Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Michigan Education Silent Variables Take The Stage

Here we have a report of poor attendance in Detroit Public Schools where public discussions have mitigated plausible variables with silence.  This is a fancy way of saying the comments are only focused on slinging dung on the same old tired effigies of teachers, unions and poverty.

Now comes the debut of one of those silent variables: zero tolerance in schools.

Charter schools are known for not providing special needs services to students which, in turn, puts a burden on DPS.  The burden is so significant many of these students who are put out for being incorrigible are done so without ever getting an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Mental health is another one of those silent variables excluded from the public discussion on education.  If a kid is acting up in the classroom, you would think he is in need of services.  Unfortunately, to get proper mental health services for many children in Michigan, you have to catch a Child Protective Services case to access funding and resources.  Public schools are not equipped to provide mental health services but there have been recent discussions, as dearth as they may be, addressing the needs of this school population,

With the introduction of new legislation to pool resources of mental health and drug abuse we see there is movement to better improve the quality and delivery of services in the state, but this type of reformation has yet to trickle down to the public education administrative model, so it is a start to control another one of those silent variables in public education.

Mental health is not strictly assigned to cognitive and psychological developmental disabilities, it can also be temporal.  Some public schools are so distressed that students have to bring their own toilet paper to school.  I recall having to go to the girls room in Denby High School.  It was locked.  A group of girls told me to go to the first floor and find the guard.  The guard had to come and unlock the bathroom.  There were no doors on the stalls and the handicapped toilet was laying on its side.  The bathroom was relatively clean as you could see the students made a conservative effort to put the discarded paper toweling in a pile in the corner because there were no trash receptacles.

How would you feel if you had to be in an environment like that for 8 hours a day?  I'm guessing you would not want to be there.

Then there are the walks and bus rides to school.  Some of the neighborhoods are so distressed that it is not safe for students to walk to the bus stop or the school.  How would you feel looking over your shoulder every morning and coming home from school.

How would you feel to know that if you have no chance of graduating and if you do your chances of finding a job are slim to none in Detroit.  Unemployment is over 50% with no low skilled employment opportunities.  Depressing, wouldn't you say?

I am a big fan of alternative education because I know it works from first hand experience.  It's time we focus on maximizing the potential of each student's individual strengths while meeting the needs of identified weaknesses.

Make school an all year, wraparound environment for the entire family.  It's called an investment in the best interests of the child to garner a profitable adult.  Simply put, reinvest in human capital to reap the rewards of a productive, taxpaying citizen when they grow up.  This is what the output of our education equation should be.

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