The Essence of Politics

Monday, September 07, 2009

DPS wonders why people Are not In

Let me begin by saying that I was in before “Are You In” was created. I will always love Detroit Public Schools but it doesn’t excuse the fact that DPS has had many problems put none as severe since the takeover of DPS and the incompetence of many members of DPS elected board which really wasn’t incompetence but charter school agenda that means destroying DPS to push more charters within Detroit. Therefore, not only are us the city residents to blame for the dismantling and destroying of DPS both the state of Michigan to blame (Democrats and Republicans) as well as unions. No one is exempt from the blame particularly considering that the DPS takeover started under Governor John Engler, a Republican and it continued under Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat. Now it is clear that as DPS wonders why many residents in Detroit are not in, it is the result of mistrust and a failure of real vision to lead DPS to greater heights. While there are many good points to highlight within DPS, there are many sore eyes that hinder many from investing in DPS.

So if the blue doors are to unlock the future for Detroit youth than that future is still not as clear as many would like to think. Over the past decade, Detroit Public Schools has lost nearly half of its student population and has closed countless schools. This year the Detroit Public School District is on a damage-control mission to clean up its act and reputation. Recently the Blue Door student retention campaign was launched to promote the improvements made to the district. “This campaign is the first of its kind in more than five years,” Steve Wasko, Director of Public Relations for Detroit Public Schools, said. “The blue doors are something like iconic symbols and an opportunity to become a part of a movement for our parents, children and community.”

The campaign featured events held all over the city, pumping students up for the upcoming school year. Wasko said the campaign was designed to make parents take a second look at DPS. “There has been significant changes in our schools and academic programs,” Wasko said. “We wanted to expose parents to the new developments and possibilities that lie behind the door of a DPS education such as college and entrepreneurship.” One in four of the district’s schools have new leadership. A new and improved education model is being implemented in 40 of the district’s schools that did not meet adequate yearly progress last year. This includes 75 percent of the high schools. DPS has also beefed up security measures and strengthened video surveillance to ensure safety.

On August 24, 172 Blue Doors were installed at Hart Plaza. Andrew Hayes of Detroit attended the installation ceremony with his six-year-old son, Andrew Hayes Jr. He said he’s a strong supporter of DPS. “I am product of DPS,” Hayes said. “I did learn. I am OK. I am successful. It’s not really about what’s going on with the politics.” Hayes, a graduate of Mumford High School, believes parental involvement is fundamental for the learning and development of a child. He stresses the need to volunteer at and support your child’s school. “You have got to teach your child and be there for your child,” he said. “It’s not always up to the teacher to teach your child.”

Minnie Pearce has seven children in the Detroit Public School system. She also still trusts the value of a DPS education. “DPS has the best schools, they have the better teachers and their curriculum is superb,” Pearce said. “People need to shop around and understand it’s not the name, it’s the quality. It wouldn’t have been around this long if it wasn’t good.” Two of her daughters, Lorane Pearce-Tate, 14, and Breanna Pearce, 15, attend Martin Luther King High School. They feel they are being prepared for college. “I think King is a great school,” Breanna Pearce said. “I’m excited for the new school year because it’s a new experience. I get to meet new teachers and I only have two more years to graduate.” DPS Volunteer Lillian Scott can attest to the excellent education her daughter received from DPS. She says even when she moved to Madison Heights, she continued driving her daughter to Central High School every day. Her daughter, Candice Gardner, was a part of the Horizon Upward Bound program and the band while maintaining a 3.8 G.P.A. She received scholarships totaling $35,000 and now attends the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“DPS prepared her to go to college and keep up and she’s doing an awesome job,” Scott said. “She’s an awesome young lady thanks to DPS.” Even though Scott no longer has children in DPS, she remains a loyal volunteer to show her appreciation. “I’m a graduate of DPS schools,” Scott said. “My whole family has been a part of DPS for five generations and I know if we don’t stand behind it and fight for the babies, all is lost.” The Blue Door campaign is hosting a series of events throughout the city. Now on August 27, a parade and inaugural back-to-school rally was held at Hart Plaza. On August 28, the Blue Doors were moved to the State Fair and they made their way to Belle Isle September 4th-7th. Still despite the Blue Door or “I’m In” Campaign, it is still unclear that what is the academic visions and plan for DPS.

Also unclear is how will DPS fix its financial problems that have been bleeding red since the state takeover days and many of the same people still looking in the central office of DPS worked down there during the takeover days or have been brought back to fulfill other positions within the district. So as Detroit Public Schools Czar Robert Bobb used his former employer, Public Financial Management, Inc. (PFM), to draft a $500.5 million 30-year school bond proposal for the November ballot, which has now been approved by City Clerk Janice Winfrey and the Elections Commission for the Nov. 3 ballot. Detroit Board of Education member Marie Thornton said she attended a June 1st meeting Bobb held with the Council of Great City Schools to discuss the bond proposal, in which PFM’s role was delineated. “There was no consultation with the entire board about this plan before this meeting,” said Thornton. “There was a conversation about a rush to place this before the voters in 2009.”

Bobb earlier awarded PFM a $972,000, no-bid contract to create a deficit elimination and long-term financial plan and “restate” the 2008-09 budget deficit, according to published reports. DPS officials did not return calls for comment on how much PFM was paid to draft the proposal. PFM’s website says it is part of the PFM Group, which also includes PFM Asset Management, LLC. It says the company performs “Strategic Consulting, Bond Pricing, Debt Management, and State Revolving Fund Services” along with investment management. “For over three decades, PFM has built a solid presence in the municipal marketplace,” reads the website. “We have been involved in financing programs totaling in excess of $400 billion. Last year, PFM advised on 691 bond transactions with a total volume of over $43.1 billion.” It is also unclear if Bobb obtained required approval from the State Treasurer Robert J. Kleine for the proposal prior to its submission to the Elections Commission. The resolution submitted by Bobb did not reference the state’s approval, other than his authorization by Governor Jennifer Granholm to “assume control over all fiscal matters of the School District.”

Rachel Jones, Deputy Director for the Elections Commission, said, “Yes, the bond proposal was approved for the ballot, but I am not aware of any submission of documents indicating state approval.” Bobb told School Board President Carla Scott in a letter August 21st that Kleine had approved the proposal. Terry Stanton, Kleine’s communications manager, said Kleine had approved a complex bond application, and that he would send a copy of the letter of approval after he found it. He was also asked how the bond could be approved under MCL 388.927 Sec, 7 (1)(c) of the School Bond Qualification, Approval and Loan Act 92 of 2005, which requires that, “The school district is in compliance with the revised municipal finance act 2001 PA 34.” He had not returned a call before the Michigan Citizen reported on this.

Therefore the district is currently under Bobb’s control because of its non-compliance. Bobb has also claimed the district has a deficit of close to $300 million, which he says necessitates union concessions, more school closings and abrogation of school worker contracts. The proposal given to the Election Commission says the millage levied to service the bonds will be 3.82 mill ($3.82 per $1,000 of taxable value). The bond retirement period is 30 years, with no language given indicating the amount of interest required. “If the School District borrows from the State to pay debt service on the bonds of this issue, the School District may be required to continue to levy mills beyond the term of the bonds to repay the State,” adds the proposal. The district already owes the State for a $240 million debt incurred under the former state reform board, which is now costing $20 million per month from its state per-pupil funding.

The proposal also claims that state law says that bond proceeds “may not be used to pay teacher or administrator salaries, routine maintenance or repair costs, or other School District Operating Expenses.” It is not clear if this information is to be included on the ballot, as it comes after the Yes/No question. “The opportunity to modernize and secure our buildings, provided through federal stimulus funds, will help us continue the academic transformation taking place in the Detroit Public Schools,’ said Bobb in a DPS release.

However outside of the bond issue and Bobb hiring his former employee, another issue that continues to make people question the direction of DPS is the fact Bobb is bringing back companies to DPS that delivered terrible services to DPS in the first place. John Daniels wrote to the Michigan citizen saying, “I have a concern that we are treating Mr. Robert Bobb in a way that is contrary to our country’s system of checks and balances. He has un-checked power and now seems to be abusing it. One big example is that Mr. Bobb gave a $10 million no-bid contract to Compuware. If this is true, it smacks of foul play. It sounds like what we have seen in the City — millions of dollars going out to friends in no-bid contracts while employees are being laid off under the guise of “saving money.” This is particularly suspicious because before Bobb arrived, Compuware lost a bid to provide IT services to DPS because their bid was too high. I am informed that they are laying off DPS workers and replacing them with Compuware personnel. (This was mentioned in a recent editorial in the Michigan Citizen newspaper).

Furthermore, Mr. Daniels says, “Compuware ripped off the District when they had the IT contract under Ken Burnley by “nickle and diming” the District for every little thing and providing mediocre service. Admittedly, we employees are not happy to see them coming back on a no-bid contract when we are being laid off. Mr. Bobb is doing some good things, but this community is asking for trouble if we treat him like a King who cannot be questioned. This country survives because we have checks and balances to restrain the abuse of power. We have seen what happens when you allow public officials to dole out millions of dollars in no-bid contracts. What other no-bid contracts have been awarded by Mr. Bobb? How much is being spent on all of these high-priced consultants that he is bringing in from all over the country? Are these friends or people related to any of the consulting companies that he has been affiliated with before coming to DPS?

Mr Daniels believes that you have the guts to question these actions now before it is too late. Daniels says, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely! Apparently, this is a pattern for Robert Bobb. We are now told that he has actually given a $50 million no-bid contract to Compuware. This has got to be investigated!”

Then to add misery to this matter is the fact that in July, DPS financial manager Robert Bobb announced the hiring of four educational management companies to run seventeen public high schools as part of the restructuring of Detroit’s school district. At least one of those companies has a well-documented track record replete with academic performance failures and contract terminations. The management companies — EdWorks of Cincinnati, Edison Learning of New York, Model Secondary Schools of Bellevue, Washington and Institute for Student Achievement of Lake Success, New York — will be paid with $20 million of economic stimulus funds, according to published reports.

Gary Miron, Professor at Western Michigan University’s College of Education, says Edison Learning has a poor record. Miron says there are several studies available on Edison showing that the “top heavy” company doesn’t work. Miron is one of the nation’s leading experts and most published authors of charter school policy studies. His work has presented a view of charter schools based on empirical studies and solid results. His conclusions have ranged from support for certain charter institutions to scathing critiques of the charter school movement that has increasingly ignored its own data. In March, as reported in the Michigan Citizen, Miron wrote a letter to the Michigan State Board of Education criticizing the methodology of the 2008 Public School Academy report to Michigan’s legislature. That report was to be the basis for the Michigan Department of Education draft report on charter schools. Its presentation to the legislature was subsequently delayed.

In a phone interview with the Michigan Citizen, Miron lamented Robert Bobb’s decision to bring private management companies into Detroit’s public high schools, saying, “Schools that are run by management companies tend to have lower academic performance results.” “It’s a sham and shame that they’ve contracted with this company,” Miron told the Michigan Citizen. On March 24, the Baltimore School District voted to end contracts at two of the three schools “managed” by Edison Learning as reported in the Baltimore Sun. That contract agreement was initiated in 2000 and was worth $16.9 million a year. After the nine-year contract was dismissed, Laura Weeldryer, deputy chief of staff to Baltimore Schools Superintendent Andres Alonso, said, “We’ve made a big investment in them (Edison Learning), and we have yet to see the payoff.”

Edison Learning also faced fierce community opposition in Philadelphia when it was proposed that they run the entire school district. The company eventually gained a contract to run 15 schools. According to The Notebook, an online publication chronicling Philadelphia public schools, last year, Philadelphia Schools CEO Arlene Ackerman ended four Edison Learning contracts and put another 12 on a one-year “probation” list. Closer to home, the Inkster School District recently dismissed Edison Learning due to poor performance results. Bobb’s announcement to hire the management companies included the stipulation that management companies will be judged on performance, stating that they won’t be paid if results are poor. It is unclear what criteria will be used to evaluate the companies’ performance.

The DPS Board of Education filed a lawsuit against emergency financial manager Bobb in Wayne County Circuit Court. The suit was initiated by a unanimous Board vote last month in an effort to get Bobb to comply with state law. The Granholm decision, pursuant to Michigan Common Law 141.1421, to assign Bobb his role as financial overseer of the district, included provisions mandating that he consult with the Board on restructuring decisions. On July 16, Detroit Public Schools announced a $148.4 million reinvestment plan to transform the educational system. The plan would utilize stimulus funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 if approved by the Michigan Department of Education. It would reduce class size in early grades, enhance extended day programs, develop high priority school partnerships and offer Netbooks for nearly all DPS students in grades 6-12 as well as their teachers.

Bobb came under fire after he engaged a consulting firm that he worked for with a $972,000 no-bid contract. Robert Bobb granted the contract to Philadelphia-based Public Financial Management Inc. to help create a deficit-elimination plan and assist with budgeting and accounting systems. It was under the first state takeover that DPS incurred the deficit. The district went into the 1999 takeover with a surplus, and emerged with a $300 million deficit even after Detroit taxpayers bonded $1 billion for school improvement. The bond money was spent wildly, without public oversight. Gov. Granholm initiated the current DPS takeover because of the deficit. A closer look at the four private management companies hired to take over DPS high schools:

Edison Learning
--For Profit, (Formerly known as Edison Schools)
--Based in New York
--Founded by Chris Whittle
--Operates in 24 states
--Schools to be managed: Cooley, Denby, Finney, Kettering, Mumford and Southeastern
--Inkster Public Schools let Edison Learning a five year contract from 2000 to 2005 for 1.2 million dollars. According to the Detroit Free Press: “In 2005, MEAP scores at Inkster High fell in all but one category with the highest score at 40 percent of students passing the reading exam.”
--In 2002, Edison Learning managed 113 schools; only 63 were given a positive standing according.

Ed Works
--Based in Cincinnati, Ohio
--Harold D. Brown, Executive Director
--Promotes small learning environments
--Partners with school districts, state systems and intermediary groups
--Schools to be managed: Central, Crocket, Henry Ford, King and Western International
--Subsidiary of Knowledge Works

Institute for Student Achievement (ISA)
--Based in Lake Success, Ohio
--The AT&T Foundation has awarded $400,000 over four years to the Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) to address the high school dropout crisis.
--Schools to be managed: Cody, Osborn and Northwest
-Major Investors: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Margaret & Richard Lipmanson Foundation(Lilo & Gerard Leeds), Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation.

Model Secondary Schools Project
--For Profit
--Based in Bellevue Washington
--Schools to be managed: Detroit High School of Technology, Pershing and Southwestern high schools
--Founded Detroit High School for Technology, a small school located within Pershing High; contract Expired in 2005
--Last year Detroit High School for Technology, a 178-student school, saw 4 percent of its students pass the Michigan Merit Exam in math and 24 percent in reading.

Still the whole transfer of high schools to management companies is fishy because even talking to some charter school advocates, the main problem in some charter schools is the management companies who don’t care about academics but they care about getting money. That’s why some of these management companies that Bobb has given play to are for profit management companies meaning their whole existence is based off profit which is scary when dealing with education. Education shouldn’t be about making a profit but it should be about providing a quality and high level education to the future of our youth. Still the management company idea is just one of many reasons why many people are not in.

Then the fact that more Detroit Public Schools guidance counselors are being let go and the numbers are unclear as to how many although he district hopes of rehiring many by way of federal stimulus funds. It seems everyone is looking for stimulus funds these days. As reported in the Detroit Free Press and News, Rodney Bonner on Monday began his first day of work as the sole guidance counselor for Crockett High School's more than 800 students. By Monday night, he had received an unexpected notice in the mail: He'll lose his job in 60 days. "You go to work and on the first day you get a layoff notice," said Bonner, 53, a Detroit Public Schools employee for 29 years. "That's not a vote of confidence." Bonner is among DPS guidance counselors who received layoff notices this week, days before an estimated 84,000 students flock back to school. The latest round of notices could further diminish chances for students to get help with scheduling, college prep, resolving personal issues and graduation guidance.

"What this means is that counselors simply wouldn't have the time to spend with the child," Bonner said. "It's a matter of: There's a name and there's a number and move them through. That's why we are losing the kids now. We don't have enough time for them." Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb proposed slashing the number of full-time guidance counselors for the fall from 216 to 120 as part of a plan to eliminate the district's $259 million budget deficit, leaving many of the district's 172 schools with no guidance counselors. District officials said the budget is in flux and they could not provide the number of counselors for the fall or the number of layoff notices issued.

Under their union contract, layoffs occur by seniority, so the number of notices issued extended deep into the ranks if experienced counselors like Bonner face losing their jobs. Six guidance counselors at Cass Technical High School received layoff notices, wiping out the entire staff, said Cass Tech union representative and teacher Steve Conn. "Bobb might as well be ripping up the senior college applications," at one of the city's premier college prep high schools, he said. Bobb said he intends to restore the high school counselors. The district hopes federal dollars can help bring more counselors back. "We will be looking to stimulus dollars and Title I to see if there are other ways, and legal ways, we can use those dollars for counseling services," said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the district's chief academic and accountability officer.

Title I federal grants help schools with high poverty rates. Traditionally they cannot be used for basic classroom expenditures like teaching reading, but are designed to supplement programs such as summer tutoring. DPS' application for Title I funding includes requests to reduce class sizes and to fund additional counselors, confirmed Jan Ellis, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Education. The application is under review. The personnel shake-up has left Alfreda Peoples wondering if her children's favorite counselor will be back at school Tuesday. "We loved her," said Peoples, mother to five graduates of Southwestern High Schools and whose sixth, Darius, and last will be returning this fall. "She really tried to help the kids achieve their goals."

Crockett High's Bonner, a graduate of Southwestern High School and Grambling State University, had been a counselor at Central High School for the past 12 years until he lost his position this summer when the school was reconstituted. He has witnessed the cutbacks of counselors and clerical staff in the guidance office that has further strained the time counselors can spend with students. The number of counselors district-wide has been whittled from 290 in 2006 to 216 last year. After being displaced from Central, Bonner was excited when the principal hired him at Crockett High School, where his daughter is a student. Now he's worried about the negative impact on students. "When you are dealing with human beings, nothing replaces time," Bonner said. "You have to spend time with the kids and know the individuals."

Then other issues besides not having enough school counselors to prepare students for college particularly in high school, what does that mean for scholarship opportunities and information for students. Detroit Public Schools' unprecedented move to overhaul half of its schools this summer has created a frenzy of activity -- and in some cases confusion -- just days before classes are to begin. In the midst of a massive shakeup of leadership and staff, many teachers still don't have classroom assignments, parents haven't gotten timely information on transportation and start times, and some aren't even certain about the addresses of new schools. "The whole thing is a great big ball of confusion," Gwendolyn McKinney said about the misinformation on where her children will need to go this fall. Their school, Mark Twain Elementary, was scheduled to close and still remains on the "final closure list" posted on the district's Web site. Then McKinney learned later this summer the school would not close, but move to the Boynton School building less than a mile away. Boynton is considered closed, but the building will remain open and the school has been renamed Mark Twain.

In recent days, Robert Bobb, the district's emergency financial manager, has spent much of his time on walking tours, a parade and other efforts to rev up attendance and support for the schools, but some stakeholders say they would have preferred to get basic information on what's in store for students and teachers on Tuesday. The lack of communication from the district has "turned a lot of parents away," said McKinney, who pulled her kids from Mark Twain. "It could have been done a different way." But McKinney, like others interviewed for this article, hasn't given up hope on the district and is rooting for DPS's success. She enrolled her two children at Clippert Academy, a district-run application middle school.

Parents and students often hear of monumental changes to their schools through the media or the rumor mill, rather than from the district, said Ida Byrd-Hill, whose twins attend the Detroit School of Arts. That breeds frustration and anger, she said, and makes parents more likely to resist changes they might have accepted if consulted beforehand. "There is one thing to have change, but you don't have to have it be chaotic," Byrd-Hill said. She learned Friday that high school classes will be starting earlier, at 7:30 a.m., a decision in which parents had no input, she said. That means her children will be on city buses at 6 a.m. to get to school, which makes her worry about their safety. The district announced Wednesday that by the second semester, start times would be pushed back to 8 a.m.

Bobb, appointed to a one-year term to clean up the district's finances, acknowledges he's "very nervous" about schools opening during this massive transformation. Despite the upheaval, students will definitely be coming back to better, cleaner schools, he said. "There will be some issues during the first day of school. But we are going to have SWAT teams at every school to solve the issues on the spot," Bobb said. "I'll be in the field that whole day." Students, especially young children, who return to a school Tuesday that's disorganized and unstructured may have a tough time adapting, said Steven Abell, professor and chair of psychology at the University of Detroit Mercy. Since they are not mature enough to take care of themselves, they rely on adults for care and if the adults can't provide a sense of stability it's troubling for children.

"Most children can adjust over time, but children can't really adjust to chaos," Abell said. "If the changes in the school are too rapid, then there's usually chaos, and that is difficult for children." For about 12,000 students in the district, Tuesday will mean starting in a new school because their school was shuttered. Another 18,000 students among 35 buildings will welcome transfers from the nearly 30 closed schools. An additional 23,000 students will be at schools with new principals and major overhauls of staff and teachers. At these reconstituted schools, all positions were vacated and employees had to apply to be rehired. Hundreds of staff who were not rehired among these 36 schools are guaranteed positions, but many teachers still don't have a job assignment.

Debra Hopkins, a math teacher at Cerveny Middle School, had no reason to believe she wouldn't be back in the classroom when Bobb announced J.R. King would be closing and its students coming to her building. But by August, the district decided Cerveny would be the "closed" school, renamed J.R. King, and house both Cerveny and King students. The final closure list on the district's Web site still doesn't include Cerveny, however. The teachers' contract is clear that employees like Hopkins should still have teaching jobs in the renamed building because her students are still there, union leaders say. Hopkins normally would have completed her bulletin boards by now and cleaned her classroom, instead she doesn't know where she'll be Tuesday. "You want to prepare the classroom to receive your children," said Hopkins, a DPS employee for 31 years. "You don't want to walk in with your children."

Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, cautioned this summer that massive change would create upheaval for students. The district's human resources department has worked tirelessly but remains overloaded in trying to get so many staffers placed in such a short period of time, he said. "There has never been a year like this one, where you had so many things going on simultaneously," said Johnson, who has been with the district for three decades. "It's unprecedented and educationally unwise." Corvell Green, 15, said he'll miss the stability at Chadsey High School, where he knew everyone. Now he worries the merger of unfamiliar faces at Southwestern High School will breed more fights. "I was devastated because I really want to be with my friends and my teachers," Green said.

Then transportation is also an issue. Green and his older brother walked to Chadsey. He planned to take city buses to get to his new school, but only after his mother called Southwestern's principal Wednesday did he learn school buses would be available from Chadsey. Bobb and district leaders have been asking parents and students to say "I'm In" Detroit Public Schools, the slogan for the marketing campaign to help stem the enrollment landslide. But if students take a chance on the district "and we aren't ready to receive them, then our credibility goes down the drain," Johnson said.

This is exactly why many in the city of Detroit are not saying they are in. Well perhaps the district has staved off major losses in its school district in terms of enrollment, I am still not sure that major losses have been stabilized when there is still much confusion days before the school year begins for DPS. Also what is even more clear is how will the district make sure all the classrooms have teachers when many teacher are unsure if they have a job yet alone unsure where they will work. These are just a few issues that the district will face on Tuesday and why Robert Bobb has his hands full not just financially but with the day to day operations of DPS as well as major academic problems when one is laying off teachers and planning to use Title 1 money to hire them back. Now remember that DPS already used Title 1 money for this year’s major summer program where results from how successful the program are unknown but according to my sources, many students will move on to the next grade level who shouldn’t.

If you miss more than 50 days in a school year and received all F’s or all D’s but go to summer school, you still shouldn’t be promoted to the next grade level. Summer school should be for those who go to school but perhaps didn’t score high on the MEAP or they got a one or two failing grades but still had a 2.0 or higher GPA. Now a student who perhaps have a 1.8 or 1.9 might be admitted to summer school depending on certain circumstances but that decision should be left up to school principals and teachers as well as school counselors who had that student. Nonetheless students below 2.0 GPA should automatically repeat a grade unless we as a district decide to given exceptions to certain students with a 1.8 or 1.9. That is why Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb needs to show us the people the results of his summer academy program and what did students learn but as I stated, it was more a summer babysitting program rather than a real learning experience.

Therefore if DPS wonders why people are not in than all they have to do is look at how they are continuing to misuse funds and are laying off key components to the educational process. If we are suppose to be preparing students for the next level of education which for some is college than how can we do that if there are no counselors to show them the way. I know that at times, counselors aren’t doing enough to prepare students for college yet alone scholarship opportunities because students also have to motivated to take it upon themselves to seek these things out but if they don’t have a counselor or parents to put it in their ear than how do they suppose to know where to search and look. Thus, DPS faces major problems and things could get worse considering that the district already has misused Title 1 money in the past and many of those people who misused that money previously now work for the State of Michigan Education Department under Mike Flanagan. So if the Federal Government really looks into how the district used Title 1 for the summer academies and how they plan to use it to pay for rehiring of school counselors than it could be a long school year for DPS which continues to fall short in balancing its budget as well as to improve academics in the district.

Therefore people are not in and probably will never be in as long as the DPS doesn’t provide real academic solutions to a district needing some since 1998 when the district had a real academic master plan drawn up. The district has countless problems that keep many parents, students and residents of Detroit from supporting DPS because no matter how many financial crooks and thieves Bobb finds, he continues to give away thousands of millions of dollars to people he worked for or companies that have a bad track record of providing services to DPS or academic districts throughout America as well as the fact Bobb is mishandling Title 1 funds which is what the former Board was excused of doing just last year. So the blue door campaign sounds good and looks good but it lacks real leadership in the sense of providing academic stability and sustainability in a district that has no clear cut vision or direction for the long term future considering the fact Bobb is gone March 2010 and no one knows who will be over DPS or how DPS will look yet alone if the bond mileage passes who will watch over the bond funds since the city has withheld monies from the last bond proposal from DPS in order to pay for the city’s budgetary gaps. So DPS shouldn’t wonder why people are not in but instead work to fix it now rather than later.

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Jay-Z - History

(Jay-Z - History)Jay-Z - History with Lyrics

LYRICS : [Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
(Gimme a lighter)
Victory (Lighters up) is finally ours
(Lighters up)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 1: Jay-Z]
In search of victory, she keeps eluding me
If only we could be together momentarily
We can make love and make history
Why won't you visit me? until she visit me
I'll be stuck with her sister, her name is defeat
She gives me agony, so much agony
She brings me so much pain, so much misery
Like missing your last shot and falling to your knees
As the crowd screams for the other team
I practice so hard for this moment, victory don't leave
I know what this means, I'm stuck in this routine
Whole new different day, same old thing
All I got is dreams, nobody else can see
Nobody else believes, nobody else but me
Where are you victory? I need you desperately
Not just for the moment, to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History (yeah), so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 2: Jay-Z]
So now I'm flirting with death, hustling like a G
While victory wasn't watching took chances repeatedly
As a teenage boy before acne, before I got proactiv I couldn't face she
I just threw on my hoodie and headed to the street
That's where I met success, we'd live together shortly
Now success is like lust, she's good to the touch
She's good for the moment but she's never enough
Everybody's had her, she's nothing like V
But success is all I got unfortunately
But I'm burning down the block hoppin' in and out of V
But something tells me that there's much more to see
Before I get killed because I can't get robbed
So before me success and death ménage
I gotta get lost, I gotta find V
We gotta be together to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters. Up.)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighter. Up.)
Victory is finally ours
(Lighters. Up.)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 3: Jay-Z]
Now victory is mine, it tastes so sweet
She's my trophy wife, you're coming with me
We'll have a baby who stutters repeatedly
We'll name him history, he'll repeat after me
He's my legacy, son of my hard work
Future of my past, he'll explain who I be
Rank me amongst the greats, either 1, 2, or 3
If I ain't number one then I failed you victory
Ain't in it for the fame that dies within weeks
Ain't in it for the money, can't take it when you leave
I wanna be remembered long after you grieve
Long after I'm gone, long after I breathe
I leave all I am in the hands of history
That's my last will and testimony
This is much more than a song, it's a baby shower
I've been waiting for this hour, history you ours

[Chorus: Cee-lo (2x)]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

Man in the Mirror--By Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

I'm gonna make a change,
for once im my life
It's gonna feel real good,
gonna make a diference
Gonna make it right...

As I, turn up the collar on
my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind
I see the kids in the streets,
with not enought to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs

A summer disregard,a broken bottle top
And a one man soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know
'Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed-out dream
(Washed-out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me
(Starting with me!)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Change his ways - ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that..
(Take a look at yourself and then make that..)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Man in the mirror - Oh yeah!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
(If you wanna make the world a better place)

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cook

It's been a long time coming but a change is surely going to come in America and the World! I am the Future of America and the World and that is the message that each of us must carry with us each and every day that we wake up on Earth! I am the Future! You are the Future! We are the Future of America and the World! That is way every election is important--primaries, special elections and general! So vote every year and hold our politicians accountable. Hold our political officials accountable by writing them, calling them and making sure they attend meetings that we the people have. "The Time for Change is not Now but Right Now!"

"EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary" should be our anthem and should be our creed as we make the positive differences in America and the world that so many people beg for and hungry for year after year! A Change is Gonna Come, A Change is Gonna Come, that's what we must say as we say "God grants us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courge to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference" each morning before we go about the task of making a positive change in America and the world a reality.

Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen

“When will people realize that we are Americans first and foremost, not Democrats or Liberals, not Republicans or Conservatives, not Independents or moderates. We are Americans. Stop putting a political party above America and stop putting any politican above America. America succeeds because of us the people holding our government responsible no matter the political party because the main two political parties are to blame for the condition America is in."—Hodari P.T. Brown

America with its flaws and all is a country I am proud to have been born in. America is not perfect but my love for it is perfect. That’s why all Americans must realize that we are all Americans. In fact we are Americans first and foremost. We are not Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans.

We are not Muslims, Christians or Jews. We are Americans. Too many times we recognize our differences with others rather than appreciating our similarities which are, we are Americans. We are Americans first and foremost, no matter if we were born here or moved here legally. We are all Americans, here in this country to make not only our lives better but the lives of other Americans better so future Americans can enjoy the rights and freedoms that make us all Americans.

We are all Americans. We are one party united under God. We are Americans and this is the only political party that matters. We are Americans and this is our country so let’s make sure that we make America better than how we found it so future Americans can live prosperous and joyous lives. We are Americans and must not ever forget that.

America will prosper as long we make sure we are doing our part to make it prosper and that means we can’t put any political party or politician above America. Long live America forever and long live America’s service to the world. Together, America and the world will prosper for future generations to enjoy America and the world we live in.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

This video of the ' Negro National Anthem' was originally screened at the historic African-American Church Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC on January 18th, 2009. Many of the esteemed individuals featured in this video in attendance and we presented with the ' Keepers of the Flame' award for the monumental contributions to social justice.

This version of the song was performed by the Grace Baptist Church Cathedral Choir, conducted by Derrick James. The video was produced and donated by Ascender Communications, LLC ( at the request of The Balm In Gilead, Inc.

If I Was President--Wyclef Jean

If I was President that is the people's anthem. We all have ideas of what we can do as President and through this website, we will fulfill our deam as a people!

Somethings Gotta Give--Big Boi ft Mary J Blige

Somethings Gotta Give people and it begins today for all us to make sure that something is us. We the people are sick and tired of suffering. Where is our piece of the Dream that so many people dead for so that we all could see today. This is our time people to change America and the world so that the Next Generation has a better future than the past we inherited.

This is our call to service. This isn't about one political candidate or one political figure. This is about us as people coming together to finally leave up to our potential and achieving the great feats that those before us have achieved. This is our moment to lead our nation and our world to greater heights.

Somethings gotta give people and it starts with us the people making it happen. We have to improve our education system in America. We have to rid the world of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We have to go to the streets and lift a hand to another in order to decrease poverty in this world. We have to take a stand today and make sure that the future of America and the world is brighter than it has ever been.

Somethings Gotta Give and that is why we must "Remember Each One, Reach One and Teach One so America's future and the World's future continues to prosper."

John Legend - "If You're Out There"

If you're out there than you need to get started in helping to change America and the world. The world and America won't change until you get involved in making the changes you want to see in this world. If you're out there, than you must know that tomorrow started now and today started yesterday so you are behind in helping to the change. If you are tired of hatred, racism, poverty, war, and violence than the time to change it is now. If you want universal health care, world peace, democracy for every nation, equal rights, and happiness for all than you must get involved now to help the save world.

You must believe in the change that you want to see and you must act on making that change a reality. If you're out there than say it aloud and show the rest of America and the world that you're out here to make a real positive change in the communities we stay in. If you're out there than get involved now. I'm calling every women and men to join me as we take back our country right here, right now. If you're out there than the future started yersterday and we are already late so we have lots of work to do but I know we can do it together as one.


Yes We Can accomplish anything that we set out to do! We don't need charismatic or inspirational leaders to believe in ourselves and to take responsiblity for our own faith, we just need each other. Yes We Can build a new America and a new world if each of us would take action now to make the changes that we want to see in the world. Yes We Can control government by holding our political officials accountable for their actions by calling them out when they don't pass legislation that supports the common good of all man and by voting in every election to ensure that we have people representing the people locally, state wide, nationally and in the world.

Yes We Can be great! Yes We Can be what we want to be! Yes We Can be glorious in not only America but the world! Yes We can put action behind our worlds and change the world starting right here, right now! Yes We Can as Republicans, Democrats and Independents become one as we freely think about our fellow men and women and make decisions that will be in the best interest of all people and not one single group.

Yes We Can be the change that we want to see in the world! Yes We Can show the world that the youth are ready to lead! Yes We Can put our egos, our social economic statuses, our religions, our educational statuses and our skin color to the side for the better good of the world! Yes We Can be Greater than we have ever been and help others be Greater than they have ever be!

YES WE CAN and YES WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS IN ALL THAT WE DO! YES WE CAN, no matter what others may say, we will be glorious! YES WE WILL and YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!

YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN is what will be sung from every mountaintop, every riverbank, every household, every school yard, every factory, every sporting event, every college campus and even every place you can imagine in the world is where YES WE CAN, will be said and heard!


Keep On Pushing - Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions

Wake Up People! No matter who is elected to any public office, we have to “Keep On Pushing” as a people to make sure they don’t leave us in a worst state than what they inherited. We as a people have to “Keep On Pushing” to make a difference in the lives of others. We have to have an “EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary” attitude as we continue to push our agenda that we the people deserve and want better. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change in a positive way that will benefit all Americans no matter their age, their religion or skin color. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will improve our education system, improve our military, improve our national security, improve our healthcare system and improve our economy. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will leave America’s future in a better than how we found it and that will leave the world’s future in a better state than we imagined we could live it. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to make life better for our neighborhoods, our families and even our quote on quote enemies. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to inspire, to uplift and to guide those who need help spiritually, physically and mentally. We have to “Keep On Pushing ” so that our lives, our future generation’s lives and the lives of those who came before us does not die in vein.

“Keep on Pushing”

A War For Your Soul

A War For Your Soul-regular version from Erisai Films on Vimeo.

The moment has come for us as a nation of people to finally wake up and realize that our destiny and fate in society has rests on our shoulders. We cannot allow the forces of evil and darkness to drain us out. We have to continue to overcome all odds in order to make the future of our nation better and the future of future generations of Americans better. We have to continue to pray to our Lord and we have to continue to uplift each other in prayer as well as take action against those things that are trying to destroy us. We have to stand up once and for all and be the future that we want to be. Now is our time and we shall do together by any means necessary.

This video was created to inspire young African-Americans not to fall prey to some of the problems they face in society. The use of the voice "Master of Darkness" represents evil, which is where the blame of all problems should be placed, and not on any one group of people. This video should not to be used to divide people (Black & White), there are images of heroes that are white in this video, and there are images of Black & White coming together with the words of Dr. King in the background. Some of the images from the past can be unsettling, but they are used to show all Americans how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. This film is being strategically placed in school systems, churches and youth orgs around the country, in hope of helping a lost generation of kids that we as Americans have forgotten. As fellow Americans we must continue to love each other, and take that love and spread it to the rest of the world. **THIS VIDEO IS NOT FOR SALE & I AM NOT ACCEPTING DONATIONS FOR THE FILM, I ONLY WANT THE MESSAGE TO REACH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT ANY HIDDEN POLITICAL OR FINANCIAL AGENDA.
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Sitting On the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

"The time for sitting is over! The time for action is now! The time for hope without action is hopeless! The time for change without a positive attitude is a change that we can't believe in! We need change that is positive of helping all people! Our time for action is now, our time for hope is now, our time for change is now and our time to believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to is not now but right now!"


The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner; O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land,
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just.
And this be our motto— "In God is our trust; "
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Black President

Our Time is not now but Right Now! Our Time has finally come to change the world not now but Right Now! If you don't believe that we can change the world than watch as we do it by changing your mind into believing in us and what we can do! This is OUR TIME RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!


We got to FIGHT THE POWER! We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch injustices take place. We can no longer sit by and allow our right to vote to become unexercised. We must FIGHT THE POWER for our past, present and future! We can no longer allow our rights to be oppressed and our voice to become drained by the powers at be. We must FIGHT THE POWER and show that we have a lot to say that needs to be heard by the mainstream media. We must FIGHT THE POWER and live up to our potential as dynamic, unbelievable and phenomenal people.

We must not believe the hype but we must become the hype. We are not Harriett Tubman, Marcus Garvey, MLK, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois, the Black Panther Party, SNCC, or any other activists but we are the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunties, and relatives of those who came before us to pave the way for us to FIGHT THE POWER! We are not next Generation of leaders who will not be honored and praised until they die but that’s the fight we accept. We are not fighting the power for glory or fame but we are fighting the power for just causes that most men and women will not understand until years or decades later.

We are fighting for our sisters and brothers in Darfur, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, China and Mexico. We are speaking for those who are poor and have no food or water. We are fighting for those who are sick and dying. We are fighting for universal healthcare across the world and human rights for all people. We are fighting for rich and poor! We must FIGHT THE POWER no matter how hard and tough the road may be. We must FIGHT THE POWER for a better today and an even greater tomorrow!



“People Get Ready” our time is coming! We have come too far to turn back now. Our train is coming and it is coming in waves. “People Get Ready”, we don’t need a ticket but we need faith and the Lord will help guide us as we take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” our moment is now and we are ready to see the change we want in America and the world. All we got to do is have faith, hope and prosperity. “People Get Ready” to face your fears. “People Get Ready” to face your demons and the challenges of yesterday because today and tomorrow we will conquer & be victorious. “People Get Ready” a change is coming and our actions will make sure that change is a real positive change that lasts forever.

“People Get Ready” because we have had enough of just talking but now is our time to show action. “People Get Ready” to take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” to take back our communities and to make our streets safer and schools better. “People Get Ready” to make all our dreams come true. “People Get Ready” to see a better present for everyone and a better future for future generations. “People Get Ready” to live up to your potential and to help others live up to their own potential. “People Get Ready” to move past hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the dreams of those who came before us and those who will come after us.

“People Get Ready” as we make our actions speak louder than our words. “People Get Ready” to make words mean something again as we put action to back up our rhetoric. “People Get Ready” as we embark on a new journey that will re-write America’s history as well as the world’s history. “People Get Ready” as we make the lives of others better and the lives of future generations better. “People Get Ready” because all we need is faith, hope and action to make this world a better place. “People Get Ready” to make a difference. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the American dream. “People Get Ready" to live out the American Dream as our founding fathers wanted us to live it. “People Get Ready” because our time is now, our moment is now and our moment in time to change America & the world is not now but right now. “People Get Ready” because a change is coming!

(Let me tell you now)
People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord

People get ready, for a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them
There's hope for all among those loved the most

There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all man kind just to save his own (believe me now)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there's no hiding place against the kingdoms throne

[Alicia & Lyfe]
So people get ready there's a train coming
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels humming,
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord


God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood

Lee Greenwood-god bless the U.S.A