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Catherine Vink
Beth Fowler
Political Science 1010
22 March 2016
Policy Paper
The Problem:
The Detroit Public Schools, in recent years, have begun to deal with and be
affected by the problems that the City of Detroit has been afflicted with for many years.
The most prominent of these problems is lack of funding. This lack of funding, which
many children do not even think of or understand, if not resolved, will have disastrous
effects on their education and futures.
Financial setbacks faced by the Detroit Public Schools has led to major problems
in the infrastructure within schools. Currently, several buildings within the Detroit Public
School system are plagued with mold, inadequate lunches, and lack of quality resources,
such as textbooks. According to David Branham of Social Science Quarterly, the
infrastructure of schools plays a substantial role in the attendance and performance. To
test the effects of school infrastructure on performance and attendance, Tobit analysis was
performed on 226 Huston Independent School District Schools. The results of this
analysis confirmed that,
The quality of school infrastructure has a significant effect on school
attendance and drop-out rates. Students are less likely to attend schools in
need of structural repair, schools that use temporary structures, and
schools that have understaffed janitorial services. (Branham, David. "The
Wise Man Builds His House Upon the Rock: The Effects of Inadequate
School Building Infrastructure on Student Attendance." 1).
Through his analysis, Branham was able to conclude that in order for school districts to
maximize attendance and performance, these schools should avoid temporary solutions
while providing quality janitorial staff and safe structural schools.

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Efforts to Solve:
Each sphere, government, civic, private, and market, has begun to construct
efforts to alleviate the setbacks improper infrastructure is creating in the Detroit Public
Schools. The majority of these efforts to solve the problem of infrastructure within the
Detroit Public Schools have been taken by the government sphere. The government
sphere has had the largest role in easing this problem because it is the sphere in which
public schools are controlled.
According to Kraft and Furlong, the government can take several paths to
implementing policies. Kraft and Furlong state that government can, “regulate,
subsidize, ration, tax and spend, contract out, use market incentives, privatize, charge fees
for service, educate, create public trusts, and commission research”. (Kraft, Michael E.,
& Furlong, Scott R. 2010. “Public policy: Politics, analysis, and alternatives (3rd ed.)”.
Washington, DC: CQ Press, Chapter 5 (120-144).). Within the government sphere, many
of the efforts to solve problems taking place within the Detroit Public Schools begin with
an adjustment to taxes. Aside from raising taxes, bankruptcy has also been an option for
the Detroit Public Schools. The United States Secretary of Education said in Alex P.
Kellogg’s article in the Wall Street Journal, that the Detroit Public Schools were a
“national disgrace”. The article goes on to explain that retired bankruptcy judge, Ray
Graves, is not optimistic that the schools can avoid bankruptcy (Kellogg, Alex P. "U.S.
News: Detroit Schools on the Brink --- Shrinking District Heads Toward Bankruptcy to
Gain Control of its Costs." Wall Street Journal. 1).
According to Senator Geoff Hansen of Muskegon if Detroit Public schools were
to file bankruptcy, “There would be about $100 million in legal fees. Then the state is
responsible for the debt… It is over a billion and a half dollars that the state would be on

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the hook for” (Russell, Kim. "Detroit Public Schools Face Bankruptcy If Lawmakers
Don't Act.”. 1)
Within the private and market sphere, donations have been made to the Detroit
Public Schools. A notable donation to DPS, encompassing both the market and private
sphere, which according to the Ellen Show’s website was “Ellen's biggest, most generous
giveaway ever” ("Ellen: Detroit School Gift Is 'most Generous Giveaway'”. 1.)In this
donation to DPS, Ellen DeGeneres gave away over $500,000. She worked in partnership
with Lowes to donate gift cards, as well as Lowe’s themselves donating $200,000 to the
schools.
Detroit Public School teachers, staff, and various advocates for the districts have
made efforts within the civic sphere. This has been done primarily through advocacy
work. Detroit Public School teachers have created a Twitter account, @teachDetroit.
With this Twitter account, teachers and advocates have exposed spoiled school lunches,
faulty plumbing, and mold within the schools.
Proposal 1- A Solution:
With the deteriorating conditions of the schools in Detroit, government
involvement was needed. Introduced in 2015, if passed, proposal 1 would have had the
ability to,
“Amend the State Constitution to increase the sales/use tax from 6% to
7% to replace and supplement reduced revenue to the School Aid Fund
and local units of government caused by the elimination of the sales/use
tax on gasoline and diesel fuel for vehicles operating on public roads, and
to give effect to laws that provide additional money for roads and other
transportation purposes by increasing the gas tax and vehicle registration
fees.” (Ballot Proposal 15-1, 2015, www.michigan.gov)

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This proposed constitutional amendment would include increase the amount of tax
revenue used for School Aid Fund and broaden the usage of the School Aid Fund to
colleges, community colleges, universities, and other forms of higher education. These
funds would be raised through the higher sales tax, an increase in the diesel/gasoline tax,
and an increase in income tax.
Proposal 1 is a type of redistributive policy. Because funds will be taken from
taxes (sales, income, and gas) and redistributed to schools and other venues, it is
considered redistributive. The governmental sphere implements redistributive policies,
and in this case, it is at the level of state government. The state government is the most
appropriate entity to deal with the issue of funding education. This is because funding
schools are too large of a task for individual municipal governments to handle, but at the
same time, is too narrow of a goal for the federal government to treat.
Structural Barriers to this Solution:
In order for proposal 1 to accomplish its goals of increasing the fund available to
schools, voters must support it. The opinions of voters are a major structural barrier to
the passage of Proposal 1. For this proposal to have been a success, it must appeal to the
demographics of those voting for it. Proposal 1 appeals primarily to the democratic and
liberal voters due to its use of redistribution. Because this proposal advocates for a
greater amount of government involvement, conservatives and republicans are primarily
against such a proposal. The writers of Proposal 1 should have written it in a way that
would appeal to both sides of the political spectrum.
Because this is a statewide proposal, the image of Detroit and the image of the
public school system play a large role in its passage. In this sense, the image of Detroit
acts as a structural barrier for the institution of Proposal 1. The voters must believe that

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the public school system and the city of Detroit are capable of a comeback in order for
them to pass this proposal.
Proposal 1- A Failure:
Proposal 1 made it to the ballot, but never got voters approval. Because the
proposal never went into full effect, it can be deemed as a failure. A major structure that
prevented the success of Proposal 1 was the values and demographics of those voting. In
the Proposal 1 election, 80% of voters (1,404,779 voters) were against the proposal,
while only 20% (350,742) supported the bill (Detroit Free Press Staff. "2015 Michigan
Election: Proposal 1 Voting Results.".1).
Dale Hansen of the Huffington Post believes that voters rejected this proposal was
to show that they are “finally standing up to the bullies in Lansing and letting them know
we aren’t going to take this anymore” (Hansen, Dale. "Voting 'No' on Proposal 1 Is Good
for Michigan.", 1)According to Hansen, not only did conservatives oppose the proposal,
but liberals actively opposed it as well. He goes on to explain that voters voted in this
manner due to the support legislators have given to special interests over their
constituencies.
What Can We Learn From Proposal 1:
Through the failure of Proposal 1, we can learn that the government sphere is not
always the most effective and most efficient means of reaching a solution to problems.
The civic and market sphere have made larger impacts on the problems of infrastructure
than this proposed governmental solution. Through the failure of Proposal 1, government
officials can learn how to better construct bills to appeal to the largest variety of voters.

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Going forward in solving the structural problems of Detroit Public Schools,
lawmakers, school officials, and other government officials can learn how to properly
initiate a positive change. Officials can take away the knowledge that the ideas of this
proposal are ideas that the majority of voters do not support. With that knowledge,
government officials can rethink solutions to the Detroit Public Schools. The difficulties
DPS are currently facing cannot be solved by one singular solution. This dynamic issue
required dynamic solutions created by all four spheres working together.

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Works Cited
Ballot Proposal 15-1, 2015,
<http://www.michigan.gov/documents/statewide_bal_prop_status_145801_7.pdf>
Branham, David. "The Wise Man Builds His House Upon the Rock: The Effects of
Inadequate School Building Infrastructure on Student Attendance." Social Science
Quarterly 85.5 (2004): 1112-128. Wiley Online Library. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.
Detroit Free Press Staff. "2015 Michigan Election: Proposal 1 Voting Results." Detroit
Free Press. N.p., 6 May 2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.
"Ellen: Detroit School Gift Is 'most Generous Giveaway'" Detroit Free Press. 11 Feb.
2016. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.
Hansen, Dale. "Voting 'No' on Proposal 1 Is Good for Michigan." The Huffington Post.
TheHuffingtonPost.com, 4 May 2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.
Kellogg, Alex P. "U.S. News: Detroit Schools on the Brink --- Shrinking District Heads
Toward Bankruptcy to Gain Control of its Costs." Wall Street Journal, Eastern
edition ed.Jul 21 2009. ProQuest. Web. 20 Mar. 2016 .
Kraft, Michael E., & Furlong, Scott R. 2010. “Public policy: Politics, analysis, and
alternatives (3rd ed.)”. Washington, DC: CQ Press, Chapter 5 (120-144).
Russell, Kim. "Detroit Public Schools Face Bankruptcy If Lawmakers Don't Act." WXYZ.
Scripps TV Station Group, 14 Jan. 2016. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.