls seeking comment.
In the end, Mack-Bell took her daughter home Monday.
“She doesn’t belong here, and she’s not coming back until I’m sure she’s safe and being educated,” she said. “Wouldn’t you do the same for your baby? Wouldn’t everyone?”
And from another family with a child with special needs:
Alonzo Griffith is visibly anxious in his family’s living room, dressed for school and waiting for a bus that has yet to come.
It’s 6:37 a.m. — the time the school bus should be at his northwest Detroit home. A bus is heard in the distance and his mother leaps up and helps him put on his Spider-Man backpack. But like every other day for nearly three weeks, this bus didn’t come for Alonzo.
While other children in Detroit Public Schools started instruction Sept. 7, Alonzo has yet to go to class.
A lack of transportation, confusion over school assignments and problems with staffing have frustrated families with special needs students. This comes despite the district’s efforts to streamline transportation by outsourcing busing and hiring a New York firm to make special education more efficient.
Nearly 1 in 5 DPS students requires special education services, according to the state. Lack of transportation is particularly troubling for students with disabilities whose Individualized Education Program assessment that details which services, therapies and teaching goals a student will get, calls for “curb to curb” busing, as is the case with Alonzo.
Alonzo’s school, Cooley North, which housed special education classes, closed this year along with 29 others in the face of budget cuts. He was assigned to another special education school, Jerry L. White, for the fall. But 30 minutes after he left home on his first day of school the bus brought him back since the school doesn’t offer an autistic education program, said his mother, Allene Griffith, 53.
That set off a series of phone calls, voice mails, no answers and eventually a new assignment to Central High School, a traditional neighborhood school. Alonzo had previously been separated from a general school population. He struggles to grasp a pencil and has no effective means of communication. His mother wonders how her son will get the same level of service at Central.
But first he needs to get there.
It’s Wednesday morning and Alonzo’s mother watches from their front room window for the bus, the morning news on the television. By 7:13 a.m. she calls the transportation center four times to learn why the bus hasn’t arrived, but no one answers. She’s losing hope her son will ever get picked up for school.
Like many DPS parents, the Griffiths don’t have a car. No bus means no education and it’s been like this since the start of the school year despite what Griffith estimates as 100 phone calls and a trip to the district’s Welcome Center for answers.
“They don’t have answers,” the frustrated mother said. “They can tell you where your child is supposed to go. They can even tell you that the buses are going to come. But the buses don’t come.”
Robert Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager, pledged to meet with parents of special education students at one high school next week.
“Special education children deserve everything that’s in their IEP,” Bobb said in a statement. “Even one special ed classroom without the appropriately certified teacher or one student not picked up on time on a single day is unacceptable. We must do better than this.”
Bobb hired Alvarez & Marsal of New York City to manage special education services. A&M referred questions to the district.
A district spokeswoman said transportation troubles have been largely resolved. The issues are due, in part, to parents waiting until the first week of school to enroll special education students or to change their addresses, creating a service backlog.
Some special ed programs were moved due to closures and shifting enrollments, but students who are assigned to comprehensive schools from center-based programs will have the same services, spokeswoman Kisha Verdusco said.
Allene Griffith believes the burden of the district’s busing and program changes rests on the students with disabilities who need the most care. During her recent visit to the district’s special education office she encountered many parents with similar problems, she said.
Officials at the Michigan Department of Education said it’s up to districts to ensure students have access to programs specified in the IEP developed by parents and school officials. Issues that prevent that from happening “are a cause for serious concern and can result in serious consequences for the district,” said Eleanor White, special education chief.
Michigan Department of Education spokeswoman Jan Ellis said: “It is important that all districts ensure students with disabilities who qualify for transportation services, have access to those services, and are able to get to and from school. Anything else is unacceptable.”
Jaiwan Summers, 3, is another autistic DPS student who has been at home waiting for a bus and learning a lesson of patience.
His mother, Jaiwanna Brooks, completed her son’s IEP in the spring calling for transportation that included a seat belt and harness, Brooks said. He was assigned to Loving Elementary.
But the bus didn’t come and the transportation department said Jaiwan is not listed as special needs, Brooks said. It took phone calls and voice mails to straighten out the glitch and eventually transportation alerted Brooks that a bus would come Sept. 13. The preschooler was dressed and excited for school and then confused when the bus didn’t show.
Complicating the matter, Brooks received a call that Loving can’t accept her son because it doesn’t have his program and he’ll be transferred to Nichols, which has education for autistic students, she said.
“They had six months to get it right. They could have had it all together: the school, the bus, everything before it was time to go to school so my baby wouldn’t have to go through all the changes. He’s autistic. He doesn’t like all the changes.”
By Wednesday, when the Brookses had given up on transportation for Jaiwan, a bus came, shocking the family.
“It took three weeks,” Jaiwanna Brooks said. “We called and called and finally, they gave my baby a bus.”
One problem though, the bus didn’t have the harness Jaiwan needs and the driver told Brooks he’ll have to order one before Jaiwan can ride.
Inside the Griffith household, Alonzo hasn’t taken off his backpack and is still waiting.
“This is ridiculous,” said Griffith, peering outside her front window again for any sign of a bus. “Here we are again today.”At 8:30 a.m., the transportation center calls Griffith back. It’s her seventh call of the morning. “I’m still sitting here waiting,” Griffith said.
Then at 8:36 a.m. — two hours late — a bus stops in front of her home and honks. Alonzo pops up, appearing excited. Mom quickly puts on his coat. The two walk hand in hand to bus #420.
It may be weeks later, but it’s an emotional day for mother and son: School has finally begun.
Posted on September 14, 2010
Bob Bobb is a walking disaster. See Safety officers say shooting could have been avoided.
Posted on September 10, 2010
Bob Bobb continues to amaze me.
Below is an article regarding Bob Bobb in Detroit and then below that is a post that a teacher wrote on the Save Seattle Schools blog about the first week at Garfield High School. See if you detect any parallels.
The problem with putting these Broad people, Robert Bobb and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson for example, in these positions of power is that they have an agenda that has nothing to do with the people in the communities that they are to be responsible to and for. That conflict of interest and lack of oversight on what is truly important to our students creates havoc and confusion.
These folks are trying to carry out the edicts of the Broad and other ed reformists and ignoring what is best for our children and our communities. So then no one is really minding the store.
(If you haven’t been following this horrendous saga, you might want to start at the beginning of the Broad Foundation’s influence on Detroit Public Schools which starts at the bottom of this post.)
Please see below for the update:
By Shea Howell
Special to Michigan Citizen
Detroit Public Schools are opening in a climate of confusion and uncertainty unparalleled in recent years. Although you could not tell it from reading the headlines, the chaos our children are experiencing is the direct result of the mismanagement of the school system by Emergency Financial Manger Robert Bobb.
Bobb’s high-handed and arrogant efforts to close schools has literally driven away parents and students. Marches, signs, celebrities and t-shirts are no substitute for the kind of serious community conversations we need about the future of education in Detroit.
First, instead of engaging the community in meaningful discussions and decision-making, Emergency Manager Bobb acted like a little dictator, forcing teachers, parents and community leaders to beg to keep schools open. Then he closed many of them anyway. Or he reconfigured them, again without any serious engagement by those who would carry out the programs of these reconfigured schools. In many cases, students and parents were not even aware that the school they used to attend was no longer available to them. Second, on the first day of classes literally hundreds of teachers do not know where they will be teaching or what they will teach. Instead, teachers without job assignments were told to report to the Hotel St. Regis to see what happens. Other teachers, getting late assignments, are reported to be going to schools that have no record of them.
If Emergency Financial Manger Robert Bobb were really concerned about our children, he would have met the minimal responsibility of any administrator, to be sure that every class had a teacher, every teacher had the time to prepare for that class and every child knew who their teacher would be long before walking into a classroom.
In response to this situation Keith Johnson, the Detroit Federation of Teachers president, said the process should have been completed two weeks ago. “It’s unconscionable. It’s inexcusable and completely avoidable.”
Steve Wasko, the spokesperson for Robert Bobb, said, “We are trying to accomplish this (teacher assignments) as quickly as possible.”
Likewise, Bobb’s effort to privatize the security system has led to the lockout of the reinstated security guards and a decision to continue to challenge the court ruling reinstating them.
It should be clear to everyone that Emergency Financial Manger Robert Bobb has failed to meet basic responsibilities. He has not balanced the budget, has not increased enrollment, and he has not created an atmosphere where children can learn and where their welfare is given priority. He has neither the vision nor the inclination to move us toward a process of reimagining education today. Aside from pleasing the foundations that support him, Bobb has shown no capacity to work with anyone in the city.
This serious failure of leadership is completely overlooked by the mainstream media. The Detroit News, reporting on the hundreds of teachers without job assignments, headlines the article “Anxious DPS teachers await job assignments.” The situation is presented as a personality problem of individual teachers rather than as the failure in basic management by Robert Bobb. In a similar way, the News reports on the challenge to the court ruling to reinstate security guards as a money-saving effort and repeats claims of “absenteeism.” Thus the article shifts attention to attacks on union workers without recognizing what is happening within school buildings.
Over the last month, in contrast to this chaotic management, the elected Detroit Board of Education has been working to engage the community in conversations about education. While these are limited steps, they are moving in the right direction.
But the kind of conversation that needs to happen about education cannot be done in a top down way. Along with opening the doors of our schools to our children, this year we have the opportunity to use our schools as community gathering places to discuss what kind of education do we really need. Students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members can be invited to come together to talk about how to create the kind of education that develops our children and our communities.
This is the year for the community to take control of its future.
And now this from a teacher at Garfield High School in Seattle who posted on the Save Seattle Schools blog today:
It is all so much. This is the first time I cried so early into the year bemoaning what will happen to our Seattle Public Schools under this leadership. Will they even look the same after 3 years?
9/9/10 11:17 PM
Update September 8, 2010
Never let it be said that I don’t follow-up on my stories.
I came across this article in a Detroit local radio news blog about Bob Bobb.
What is completely remarkable to me is how Robert Bobb, the temporary Financial Manager for the Detroit Public Schools, has never sat in on a board meeting and yet takes it upon himself, or rather the Broad takes it upon themselves, to run the Detroit schools without any input from parents, teachers or the community in general. Sound familiar Seattle?
Please read below from WWJ 950 news blog.
A Wayne County Circuit Court judge wants more information before making a decision in a yearlong civil lawsuit aimed at taking academic control away from Detroit Public Schools’ emergency financial manager and restoring it to the elected Board of Education.
Attorneys representing Robert Bobb and the school board made their final cases Friday before Judge Wendy Baxter.
Baxter was expected to issue an opinion after both sides submit more paperwork backing up their arguments, according to The Detroit News.
Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed Bobb in March 2009 to correct the struggling school district’s finances.
However, the board claims in its lawsuit that Bobb has exceeded his power and made academic changes without consulting them.
“He seized power in the city of Detroit over all aspects of the schools and he doesn’t have the authority to do that,” board attorney George Washington said in his closing Friday afternoon. “There is a clear legal duty to consult with the board.”
Washington asked Baxter to force Bobb to attend school board meetings once each month and consult with the board before closing schools or making other changes in the district.
But John Clark, who is representing Bobb, said he is acting under the authority Granholm gave him.
State law governing emergency financial managers does not spell out how consultations with school boards are to be held.
Clark said such consultations could be done through other means, like correspondence, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Bobb closed 30 schools at end of the last academic year as the district’s enrollment continues to drop. He also has instituted a tougher curriculum and ramped up teaching standards in the district, which historically scores poorly on state standardized tests.
Bobb’s original one-year contract was renewed in March and extended into March 2011.
The district has an estimated deficit of $363 million.
I have a feeling that most folks in Detroit, including the school board, are counting the days until March when Bob Bobb’s time is up and he is assigned to another school system by Eli Broad.
July 31, 2010
You must know by now that I have this guy on my daily Google search engine. The story of how he is slowly destroying what’s left of the Detroit Public School system with the backing of Eli Broad is horrifying to watch but the clearest example so far of how the Broad Foundation works.
BAMN, also known now as the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, has taken Bobb on in the courts saying that because about 25% of his salary is paid by the Broad Foundation, an organization that is all about charter schools, that he is beholden to the principles of that foundation. He is also, as our superintendent is, a graduate of the Broad Academy.
The court let Bob Bobb off the hook this time. I see it as a direct conflict of interest but apparently the judge didn’t.
For more of the story, see:
July 20, 2010
I haven’t forgotten about Bob Bobb. He’s becoming one of my favorite people to watch, him and Michele Rhee. Both are associated with the Broad Foundation, Bob Bobb as a Broad Graduate and Michele Rhee on the Board of Directors for the Broad Foundation.
There is more to report. This so-called “Emergency Financial Manager” who came to Detroit to save the public schools is just making the finances of that city worse. On top of that, he is trying to be the school supe and dictate basically RTTT edicts, closing schools, firing principals and generally being the complete incompetent that I thought that he would be. So far none of the Broad residents that I have read about are worth their salt but they get huge salaries thanks in part to the subsidy that Broad provides to these individuals. Anyway, I am digressing.
See: DPS Debt Balloons
For the full story from the beginning, start with the article below.
June 27, 2010
I keep thinking that this story will end soon but it keeps going deeper into the money and politics of a city. I am starting to see this as a parallel to what has been happening around the country. This time, you can follow the path very clearly so I will continue telling the story as it unfolds.
Scroll down to the end of this post and you will see an article from The Michigan Citizen that very clearly tells the inside story of Bob Bobb, the man with the two first names.
I’ve been following the story of Detroit School Chief and Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb who was discovered receiving money from the Broad Foundation.
The Detroit Public School Board unanimously voted to file a lawsuit against Mr. Bobb stating that a conflict of interest had developed by him receiving those funds.
Since then it has been established that Bobb cooperated with the Broad Foundation and “charter school backers to draft a plan that calls for a mayoral takeover, and replacing traditional schools with charter schools.”
The school board also contends that Bobb, as Emergency Financial Manager, over stepped his bounds by closing schools and firing principals. The worst of it is that the school board members found out that he was firing the principals after the fact, from the newspaper! He had never spoken to them about it. This is the Broad’s method seen at its’ extreme. Just go in with the privatization agenda and keep a deaf ear to all the real stakeholders in the community, the people who live there.
I keep wondering why our Seattle school board can’t put two and two together and come up with the same conclusion about our superintendent.
Update: Detroit News: Foes of Mayoral Control of Detroit Public Schools Plans Rally.
Update: June 19, 2010
Posted by Danny Weil of the Daily Censored.
Facing the possible end of his career in DPS, Bobb will be on the stand again today (Friday) at 2:00 pm for the third day.
Judge Baxter’s courtroom is room 1421 of the Coleman A. Young Center (City County Building) in Detroit, Michigan.
Open to the public!
excerpt from www.detnews.com coverage of Thursday’s court hearing, which got heated:
“State-appointed schools manager Robert Bobb has run up against a legal challenge and neighborhood resistance to his plan to shutter 45 district schools next year. He’s stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a foundation-funded plan to “replace, not reform” the public schools by opening 70 new charter schools by 2020 and handing control to Mayor Bing much sooner.”
“After a student walkout, teachers and alumni of Northwestern High vowed to sit down, chain the doors, and pursue injunctions—whatever was necessary—to keep the historic school open. Bobb kept 18 schools open, including Northwestern, but vowed to shutter 45 schools by 2013 anyway—if a judge allows him to. Many remaining district schools, some put under private management, will function as magnet schools, taking select applicants, not all comers. District schools will adopt the model of their non-union, charter school counterparts, skimming the best and brightest to raise test scores while pushing communities of “low-performing” students further to the margins.”
Between Bobb and Rhee (anyone over the age of 50 will get that one), I am being completely entertained. If this wasn’t such a sad state of affairs it could almost be funny.
Bob Bobb is just full of surprises.
As acting Emergency Financial Manager he is now deciding the academic program of the Detroit Public School System.
ANN ARBOR, MI (Michigan Radio) – Before the school year let out, Robert Bobb pink slipped all DPS fine art teachers and a third of the music teachers.
Under his proposed academic plan, arts would be deemed extracurricular activities. There would be one citywide chorus, one band, and one dance ensemble, among others, and only students with good grades could participate.
Joyce Schon is a lawyer for the school board, which is challenging Bobb’s plan:
“This is quite the opposite of what arts are designed to do in school, which is to draw the attention, and bring out the talents and interests of students who may or may not be doing well in school. To help them stay in school and find a reason to get more education.”
Also, any arts programs at individual schools would need to be privately funded.
The Detroit School Board’s academic plan includes arts in the curriculum.
June 27, 2010
An inside story into the Detroit “Renaissance”. I call it that because it is very similar to what went on in Chicago when developers used Arne Duncan to reconfigure that city politically and socially which was referred to as “Renaissance 2010″.
|Who’s listening to the grassroots? By Diane Bukowski Special to Michigan Citizen DETROIT — Anger and frustration.That’s the mood of hundreds of bloc club officials, Citizen District Council members, volunteer community groups, regular citizens — many with decades of community service and some just recently organized — they can’t get the ear of the mayor or the city council and they are angry.
The list of money forces lining up to direct city and school budgets and plans include the who’s who of Michigan politics and business. Some, but not all, are familiar: The Skillman Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, New Detroit and Pete Karmanos of Compuware are among many others.
Long-time community leaders say while these billion-dollar foundations have access to the mayor and council, they lack the hard-won resident perspective and legal authority to decide the city’s future.
If he who pays calls the tune, then the foundation influence is understandable. According to a Time magazine report, the $3.1 billion Kresge Foundation is paying Urban Planner Toni Griffin to lead the downsizing of Detroit. She works within city planning department, but is paid from the foundation.
Skillman and Kresge foundations put up $1.85 million to finance Data Driven Detroit (DDD), an agency that mapped the city’s 139-square-miles to aid Griffin’s downsizing.
The Eli Broad Foundation and an additional secret source are paying a portion of state-appointed DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb’s $400,000 plus salary.
The influence extends beyond downtown into the neighborhoods, where the clash between the visions of community groups and foundations play out.
In the neighborhoods, the Skillman Foundation is organizing “community governance boards,” according to an April 28 ad in the Metro Times. The Metro Times ad lists six Neighborhood Governance Boards, part of Skillman’s Good Neighborhoods Initiatives, along with names of board members elected through an unspecified process.
In contrast, Citizen District Councils, many of which are lodging the complaints, are elected by residents of the neighborhood.
The privately backed and created “governance” boards are the Brightmoor Alliance, the Chadsey-Condon Community Organization (CCCO), the Cody-Rouge Community Alliance, the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, the Southwest Detroit Neighborhoods Congress of Communities and Northend Central Woodward.
Published reports indicate Mayor Bing, City Council President Charles Pugh, Detroit Public Schools EFM Bobb and other city officials have been holding private meetings with foundations to advance “public-private partnerships” that involve city, state and federal grants of public tax dollars.
“These foundations are operating illegally,” said Roy Godwin, a board member of the Virginia Park Citizens District Council. “These groups are supposed to be philanthropists, not involved in politics,” said Godwin. “They are violating federal 501c(3) rules by doing so.”
Non-profits pay no taxes. Numerous published reports indicate many are being investigated by the federal government as well as state governments because they pay huge salaries to their executives, and provide millions of dollars in funding, some of it public, to private contractors not based in the cities they represent.
Bill Hanson, Director of Communication for the Skillman Foundation, said the governance boards are “not subverting anything or anyone.”
“They are voluntary organizations like bloc clubs and neighborhood groups,” Hanson said. Each governance board is established by various methods determined by self-selected members of the communities involved, according to Hanson.
Hanson said the governance boards do not violate Skillman’s 501(c)3 status.
“We don’t participate in partisan politics; we exist to help improve children’s lives in Detroit,” Hanson said.
Hanson said Skillman does meet with Mayor Bing and DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb, citing in particular the Taking Ownership conference held at Skillman’s headquarters in March to establish the Excellent Schools Detroit coalition.
The elected school board has cited that document as one example of Bobb’s insistence, despite state law, on controlling DPS academics. It took an order from Judge Wendy Baxter to get Bobb to meet once with the elected board.
Mayoral control of DPS
Now, the petition campaign to put mayoral control of schools on the November ballot is another example of the push to direct the policy and plans of DPS.
A well funded, unnamed group is pushing the measure. Some reports have named Detroit Regional Chamber, New Detroit, Gov. Granholm and Mayor Bing among others as supporters of the initiative. Compuware founder Peter Karmanos — who received the land for his downtown headquarters for $1 under the Archer administration — alone gave $500,000 to push the ballot question, according to news reports.
Both Bing and Granholm attended a recent fundraiser for the group. It was Granholm who appointed Bobb to fix the deficit created by the first state takeover that lasted five years and left the district with nearly $300 million of debt.
Meanwhile Granholm has failed to answer community calls for her to force EFM Bobb to meet with the school board or residents about district plans to close over 40 schools.
The group missed a June 21 deadline to get the initiative on the ballot. City council will decide if the issue will be put to voters.
Bing has said if the measure succeeds he would appoint a CEO and superintendent to run DPS.
In 2004, residents voted down Prop E, led by then-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, which would have put a mayor in charge of the schools.
Community and union leaders are saying the petition group is using misleading language to get citizens to sign petitions. They have likened it to the techniques that got Prop 2, which ended Affirmative Action in Michigan, on the ballot.
The ballot language reads: “To improve Detroit’s public schools and increase accountability for their quality, do you favor the enactment of legislation authorizing the elected Mayor of the City of Detroit, with the advice of an advisory board comprised of parents, teachers and other community representatives, replacing the school board, to: Appoint and provide oversight to the superintendent, who shall set the curriculum standards and goals for school improvement? Report annually to citizens on the progress of Detroit’s public schools?”
This promise of accountability is already being undercut. Where Title I funds were formerly monitored and managed by DPS, under Bobb some of the millions of dollars involved are directed instead to a private nonprofit, the Detroit Parent Network, directed by Sharlonda Buckman. Not only were 30 school employees cut in the process, but control and accountability have disappeared under another layer of bureaucracy, in this case a private organization.
Parks, recreation closings
Marissa Morgan, a Virginia Park CDC board member, participated in a protest June 21 against the closing of the Joseph Walker Williams Community Center.
She said the CDC had not been consulted about plans to close the center.
Under mayoral administrations in the 1960s and ’70s she said, CDCs demanded to play vital roles in any “urban re-development” projects. Members of the Black community then felt that urban renewal projects were actually “Negro removal” programs targeted at their neighborhoods. They campaigned for the renovation of the CDCs, mandated by Michigan’s Blighted Area Rehabilitation Act 344 of 1945 as amended.
Now, under the guise of charitable foundations, forty years later, “urban removal” has again reared its ugly head, CDC members say.
In all of the talk of down-sizing, demolitions, urban agriculture, city and state office holders have ignored the elected CDCs as well as existing bloc clubs, community and school organizations.
Lee Gaddies, Social Justice Chair of the First Unitarian Univeralist Church, said 18 currently constituted CDCs were to hold elections through the Detroit City Clerk’s Office in April. Those CDC’s were Art Center, Ash-Myrtle, Brush Park, Corktown, Downtown, Eight Mile-Wyoming, Elmwood Park III, Forest Park, Hubbard-Richard, Jefferson-Chalmers, Kercheval-McClellan, McDougall-Hunt, Medical Center, Mid-City, University City, Virginia Park, West Jefferson and Woodbridge.
The CDCs are empowered under Article VI of the City Code, which says, “[This article is enacted as] an ordinance to implement the power granted by the state … by establishing a method for participation and representation by residents of a district area and by persons with a demonstrable and substantial interest in an area where rehabilitation and redevelopment activities are proposed to take place by the public sector.”
“This is deliberate, to make [the CDCs] inactive,” said Joyce Moore, who ran for City Clerk in 2008. “But by law they exist from Coleman Young’s era. They have to be a part of the city’s development plan. Archer unsuccessfully came up with community clusters to replace the CDCs.”
Archer was not successful in abolishing the CDCs, but instead de-funded nearly all of them except a few favored by his administration, including Corktown and Jefferson-Chalmers.”
One of the previous board members of Skillman’s Chadsey-Condon Community Organization (CCCO), Sheila Crowell, said she renounced her role in the group.
Crowell has been active for many years in the neighborhood surrounding the now-closed Chadsey High School and Munger Middle Schools at McGraw and Junction. In an interview, she told The Michigan Citizen that The Friends of Dingeman Playfield, a 15-acre site behind the two schools, worked to re-build the playground for three years, starting in 2006, and applied for $14 million in grant funds to do so.
On Memorial Day weekend, May 29, she said in an E-mail to the Michigan Citizen that she looked out her door after a call from her daughter-in-law.
“I could see two trucks in Dingeman Playfield, digging with all their might,” Crowell said. “The equipment that our youth had was removed as if our youth meant nothing. They had one large set of swings, with three swings left, two poles meant for baby swings with no swings for the little ones, one set of swinging climbing bars, three picnic tables, and three benches. These two trucks and their drivers dug everything out of the ground, leaving nothing for any of our youth to play on.”
A group of residents from the Stahalin community on the city’s Westside appeared at City Council June 22 to seek help in preventing destruction of Hackett playground. The residents have been mowing the grass and maintaining the park. Residents told council they did not know why the playground was targeted for destruction, but they succeeded in stopping a company from removing the equipment. Had they not been there, the playground would be gone. Residents noted there was one acre left to mow and requested help with the mowing.
The resistance of Detroit residents against the onslaught of anti-democracy forces is echoed by individuals as well as groups.
In an article published on the Detroit Community of Hope Web site, Yusef Shakur, a co-owner of the Urban Network Bookstore on Grand River, blasted plans by Bing and private foundations’ plans to downsize Detroit.
Shakur grew up in the 14th and West Grand Boulevard area and has been an organizer for prisoners’ rights for the last nine years, as an ex-prisoner.
“Dave Bing and his (crime) partner Robert Bobb are nothing but knee-grow puppets that are being manipulated by private and corporate foundations/institutions, such as the Skillman Foundation and Kresge Foundation,” Shakur wrote.
“Recent decisions by Bing to ‘downsize’ Detroit and Robert Bobb to close over 40 more schools in Detroit are both heavily influenced by the Kresge and Skillman Foundations, with the latter playing on both sides of the fence through their Good Schools and Good Neighborhoods initiatives, by openly selecting certain schools and neighborhoods in Detroit that they are hand-picking to invest money in, while openly denying support to other schools and neighborhoods that are deteriorating.”