Another emergency manager wrong for DPS

Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed Judge Steven Rhodes as the fifth emergency manger of Detroit Public Schools. Rhodes presided over the Detroit bankruptcy hearing and gained widespread support from Snyder and the corporate elite for his handling of the case. Snyder hopes that Rhodes will be able to influence the state Legislature to acknowledge its obligation to step up and pay the $515 million debt to put the district back on sound financial grounds.

This appointment is a desperate measure by Snyder. It is an attempt to shift the public conversation away from the failures of emergency management legislation. It is an effort to use that law to further undermine public education and destroy the power of teachers and the unions that protect them as they work to educate our children.

Emergency managers have become so toxic in Michigan since the poisoning of Flint’s water supply that Rhodes doesn't event want the title. Rhodes wants to be called the “transition manager.” This is an empty gesture. He has all of the powers of the emergency manager, his authority comes from EM legislation and he is collecting that salary.

Rhodes is an emergency manager. Yet he openly admits he is unprepared to run a school system.

Combining unchecked power with ignorance is why emergency managers destroyed the water systems in Highland Park and Flint, sold off public lands to private interests in Pontiac and Benton Harbor, and initiated massive water shut-offs in Detroit.

Now we are led to believe that someone who openly states he knows nothing about educational practices, academic development or complex school systems should advise the state Legislature, hire the next superintendent, and put in place the policies that will provide a “new” school board.

Rhodes talks about people as “stakeholders,” not citizens. He tells us we need to “reach out” to ensure “highly qualified candidates” who can be “trained” in how to be good school board members.

Between now and August, when Rhodes says he will leave, little will have changed for our children. The abuse and neglect they are suffering at the hands of the governor, our legislators and their appointed managers will continue. We, who care about our children and our future, need to open new spaces of love and learning in our communities. In this way we can claim our own power and responsibility for educating our children.

Shea Howell

Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management