Patricia Hawke for

Detroit Schools battle the classic struggles of a major city: high teacher turnover, high dropout rates, low test scores, and on-going violence. For some of Detroit Schools, however, all these problems may soon disappear. 34 Detroit Schools are slated to close by fall of 2007. Problems such as deteriorating buildings, failing test scores, and shifting populations compelled board members of Detroit Schools to recommend the closing of such facilities.
Apparently, some of the students like school a bit more than they had let on. Several hundred students from Northern High School and Murray Wright High School arranged protests and rallied the Detroit Schools at the District Office. Another organized protest at Northern ended in 2 arrests, and several students being pepper-sprayed or detained. But it worked. The Boards Human Resources Committee turned over a recommendation to take both schools off the list along with Mackensie High School and Higgins Elementary School.
Parents of Higgins Elementary students kept their children out of school last week to protest the closing. Now everyone waits. The Board of Education will vote whether to take those schools off the list permanently, or let the ax fall. School closings cause controversy because the schools effected tend to be in poorer areas. Detroit Schools face the decision of whether to pour more money into these old buildings and failing schools, or to force children into other schools that might be further from their homes.
Even if these Detroit Schools are allowed to keep their doors open, they face an uphill battle. Detroit Schools are trying to stomp out the culture of violence that has given them such a bad name. Unfortunately, that isn’t proving easy. Recently two 17-year-old boys were killed outside Henry Ford High School in an incident attributed to a gang clash.
The two boys are students in Detroit Schools. Both used to attend Ford, and one is currently at Mackensie High. One boy was shot in the face and the other received a superficial wound.
Where are the answers? Voters in Detroit Schools apparently believe that money is not the answer. Frustrated board member have seen bond after bond voted down for items like roof repairs, better technology and athletic fields. Many blame the overall economy for the refusal of voters to dish out more funding Detroit Schools.
Detroit Schools have turned to polling companies to help them assess how much in funding they can ask for, and what segment of the population to target for it. Yet critical items like boilers and crumbling buildings get left out in the cold if the equation is not exact. Detroit Schools are likely to see many more closings in the future is administrators and voters can’t come to some consensus.