Derelict Detroit school.
As Detroit struggles with bankruptcy, its public schools are struggling, too. They even have their very own emergency manager, and he has a new plan. Instead of a mere 38 students per class in grades 6 through 12, the new target will be 43 students per class in those grades. I'll repeat that: 43 students per class.

Next up, we can expect a wave of publicity about Detroit's failing teachers, to which I again say "43 students per class. YOU teach under those circumstances." If you're saying "well, Detroit is bankrupt, it's to be expected," first off, you are morally bankrupt. Second, this:

... the proportion of general fund dollars reaching the classroom has declined under emergency management — and not just by a little bit! Spending on classroom instruction constituted 55 percent and 58 percent, respectively, of all general fund expenditures in 2008 and 2009 — the last two years that the elected board set spending targets. Since then, spending on instruction has trended downward, reaching a historic low with Jack Martin’s 2015 budget at a level of just 46.8 percent.

And while emergency management was to bring “business world efficiency” to the public sector, spending on central administration has actually received a growing slice of the pie. In all, the proportion of general fund spending earmarked for general administration (which includes only central administrative costs, and not business office and school-level administrative costs) is now 64 percent above the proportion allocated in fiscal year 2008, the last year DPS administration did not support an EM’s management team.  

Money is also being dedicated to debt service that could reasonably be sent to the classrooms serving Detroit's schoolchildren, while schools are closed and enrollment is declining; "the debt is 'parked' on fewer and fewer students every year, meaning that a larger portion of dollars intended for students in the classroom goes to debt instead."

And, as Diane Ravitch points out, "Governor Snyder cut corporate taxes." In other words, Detroit is yet another sorry case study in how corporate education reform is about destroying public education, not "choice" or "civil rights" or any of the other ways it's marketed by the billionaires who back it.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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