A recent study by the National Institute for Literacy says that nearly half (47%) of adults living in Detroit, Michigan lack the reading, writing, speaking and computational skills to function in everyday life situations. They are considered illiterate. They can’t fill out basic forms for things like job applications, welfare paperwork, driver’s licenses, etc. Also noted is the lack of reported “speaking skills.” If you can not write a letter or email to your electric company explaining why your payment will be late, most people would just pick up the phone and call the electric company and ask for an extension, yet many adults do not even have the speaking skills to do that today in Detroit. Talk about breeding a dysfunctional society! This leads to all government agencies having to hire extra people just to help the illiterate adults fill out any basic paperwork required. That leads to a bigger, more expensive local government that then becomes a financial drag on the rest of the State of Michigan. This is the vicious cycle of a combination of education system failures and the career welfare mentality that is so prevalent in Detroit. The once great Motor City, the automotive capitol of the world, has been reduced to a dysfunctional, illiterate, crime-ridden example of everything that ails America today. I was raised in Northern Michigan and lived in Detroit in the 80’s, and it saddens me to see what it has become today.
Many people want to blame the teachers union for the high illiteracy rate in Detroit. Are the teachers so underpaid that they just do not feel it is their duty to make sure their students get a decent education? Apparently, this isn’t the case as we see by fact that the Detroit Federation of Teachers has the city dumping $15,945 dollars a year on every student today as opposed to $10,259 dollars per student just three years ago. DFT President Keith Johnson says it is not the job of the teacher’s union to make sure every Detroit student can read, and points to the lack of attendance standards as the root cause of the illiteracy problem in Detroit today. Mr. Johnson has a valid point there, as the average student in Detroit schools missed 46 days during the 2008-2009 school year! It is kind of hard to teach students anything when they are not attending classes.
According to Detroit’s school attendance policy, students are required to attend 92% of classes and not miss more than 14 school days per year. The problem is that there are no real consequences for school children, or parents, that do not make their children attend school. Here is a simple solution to help Detroit improve school attendance. If a child is missing too many school days, report it to the welfare office. Then make it mandatory that the parent(s) come in for a review and explain to them that no school will mean no welfare check the following month. This will also prove to the taxpayers and businesses paying for the welfare and education these children that the city of Detroit means business in cleaning up it’s dysfunctional illiteracy and school attendance problem. Let the parents find no welfare check in the mailbox a few times and watch how school attendance improves dramatically. Then, when student attendance improves, Detroit’s well-paid teachers will not be able to use poor attendance as an excuse, and the City could then weed out the bad teachers, fire them, and keep the best teachers available. That would be a win-win situation for the children of Detroit and the taxpayers alike. My only question for the Mayor and School Superintendents of Detroit, is whether or not anyone has the courage to take the measures necessary to improve literacy in Detroit, or will they continue to let it sink to the levels of a dysfunctional, illiterate, third world ghetto ?
When I was raised in Michigan, being raised in the ghetto, or other dysfunctional welfare neighborhoods and subsidized housing projects, was something to be ashamed of, not something to be proud of. This is not the case in Detroit today, with rap groups and gangs names containing the word ghetto like it is something to be proud of. The taxpayers, loyal businesses, and good citizens that have had the courage to stay in Detroit should demand stiff reforms in education attendance and welfare reform. Until then, they are as big a part of the problem as the very politicians that are dragging this once great city down.