"A National Disgrace" was a scathing documentary on Detroit Public Schools. Newsman Dan Rather picked apart the district's struggles during a two hour program that aired on HDNet Tuesday night.
Some of the key points made in the documentary included low test scores in basic subjects, low graduation rates, students without textbooks and other crucial supplies, corruption that has looted money from the district and the effects of a dwindling population -- black flight -- educated black families moving to the suburbs or sending their children to private schools.
The people affected most by the crisis in Detroit Public Schools are the students. That's why FOX 2 assembled a group of Detroit teenagers to watch the documentary at our studios and participate in a panel discussion. Click on the videos above to watch as FOX 2's Andrea Isom spoke with them and Detroit School Board President Anthony Adams.
DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb released the following statement on Dan Rather's documentary:
Over the past two years, we have been transparent about the immense academic, financial and structural problems that Detroit Public Schools has historically faced. But Rather's report, like so many other national reporters who have parachuted in to chronicle what they deem to be the death of Detroit or the "disgrace" of a nation, grossly and completely neglects an entire year or more of transformative efforts to change the system, including a five-year academic plan that includes 120 minute reading and math blocks for grades K-8, double-dosing of reading and math for struggling freshmen high school students, more foreign language courses, AP courses available at every high school, more than 1,000 volunteer tutors for our preschoolers, vast technology upgrades throughout the system, a $500.5-million voter-approved bond issue to build and renovate schools that already has seen four schools 100-percent completed, an ongoing initiative to secure experienced charter operators to run as many as 45 schools instead of closing them, and much more as part of our ambitious academic and facilities plans. There are still many huge challenges as we face declining revenue and population losses while at the same time working to correct many years of fiscal and structural mismanagement and academic failure, but we have shown progress, as evidenced by the district making AYP for the first time since 2006 and the highest graduation rate since the state changed to a cohort method in 2007.
There is a lot to be done, but this report tells only half the story -- a two-year-old story -- and ignores a complete overhaul of the system. However, we will not succumb to being unfairly labeled the "disgrace" of a nation. Instead, we will continue to do the hard work necessary to transform Detroit Public Schools into a premier urban school district offering parents and students a range of school options that provide academic excellence at every site because that's what our parents and students deserve and that's what our community demands.