October 9th, 2012
02:11 PM ET

Can lawsuit, charter takeover save Highland Park, Michigan, schools?

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

Highland Park, Michigan (CNN) - A few weeks before school began here, parents filed into the high school cafeteria to meet the people just hired to revamp one of the state's worst-performing districts: their own.

They came with questions. What time would the school day start? What were these new uniforms they’d heard about? Would all the schools stay open? Would the same teachers be there? The same kids? Was there anything worth saving?

For years, financial and academic turmoil plagued Highland Park schools. The state of Michigan says the district ran at an operating deficit five of the last six years. Barely 800 kids still attended its three schools, and even those buildings were overgrown with weeds and tagged with graffiti.

There was a lot of cash coming in, more than $14,000 per student, but there weren’t enough textbooks to go around. Standardized test scores were embarrassingly low; among 11th-graders, 10% scored proficient in reading and 5% proficient in math. Some kids went on to college, but nobody - 0% - of kids reached the ACT's college readiness benchmarks.

The district drew national attention this summer when the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a "first-of-its-kind" lawsuit against the state, education leaders and Highland Park schools for allegedly failing to teach students to read at grade level.

Now the state-appointed emergency financial manager had handed the district over to a charter school operator, the Leona Group, for a five-year contract worth more than $750,000. In a statement, the Michigan governor’s office said it moved to address “a long overdue fiscal and academic crisis that was crippling the district” because it “can’t and won’t accept academic failure.”

For some here, it was a hostile takeover. For others, a new hope.

The new superintendent, Pamela Williams, was born in Highland Park, the crowd heard. She'd just taken charge in the days before, but the few answers she had were clear: School starts at 8:15 a.m. All kids wear white shirts with black or blue pants. All three buildings - the high school and two K-8 academies - stay open. Some teachers stay, but many would be new. If the charter operator did its job, she said, the same kids would be there, and maybe even more.

"We're basically asking for your support and participation," Williams said.

She told parents they expected to have about 25 kids per class, and a core academic focus in schedules. Their beloved polar bear mascot would stay, and the buildings would be cleaned up. There would be football and basketball, but she wasn't yet sure whether there was equipment for a band. The school newspaper? The swimming pool? No. Maybe next year.

Some people looked disappointed. A couple of parents yelled. Williams said they weren't thinking about the past or who was to blame for the schools' troubles; she'd just started and wasn't even sure what the district had already been through. No officials at the meeting wanted to comment on the lawsuit.

Williams had a request: "When we call and ask you to come, we need you to be here."

The crowd applauded.

‘You can make the school gooder’

Highland Park is a small city adjacent to Detroit, about three square miles that were once a center of innovation. The city was home to Henry Ford’s original Model T plant. Chrysler built its headquarters here in the 1920s but left in the early 1990s. The city's diverse, middle-class population ballooned to around 50,000 from the 1920s into the 1950s, then declined to about 11,000 in 2010. Its Beaux Arts-style library opened in 1926 but is now boarded up, empty. Last year, the city infamously tore out its street lights because it couldn’t pay the electricity bill.

The ACLU was already researching school issues when it bumped into the little-known state law that required assistance for students who aren't proficient in reading according to state tests they take in fourth and seventh grade. It investigated the worst-performing school districts, said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, and could've targeted the lawsuit at any of them.

But the disorganization and low scores in Highland Park struck her. It was in this little city that they met students, younger and older, who couldn't read. The lawsuit says these students were “denied the instruction necessary to attain basic literacy skills."

Plaintiffs are identified only by their initials in the lawsuit, and none were willing to talk with CNN. The ACLU included a series of short letters schoolchildren wrote to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, just a few sentences that sometimes complained about the lack of books and working bathrooms.

One letter from a fourth-grader reads:

"This is what I what to do when I what grow up at Bussness lady And can you give my a favorite By helping me to work my way up to keep up Jobs."

In another, a Highland Park seventh-grader spelled his name incorrectly, the ACLU said. He wrote:

"You can make the school gooder by getting people that will do the Jod that is pay for get a football tame for the Kinds mybe a baksball tamoe get a Other Jamtacher for the School get a lot of tacher."

The schools' failure doesn’t land solely on parents, teachers, district or state school leaders, Moss said, but she thinks the lawsuit forces them to work together.

“There’s lots of blame to go around,” Moss said. “We’re saying all the adults have failed (Highland Park kids).”

In the short term, she said, the ACLU wants learning conditions improved - textbooks in classrooms, cleaned up buildings, functioning bathrooms and heating systems. It wants every kid to have an individual literacy test and an appropriate intervention implemented.

“We can’t lose another year or two,” she said. “If kids aren’t learning to read, they’re not reading to learn."

The struggle with reading - and what that means for other types of learning - rings true to Johnathan Shearrod. He was a school leader and mediocre student before graduating from Highland Park schools in 2002, but looking back, he said he knows it was a poor education. Some teachers cared, he said, but they couldn’t take copies of “1984” home because there weren’t enough books.

When he met kids from other districts during student government trips, they talked about AP English or AP calculus, about how the Advanced Placement tests would save them so much trouble in college. He didn’t know what AP meant but didn’t want to look ignorant by admitting it in front of them.

Once, he said, he passed an exam on the Civil War - not because of what he’d learned in class, but because of what he’d heard on TV. He hung the test on the fridge.

“It was my grandmother and PBS that got me through,” he said.

Johnathan Shearrod is a 2002 Highland Park schools graduate.

Later on, in college at Lake Superior State University - a school in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where Shearrod knew nobody - he spent hours on the phone with his high school friends. Everybody was struggling after high school. Some wanted to drop out of college. Eventually, some did.

Shearrod enrolled in remedial math, classes that cost money but didn’t count toward graduation. In the writing center, it blew his mind when a tutor explained the differences between their, there and they’re.

“You realize ‘I’m here because I’m stupid,’ ” he said. “At the end of the day, I told myself ‘I can either cry’ - which I did - ‘and go home. Or … you can get your ass in gear.’ ”

So, he said, he asked for help. He stayed in to study while others went out. He learned that rewriting his notes helped him retain information. His grades crept higher, but it never felt easy.

“Drive and hard work would only get me to mediocrity,” he said. “It's like starting the 100-meter dash 13 seconds late, and the race is only seven seconds.”

Ten years since graduation, he’s finished his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. He spent a couple of years with the Peace Corps in Niger, working as a youth educator. He lives in Detroit and works for a nonprofit. There are still times when he stumbles on a task and wonders: Why do I not know how to do this?

Since school started, there's been little movement on the ACLU lawsuit. It was scheduled for a technical hearing this month, an ACLU spokeswoman said. Moss said bringing in a charter school operator is not enough to assure change for the kids, or to ensure state laws are enforced.

"There's been this focus on governance - a focus on bringing in an emergency manager or bringing in a charter company - but there's not been a focus on what kind of academic interventions need to happen in order to really have a quality difference in the kind of education the kids are getting," she said.

Shearrod said he thinks Highland Park schools have probably gotten worse since he’d graduated, and laws should’ve halted its free fall. More than any other changes, the lawsuit makes him hopeful that the schools will improve.

“It takes one person brave enough to scream, on their soapbox, at the top of their lungs, into the microphone,” he said. “Until you get the right person or group of people to hear it, does anyone ever hear you?”

Just got to wait for the grades’

Since school started after Labor Day, some Highland Park teachers have returned to their classes, but more are new, said Williams, superintendent of the newly named Highland Park Renaissance Academy. Teachers are gathering baseline data so they can address kids’ academic needs individually, she said. Williams estimates the charter school system will spend about $7,000 per pupil - half what was spent before - and she's confident it will get results come test time.

“Our investment is solely on the teaching and, well, a couple with the renovations, because, again, you cannot educate a child with ceiling tiles falling,” she said.

Williams said she has no comment on the lawsuit.

“My energy is focused on educating our children,” she said, “whether there's a lawsuit or not.”

Some parents said they're already seeing changes. The charter school operators added new lights and fresh coats of paint. They sealed off parts of buildings where kids used to cause trouble. There aren't police cars on the corners anymore.

Karen Johnson graduated from Highland Park schools, and her 16-year-old son, Kyle, is enrolled there now. She works flexible shifts at a home improvement store in the suburbs, and isn't always around to drive him to school or robotics club. They live close enough for him to walk, or catch a ride.

“The lawsuit is legit,” Johnson said. "They spent more time just getting the kids under control."

But one month into the school year, the buildings are starting to look better and kids don't linger in the hallways when they should be in class. She hears kids in detention are doing their schoolwork, and working on the buildings. She said she likes seeing the teachers and principals at football games. She loves that they recognize her, and know her son’s name.

Kyle's attitude has changed, too.

“He was doing good in class, but he’d be like, ‘I don’t feel like going to school today,’ ” she said. “Now it’s, ‘We’ve got to leave early. I want to make sure I get there on time.’ ”

Henry Ford Academy has reopened after being boarded up this summer.

It’s hasn’t been entirely smooth; Johnson said she believes the Leona Group inherited a mess. There still aren't enough books, so the focus is more on short stories and articles. Kyle and his friends heard only recently that some classes they've taken might not apply to graduation requirements. Plenty of parents - especially some she saw at the meeting this summer - are never around. She said she's curious to see how many of the new teachers stick around.

“These teachers, they say something and they want you to question it, at least to see if you’re paying attention,” Johnson said. “They allow them to think. (Kyle) has opinions. He talks about what’s going on in class, what he learned that day."

They won't really know how it's going till she sees a report card for her son. She knows he could use some help with reading and English.

It's only a month in. Like everybody else, she said she wants to see the test scores.

“I don’t want to get too excited," she said. "You’ve just got to wait for the grades.”

CNN’s Poppy Harlow and Laura Dolan contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Charter schools • Policy • Reading • video
soundoff (319 Responses)
  1. Jim

    I've tutored kids at these types of schools. A good part of the problem is that those who are at or near grade level get pulled down by those who are behind. Schools are no longer allowed to fail students, so classes are dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. An important part of helping the kids in failing schools isn't just helping those who can't read but making sure the brightest of the students aren't lost along the way. So much time and money is spent helping improve the test scores of the struggling students, very little concern is ever given to those kids who are on target academically. This is where vouchers to private schools could really make a difference.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • jvance

      Jim.
      I've never been a teacher but I suspect you're right. I was in a parochial primary school in the 1950s long before "political correctness" appeared on the scene. It was blindingly obvious to those crabby old nuns (and eventually to the students themselves) that there were different "learning skills" (God forbid one say intellectual capacity) between individuals. We were quickly divided up into different groups (redbirds and bluebirds in my case) for each class and handled separately. I hate to admit it but we all knew what was going on and accepted it. Since it was handled with equanimity (I was a redbird for reading and a bluebird for arithmetic) it appeared to be a reasonable approach and appeared to be effective.
      You can't possibly take such an approach now since you would hurt feelings and break character, but for cyring out loud I wasn't good at math and quickly recognized that fact. So I couldn't become an engineer or a physicist, but it focused me towards my strengths and I became reasonably successful in life.
      And to Terry Lanz wherever you are, I had a huge crush on you while you were whipping out those long division problems on the board under the steely eye of Sister Rose Stephen.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Bd76

      That is a huge part of the problem. I used to work as a teachers' aid in a high school for kids with behavior problems. It was not unusal to have a senior in a freshman science class because they never passed freshman science. You saw that in all of the classes. I never understood why the students were allowed to advance if they failed more than one class (if they fail a class, they have to make it up in summer school is my opinion).

      Another huge problem is that the culture needs to be changed. Parents, society etc no longer support how important an education is. My friend is a high school english teacher and only half of her kids have any interest in graduating. For them (it is a very culturally mixed area) they are already getting a higher education than their immigrant parents. There is no thought to college or a trade school. Kids who do graduate expect to immedietly get a job and have the money to buy the latest iphone and Coach bag. It is sad.

      Money has nothing to do with the failure of the system, becuase you get what you put into it. I was homeless in 7th grade and again in 12th grade. I knew darn well that I had to graduate high school to get out of that cycle. I worked my way through college and will never be in that situation again. As I said, it is like with anything in life...you get what you put into it...and most of these kids and their families are not putting in the work, time and effort. The main exception that I see is when schools dont have enough books...that is a different story. That is an exception to when money is an issue.

      October 10, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  2. Jokesterer

    I'm stupid.
    I know, I'll have a kid.
    ...
    Why is my kid stupid?

    October 10, 2012 at 6:25 am |
  3. ManTex

    If the parents would take the time to see that homework was done and the children regularly attended school they would be amazed at the progress that their children would make.

    A child can not learn at school is it does not have support at home ... including making sure that they attend class

    October 10, 2012 at 5:27 am |
  4. bibleverse1

    It takes parents, teachers, and students to change education. With out these components all the money in the world wont make a difference.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Name*swanson

      It also takes administration, curriculum, textbooks, and technology to be successful and hours of studying at home daily to be successful as a student in school today. Textbooks need to be available in urban districts as well as rural. Some central administrations need to bug textbooks and technology. The internet can't be the only curriculum for students

      October 10, 2012 at 1:44 am |
      • Ryan

        It sounds like UNICEF and other agencies are teaching more with less funding than this district.

        October 10, 2012 at 4:13 am |
  5. Abby

    I think that the lawsuit will help to get the teachers, parents, and students motivated. They don't seem motivated enough to really do something, but once they all see there needs to be a change and that it has to happen now, I think all of these people will realize they need to work together and fix the school. Children need to have a good education to get a good job that pays well, and school is in charge of making sure they have the foundation for the rest of their years of learning.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  6. kyphi

    I just read a study that shows women have higher IQ's than men.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  7. kyphi

    I just read a study that women have higher IQ's than men.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Hmmm

      Verbal for sure. Spatial, less. Men & women, on average, possess very different brain wiring. This proves men are better than women. I think. Obviously joking about the last part. Dont get bent out of shape!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Hugo

      Google Howard Gardner (professor and researcher at Harvard) before you spout off IQ scores as if they are significant.

      October 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  8. adam

    The parents are to blame for a child that can not even read at the most basic level.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • kyphi

      Doing drugs while pregnant or shaking an infant can cause such disabilities.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Hugo

      What if the parents (or remaining parent) can't read at a basic level? How do they teach what they don't know?

      In my case, my mother could read and write and help me with that. But by the time I got to 7th grade, she could no longer help me with math. I was better at it than she was. My father, who could have helped me, wasn't able to because he was dead.

      How was my remaining parent supposed to help me with math when she didn't have the math skills?

      October 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  9. jcluma

    j vance says it well. Education is life-long, and school is just to get you started. If you miss the boat the first 12 years, you CAN start over and persevere until you have the skills that will support a job and your life-long effort. But that effort should never stop, and is required now for just about everyone seeking a better life.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  10. Hmmm

    Cal, you would be as intelligent as you are now if you had taken a "bad path" in life. But, you wouldnt have the academic tools to use with your high IQ in order to make your way to the top. If youre the best homebuilder in the world, but someone steals your tools, you cant build a home. This is the logic you seem to argue against.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Hmmm

      Maybe this will make sense, cal. If you take a $4000 springer spaniel and never train it, it's a smart dog without tools. If you train it well, it might be the best dog in the world. Environment affects outcome. 'nuff said.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  11. kyphi

    Meanwhile, the suicide rate of Asian-American teenage girls is the highest of all ethnic groups.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  12. Hmmm

    Cal, if you didnt have other bigoted posts, Id be inclined to agree more with you. I think the IQ data is something people need to discuss and use as one of the tools to answer "how do we help." What bothers me is your outwardly bigoted posts demeaning minorities. Even if IQ tests have zero bias, to use those results to further some of your comments is inhumane. The reason that research is so "hush hush" is because bigots would use it to demean people We are all humans.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Hmmm

      Something to add, Cal, is that the standardized NCLB tests support what youre saying. Minorities underperform. Standardized tests all have strong correlation with one another. But to talk of "IQ", even tho nclb tests are basically the same thing, gets people all emotional. The question is, what environmental factors can we control to reduce the gap?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  13. j vance

    I wonder if we would do well to emphasize to kids that they will need to be students for their entire lives and that it is crucial that they must "learn to learn" and be prepared to educate themselves on permanent basis. There simply aren't many "static" jobs out there, where you do essentially the same thing for 40-50 years.
    Both doctors and electricians need to update their knowledge base to remain good at what they do and kids should be taught that the "formal" education they are getting is just the start of a lifetime acquiring new skills and information.
    And our leaders and politicians should be more cautious about emphasizing "college" as the ultimate form of higher education. Not everyone needs to study Beowulf in World Lit 120 to be considered intelligent and professional.
    Bring the master auto mechanic to class and have him tell the students what he has to do to stay top-notch at his job. Show them you don't have to work in a corner office to receive respect as a contributor to the community, but you do need to take pride in the quality of your vocation, whatever it may be.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • s

      "learn to learn" is PRECISELY correct. i've always said that a teachers job is not to stuff our children full of facts and figures and obscure trivia, but to teach them how to learn, and teachers agree. "cookie cutter", one-size-fits-all educational systems consistently fail because the kids are forced to memorize things for tests, rather than be helped to figure out how the brains in their little beans work best. some kids are better learning kinesthetically, some verbally, some visually. you can't get the same results across the board implementing only one way of teaching, yet we continue to ask our teachers to do this. standardized testing? WHOSE standards? WHAT standards? i'll go you one better on something: kids should be taught that "formal education" is a broadening and continuation of what they've ALREADY begun, in addition to "education" being a lifelong experience. i suspect that a big part of the problem our kids have is that too many ppl think that "education" = "going to school" and never stop to think that we, as parents, have a duty to be the first educators. but then, i think we need to get more parents to understand that "education" means teaching our kids how to learn, and we are the first authority on how best our child learns from the world around them. every minute of every day can be a "teachable moment" as they say, and too many ppl don't seem to realize those teachable moments start shortly after a child is born, not 4 or 5 years down the road when they're finally school age.

      October 10, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  14. Hmmm

    Genes are inherited. How they are expressed is partially environmental. You really deny that, Cal? Furthermore, the studies youre referencing do not show enough of a difference to say minorities are significantly less achieving. The overlap between mid-high IQ range in minorities and caucasians proves that. Minorities, in general, still overlap significany on IQ tests so that minorities outperform caucasians close to as often as vice versa.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • kyphi

      Add to that the prenatal care and nutrition of the mother. IQ tests are outdated and skewed to favor whites.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  15. kyphi

    I have seen some "IQ" tests. How in the world are children who have never seen an ironing board and iron supposed to know what it is used for. Truthfully, our educational system needs a complete overhaul. Ever since technology brought us past reading books and outside activities, our children began losing interest in school. We cannot turn back the clock so we must adapt.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  16. Hmmm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081106153538.htm

    October 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  17. Hmmm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081106153538.htm

    One of many new neuroscientific findings.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  18. reader1981

    The anonymity of the internet must be a comfort to you, and your ilk. For all those suggesting the problem is soley due to lower IQs of blacks... how do you explain the Honey Boo Boos of the world, not to mention the pastorcal 77s of the world? Your racism has unbalanced you. There are numerous studies contradicting your ridiculous notions..environment plays a much larger role than many of you knukle draggers would care to believe.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • reader1981

      Thanks, but no thanks. The problem with racists is they tend to make assumptions devoid of facts. Perhaps if you were not so torqued up on Mountin Dew, you would not be repeating such ridiculous nonsense. I have come to the conclusion that what is true of most racists is doubly true of you...you don't have a clue. I tend to dismiss individuals of your lot...DISMISS!

      October 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • kyphi

      just thank god their kind is dying off

      October 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  19. Dick Lawrence

    Sorry CNN, should be "more gooder" Ha Ha

    October 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Hugo

      Dick, CNN was quoting a 7th grade student. If that's what the student wrote, then CNN did the job correctly by accurately reporting that.

      CNN does much that is wrong but how about limiting your criticism to errors CNN actually makes?

      October 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  20. Robot Doc

    How funny... I paid about 3500 per kid (k-8) and about 8,000 for private high school s(100% grad rate) in the Detroit area...both significantly lower than the 14,000, and all my kids are doing very well. It is ashame that we have to work 2 jobs to do this. What the heck is that District (and others in the area)?

    October 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Robot Doc

      OOopps...meant to say..."what the heck are these districts doing with the money"? I blame my keyboard.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
      • s

        always blame the cat. even if you don't have one XD

        October 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  21. bob

    The saddest thing about all of this is that we have children that are being graduated from high school that cannot read or balance a checkbook.

    WHAT has happened to America? WHAT has happened to the education process? WHERE are the PARENTS? Doesn't ANYONE care about these children, or their future, that is, the future of our country?

    Hello? Anyone out there?

    Anyone? Hello?

    October 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • aasdf

      You forgot to mention the overwhelming focus on 'esteem'. You can fail a student or even give real feedback because that might make him or her "feel bad". Sure having self worth is important but this is result of focusing so much on feelings over teaching and learning.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • aasdf

      *can't

      October 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Hugo

      Name calling won't help solve the problem. Name calling is part of the problem.

      The answer is to work with your adversaries. (Isn't that the Christian thing to do?)

      October 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  22. popcorn

    I went to public school many years ago. I remember... If African American get bully picked in school. They are mostly likely drop out their future career and school. They would drop out dream. I told my friend that you can't just throw away dreams.

    He told me class and test is too hard for african american. They couldn't simply pass the class because budget shortfall. There's unemployment everywhere. My friend told me that african american in low income can make money base on drug gang related violence, selling drugs, stealing cars, etc. Nothing can beat welfare system.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  23. brown

    America put a man on the moon in a spacecraft designed with a slide rule. Today, many of our native born citizens
    cannot speak English correctly. We should be very concerned!

    October 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  24. rainyday

    Did you hear/see the part about the boy (with the concerned grandmother) who is in high school, but reading at a 3rd grade level? He's shown with a video game controller in his hands, sitting on a couch – not with a book in hand, or homework on a table. If my child was failing, he would not play video games, he would be studying. Emphasis on education must also come from the home. Parents must abe a part of education. Our schools cannot fix a culture based on slacker-ism and ignorance about the importance of education and parental motivation.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • squirrelyone

      You know, when I was a kid in the early 80s, I pushed myself to learn to read before I was in school just so I could be a better gamer. We had Ultima: Exodus for the NES, and can you imagine playing a game like that when you can't read? It can't be done. See, even our video games have been dumbed down. Also, in those days, if you died in your game, you died. Some might give you another life, but you started way back and had to replay to get to where you'd failed the first time. Consequences! You faced consequences for your failure! Again, even in our entertainment, we've dumbed ourselves down. Games today are too easy. Kids never learn to embrace a challenge for fun. If you can never "lose" at anything, whether it's a video game, a school contest, heck, even a spelling test, what in the world is your incentive to work hard??

      October 10, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  25. MyCommentary

    The average student response from this town: "I ain't needs me nos edumication. I gets me all da learnin I needs from my gangs friends in da streets". Ha, Ha, Ha.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  26. DisgruntledGirl

    Can we shunt the politics for 5 minutes? Obama and Romney weren't exactly involved in Michigan when Johnathan Shearrod was in school.
    Focus on what got the Detroit school systems there. I like looking at pictures of abandoned placed but I always frown when I see that one library picture near Ford theater, books on the floor next to ceiling tiles. That's a fully stocked library and it's just wasting there. Empty buildings: why? Why can only squatters move into empty buildings? There's actually buildings where they haven't locate the owner in 50 years (interesting article I read on that).
    There's corruption and there resignation – giving up. 2 hard things to fight against.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  27. William

    "Lead by example"

    When your closest role models are your own parents, what kind of example or leader do these kids have?

    October 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  28. WorkingMom

    I am amazed at the amount of comments on here that head straight down the race path. Calling parents stupid, lazy, apathetic, you name it. Did any of you ever think that maybe a lot of the parents spend their time working outside the home just to give their child a place to live and food to eat? It seems like maybe you're all so educated that you know the root cause of this problem without having all the facts.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Dumbth

      Given the fact that a huge number of them, if not an outright majority, are on welfare and working at nothing at all...no, it didn't occur to me.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • William

      It's sad to say, but we grew up poor and rarely saw mom as she worked 2 jobs. But, that didnt change the fact that if we EVER miss homework (which she checked every night – for content only of course), we would surely get a visit from the leather belt on our butts. She was busy, but she was consistent. I dont see that much nowadays.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • kyphi

      Yes, some parents have it tough, but that doesn't negate their obligations to support, discipline and know where their children are and who are their friends. It's not one or the other.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • fyre

      Why have them in the first place if you can't afford them? Poor decision making.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Cynic

      If parents are so busy working outside the home that they have no time for their children, they shouldn't have had children in the first place.

      No one is holding a gun to anyone's head, forcing them to breed.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  29. Vidia

    Why is anyone worried about football or basketball?

    October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  30. Semper Cogitatus

    I am sure that these schools are horrible. Illiteracy is far from uncommon even in average performing high schools. Every single person that works in schools like these should be fired and they should start over from scratch. However, I am equally sure that letter was a deliberate set up. It's what some one would come up with if they were writing a parody of bad grammar.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  31. HenryMiller

    "In the short term, she said, the ACLU wants learning conditions improved – textbooks in classrooms, cleaned up buildings, functioning bathrooms and heating systems. It wants every kid to have an individual literacy test and an appropriate intervention implemented."

    Is the ACLU going to pay for all that? If not, where do they expect the money to come from?

    October 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • bebow

      The school district is already getting $14,000 per student. There is wasting and stealing taking place.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
      • Teri

        No kidding. $14,000 rivals most private schools – nice private schools. I'm spending $5000 year for tuition at a decent school and that includes books and fees and uniforms. May be time for them to just shut down and use that $14,000/student for tuition. I do so wish states would give vouchers equivalent for what they spend per student. I'd probably have some left over.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  32. M Joy

    I went to Detroit schools in the 1960s. I was one of the 10-20% of white kids at my school. Born out-of-wedlock to a poor mother, BUT...I WANTED to learn, so I could get out of the poverty I was raised in. And it worked.

    A person has to be MOTIVATED to achieve, and sorry, but i just don;t see this in these children or their parents.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Lisa

      Me, too, but what is next? It's hard for me to see change, too.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  33. kyphi

    The Minnesota study of 1976 is based on 130 black/interracial adopted children and does not factor in the child's previous experience before adoption. Nor does it consider its prenatal care. It is a biased flawed study which white supremacists claim as proof of their superiority.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Huh?

      Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart was just published a couple of years ago and had nothing to do with race. It studied genetics vs. environment.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
      • kyphi

        Not that study, rather the one that "proves" whites are intellectually superior to black/interracial adopted children.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • BWAHA

      Would you care to compare the civilizations and technologies Europeans have built over the last three thousand years vs Sub-Saharan Africans? Many blacks are still living in animal skins and drinking cows blood for food today. Whites were walking on the moon over 40 years ago.

      But I am sure the two groups are equal......lol

      October 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • James

      Sorry, but race has a lot to do with it. Look at third world countries populated by blacks.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
      • kyphi

        Look at their nutrition and environment first.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  34. William

    Food for thought - Take the top 10 teachers in the nation and pair them with worst performing students out there. Then, take the same number of teachers from "low performing schools" and pair them with the best students in the nation. After several years, which group of students do you think will be on top?

    Is it a matter of who is teaching us? The support we have at home? Our cultural values and priorities? When kids are allowed to goof off, miss homework, and play xbox until 12am and can't stay awake the next day, Albert Einstein himself could not make it happen.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Reality Check

      As long as people keep running through lists like while ignoring the 800lb gorilla in the room (genetics and IQ) it will never be solved.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  35. brown

    It is not inadequate funding ... student's in the poorest countries in the world still outperform our inner city gangstas!

    It is not the color, many of our top students are brown skinned and foreign. Oh my!

    It is neither the lack of money nor the skin color, IT IS THE CULTURE!

    October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Lord Toronaga

      North Korean children have tremendous academic scores...And they regularly have famine and incredible poverty. But somehow they go to school and learn.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • William

      Absolutely. The culture is where we (some) fail. What do we really value??

      October 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Charles

      Of course it's about 'Culture'. The culture of inadequacy and just getting by while collecting a paycheck are what the school administration had done. Time for a paradigm shift, a community movement if you will, take responsibility for 'your' children! Perpetuating ignorance and stupidity is not an option!

      October 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • borderbubba

      I know a black man who was an inner-city elementary school student in the mid-sixties. He was not doing his homework, not paying attention in class and goofing around. He said the teacher called his folks and after a good whipping, no television for a month and no playtime; guess what happened? His grades went way up and he was a model student from then on. The teacher and his folks were on the same page but the key was his folks, a cashier and a janitor.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  36. Hmmm

    Communities have to value education. That will bring better teachers on its own. If the school was that out of control, who would even apply to teach there? Would you apply for a job at a company going bankrupt? Community involvement would take care of most of these situations. The problem with the inner city is that poverty breeds poverty. Blame the teachers, but dont blame the larger community that turns a blind eye to the projects unless it gives a chance to bash a teacher.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  37. Jeff

    I always say you can never spit out too many stupid offspring.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • pam

      Wanna bet?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  38. De

    What exactly are the teachers up to over there? I mean for a seventh grader to write 'gooder'... Seems like that kid is at a 1st grade reading/writing level.

    I agree that it's also largely due to the parents. If they don't instill even the most basic of skills then they are failing their kids more than the teachers.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Jeff

      Wouldn't want anyone to talk white would we, that would be racist.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Hmmm

      Many students dont have college ready vocabulary. Much of vocabulary is built before kids get to age 5. Kids from poverty are behind before schools get them. Reading and writing are paramount in education. But kids still say, "Im not doing this." You call home, parents say, "i dont know what to do either." What's your solution then? Send them out for insubordination, fail them, blame the teacher, corporal punishment? Cmon, easy answers, right?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • kyphi

      "Is our children learning?"

      October 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Candy A.

      I worked in this district for a very long time. This particular student who wrote that passage and couldn't spell his name NEVER came to school and when he did he never attempted to do the work and never turned anything in. His mother never showed up for anything and all he did was start fights and cause problems....and that's the teacher's fault????!!!!

      October 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  39. Name*penguin

    My kids went to an inner city "failing" school yet one got a 31 on the ACT and another a 35. And they weren't the only ones with very good test scores. Maybe we should look elswhere to explain why so many students are failing. You think home environment and inherited genetic traits might play a role? (Of course its politically incorrect to look elsewhere)

    October 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Rhonda

      Genetic traits?..........Really?

      October 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
      • Hmmm

        Genetics are real. Kids in poverty tend to exhibit behaviors not conducive to education. Their brains are wired to the real or perceived stressors at an early age. Many lack as much empathy as wed deem "normal" due to the stressors affecting the growth of certain portions of their brain. In stressful situations quick reactions and impulsivity mean survival. Read a genetics or brain research book.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
      • Hmmm

        Im not saying its the largest issue. Im saying it's one part. Asian subculture, even in the US, is different. And some Asians fail, just an FYI. Their language, if spoken, also correlates very closely to place values when verbalizing numbers which gives an advantage in basice number sense. Look it up. Learn something.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
      • Hmmm

        I reread your post. What is your position on the issue? My comprehension is a bit slow while watching TV...

        October 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  40. Jim

    Unfortunately those who are not educated usually do not value education. This perpetuates a cycle that haunts certain groups of American. Free public school will not reap rewards without an active parent. If want a quality education with no hands on effort you must send you child to a private school.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Student

      These comments about "genetics" and "genetic realities" are simply absurd. Genetics are not the issue. This is a clear problem of the cyclical nature of poverty and a lack of discipline at home and at school.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Hmmm

      Student, genes are expressed differently based on early life situations. Read a book. Youll never be in the NFL because God (your genes) arent the right kind. Genetics are real. But not the entireoexcuse. But ti discount it shows your ignorance.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • aasdf

      I think pastorcal keeps repeating the 'give it up' statement because he/she has no data to back anything up. Sure just tell the other person to give it up when you know you can't win!

      October 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  41. SuSu

    I know that my comments probably don't have too much to do with the story's angle but here is what I believe: I TRULY believe that, if parents (or a parent or any adult, for that matter) would sit down with their child(ren) and read with them, to them, or listen to the child(ren) read outloud and help them with their reading when the kids are young, kids would be better readers and therefore, better with and in grammar. Parents need to be more involved in their childrens' education. This means more one-on-one time for each child. Being able to read well is the foundation for education.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • bebow

      After so many decades of educational genocide, the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are also illiterate. There is no reading material in most of the homes. I know this, because I have been inside hundreds of them.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  42. Lord Toronaga

    Somewhere in all of this there is a White person to blame.....I'm sure the ACLU will blame the tax payers in a school district that actually has good teaching results. It's their fault.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • bebow

      When Highland Park schools were run by mostly white people, there was still an education available there. I know this, because I attended Liberty Elementary School in Highland Park. An education is no longer available there. The money intended for education was wasted and stolen, just as it was in Detroit.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  43. phearis

    Funny how it's all the teacher's fault. How about the parents take some freaking personal responsibility for their stupid children and sit down with them. Perhaps even help with homework? OMG!

    October 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • SuSu

      Love your answer and agree with it 100%!

      October 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Scott

      If a mechanic failed to fix your car and then told you that maybe you need to sit down with your husband and you two work on it yourself because its your own fault he can't fix the car.... Would you say that mechanic is a good mechanic?

      October 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
      • Chris

        A child is not a machine, nor is it broken. You are not teaching the car how to drive. Cars also come with manuals, while children do not!

        "A mother bird does not yell at the other birds because the babies haven't learned to fly properly" would be a more appropriate analogy.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Jeff

      Da skools be racis n shi. Dey bees teechin blak fokes diffent enlis dan da whaat fokes.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  44. infonomics

    Everyday a greater manifestation surfaces with proof of a declining America and, yet, Americans still don't understand, the problem is not Democrat or Republican, the problem is Democrat and Republican. If you are smart enough to have children, you should be smart enough to vote on your own affairs. Direct Democracy Now!

    October 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  45. Lord Toronaga

    The good news is that the teachers have great healthcare, pensions and yearly raises. Who care if the kids need books...they have Big Bird to fill in the educational gaps. I'm sure that if we gave the teachers more money everything would improve !

    October 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • AngryDinosaur

      So more money = gooder schools, in other words.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
      • jim

        Yes more money will fix it all! Look down the road and I'll bet you'll see a little parochial school where the teachers make about 20% less, the system spends thousands less per child, and all the children can read and write.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
      • kyphi

        Not necessarily, Jim. While most parochial students are more advanced than public school students (due to parental involvement and smaller classes), sometimes we did get parochial students who could not construct complete sentences.

        October 9, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Lord Toronaga

      That's what the liberals and teacher's union tell us. Pay teacher lots of money, have no accountability and lots of union job protection makes for better students. Who can argue with that !!

      October 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
      • phearis

        And there's Sociopathic Conservative spouting off. Heaven forbid parents take personal responsibility for their stupid kids.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
      • Lord Toronaga

        How is it possible that there aren't any bad teachers ? No other profession has such perfect worker results as teaching. The TU made sure that teachers can never be fired but that's unnecessary because just ask any teacher...it's someone else failing them.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
      • kyphi

        Of course, there are terrible uncaring teachers just as in other professions. Unfortunately, all fellow teachers can do is report them to the administration. I once asked that my son not have a certain teacher because she required students put their heads down on their desks once the assignment was completed. They were not allowed to read. I got raked over the coals by the principal since I taught in the same school for such a request.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Jim

      Social Security is a pension plan.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Chris

      I do wonder where that $14,000/child went and why there aren't criminal charges somewhere.

      Oh well, back to my IPhone 9 and my Starbucks! I'm too involved with Desperate Housewives or Jersey Shore or whatever to care about the rampant corruption that goes on around me.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • kyphi

      My salary was frozen for three years so all you are writing are generalities.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  46. Lupe Ramos

    Gooder? No wonder the kids are stupid with these words used by the uneducated.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  47. Doc Reality

    Not only do I wish they would make school gooder, I wish they would make it funner.

    What a disgrace. You know what? I actually work with people who have completed GRADUATE school and they have the worst spelling and grammar I've ever seen. Why? Because they're allowed to continue their education when they haven't gotten down the basics. While I believe the education system is quite broken and needs a total overhaul, we must also take into account the parental influence of these young students.

    It takes about $11,000 to support an infant in the first year of life. If you don't have that kind of money then you shouldn't be bringing a child into the world in the first place. AND NEWS FLASH TO ALL YOU BABY MAMAS: It's not the job of the rest of working America to pay for your child.

    And if you are a parent or parents who have had a history of lousy education, maybe you should go back to school and get some basics down before bringing another life into the world.

    Having a child means making an 18-year-or-more commitment to providing them with proper food, shelter and clothing and enough stability to help them thrive. You dumb, moronic people who think a baby will be the solution to all your misery, all your unmet emotional needs and will give you a REASON TO LIVE are just kidding yourselves and you're raising children who will become weak and dependent. Some if it maybe multi-generational or cultural; that doesn't make it RIGHT.

    How's this for a menu:
    Abortion – we'll keep it legall and YOU PAY FOR IT
    Birth Control – keep it legal and YOU PAY FOR IT
    Babies/Children – YOU PAY FOR THEM.

    Sound unfair? Too bad. Life's unfair. Don't have children if you're poor; it perpetuates your own poverty and makes your children dependent on the system.

    I really hope Romney gets in and shuts down this society of moochers.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Reality Check

      Epic post.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • real_personn

      "AND NEWS FLASH TO ALL YOU BABY MAMAS: It's not the job of the rest of working America to pay for your child."
      You do mean "parents" last I checked it takes 2 to tango....

      October 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • SuSu

      Hi. I read your response and. even though I am one of "those liberals", I do tend to agree with most of what you wrote. I, too, am sick of people bringing children into the world without the means to support them or even barely love them. I've said for years that I believe that people should have to pass some sort of a test for licensure before they're allowed to have children. After all, we have to have a license to fish, drive a car, teach, sell real estate, practice law and medicine, and we have licenses for bicycles, vehicles, etc – the list goes on. Yet anyone with half a brain can pop out another human being. Thanks for reading, Doc.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
      • SuSu

        One caveat to Doc Reality's post: I do hope that Romney is NOT elected. (Too many reasons to list here.)

        October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • derek

      So you want to make sure people don't have means to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to bring these children into the world, but then watch these children starve to death because their parents are irresponsible and unwilling to care for them. Where I do agree in theory that if you bring a child into this world you need to support them, it is not a realistic solution to punish the children of irresponsible parents.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • kyphi

      Republicans only care about children before they are born.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Cynic

      Absolutely. Freedom is having to pay for the consequences of your own stupidity, and not expecting the rest of the country to carry your sorry a$$ for you.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  48. mike

    Sorry, but the school cannot teach the kids to read if the kids do not want to learn. How hard is it for a kid to pick up a book and READ and learn on their own time. Stop blaming the schools and teachers and look at the parents and the kids themselves. They can text 100 abbreviated, chopped to hell words a minute, but can't find the time to spell a word fully and correctly? That is their own fault, not the teachers...they can't be at their house hounding them to do homework every night....they can't be there making the parents take an interest in their own child's future. An English teacher gets these kids for one period a day, maybe 50 minutes of class time a day, and everyone expects miracles from them...stop it, it is not fair and it is not right. If the kid doesn't want to take the time to learn, then I am sorry, too bad, concentrate on those you can reach and honestly just stop wasting time and money on those who don't. My grandfather used to tell me "we need ditch diggers too"...

    October 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • KWS

      Kids who want to be uneducated are from families and neighborhoods that don't value knowledge. Go to a famous video site and look up "chris rock black people vs. n". It's very insightful, and perhaps most promising, his all-black audience clearly GETS IT!

      October 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Meghan

      There is no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher/mentor. What do you think these kids are supposed to do, pick up on their feet and immediately start studying because it's all "their fault"? The only thing worse than kids giving up on their education is if we give up on our kids.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Doc Reality

      You said it, man. The lack of family accountability is staggering; I see it everyday in social services. Dumb adults making dumb decisions to procreate dumb kids. The dumbing down of America.

      Somewhere, possibly in another universe, George Carlin is watching...and laughing...and laughing...and laughing.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Loren

      You can teach children to want to learn, what you are doing is subscribing to the propaganda of lazy and incompetent teachers. I am a product of public schools and the best teachers were able to get me to get good grades while the bad ones were the ones that Igave me poor grades, not because I didn't want to do well, but because they didn't know how to teach me. Kids aren't stupid, they will do just what they can get away with and a good teacher knows how to motivate them to do well. Teaching is no different from any other occupation, there are good ones and bad ones, and we need to stop making excuses for bad ones, they need to find new careers.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • larry

      So the teachers are not accountable as they watch this all unfold around them? The unions and the teachers are as much to blame as anyone else. I see how my daughters who attended U of Michigan had to deal with classmates under affirmative action that should never have graduated HS that were holding up their classes. Nothing about Michigan can walk away from the poor performance seen here. Not that they are alone.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  49. Loren

    As a product of the public schools of Chicago, I have to ask, what the hell have these people been doing to their children? No child cannot be taught and it looks as if these teachers and parents failed in the single most important job of theirs–to teach these children. This is not a State of Michigan problem but a problem of the community. Was no one paying any attention to the likely abysmal standardized test scores? These tests have been used for over fifty years, so no one can say they didn't know. What were the teachers doing? Is this a case of a union only caring about salaries and not the job that their members were being paid to do? Who was watching the school board of this town to make sure that they were doing their job?

    Ultimately, this is a problem caused by the failure of parents to look out for the interests of their children. We have gone so long placing blame at our State and national leaders that we have forgotten our own responsibilities as parents and individuals. Travesties like this are the result of our failure to recognize that we are ultimately responsible for our own lives, our teachers are not responsible, our politicians are not responsible, our employers are not responsible, th gy down the street isn't responsible, we are. And the sooner we start taking back our lives and stop expecting government to take care of us, then the sooner problems like the schools in Highland Park will get fixed.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • DisgruntledGirl

      Well this is what happens, I was in an elementary school near an AFB. My father grew concerned I rarely had homework to help me on. Remembering what a turkey he was growing up, he called the school and grew more concerned when they confirmed there wasn't homework and were rather put upon he called.
      I remember scan tron sheets handed out with answers already on them before we moved. I never knew I was suppose to tell someone that. Oakland Elementary, Sumter South Carolina.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  50. brown

    How will America compete in the 21st century?

    October 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • KWS

      After our economy collapses, and China wins, they'll open their factories here and use us as cheap labor.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
      • Kreamowheat

        was meant for this post.. not your other below...

        Big misconception. The media likes to make you think china is this super power economy when in fact, its beginning to see the industries it harbors fall apart. There have been strikes, mass walk-offs, and huge firings in China because the people are revolting against the government. Dont believe me? ask ANY chinese person how it really is and they will tell you... not good. Some even predict china will enter a civil war/revolution in the next decade.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
      • Scott

        If the US collapses, no one will win.... Who is china going to export 30% of its economy to? China would collapse, europe would collapse, Modern Civlization would collapse.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
      • Chris

        @Scott – true, and they back most of our debt, so they would collapse as well.

        But yea, it's the same ol' same ol' . Your hard earned money gets watered down a little bit more every single day. Job-hopping is the new thing just to stay afloat.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  51. getalife

    I had to switch to MSNBC because cnn is just like fox news.

    cnn and fox news are part of the romney campaign.

    cnn went right.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Loren

      You must be kidding, this story trancends politics and should be reported by any reputable news organization. It shows an absolute failure on the part of parent, teachers, union leaders, school administrators and government officials to undertake one of the fundamental tasks of our local government–the education of our children. There is more than enough blame to go around here, but if I were to point one finger, it would be what seems to be a pervasive view that someone else is going to take care of it. Guess what? No one is until we take care of it ourselves, we are responsible for our lives and expecting government to fix things leads to the neglect suffered by Highland Park school students for what obviously has been much too long. The people of Highland Park now no longer have the control over the schools that they had, but that's probably a good thing, because they screwed up big time, expecting other people to do the right thing for them, you have to do it for yourself.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • AngryDinosaur

      It appears to be the very opposite, actually. CNN praises Obama any chance it gets, down plays his mistakes, and runs any Romney gaffe as headline news for days. CNN is definitely center left.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • larry

      you just gave up the two best news entertainment on the tube. The others are pure trash.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Doc Reality

      I just want to kindly ask you not to insult Fox News like that. CNN has and always will be a treasure-trove of liberal bias. There are so many middle-eastern writers on here it looks like they're the U.S. offshoot of al-Jazeera. And THAT they would probably take as a compliment!

      October 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
      • kyphi

        It is faux news.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  52. KWS

    It all sounds so good, aggressive and promising... and then the "ACLU spokeswoman" opens her mouth, and the desire to start slapping just pops right back up and rears its ugly head!

    They've made thier point, and lit a (rare) GOOD fire. Now shut up and go away.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • DisgruntledGirl

      (Raises a glass to KWS) Agreed.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Chris

      I couldn't help but wince at

      “We can’t lose another year or two,” she said. “If kids aren’t learning to read, they’re not reading to learn."

      It sounds so contrived and after-school-special-y

      October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  53. getalife

    Worst interview ever.

    wolf should be fired.

    wolf works for romney.

    It is obvious.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • KWS

      Please getalife, get a life.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
      • Kreamowheat

        Big misconception. The media likes to make you think china is this super power economy when in fact, its beginning to see the industries it harbors fall apart. There have been strikes, mass walk-offs, and huge firings in China because the people are revolting against the government. Dont believe me? ask ANY chinese person how it really is and they will tell you... not good. Some even predict china will enter a civil war/revolution in the next decade.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • AngryDinosaur

      u need to do a gooder job of readin teh article, ur wrong

      October 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  54. Bill

    Every one has failed!
    Somebody needs to take the lead here! AND FAST!

    October 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  55. Herman Munster

    It is the degradation of their community. No help at home, or from church, or family members. No culture, and the only people with money are gangsters slinging crack. You need to militarize these schools, and take trouble makers out of the equation entirely. Some kids will not be able to get more than a 2nd grade education because of mental limitations due to mothers on crack etc. You need to provide trade schools for those who cannot learn in a traditional educational sense. You will never get good teachers there if you do not provide security also. They need discipline and strict punishments to realize the game bullshlt is over.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  56. getalife

    wolf's interview with mitt shows that wolf works on romney's campain.

    Fire wolf cnn.

    That was awful watching him slobber on mitt.

    Pathetic cnn.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  57. getalife

    wolf's softball questions to mitt was pathetic.

    wolf works on the romney campaign.

    Fire him so he can go to fox where he belongs.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  58. Kreamowheat

    Let me guess.. predominately black? thats what i thought

    October 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  59. bebow

    This is genocide. It has been happening in places like Detroit and Highland Park for decades. It was no secret, but everyone in authority chose to politely ignore it, because turning a blind eye was considered the politically correct thing to do. Now, there is a crisis. We are under attack 24/7/365 by waves of illiterate criminals.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Ed

      The cause of the problem is layer upon layer of overpaid, under worked administrators. But with union protection and minority status, you can't get rid of the blight sucking dollars out of the system via bloated bureaucratic administrators.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  60. Kathy J

    Correction- "my grandmother and PBS that got me through" yet Mitt wants to do away with Big Bird and PBS.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Kreamowheat

      incorrect.. He wants to stop using money borrowed from foreign countries to fund PBS. He is not anti-PBS.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
      • a slozomby

        yeah the $400 million pbs costs the government could buy us 2 whole f-35s

        October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  61. Joshua

    Notice the PBS quote.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  62. Adam

    Ahh the failed school system... Responsible for bringing up great people like George W Bush, Sarah Palin and Rick Perry.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  63. Terry

    Let me get this straight; they had a total of 800 students and over $14000 of revenue per student. That's $11.2 MILLION of cash, and they couldn't afford to buy enough textbooks?

    October 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • real_personn

      Got to read between the line son that one...If you Google Highland park and embezzlement you'll find more info on the subject, I believe in this article they simply state "mismanagement" in lieu of the proper term.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  64. gahh

    Gooder, maybe they should start having school 12 months of the year, when you hear something like this.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  65. hobo joe

    You can make the school gooder.
    Is you serious ?!

    This is a hopeless case. There's no point suing.
    The good teachers don't want to teach there, leaving the crappy teachers to do the job, resulting in a school that continues to spit out underachieving kids.

    Underachieving teachers teach inadequately, grading on very lenient curves, giving students a false sense of achievement. What results are "A students" who can barely make a C- in college.
    The kids that don't make it to college never really cared about school anyway. These kids are the same people who later on blame society for oppressing them.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  66. M.E.

    Oh right, there's money for basketball and football, but no band. Apparently they've never seen the studies showing that children with musical education achieve higher grades and test scores. No, just let the kids go get concussions instead. Great job, idiots.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  67. John

    This is such bs bring back the old good days of Highland Park.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  68. Kathy J

    Did anyone notice the statement by Johnathan Shearrod- "my grandmother and PBS that get me through" yet Mitt Romney wants to do away with Big Bird and PBS. For some children PBS is all they have.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Ed

      If over $14,000 per kid per year can't get it done, neither can big Bird

      October 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
      • Robot Doc

        Yes, Ed....wiht 14,000 per student, I think they can buy a stuffed talking Big Bird by Fischer Price.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  69. JerPell

    You will find that even the worst schools are good enough....THE PARENTS HAVE TO BE INVOLVED WITH WHAT THEIR KIDS ARE DOING!

    October 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Pat

      Absolutely! Parents who can actually help their sons and daughters do real MATH. Who can READ to them and listen as the kids read out loud. The kids are at home longer than they're at school, so parents shouldn't blame the teachers for their children's failure to understand the material. I volunteer at an elementary school here in western Washington, and every one of "my" students is a precious jewel. I have to wonder how some of their parents value them.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Tara

      I totally agree, but it sounds like in this downward spiral, the parents are the former students! After awhile, it's like asking to spin gold from straw.

      I've seen other places in the Midwest function similarly – the students become the teacher and parents, and then their students become the next generation of teachers and parents, and if no one leaves, no one sees the point in raising the bar. At best, time and information sort of freeze, and at worst, no one gives a #$%@ because the kids will never leave or do anything remotely technical. Farming communities can be the worst offenders. It's a pretty weird situation.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  70. iBod

    There will be no real differences seen unless the "test" is scrapped. I am a junior in college, and with each passing year I am becoming more concerned about what the purpose of a "test" is when I have the information readily in front of me. And here's the thing about that: What you learn IS a discipline; but in the real world, your skills are bettered upon learning how to take advantage of what is readily in front of you.

    We are living in a Technological Revolution - an Information Age. EVERYthing you ask can be answered with the skill of research. The Internet is your best friend if you know how to use it to your advantage. The problem, then, is the test. Multiple Choice? Fill-In-The-Blank? Matching? Memorization. Reminds me of what the scientists do to monkeys - Play memory games... But, like Monkeys, Humans have a maximum capacity to memorization, and so short term memory is not as important as long term knowledge. Long term knowledge is built off of processes: Reading, Writing, Comprehension, and Communication - Four skills that separate us widely from any other animal on Earth. Replace tests with essays in the appropriate subjects (STEM), and begin with a transitory period when the Class Of 20-whatever enters Kindergaten and continuing on from there with each entering class. Don't watch their scores...Watch their abilities. I can promise you, if we make essays a national standard in grading, abilities will grow exponentially. We need our kids to know how to read, how to write, how to comprehend. Those are the basics that can lead to so much, and they are basics millions are falling behind in; and we are losing millions of potential scientists in the process with each passing generation having to deal with this failed system.

    I don't blame the parents so much as I blame teachers for ruining the system with their Union. I have become consistently intolerant with it. On That Count: Guilty as charged and they know it!

    October 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • kyphi

      If you feel the need to place blame, then place it with union bosses. Teachers in some states are forced to join unions.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • SIr Paul

      Hey Jude, don't make it bad....Take a sad song and make it gooder...... Remember to let her into your heart Then you can start to make it gooder.....

      October 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • iBod

      Kyphi, fair enough..I do not want to blame ALL teachers. I have had some very impacting ones throughout my career as a student. I want to emphasize my mentioning the Union because I believe the root of the problem is exactly that.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Tom

      lol – you're a jr. in college and have not been out in the "real world" yet. Don't blame the unions or the teachers, blame everyone involved. When you go out into the real world, and you don't know something, that discipline you speak of will only be helpful walking into the managers office and answering them an hour late.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
      • iBod

        Tom, I read the last sentence of your reply literally five times, and each time I couldn't figure out what you meant by it. Allow me to let you in on something: It is proven that the brain goes through a search and destroy process in which it deletes anything in its storage it feels it "doesn't need" - such as what you ate for dinner on October 9, 2011; even through the course of years, it will get rid of things as simple as history on the reign of King Henry VIII. However, if you wrote an essay on what you ate for dinner this day one year ago, or even a paper on King Henry VIII, you will likely remember the material for far longer since the brain goes through the traumatic discipline of reading, writing, and comprehending; whereas if you took a test on King Henry VIII, all your brain is doing is something called memorizing, which involves little focus on comprehension and absolutely no focus on writing.

        So, please enlighten me how a discipline of essay-writing will not better prepare me for an interview with the boss in the "real world" - whatever the Hell that is supposed to mean..."Real world?" Really. LOL!

        If I am alive, I am living; and where else would I be living if not in the real world?

        I wouldn't underestimate my ability to form a logical argument, because I just killed yours.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • AngryDinosaur

      I don't think switching over to all essays would be the way to go. Some people just aren't good at writing, through no fault of their own. They might be good at other things like math and science instead. While I agree that the stuff mentioned in this article e.g. "gooder" and the like are unacceptable, I definitely don't think it'd be fair to take away regular tests. Students that are gifted at writing would be disproportionately graded way higher than students who aren't good writers, even if the latter knew the subject "gooder" than the former.

      Heh.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
      • kyphi

        And some excel as mechanics, stone masons, plumbers, and garbage men. There is dignity in every job.

        October 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  71. Lol English

    "Plaintiffs are identified only by their initials in the lawsuit, and none was willing to talk with CNN."

    Looks like Jamie went to the same school. Either no one was or none were.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Davud

      You are incorrect. None is considered singular. Therefore, "none was" is actually correct. Perhaps you should take some remedial English classes before sniping with snarky condescension.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
      • kyphi

        That is incorrect. "None" can be either singular or plural depending on its antecedent.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Tara

      I will say that I found the colloquial use of "till" near the end of the article to be grating. Until. Just say until.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
      • AngryDinosaur

        That word also always bothers me for some reason too.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  72. Gary Andrews

    George Bush and I just want to know one thing: Is our children learnin?

    October 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  73. ES71

    Students need to be separated by ability so that they can learn instead of being dragged down by others who don't want to learn.
    Also, why are kids being passed to the next grade when they cannot read?
    Fix these two things and you will fix the schools. You need to do what works, not what is politically correct.
    Swimming pool is not an answer.

    I grew up in a poor country and we didn't even have a gym, we went to a nearby public soccer field for our PE lessons. Or just ran around the school.
    But the education was fine because expectations were set and no excuses were accepted .

    October 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • a slozomby

      "Also, why are kids being passed to the next grade when they cannot read?" parents.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • kyphi

      Teachers face pressure from principals who face pressure from school district administrators who must implement laws set by legislators who have no idea what a good education is.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Reality Check

      The problem is that once you separate students by ability, it will become quickly obvious that what you end up with is largely racial segregation, which is not allowed and would send the left into a tizzy fit of outrage.

      However, the general idea you stated is the entire reason that white people flee urban areas so their kids won't get dragged down by others in urban schools. Makes sense, but of course it is 'racist' according to the prevailing dogma.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
      • kyphi

        Your "facts" don't hold water in school districts who have low IQ students but are attended by only whites.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
      • Reality Check

        kyphi, IQ isn't measured by district or by school, so your post makes no sense.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
      • kyphi

        It makes no sense to you because you are a white supremacist , and IQ tests are skewed to favor white children from two parent homes.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
      • Reality Check

        I am not a white supremacist. I admit that asians actually score slightly higher in IQ tests that whites.

        ASIANS. Many of whom are immigrants and came to this country from a foreign culture, not even speaking english as their first language, but who still edge out whites on tests you claim were designed for whites. Haha. IQ tests have been designed and redesigned to be as culturally neutral as possible, and yet the averages differences by race still emerge.

        And what is so terrible about that? It is just part of the diversity of nature. There are some brilliant blacks and very dull whites. There is a lot of overlap in the IQ ranges of the two groups. But the point is the averages are different, and this will end up causing differences in achievement in schools when comparing GROUPS.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • webba

      I agree with you. The reason kids are passed on is because if you leave them back, parents b+tch and moan. Then you have actual teachers who are against it because the kid was either a pain in the neck and they don't want them again, or because staying back might hurt the kids' self esteem. I kid you not. I am a teacher. I see it every year.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
      • kyphi

        I agree if immaturity causes the child to not care about school. Let them mature in the next grade since they are quite capable of mastering the content.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  74. Susan

    As the parent of three young adult children who are professionals, I have to say we had to fight tooth and nail against their school districts for a quality education. The negatives had nothing to do with giving the districts more money. It was a constant battle for QUALITY CURRICULUM, TEACHER ABSENTEEISM, PULLING THEM FROM THE CLASSROOM TO AVOID THEIR CONTACT WITH CRAP ACTIVITIES, and the list goes on. We also spent 2-3 hours a day when they came home filling in the gaps, correcting papers that the teachers wouldn't do. Kids do not learn when the bar is set low and teachers find excuses for kids not performing. Parents also are responsible for their children's success, but ultimately it is the demand for success that the child encounters through the course of a school day that impacts their learning.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • a slozomby

      amazing what happens when the parents take an active role in their kids education, rather than just letting the school and xbox teach them.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
      • kyphi

        If parents do not care about their children's grades, they will be rewarded with uneducated children.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  75. Hana

    I've been to one of those schools, and they were the worst! I was in Detroit for a year. As a child all I remember from going to school in Detroit was being bullied by the students. The teachers did not care at all when I asked for help from the bullying, instead they just made things worse by always turning their heads when they see them bully me. One of the worst times of my childhood. I hope something can change these schools, no child should ever experience that.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Lisa

      That's part of the problem. Immediate administration. I saw it, too, at a high school in Oklahoma. Sorry administrators that don't stand up.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  76. W

    As someone who lives in Metro Detroit, I'm not surprised by this article. Education is not entirely the job of the state, it's the job of parents as well. In an age where most of these children are being raised in single-parent families, without a formal education of their own, it's impossible to get out of this situation unless you: [1] participate in monogamous relationships; [2] accept the role of being a parent, and embrace teaching outside of the classroom; and, [3] being an active participant in making your community a better place to live.

    One article printed in July said that the schools get nearly $20k per student, and they are continuing to fail. That's more than the schools in the wealthiest counties in the state, and more than most private schools. The students are being given brand new HP laptops to do their homework, etc. Quite clearly, money isn't the issue of whether they are being provided with a good education.

    The example being presented in Highland Park is one that will is apparent in other counties around the nation. While the catalyst was created many many many years before Gov. Snyder took office, this is an opportunity for him to show the country that he's an innovator, and willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that these kids receive the right education – That may mean that a lot of parents need to go to school with their kids for a couple years.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  77. Lisa

    I grew up in the hood. A cute white girl living in the projects with no parental help trying to not get jumped from day to day. I have an IQ of 138. The only reason I got through this is because of incredible teachers. Those kids. There is another with an IQ of 138. They just don't know it yet, and it breaks my heart.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Reality Check

      Don't sell yourself short. A big part of why you got through it is in your genes and in the effort you put forth.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
      • Lisa

        You are a good guy. Thank you.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
      • dkf

        Not be sarcastic or anything, but even a guy with an IQ of 100, like me, can understand sarcasm every once and a while.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
      • Reality Check

        No sarcasm on my part, FYI

        October 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  78. dee

    u r rite gf! Lol and smh as I rotflmbo! <-[ Haven't you heard? *This* is what passes as readin' and writin' these days!]

    October 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  79. Stephen

    You can't blame everything on the teachers. If you have students that are so dumb that they can't be taught you can't force them not to be stupid. And if their parents don't care and can't get their brain damaged kids to do anything but join gangs and sell drugs then perhaps the problem is bigger than the schools.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • max3333444555

      why are these kids being moved ahead when they cant read? i dont understand how someone who cant read or spell can be in 11th grade

      October 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
      • Dumb n Proud

        they advance because there's another batch right behind them, and the teachers who do care are essentially tortured in their efforts to teach

        October 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
      • kyphi

        Teachers' input as to whom should repeat a grade is often ignored by principals who want to brag about how successful their schools are, and parents who can insist their child be promoted.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  80. coyotesayswhat

    Don't think about fixing the unionized standardized schools – think about fixing the problem which is language immersion. Solve the problem – the schools are not fixable – this is where the peace corps could be useful at home. Teach here for a while. Its supposedly safer.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  81. dano

    When I saw the headline I thought it was quoted from G. W. Bush.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  82. Chris

    Until the public school systems in America begin to be audit worthy and stop wasting so much money on incompetent administrators and employees, there should be no more money for schools. Fix the problem then fund it. Kids are dumber today than they were 10 years ago. Stop wasting our tax dollars.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  83. a slozomby

    when i was little my parents read to me. then they read with me, to help when i didnt know the words. then they encouraged me to read on my own.

    but of course you need to be able to read in order to teach your children how.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  84. The Dude

    Yeah yeah... "Ug say Unions Bad. Teacher Bad, Politics Good". Me beat school with stick. me feel better".

    I would LOVE for someone to face the parents – That's right, THE PARENTS – and have them take some of he blame. Sure, they complain – but how many of them have been pushing their kids to do better? I do understand that sometimes parents are working hard just to make it, and can't always spend time with the kids, but many of them can, and you can bet that they don't. Teachers are having to sacrifice more and more of their own time as de-facto social workers instead of prepping their lesson plans because the parents are not around. While we're on the subject – how about changing the community as a whole? Invest in community-based after-school programs that teach kids to learn. Stop this culture of calling smart kids "sellout" and instead instill some values in community in general. Bad neighborhoods make for bad schools. Also, maybe elect some smart and conscientious polticial leaders who actually understand education and aren't trying to undermine it at every turn? Sound complicated? Welcome to life! Anyone who tells you that these are easy problems to solve is trying to sell you something or just get elected.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • ffortnightly

      The very point of the matter is that parents send their children to school because many of us freely admit that we are not able to provide them with a good education. And we are willing to pay for this instead. Surely you realize that teachers have far more of the time than the parents with these children. Parents see their children for a couple of hours per day.

      So, like it or not, teachers and administrators are going to have to stop looking the other way on discipline issues and they have to quit whining about the parents. When these children are in a government school, they are not to disrupt classes. Instead of trying to exact social justice by cherry-picking discipline, ALL students must be treated the same. Lowering expectations for ANY of them is something that teachers, not parents, are doing.

      Until the schools are honest about where the REAL disciplinary problems are, they will only get worse. And as long as you have a discipline free-for-all in the schools or continue to make odd excuses for conventional behavior, you have only yourselves to blame. Parents don't run the schools.
      Grobbbbbbbbb

      October 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
      • kyphi

        I take it you have never encountered a parent who refuses to believe her child is disrupting class. Some parents interpret it as meaning they are bad parents (which no one ever is, ha ha). These same kids have access to TV's and all sorts of video games at home, often in their bed rooms. Pay attention to loud mouth parents next time you attend conferences, and you will see the apple does not fall far from the tree, figuratively speaking.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  85. klamerus@pobox.com

    How can the governor do a darn thing when the NEA is 100% set against him. Forget the administrators. They don't teach (and they can't do anything about the unionized teachers either).

    October 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  86. Zenger Folkman

    This is sad. NO kid in America should have to go to schools like these. And Highland Park is not unique. I'll bet no other industrialized nation has schools anywhere as bad as what we have here in the US. It is shameful.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  87. Peikovi

    As pathetic as anything we've ever read. The schools are preparing students to live in the Dark Ages.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • kyphi

      It is up to the parents.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
      • Zebula

        And unfortunately the parents are illiterate and ignorant. There is no hope.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  88. a slozomby

    why didnt the aclu file suit against any of the parents. you know the one's that are supposed to make sure their kids get an education.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  89. larry

    when will people learn it's not the state or the nations job to teach your kids. it's still the parents job!

    October 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • casey

      Actually it is the states job. It's the parents job to make sure their kids get to school and to help them with homework when they are home. It's not a parents job to teach their kids advanced college prep courses.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • a slozomby

        4th graders aren't taking AP courses. somehow i learned to read before i made it to the 4th grade. i thank my parents for that.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
      • Zebula

        I knew how to read and write BEFORE I ever started kindergarten. My LITERATE parents taught me. Guess how much that helped me once I started school – you can't even imagine.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  90. Todd in DC

    Parents have to motivate at home, and teachers have to motivate at school. That isn't an either/or statement.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Zenger Folkman

      Amen!!

      October 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  91. AngryDinosaur

    "it blew his mind when a tutor explained the differences between their, there and they’re."

    Wait, there's a difference?! You wouldn't know it by reading these comments.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Timmy

      I think your wrong.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
      • Zebula

        Or, I think YOU'RE wrong. Depends on which public school district you were in I guess.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • MikeyZ

      If you think it's bad here, try the chuckleheads posting comments on Yahoo!.

      You'd be surprised how many times someone has said, "Your [sic] an idiot!" or words to similar effect.

      Evidently they don't call Yahoo! by that name for nothing.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  92. Just Say'n

    I bet, like school district in other major cities, this district is also run by mostly liberals and democrats.

    Their solution will be "WE NEED MORE MONEY".

    October 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • kyphi

      Schools do need more money. Some of the obsolete textbooks these children use are over 20 years old

      October 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
      • Harlon Katz

        The question becomes what WERE the schools doing with the money they received. $14,000 per pupil is a lot of funding – we have to purchase books for our high school student and those are $500/year . I would imagine the grade school texts would be the same or less, and they could be reused. The problem I am sure is that much of the funding went to expensive teachers that had the years and were biding their time. It is amazing how the charter school is doing so much with less money spent per pupil.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
      • kyphi

        It goes to overpaid superintendents and school boards taking lavish vacations to talk about their plans for the district. It sure doesn't go to teachers, at least in most of Missouri.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • admiral605

      Michigan...aka Detroit....has always been run by Democrats. I always find it ironic that liberal states have constant fiscal and social problems, yet they still vote Democrats into office. Will they ever learn that you can't just throw endless amounts of money at a problem and hope it will go away? Time for a "personal responsiblity" injection into these societies. On a side note, I thought Democrats were the party of education?

      October 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
      • kyphi

        Missouri with a Democratic governor and US Senator does not require teachers to join unions. We have a balanced budget but unfortunately also Todd Akin who represents a wealthy St. Louis suburb. 😦

        October 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • Tim

        Thanks. I forgot democrats controlled the house, senate, and presidency when the economy collapsed.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
      • casey

        Texas is not a liberal state and looky here. 50th in the country for adults with high school diplomas. Sorry to blow such a big hole through your intelligence. It was pretty easy actually.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
      • Harlon Katz

        Casey – TX also has a large illegal immigrant population to deal with.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
      • Nate

        Michigan is NOT Detroit. I live in West Michigan and everyone here is almost ashamed that Detroit is associated with the state of Michigan. Detroit is a dying city that needs to be given some kind of CPR. The rest of the state is a wonderful place, but please do not assume that Detroit is a representation of Michigan.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
      • Hmmm

        I find it funny "conservative" states are some near the top of federal $$$ per capita. I thought the fed was supposed to stay out of the way of states...

        October 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Reality Check

      To put it very bluntly, but truthfully, this district is almost entirely run by blacks. They also make up 93% of the city population, and virtually the entire student body of this school.

      This schools failure is a community problem, not a federal or state taxpayer problem. Money will not fix it.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
      • casey

        yer a racist! but I agree with you.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
      • kyphi

        I am so tempted to edit your statement.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
      • LR

        yes.... and young girls need role models to teach them that having children early in life will only hold them back!

        October 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
      • Zebula

        Bingo, Reality Check!

        October 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Tim

      And the conservative solution is "RICH PEOPLE NEED MORE MONEY"...

      October 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
      • Harlon Katz

        It is not just about spending money – the school WAS spending $14,000/pupil/year and getting HORRIBLE results. Where was THAT money going – teachers unions! Screw the kids as long as the teachers got theirs.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Timmy

      A couple of interesting things in this article- 1) the ACLU is finally doing something worthwhile, I thought they only sued local governments for putting up Christmas trees 2) 'Highland Park is a small city adjacent to Detroit, about three square miles that were once a center of innovation', Highland Park is, apparently, still a center of innovation for bringing in a charter school to run the school system, they should have done that in Chicago when the teachers were on strike last month 3) There was a lot of cash coming in $14k per student, but not enough books- where did all the money go?

      October 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
      • TeacherJen

        Perhaps the money was going to pay for the guards? But it does make you wonder. 14, 000 a year buys a lot of books..
        And that is shady. However, in the end, it comes down to the parents. My daughter went to Kindergarten already knowing how to read. As a teacher let me put it this way....I spend one hour a day x 180 days with your child ( i teach high school). I will work my very hardest to make as much of a difference as I can...but as a parent what have you done in the 24 hours a day you have had them for the last 17-18 years?

        October 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  93. Rob

    This school district is run by people who dont have a legitimate education. You can see the people running this place, correct? They are black. They dont even love their own people enough to give them a legitimate education.. For them, life is all about themselves. THEY DONT CARE ABOUT THESE KIDS.. You want them to be educated? You better find some people with education backgrounds that arent black. Look at this school district. Look at detroit.. If you disagree, find me a school district run by whites, or hispanics or asians that are doing this poorly. We tried to be politically correct and let them run their own schools.. Guess what, they failed. End of story. Now they have ruined a generation of students that cannot read or learn. Does anybody want these kids in their district taking up money to catch them up so that they can pass the basic skills tests? Am I harsh? You bet I am. Learn the lesson, dont let them run the school districts. Make sure there are people in authority that can be held accountable. You cannot hold a black administrator accountable because if you do, then youre a racist. Maybe, for the sake of these kids, we need a few more racists that care about the REAL performance of these kids.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • kyphi

      What an uninformed ignorant statement. Proof that race doesn't matter is in one of the Bush quotes: is our children learning?

      October 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • questionlol

      Dude, you are way off base. There are -plenty- of under-performing white lead schools. Just let inattentive parents be inattentive parents. Let poor teachers be poor teachers. Why bring race into it? This problem is bigger than any of your petty stereotypes.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Rby608

      Man, that is so ignorant. Want a school district run by Latinos that is doing poorly? Look to Brownsville, Tx. As other's have said, I'm sure there are many more examples. But, that's the only school district I have personal knowledge of.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Bill C.

      Only a few miles away, you have Cass Tech. My son is one of 50 or so white students out of 2300, and about 2/3 of the faculty is black. It's a great school, neck-and-neck with the nearly all-white suburban high school I went to 17 miles outside of Detroit.

      It's not just race.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • CalJ

      Are you kidding me! The majority of the teachers at this high school, and other falling schools are WHITE! So, there may be some truth in your statement.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
      • Harlon Katz

        Not in Chicago.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • ThaGerm

      Funny, the last group of people I saw trying to destroy education in this country (especially inner-city) were White and Rich. In that case I think you are correct, they don't love these kids and they don't care about their education, but hey, they are in church every Sunday so it's all good right? Right?

      October 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Reality Check

      Rob, when you put low-IQ people in charge of a school of low-IQ students (black, hispanic) and expect them to perform at the same levels as higher IQ students (white, asian), it is an exercise in delusion and futility. No amount of money or political pandering will fix this.

      Nature, time, and evolutionary pressures made geographically -solated human population groups DIFFERENT in many ways, cognitive abilities being just one difference. But this is one of those rare cases where a scientific truth is considered evil, and those who utter it are to be condemned according to the prevailing cultural norms.

      In truth, the commenters here who claim this is 'racism' or 'ignorance' are just displaying their utter lack of knowledge about the mountain of scientific data about race and intelligence, and the obvious effect it has on school performance.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • Reality Check

        Typo: "geographically isolated "

        October 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
      • kyphi

        OMG, I hope you did not pass on your genetic make-up with the obsolete racist views you claim to be true.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
      • Reality Check

        Kyphi, current (not obsolete) scientific data supports the racial IQ gap. This is mainstream scientific knowledge. You have likely been lied to about it in school though. Do your own research. Start with a google search on "Race and IQ".

        Reality is not racism.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
      • OkayMan

        I am black and you could be right but how will we ever know? If you could test students of all races raised in the same household and same infuences, then you could perhaps effectively say that some races are more intelligent than others. So glad I work in a field where I am tested and have a license so nobody will think that I am too stupid to treat the sick and the afflicted.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
      • kyphi

        You are citing skewed sources whose sole purpose was to support their racist views. Place a prenatally well-cared for child, regardless of color, in an advantaged socioeconomic home with loving parents who read to him/her, and your "facts" are exposed as racist lies.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
      • Reality Check

        kyphi, environment is far less important than genes. The Minnesota Twins Studies proved that.

        I didn't quote any sources on IQ. I told you google 'Race and IQ' and educate yourself.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
      • Harlon Katz

        Genes are about _potential_ – just as your genes affect how fast or far you can POTENTIALLY run, how much weight you can POTENTIALLY lift, they also affect you "academic" maximum potential. Everyone should remember those one or two kids in class where everything just came easy. That being said, a LARGE part is what people do with that potential and how they are supported by their parents, environment, etc. If a student does not study, is told by his or her parents that school is useless and the parents disrespect the teachers, it is likely the child will not do well academically in school. What parents need to realize is that even if that cannot help their child do their homework (advanced math, science, even basic skills), they can still be involved and make sure their child DOES their homework and asks the teacher for help as required.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
      • kyphi

        Harlan, you got the correct answer! Have a sticker! Unfortunately reality check's reality is from before the Civil Rights movement.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
      • Legios

        Hmnmm, let's see...
        I'm black and I:
        1. Graduated Valedictorian from my 80% affluent, white H.S.
        2. Graduated with merit from the United States Naval Academy with a BS in Aerospace Engineering
        3. Graduated with distinction from the US Naval War College with a Masters in National Security Policy
        4. Have been selected to become a commanding officer of a Navy aviation squadron.

        Both my parents are black and they are both graduates of Cornell. And my father graduated from Cornell law school.

        Seems to me that there's genetic inferiority. Nice try though.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
      • Reality Check

        Congratulations on your achievements. However, it is surprising that you achieved all that without the ability to understand the distinction between individual IQ which may have contributed to your success, and group mean averages, which concerns the topic at hand.

        There is a RANGE of black IQ and a RANGE of white IQ. There are blacks with relatively high IQs and whites with relatively IQ. There is considerable overlap, but the average of the black range is lower by 15-18 points or 1 to 1.1 standard deviations. This implies that between 11 and 16 percent of the black population have an IQ above 100 (the white mean average). So, clearly, the academic results of one GROUP are going to be affected when compared to another GROUP.

        The Bell Curve (1994) showed that the average IQ of African Americans was 85, Latino 89, White 103, Asian 106, and Jews 113.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
      • Reality Check

        typo: "whites with relatively low IQ. "

        October 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
      • Hmmm

        @LEGIOS...between u and pastorcal, I think my comments are being misunderstood. Typing on a smartphone probably isnt helping. Im not saying being black means youre genetically inferior at all. Im saying genes are expressed in all people based on life experiences or lack thereof. And some traits are expressed before youre born. I was not trying to imply minorities are dumb. That is 100% not at all my point and I apologize if it came across that way. The blatant racist posts on here are disgusting and ignorant.

        October 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Elle

      What the hell is wrong with you? You think that just because they're black means that they won't run a good school system? Oh and let me guess; you are a republican too aren't you? My cousin who is mixed has gone to college, graduated with a masters in science, graduated with all honors and a job. Did you do that well in College?
      You're the type of person we don't want around our kids. You are a sick racist. Good day to you Jack Ass.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Elle

      @ Rob: What the hell is wrong with you? You think that just because they're black means that they won't run a good school system? Oh and let me guess; you are a republican too aren't you? My cousin who is mixed has gone to college, graduated with a masters in science, graduated with all honors and a job. Did you do that well in College?
      You're the type of person we don't want around our kids. You are a sick racist. Good day to you Jack Ass.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  94. Lisa

    A lawsuit would be required to fix this school system. At the same time, look at that broken hearted teacher. She was trying, but there was only so much she could overcome. Once students can't read, they read. It's up to the parents to help them. If that's not there, what else do we do?

    October 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Lisa

      My bad typing. I type faster than I read. Once students can't read, they can't read. No student should be passed from one grade level to another when they can't read or do basic math. The switch side is, how can we help them?

      October 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • ThaGerm

      We can help them by being parents! My second grader reads to us AT LEAST 20 minutes per night. I am not waiting around for some over-burdened and under-paid teacher to do it for me! I also have a 22 year-old college student who was reading Robert Jordan and Ann McCaffery (to name a few) novels in the 5th grade. Parents, READ TO YOUR KIDS!!!

      October 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
      • Lisa

        You did good. OOPS! You did well.

        October 9, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
      • Lisa

        Not to be sarcastic or anything. I was so good at math in my school in Oklahoma. My friends were, too. We had an awful teacher in our junior high. Trying to learn algebra. Even back then, poor quality teachers were sent to poor quality schools. She would scream at us when we had a question. Things had to change, even back then.

        October 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  95. Hunter

    brendan, r u insain?!?

    October 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  96. Hunter

    no, a law siut can't change a thing about the Highland Park Michigan schools. And if a law suit can, why would they do so anyway???

    October 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • ThaGerm

      Lemme guess, Highland Park Alum?

      October 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  97. pw1121

    I look upon this as signs of a declining America. This is not happening only in Highland Park but in other once thriving cities in the US where once jobs were plentiful but now gone. It is sad to close down schools; the ones who rely on us the most are the ones who suffer the greatest. We as Americans can either go with the signs of the times and close schools and social services because we simply can not afford them anymore; you, like myself, are probably tired of keeping things barley afloat with money that we dont have. Or we can start changing things; create jobs, create our own businesses that creates jobs and put America first again.

    Lawsuits can force people to do things but really has no long term effect. Soon resources will run out to the point where organizations wont be able to comply. Again, this is a sad state of affairs where we need to figure out how to effectivly replace the resources we use or watch more Highland Parks happen.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • kyphi

      I am sorry you can barley keep afloat.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • popcorn

      Did you know Low income can't afford to start small business?

      October 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  98. brendan

    hi

    October 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  99. brendan

    no they will no but if they do they wont change a thing

    October 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • crystal

      ur totally right brendan

      October 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
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