Big Stimulus Money for Detroit Public Schools

J. Robert Smith
Who said that federal stimulus money was tax dollars thrown to the wind?  We learn that $49 million of taxpayer money has been procured by Detroit public schools for laptops for students and teachers.  The money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

All the new technology is fine as it goes, but there's a hitch.  Detroit public school kids have trouble with the basics, like simple math, reading, and writing.  In fact, a little over a year ago, a whopping 69% of Detroit fourth-graders scored "below basic" on math testing.  The scores have dropped to an historic low.  Reading and science scores aren't impressive either. According to the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, only 31.9% of Detroit's public school students graduate in four years.  Greatschools.org gives Detroit public schools a mere three out of ten on its excellence scale.   

So why $49 million for laptops when too many Detroit kids can't successfully use old fashioned pencils and paper to write simple words and sentences and do basic math?  Why stuff like Kindle when kids can't even read from cardboard and paper books?

The trouble with Detroit public schools has nothing to do with technology.  The trouble is with too many teachers who can't teach, too many parents who don't parent, and a welfare and inner city culture that eschews conventional achievement and advancement.  And an incompetent, self-centered, and often corrupt political establishment that benefits from the status quo.

The $49 million in taxpayer money would have been better spent seeding a school choice program.  Detroit public schools are well beyond meaningful reform.  The best bet is to help kids escape to schools - mostly private, many religious - that are giving poor and disadvantaged kids a chance to rise above their circumstances.    

One Detroit school teacher was caught trying to pawn her stimulus money laptop.  One wonders: Did the teacher need the bucks, or was she just acknowledging the futility of having a school laptop in the first place?   

Thomas Lifson adds:

Speaking of Detroit schools, bad teachers, and computers via the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Public Schools officials say they have suspended a Durfee Elementary School teacher who allegedly tried to pawn her district-owned laptop computer at one of the biggest, most popular pawnshops in Detroit.
Who said that federal stimulus money was tax dollars thrown to the wind?  We learn that $49 million of taxpayer money has been procured by Detroit public schools for laptops for students and teachers.  The money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

All the new technology is fine as it goes, but there's a hitch.  Detroit public school kids have trouble with the basics, like simple math, reading, and writing.  In fact, a little over a year ago, a whopping 69% of Detroit fourth-graders scored "below basic" on math testing.  The scores have dropped to an historic low.  Reading and science scores aren't impressive either. According to the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, only 31.9% of Detroit's public school students graduate in four years.  Greatschools.org gives Detroit public schools a mere three out of ten on its excellence scale.   

So why $49 million for laptops when too many Detroit kids can't successfully use old fashioned pencils and paper to write simple words and sentences and do basic math?  Why stuff like Kindle when kids can't even read from cardboard and paper books?

The trouble with Detroit public schools has nothing to do with technology.  The trouble is with too many teachers who can't teach, too many parents who don't parent, and a welfare and inner city culture that eschews conventional achievement and advancement.  And an incompetent, self-centered, and often corrupt political establishment that benefits from the status quo.

The $49 million in taxpayer money would have been better spent seeding a school choice program.  Detroit public schools are well beyond meaningful reform.  The best bet is to help kids escape to schools - mostly private, many religious - that are giving poor and disadvantaged kids a chance to rise above their circumstances.    

One Detroit school teacher was caught trying to pawn her stimulus money laptop.  One wonders: Did the teacher need the bucks, or was she just acknowledging the futility of having a school laptop in the first place?   

Thomas Lifson adds:

Speaking of Detroit schools, bad teachers, and computers via the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Public Schools officials say they have suspended a Durfee Elementary School teacher who allegedly tried to pawn her district-owned laptop computer at one of the biggest, most popular pawnshops in Detroit.