A week before the Nov. 6 election Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Roy Roberts made a big statement: He warned that if Proposal 1 (the controversial legislation that gave him broad power over of the beleaguered school district) fell through, he may leave is post as EFM.
What would ultimately influence Roberts’ decision to stay or go? The Detroit Board of Education.
At the time of the announcement, it was unclear if the warning was just a pre-election threat to get people to vote "Yes on 1" or if jumping ship was something Roberts really planned to do in a time when the district has seen much restructuring under his leadership, and in at a crossroads.
Roberts said he would make a decision as to whether he would stick with DPS based on how the Board of Education received him in a post-election meeting on how to proceed without Public Act 4.
Proposal 1 asked voters if the State should uphold Public Act 4---a beefed up version of a Emergency Manager legislation enacted in 1990---which enabled the Governor to appoint financial managers with sweeping powers to municipalities and school districts undergoing financial crisis. The measure was defeated and now the old emergency manager law, Public Act 72 of 1990 holds, limiting the power of EFMs like Roberts strictly to finances. If the board members were willing to work with him and not against him as Roberts claims they have done in the past, Roberts said he would stay.
Ultimately, Roberts has put the future of his post in the hands of School Board members, the same Board whose president repeatedly called for Roberts and his predecessor, Robert Bobb, to step down.
It's an interesting tactic. If Roberts resigns, he's has positioned it so that it is the School Board's fault for not being willing to set aside politics and put the children first.
Roberts wrote in a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder one week before the election stating:
"In the absence of legislation empowering a single entity with the authority to operate the district, continued progress will be virtually impossible. Therefore, while my commitment to the children of Detroit remains as strong as it was when I began this journey, without the tools provided by (the law), I do not believe that my presence here can have any further impact."
One day after the Nov. 6 election defeated Proposal 1, Roberts wrote in a letter to DPS employees:
“I also reached out to the School Board to schedule a meeting to discuss how we can move forward in the best interest of educating Detroit's children. I am confident that as long as we can keep the focus on the children we can work together to make DPS a leader in public education once again.”
Roberts, it seems, isn’t giving up just yet. A day after the defeat of Proposal 1, Roberts sent a letter to DPS employees with an upbeat message about the passage of a school millage renewal.
Pending a meeting with the school board on how to move forward in a post-PA4 environment, Roberts said he was willing to stay at DPS for at least another 30 days. If he resigns, he has implied it will be the School Board’s fault for making his job too difficult.
Roberts has gained a reputation of a no-nonsense leader who is frank about the district's problems. One of Roberts’ biggest accomplishments during his two-year tenure has been to shrink the district’s deficit by from $327 million to $75 million, mostly in bond sales.
At events around the city Roberts made it clear that he didn’t like the prospect of having to work with the school board.
“You can’t have two masters in a home,” he said of having to battle with the School Board over every decision he makes that ‘s not strictly financial.
How school board members will receive Roberts in the upcoming meeting has yet to be seen, although the relationship between the two has been rocky. Will school board members and Roberts come to an agreement in the best interest of Children’s education?
They should. If Roberts and the school board truly have the children’s best interest at heart, they will find a way to put their differences aside and come to a compromise. And it’s not just up to the school board. Roberts will have to concede some of his power to the Board and do the work that Robert Bobb did before public act 4 was enacted. It's doable, it just takes more negotiating.
The question shouldn’t be whether or not the Board of Education will allow Roberts to do his work. The compromise has to come from both ends.
The question should be how they both will work together and best use all of their talents. At this point it really is a test, on both the School Board's and Robert’s part on who is willing to put pride and power aside in the name of one of the nation’s most important rights: public of education.
It’s Election Day and for many who have been tuned in to the political races and proposal controversy today offers a welcomed chance end the campaign storm by give the final word—or vote—to end the dizzying campaign madness.
While most candidate races will be put to rest before midnight (barring another epic indecision on votes cast), other issues that have been awaiting a vote won’t quietly dart off into the sunset once voters say “yes” or “no”. In fact, the vote will only trigger an unprecedented downpour of litigation and power scraping.
Take the ballot proposals for example. In Detroit, there are 18 of them on the two-page ballot. While some of them are not controversial (millage renewals, etc.), many of them are.
The statewide proposals alone will lather up enough lawsuits and frenzy after the vote to make us dizzy all over again.
Proposal 1, the proposal asking voters whether we should keep the State’s emergency manager law, for instance, will bring enough litigation from either side, whether voters say yes or no. If voters approve the emergency manager law, political action groups that gad fought it before will keep on fighting it, calling it undemocratic and trying to find ways to block it or get it tossed in court.
If voters strike down Prop 1, the chaos within cities and school systems will only get worse. People can expect lawsuits of all sorts over wage cuts, political power, officials, lawsuits between the city and the state, you name it.
If we look at the path as to how each of these issues even got to the ballot we will see a trail of tangled litigation. And it won’t end at the polls.
It’s not just litigation that will continue after the vote on proposals, many of the proposals, especially proposal three that would pose a constitutional mandate to have businesses get 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025, will put the State legislature to work, combing out the details of the proposals and finding the verbiage and structure to fit into the constitution.
The battle over Proposal 6, better known as the bridge proposal, may not stop at the vote, either.
The Detroit Free Press’ John Ghallager writes:
“Canada would be paying the estimated $2.1-billion cost of the new crossing, it's unclear whether the constitutional amendment contained in Proposal 6 against spending state funds without a statewide vote would affect building it.”
But just because certain issues may continue to be debated and litigated after the vote does not mean our votes don’t count. In fact, voters are carrying the weight of the decision; it’s the details that will get hashed out after in the legislature and perhaps through litigation.
So if you haven’t already done so, get to the polls and decide for yourself.
Check out this Voter Guide if you need a last minute refresher on the issues and the candidates.
With the fist day of school approaching fast, Michigan’s newest school district—the Education Achievement Authority (EAA)— is pushing to enroll as many students possible by any means necessary, or so it seems.
As the fate of Public Act 4—the legislation that made the EAA possible—now hangs in the balance of a public vote come Nov. 6, it’s crucial to keep the momentum, and enrollment, rolling at full speed according to district officials.
Despite the uncertain outcome of the Nov. 6 vote on the controversial emergency manager law, the district is charging “full steam ahead” according to Roy Roberts, emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools and director of the EAA.
In order to fill the classrooms on time and overthrow any doubts or uncertainty about the new EAA schools, The EAA, which is a public/private partnership between the State of Michigan and Eastern Mcihgian University, got popular bad boy rapper T.I. to urge youngsters via a radio advertisement on a local hip-hop station to enroll in an EAA school.
A Radio ad airing on The New Hot 107.5 FM on Sunday, dubbed the EAA “ the hottest new schools” featuring T.I’s voice asking kids to tell their parents to get them in an EAA school.
This choice of spokesperson raises the some questions: What’s the message here? Obviously kids listen to T.I., but should the EAA district be using a rapper whose reputation is smeared by frequent stints in prison for illegal gun charges as the pied piper leading students their doors?
The enrollment numbers aren’t that bad: Last week The Detroit News reported that the district had 6,660 students signed up and ready to start. The goal is 11,000 students total to fill all 15 EAA schools. That’s about more than half of the final goal and enrollment will continue through September.
While T.I. is popular, and could get student’s attention, it’s the parents who ought to be making these decisions of where to place their child, not kids who want to go to a school because their favorite rapper—who brags about shooting people in his songs—thinks it’s “hot.”
The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday ruled that PA4, the state’s controversial emergency manager law, be put on the November ballot for Michigan voters to decide it's fate in the November election.
But now that the law has been put to a vote of the people, it is technically not a law (quite yet) anymore until the people decide. So the emergency manager law may be suspended until November, although lawsuits are set to fly on whether it should be.
Gov. Rick Snyder has said that everything done thus far under PA4 will not suddenly be erased, but no new developments cannot be made until the November vote. Current emergency managers will have to take a demotion for a few months and go back o the the powers they had under the former emergency manager law, passed in 1990.
The 1990 law does not give emergency managers as much power. One key difference is that it forbids an E.M. to shape collective bargaining agreements.
The Detroit Free Press report quoted one lawyer, John Philo, legal director of the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice in Detroit saying:
“…Going forward, anything under the consent agreement that is ostensibly under Public Act 4 can’t be taken – anything that’s clearly a Public Act 4 power is suspended. It raises serious questions about any continuing powers for the Financial Advisory Board and some of the powers granted to the program management director.”
There are other lawyers like Donato Lorio, a lawyer for the Detroit Police Officers Association, who believe city’s recent pay and benefits cuts imposed on city labor unions are now “null and void.”
Whatever the case, Detroit is in for another round of turbulent debates and Michiganders will face a big decision come November. No more bickering from the sidelines, people get a chance to once and for all put this controversial law to rest.
But it does raise the question: If there's no strong emergency manager law, then what's in store for DPS and other cities facing financial crisis?
Watch This! Why Public Education Needs Major Reform
This video is a GREAT starting point for further investigation into the bankruptcy of modern education. It’s well worth 10 minutes of your precious time.
Right not in Detroit, public education is being reformed with the new Education Achievement System (EAA) district and other measures. That’s why it’s more important now than ever for people to know what education of the future look like; and demand it.
It’s not just in Detroit that education needs reform. This is a global issue. Kids are being taught in a system that was created during the industrial revolution. All you have to do is look around to know that times have changed since then. But school systems have not.
Kenneth Robinson, an English author, speaker, and international advisor on education, argues in this video breaks down the fundamental flaws in the current global education system.
A must-watch for parents and students:
Click HERE to watch video.
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