Detroit parents furious over poor schools

Dec. 14, 2009 at 3:19 AM
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DETROIT, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Parents of Detroit public school students railed against city educators after the release of abysmal test scores.

The outcry Saturday from the Detroit Parent Network came after test results showed fourth- and eighth-graders had the worst math scores in the nation and teachers prepared to vote on whether to strike.

Sharlonda Buckman, chief executive officer of the network, called for criminal and civil action against those charged with educating the city's children, The Detroit News reported.

"Somebody needs to pay for this," Buckman told about 500 parents. "Somebody needs to go to jail, and it shouldn't be the kids."

Robert Bobb, the school district's emergency financial manager, who would also like to take over academics, said the low scores could not be blamed on incompetent children or uncaring parents. Rather, he said, the school district has failed to fulfill its duty to the kids and their parents.

"This is an abysmal failure," Bobb said. "It is not the fault of our kids individually, and it is not the fault of our kids collectively. It is not the kids' fault. ... It is a failure of leadership."

Buckman criticized teachers who favor a strike over approving a contract that would force them to give up $500 a month to help close a $219 million deficit. The money would be returned when the teachers retire.

"If they strike, I hope we start a homeschool movement," Buckman said. "If you want to walk out on us now, when we have all of our kids failing ... you can't do it."

Bobb drew applause when he said he would announce Monday that he is calling for 100,000 volunteer hours to help children with reading. He cited poor reading skills as one of the reasons for the low test scores.

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