Beloved Detroit

By Elena Herrada

Detroit School Board Representative, District 2

Beloved Detroit:

This is my report from the trenches. February 3.

Despite many setbacks and betrayals on the political front, we remain optimistic. For students in Detroit Public Schools, things are heating up. As we speak, the busload of parents, students, teachers and activists is pulling away from Dexter Elmhurst Community Center, led by Helen Moore. Board members Akila Wanda Redmond and Tawanna Simpson are on the bus representing the elected school board. They are all heading to Washington, DC, to meet with members of Congress and to register their protest against the takeover and wholesale looting of Detroit Public Schools.

Students from many of the EAA schools – the “Educational Achievement Authority” –(see previous issue of Critical Moment or online) are on the bus and will protest their separate and unequal school district created by and for looters of public education. Helen Moore has been raising money for the bus and no students had to pay.

She stepped out in faith, as she always does, that there would be enough money for the bus and that enough courageous people would be on it. Helen was right on both counts. Full bus, paid for with contributions from those who could spare cash. The lessons young people, in particular, learn are invaluable: trustworthy leadership is essential; there has to be a plan, there has to be the people and there has to be faith that things will change. Nothing will happen without cooperation and unity of struggle. In this regard, Helen Moore is the finest educator of our time.

Teachers, parents, students and activists who are unafraid, creative, and energetic push back against re-segregated and inferior education. Meanwhile, the elected school board continues to fight back.

We will defend public education and fight the privatization and non-profitization (privatization in disguise) of our schools. The plan — making some neighborhoods and schools excellent while draining resources from the poorest — is not an acceptable solution. There is no reason we should accept anyone being left out – sacrificed – when there is plenty of money and sufficient resources. We do not accept the premise that anyone needs to be left out or relegated to racist schemes like the EAA.

Although these are perilous times, the likes of which we have not seen before, these are also exciting times. Never before in my life as an activist have I seen so clearly the lines drawn. Never have so many people of goodwill stepped up to fight back against inequality in education. Even if everything fair is under attack and sharks circle us to steal our schools, our land, our beloved Belle Isle, as well as sell us our own broken-down lighting system, there is a great deal to be thankful for.

Governor Snyder has revealed how corrupt the election process is by ignoring the repeal of PA 4 [emergency manager law — editor] and passing all manner of retrograde laws without public input. This is a fact even the most ignorant or “Pollyanna” citizenry cannot deny.

Everyone now knows now that there is no justice to be found in Michigan courts except for the rich and powerful. Until now, this was not clear to all, only the most vulnerable. Blatant corruption is much better than subtle corruption. No one can miss it. Take heart, Detroit: our students, our elders, and our teachers are leading the way.

We will prevail!