Bankruptcy for Detroit schools?

-Jarrett Skorup

“Bankruptcy may be next for Detroit schools” screams the Detroit Free Press headline.

Robert Bobb (how’s that for a name?), the state-appointed emergency financial manager called the Detroit Public Schools budget “ground zero” and the worst he’s ever seen, saying that bankruptcy for the district is an option.  DPS has a deficit of over $250 million and will have to jump its job cuts from 1,766 to 2,451.  Also, teachers have to agree to a bunch of cost-saving practices; like unpaid furloughs, health benefit cuts and larger class sizes.  Things are so grim that even The Detroit News has editorialized in favor of bankruptcy.

The tragedy here is that the sad state the district was run means a lot of teachers will lose their jobs.  Not the tenured teachers of course, just the new ones.  It’s extremely difficult here in Michigan to fire a tenured teacher, as West Ottawa found out when they attempted to fire a tenured teacher for the first time in the district’s 50-year history.  How many tenured teachers has DPS fired?  No on seems to know, but most districts agree to buyouts with the teacher in order to avoid the court costs.  Because of how hard unions have made it to fire teachers in New York City, over 700 sit in “rubber rooms” in order to keep them away from children.  A lot of non-tenured teachers have been fired in the last few months in Detroit and things are only going to get worse.

In response to these problems, Bobb said, “We need revenues.”  No Mr. Bobb, like Washington, you need to cut spending.   

This leads us to the good that may come from these problems. 

Other than bankruptcy, DPS may also have to expand its number of charter schools, liquidate assets and privatize major departments such as transportation, technology, maintenance, custodial and security services.

These are all good things that save money and increase service.  If DPS had done a better job with its enormous budget, this would not have happened.  After all, you shouldn’t have to be a ghost to have a job in Detroit.


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