Archive for March, 2011


Detroit Public Schools – “I’m In”

This is a promotional video for Detroit Public Schools. It features Donald Walker, DPS Program Manager. Through the first half of the video he describes the rugged streets of Detroit while sharing little known facts about DPS. Throughout the second half of the video, scenes of classrooms and community involvement are shown, representing progress made to improve the school system. I think this is such a positive video for DPS because it sheds light on what things are being done to make the school system better. It uplifts the community and encourages involvement.


Do you think Robert Bobb is helping Detroit Public Schools?Market Research


Cass Tech being demolished

The old Cass Technical High School is in its first phase of demolition

According to the Detroit News, demolition of the building once occupied by Cass Technical High School began last Wednesday. The 89-year old building, which stand next to the new Cass, closed in 2005. The first phase of the demolition is expected to last 10 weeks. The 1981 addition to the building was demolished first.

The school district is paying $3 million for the demolition contract, which is being funded through a DPS $500.5 million bond program.

The old high school stands tall with 7-1/2 floors and has never been emptied of its furniture and other supplies.

Although demolition has begun, Cass Tech Alumni Association Chair, Ray Litt, hasn’t given up hope. At the funeral hosted by the association last Tuesday, Litt announced that a developer has shown interest in the building and is willing to buy the building from Detroit Public Schools. After purchasing the old school, the developer plans to renovate and redevelop it to create lofts and house restaurants and other tenants. An offer is expected to be made Monday.

Litt did not disclose who the potential buyer is or what amount they would pay. But school officials doubt that the offer will last.

Detroit Public Schools spokesman, Steve Wasko, said the school system’s only goal is to provide a safe environment for students, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Despite talk of a potential buyer, demolition will continue.

Jasmine Morgan, a 2008 graduate of Cass Technical High School, was a member of the last freshmen class to walk the halls of the old building.

“I feel sad because the building was historical, but it is an eyesore for people of the city,” said Morgan. “But even in the new building the legacy for the Cass Technicians will continue.”

Facts about “old Cass”

  • Formerly known as Cass Union School
  • Founded in 1861
  • Established to provide training in woodworking and metal trades for young men
  • Built on land given to the City of Detroit by former Secretary of State and Michigan Governor Lewis Cass
  • The land had a pickle factory on it

The new Cass Tech stand right next to the old building it once occupied

Facts about “new Cass”

  • LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council
  • Includes an indoor arena
  • Includes a competition-sized swimming pool
  • Includes a 1,100-seat theater,
  • Includes a two-story greenhouse
  • Won the top design award given out by Learning By Design, a prestigious national guide that showcases outstanding school design and construction projects.




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Detroit Metro Chess League

The Detroit Metro Chess League has been around for over 20 years, giving students all over the city of Detroit the opportunity to compete against one another. Through these tournaments, players can increase their chess ranking, which puts themselves, as well as their teams in a better division for the national tournament.


Bobb takes control of classrooms

According to the Detroit Free Press, Wayne County Circuit Judge Wendy Baxter, granted Robert Bobb the authority to take control over academic operations for DPS last Friday.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

As the emergency financial manager for the district, Bobb’s responsibility is to help improve the deficit the school system faces. But Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill last Wednesday, giving all emergency financial managers of school systems the power to make academic decisions, along with financial decisions. In addition, Bobb now has the power to dismiss the school board, the same one that filed a suit against him accusing him of assuming control over academic decisions.

Baxter, ruled in favor of the school board in December, but against the governor her ruling is now null and void.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Bobb has the power to change or terminate union contracts within 60 days.

It just seems like the state of Michigan is in favor of making the school system worse by allowing Bobb all of these responsibilities. But it’s not even like he needed the governor’s help because he had his hand in academic decisions since he was hired. He might as well be put in the position of the superintendent.

The governor’s actions aren’t surprising though. He recently proposed a $470 per pupil budget cut in K-12 schools in the state.

Robert Bobb is going to take the district and tear it apart by the time he leaves. He’s closed too many schools and now he’s going to destroy the classroom. With the possibility of terminating teacher unions, everyone is going to be on edge. Bobb can barely handle the district’s finances, how is he going to handle academic decisions? He doesn’t know what it takes to improve the classroom.


DPS Chess On the Move

Despite the bad reputation the Detroit Public Schools system has acquired, it has some beneficial programs in the works. The DPS Chess Program, lead by director Tanya Moss, has been around for over 15 years. It provides students with the opportunity to meet students from schools throughout the city. The program also allows students to travel all over the country competing in tournaments.

Students from elementary, middle and high school are eligible to compete and represent their schools in weekly tournaments held in different locations throughout the city. The next level is the state tournament, which all schools are eligible for. But, it is there that the top three teams in the city are chosen to go to the national tournament. In the past, nationals were held in Nashville, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, Denver, Kansas, Milwaukee, Columbus, Tuscan, and Dallas.

Tanya Moss is the chess coach at Crockett Technical High School and the Chess Director for Detroit Public Schools

Moss, whose been director for 11 years loves her job. She started out coaching her own team in 1998 at Cooley High School , which was currently closed due to budget cuts. Her team was the first to place first in the nationals in DPS history in Phoenix.

“I do it to see the excitement of winning on the kids’ faces,” she said.

Along with competing with students from various backgrounds and states, students are also allowed the opportunity to explore these cities. A lot of students that compete have hardly traveled outside of Detroit. So nationals is a huge reward they look forward to. Every school has earned trophies at nationals, including trophies for outstanding individual performance. Students compete for three days, while trying to build up their ranking and earn a trophy for themselves and their team.

This year Cass Technical High School, King High School, and Crockett Technical High School are competing in the national championship. In the middle school division, Spain Elementary School, Bates Academy and Hutchins Elementary School will travel to nationals. Lastly, Spain, Bates and Fisher Magnet Upper Academy will compete in the elementary division. This year, a fourth team in the middle school division will be allowed to compete. Renaissance High School’s ninth grade players will play in the tournament.

This year’s national tournament will be held in Columbus and Nashville in April.

I’ve participated in the national tournament before and it is such a great experience, especially for those who haven’t even traveled outside of the city. Where else could they get an opportunity to meet and compete against other players from all over the country and learn how to better their skills as players for free? This is one of DPS’ greatest achievements.



More DPS schools to close

According to the Detroit Free Press, school board members are suing Robert Bobb for control of academic decisions, which makes sense. Bobb was hired to take care of the financial deficit the district has been facing, but yet he manages to delve into classroom business a little more than he should. He has given teachers instructions on how to educate their students, which doesn’t add up with his background. Bobb hasn’t taught anyone; therefore, he is not in position to tell teachers how to teach. He doesn’t know what teachers have to put up with on a daily basis.

For someone who tells teachers how to educate students, Bobb continues to close schools, which increases class sizes at remaining schools. 32 schools were closed at the end of 2009-2010 school year, forcing some remaining schools to merge with each other, creating larger classrooms.

Thomas M. Cooley High School was closed at the end of the 2009-2010 school year

According to the Detroit Free Press, class sizes could grow to more than 60 students. As of now, Bobb’s new plan is to close 70 more schools by 2013 and outsource services with the city and the countrywide education agency between now and 2014. Services include custodial and security.

So how does he expect teachers to successfully educate students when their classrooms resemble that of a college or university? Classrooms are meant to be small in order for students to receive a more personal and hands-on education. Teachers can’t effectively tend to the needs of each student in that kind of environment. Large classroom sizes among students will cause disruption, and provide students a disservice.


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Who is Robert Bobb?

As a product of the Detroit Public School system, I am all for improving the education of students and the school district. But, I can’t help but question Robert Bobb, Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools. He was appointed by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm March 2009. He was reappointed March 2010.

Robert Bobb is the emergency financial manager for DPS

Bobb’s contract was extended through June 2011 by Gov. Rick Snyder. This confuses me, considering the fact that a DPS deficit-elimination plan filed with the state projects the district will end the 2010-2011 school year with a $332 million deficit, which is higher than the $218.9 million deficit last year, according to the Detroit Free Press.

For a school district that is millions of dollars in the hole, Robert Bobb has found a way to make plans to build new high schools, such as Crockett Technical High School and Martin Luther King Senior High School. To me, it makes sense to save all the money you possibly can, while trying to improve education.

According to DPS website,, Robert Bobb has over 30 years executive management experience in both private and public sectors. He is the President and CEO of the LAPA Group, LLC, a consulting firm. Bobb served as the President of the Washington, DC Board of Education in November 2006. He is the former City Administrator and Deputy Mayor for Washington, D.C. and served as the District of Columbia’s Homeland Security Advisor. Bobb served as the City Manager of Oakland, California and Executive Director of the Oakland Redevelopment Agency, City Manager of Richmond, Virginia, City Manager of Santa Ana, California, and City Manager of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

With all this experience, I can’t help but notice how much he has bounced around. One could come to the conclusion that Bobb may be bad at what he does because he can’t seem to stay in one place.