By Brian L. Love
Everyone has been paying a lot of attention to the victory of President-Elect Trump (I'm guilty too) and what it means to our nation. How will he approach defense, our economy, law enforcement and education? To be sure, we will be following these developments for the next four years. Looking closer to home. What will Detroit's new school board look like? More importantly how will they act as a team to solve the many issues facing education in Detroit?
Detroit's election results bring six out of seven new, first time candidates to the Detroit Public School Board. Four of the six were heavily supported by labor unions and other community organizations, but does that mean they will put adult issues before kids. We will see soon.
The new board members are: Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, Georgia Lemmons, Iris Taylor, Misha Stallworth, Sonya Mays, Deborah Hunter-Harvill and Lamar Lemmons.
This group will face such issues as declining enrollment, an under paid work force and stiff competition from charter schools just to name a few. They will have to come together to support a district superintendent who has been on the job less than a year. But they must show there is consistent leadership at the superintendent level. The district has had too many superintendent/emergency manager changes.
On top of that. There is a coalition of community groups who have joined together to sue the state of Michigan for creating terrible conditions for Detroit's children to be able to learn to read. And when your state comes out and says kids don't have a right to read. You know it is going to be ugly. And the DPS legislation that passed earlier this year is said to "not" provide enough funds to keep the school district stable for more than a couple of years. There is a lot on this board's plate. By the way, they are volunteer board members. Detroit School Board members are not paid full time wages. So most of them have full time jobs. That alone speaks to their commitment to educating our kids.
From my conversations with Iris Taylor, Sonya Mays and Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, they bring their individual expertise in their field of work to the table. Which will be important. Misha Stallworth is a young person who comes from long time political family that has been dedicated to community service and Detroit's comeback.
I've never met Deborah Hunter-Harvill, but sources tell me she is a professional who brings school administration experience to the table. This list rounds out with the husband/wife duo of Lamar and Georgia Lemmons. Lamar will undoubtedly continue his fight to beat up the state of Michigan and pursue audits of the district's finances. He will not be boring to watch. I'm sure Mrs. Lemmons and he will agree on just about everything, so they should be able to keep a happy home. Lamar Lemmons will be the expert politician on the board.
But in such a strange kind of change year, does it pay to be an experienced politician? Apparently, most Detroiters wanted to see someone new. Ironically, like Trump supporters they wanted a new face that speaks to their concerns and their issues. November 8th served notice that if you don't hear what people are saying. If you don't address "their" concerns. They are going to vote for someone else. Besides Lamar Lemmons, none of the other current school board members were able to get re-elected. That is almost unheard of in Detroit.
The people have spoken. They voted for a new sense of hope for Detroit's children. And because of our kids, I hope they can improve conditions for Detroit public school kids. #Voices4Ed #ChoiceIsOurs
Let us know what you think on Twitter @DSchoolsRock.