In the wake of Flint, MI’s water crisis, the state of Michigan has since declared a state of emergency and is now receiving federal funds to alleviate this catastrophe. Flint may have its own battles to fight right now, but not 100 miles from the water tainted town is a city that is in need of serious change.
Detroit, the largest city in the state of Michigan and the birthplace of the auto-industry, is facing an epidemic unlike anything I have ever seen before. The Detroit Public School (DPS) system is one of the most deplorable urban school districts in the nation, academically and financially. Before I continue, here are just a few pictures of the sort conditions in which DPS students and teachers have to work: (Source @teachDetroit on Twitter)
What’s Going On?
DPS has had some financial trouble for the last few years and they are currently over $400 million dollars in debt (as of Sept 2015) and that debt is continuously growing with each passing day. Detroit is one of many underfunded school districts and has become the poster child for education reform. The financial problems of DPS are having a domino effect on the district's performance academically as well. According to the Education Week Research Center, Michigan ranks #32 among the 50 states and DC in overall state education and received a C rating in school finance. Even though the state of Michigan spends about 25% of their budget on public schools, proper education reform is more than just throwing money into education. Those finances must be properly allocated in order to ensure that it is being put to efficient use within the state’s public schools.
Students, like Jonae,are outraged and have staged protests for better school conditions. The constant neglect of these failing schools districts, especially ones located within major metropolitan areas, further disconnects inner-city kids from the resources they need and only widens the achievement gap. I mean, come on! How are students expected to learn, nonetheless stay healthy, in these sort of conditions they’re placed in every single day?
How Do We Solve It?
The people of Detroit, Michigan have already expressed their heartache through protests, so now it’s time for them to take that frustration to their representatives and the ballot box. Education reform can become a key issue for the 2016 elections in Michigan, and will hopefully bring about the change needed to get the state back on track. Even if you don’t live in the state of Michigan, you can still take action in your own state to ensure that you’re getting the best education possible. The point is to be involved in the issues that you are passionate about and want to see serious change happen. The power of the student’s voice has been long dormant; it is time for us to take a stand for what we believe in and pursue our goals. We as students, future educators, and citizens of the United States, need to acknowledge the injustice happening around our country. We must learn from the mistakes of our past and use them to build for a better future.
This piece is a part of the Friday student voice series. If you enjoyed what you read, be sure to recommend this article and follow The Synapse to see more passionate voices in education.