More corruption unveiled in Detroit schools which happened under the watchful eyes of a Michigan Emergency Manager


Last October I penned a piece titled “Michigan’s Emergency Managers were supposed to fix corruption and ineptitude. They haven’t.” That could just as easily be the title of this post as U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade today unveiled federal charges against twelve current and former principals, an administrator and a vendor with Detroit Public Schools:

Twelve current and former principals, an administrator and a vendor with Detroit Public Schools are facing federal charges, according U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade

McQuade, The FBI and the Internal Revenue Service are holding a news conference in Detroit at 1 p.m. this afternoon to discuss the case, according to a statement released Tuesday morning.

In October, the FBI launched a corruption investigation involving Detroit Public Schools and the Education Achievement Authority to determine if contracts were awarded to vendors who paid kickbacks.

In December, a federal grand jury in Detroit indicted a former EAA principal and two school vendors on charges of money laundering, conspiracy and bribery.

These new charges are not against Education Achievement Authority principals and administrators. They are against principals and an administrator in Detroit Public Schools proper. Detroit Public Schools have been under the control of an Emergency Manager FOR SEVEN YEARS.

As I wrote in my October 2015 piece, “the primary justification for Emergency Financial Managers or Emergency Managers in Michigan from the very earliest iterations (and continuing through to today) is that some cities and school districts were just too full of corruption and ineptitude and that the state needed to swoop in and save the day.”

Today, Gov. Snyder signed legislation to keep Detroit schools open and the teachers paid their meager salaries. In other words, Emergency Managers have neither eliminated corruption nor have they solved the fiscal problems that plague our former auto boomtowns, boomtowns that are now carved out, hollow shells due to disinvestment and the flight of manufacturing to other countries where workers are paid a pittance to do the same work.

And, as I wrote last fall, Detroit Public Schools are just one example of many where corruption has been the hallmark of an Emergency Manager’s tenure at a school or in a city.

At some point you’d think our Republican governor and his Republican colleagues in the state legislature would come to realize that Emergency Managers cannot cut their way to corruption-free, adequately-funded schools and cities. You’d think they’d finally understand, given the huge preponderance of evidence, that Emergency Manager is, in fact, a failed policy, one that guts the finances of already struggling schools and municipalities, forcing unnecessary austerity measures on already weakened administrations.

You would, of course, be wrong about that. As recently as last week, Gov. Snyder made it clear that he has no intentions of walking away from Emergency Management in Michigan.

Over two years ago, I asked the question, “Is the Education Achievement Authority intentionally designed to fail???” With Republicans continuing to double down on Emergency Management, we are now confronted with the same question about the policy of taking over schools and cities with a single unelected individual in charge of making all of the decisions once made by democratically-elected school boards and city councils. Is this system also designed to fail so that another, more corporate-friendly policy can be enacted with more privatization and more siphoning of tax dollars into the coffers of for-profit corporations?

A rational person looking at that particular preponderance of evidence could only conclude that it IS intentional. The only thing that worries me more than the corporatist Republican policy of Emergency Management is what they will come up with to replace it.

Remember that when you vote for your state legislators next November. After all, every single state Republican House member is up for election and can be replaced with a Democrat who actually cares about the future of our schools, our children, and our cities.