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Eng 1020 Final Essay

Eng 1020 Final Essay

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Quaglia 1

James Quaglia Dr. Parvinder Mehta ENG 1020 13 December 2010

D- Detroit
In the midst of economic turmoil, fear of terrorism, and ever increasing potential for another world war, the United States faces an even greater, far more existent problem. Youth education in major cities is deplorable. Unlike terrorism and the threat of war, this problem is not only already present, but has been plaguing the youth of urban dwellers for decades. Unfortunately deemed the worst city at almost everything, Detroit finds itself atop yet another negative list. Perpetuated by manipulated academic standards, poverty, racial segregation, and ineffective government, the school systems in Detroit have failed. Jeffery Mirel states: Students in Detroit high schools performed at a level that the chair of the federal court monitoring commission called "deplorable." Throughout the 1980s, the high school dropout rate ranged from 41 to at times 57 percent. Yet, even graduating seniors lacked the basic reading and math skills necessary to succeed in the modern workplace, a situation attested to by the abysmal scores of Detroit students on the American College Test (ACT). In 1987, the average ACT score in Detroit was about 14, more than four points below the national average. (242) The failure of Detroit‘s schools can be attributed to many factors, some even dating back to the Great Depression. Action has been taken by organizations in Detroit and all across the country

tutor struggling students. therefore. ―Thousands of migrants from the South. To begin searching for feasible answers for the ineptitude of Detroit‘s school system. been making sizable donations to the families and schools in the city of Detroit in order to advance the city‘s youth education (―About Us‖). including large numbers of African Americans. new and ―practical‖ courses with lower expectations were created. but students could learn applicable skills for the ―Wartime Era. This was thought to be a perfect solution. Many of these new students were drawn from lower-working-class homes and migrant families from the South‖ (Angus and Mirel 181).‖ David Angus describes the curriculum of Detroit students and academic attitude of the city: . These predominantly African American migrants became part of Detroit‘s school system. not only would classroom conditions improve. one must first identify the roots and causes of the existence of the ineptitude itself. which was not designed for or able to cope with such massive population increase. The Skillman Foundation has been active for 50 years. ―Detroit. it is not a viable solution to the lack of quality urban education. yet education conditions have only further deteriorated. Groups have been formed to address the illiteracy rate. crowded into makeshift housing and looked for high-paying jobs in the defense industries‖ (Angus and Mirel 181). and provide financial assistance to families and schools in need. The current state of Detroit‘s apathetic educational standards can be initially attributed to the massive increase in population occurring simultaneously with World War II. witnessed a startling expansion of high school enrollments. In order to cope with the enrollment increase.Quaglia 2 to remedy urban America‘s lack of proper education. as well as many cities around the country. Detroit schools were overcrowded and understaffed. The Skillman Foundation is a private charity that has. since 1960.

This was especially true for African Americans in Detroit. The African American youth of Detroit were being educated. an overrepresentation of 50 percent‖ (Angus and Mirel 186). Fundamental to this vision was the notion of the custodial function of the school-that keeping students in school as long as possible is itself a worthy goal regardless of whether the actual school experience is rich enough or effective enough to prepare them for the future. ― While African American students represented just under 12 percent of all high school students in the 1946-47 school year. but the academic attitudes and values of knowledge did not return to their prior levels. ―Declining academic standards had become a chronic problem since the end of World War II as increasing numbers of white working class and black high school students in Detroit were routinely and disproportionately placed in the general track and fed a steady diet of watered-down academic and personal development courses‖ (Mirel 243). Detroit lost of 47 percent of its population. for the skills they learned were not applicable in the workplace. Math and science were no longer the focal point of elementary and high school studies because students were encouraged to educate themselves generically and practically. (206) The war ended. Over the next forty years. the city was left drastically homogenized and even more drastically uneducated. The metropolitan area was severely racially segregated and tensions between the white suburbs and minority city cores grew. and in woodshop manufactured crutches and canes for injured soldiers. but their education was in vain. Intellectual knowledge was replaced with skills deemed useful for the time and place. African Americans made up 18 percent of those following the general education track. Due to the unrelenting exodus of whites after the 1950s. ―By 1990 over three-quarters of .Quaglia 3 Students practiced math skills by computing the sale of war bonds. improved their writing skills by writing letters to GIs. heard history lessons related to current events.

George Galster describes ―cumulative causation‖ in Urban Opportunity Structure: Our society has created a warped opportunity structure whose primary feature is raceclass segregation. The relationship of whites and blacks in Detroit can be described with the term ―cumulative causation.Quaglia 4 Detroit's population was African American. in power of the state government and the financing of Detroit Public Schools. for example. This structure induces many low income minority house houses in city cores to make choices that are rational within their constrained set of options. most of whom lived in racially isolated neighborhoods. According to sociologists Reynolds Farley and William Frey. white controlled finances. and further allowed Detroit schools to flounder. but perpetuate socioeconomic inequities among races and classes. Due to cumulative causation. the state government provided between 50 to 60 percent of the total budget of the Detroit Public Schools‖ (Mirel 245). During the 1980s. The power of all these institutions especially in the area of school finance was considerable. but due to ―white flight‖ and the enormous reduction of the tax base. The city was now inhabited and governed by African Americans. neglected the open wounds of the education system and the deteriorating state of the city. the Detroit Public School system relied heavily on outside. in 1990 Detroit ranked as ‗the most segregated‘ of the cities in the United States with populations of a million or more‖ (Mirel 240).‖ Dr. whites. ―Whites played a dominant role in state government. . These choices legitimate prejudices held by dominant groups against low income minorities and motivate and justify the dominant group to perform legal and illegal acts and structures to reinforce segregation (12). Racial tensions of the time period further damaged the education system in the city.

compared with more than 4 in 10 of its white students‖ (Kiley).Quaglia 5 The effects of Detroit‘s incredibly poor system of education are seen today at Wayne State University. They cannot be taught another attitude until the community itself revalues its standards. ―Less than 1 in 10 of Wayne State's black students graduated within six years. the children of Detroit in the 1960s definitely qualified as vulnerable. in order to aid the crippled city of Detroit and its dreadful public school system. Needless to say. Wayne State itself has the biggest white-black gap in graduation rates among public universities with significant numbers of students of both races.‖ The Skillman Foundation devotes its resources to the community. due to cumulative causation. Detroit high schools are failing so miserably that ―Wayne State administrators and faculty members say that if they want the students they admit to succeed. The sole purpose of high school education should be preparing students for university study. The ―Good Schools‖ program is executed by financially assisting the existing primary . Race riots. A former Wayne State Philosophy professor. and a terrible system of education surrounded them. Leonard Kasle argues that ―Our children know the community does not care enough about their education to provide the seats and the staff necessary for a full day's educational program. After her husband Robert Skillman [vice president of the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M)] died. It has become part of the inner city culture. violent strikes. The Skillman Foundation involves two programs aimed at benefiting the education of Detroit‘s children. they have to design curricula and provide support services that correct deficiencies in students' high-school instruction‖ (Kiley). Located in the heart of one of the nation's most racially segregated areas. acceptable to fail and to have an apathetic view of academics. Rose devoted the family‘s incredible amount of wealth to aiding and financing children and schools of Detroit. especially those who seemed vulnerable. The Skillman Foundation was found in December of 1960 by Rose Skillman. Rose had a particular love of children. or in danger.

and Milwaukee have also been battling poor youth education (Mirel 238). Los Angeles. The second program dedicated to enhancing Detroit education is the ―Good Neighborhoods‖ program. evident in the graduation rate of African Americans attending Wayne State University. and experiences – can develop fully. it is not alone. Unlike Detroit and The Skillman Foundation. and vibrant neighborhoods where children – with the support of caring adults.Quaglia 6 and secondary schools of Detroit in order to assist its students graduate. The Skillman Foundation alone cannot fix the Detroit Public Schools While Detroit is an extreme example of the injustices of poor education. Chicago. and live prosperous lives. ―Most Detroit Public Schools‘ fourth. Newark. The Skillman Foundation still continues to donate millions of dollars to Detroit in hope of one day enhancing the city‘s public schooling. Chicago has not attempted to solve their crisis by massive financial donations. success is not measured in amount of dollars donated and Detroit‘s youth has not seen any statistically significant increases in quality of education. David Angus describes the systematic change: . programs. but by fundamental changes in the structure of the system itself. healthy.. Cleveland. Even more distressing is the results of the Detroit children on standardized tests. Washington D. Unfortunately. The Skillman Foundation has donated an average of 30 million dollars a year to the education of Detroit‘s children over the past decade (―About Us‖). attend college.C. however that day is nowhere near. There has been little progress in Detroit.and eighth-graders were unable to score at a basic math level on a national test this year — marking the lowest performance in the history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress‖ (Erb and Dawsey). It is designed to encourage the creation of safe. Almost all major cities in the United States have faced serious troubles stemming from their respective public education system.

Detroit could implement either of these methods in hope of enhancing its youth‘s education. Newark has also seen some promising improvements in graduation and literacy rates by instituting complete state control of the education system (Mirel 238). Either one addresses the problems of city bureaucracy perpetuated by cumulative causation. a process that included the creation of over 500 local school councils and a drastic reduction in the size and authority of the system's central bureaucracy.Quaglia 7 Chicago provides a noteworthy example of these disparate and contradictory developments. Detroit‘s eighth-graders lagged further behind. but clearly do not provide the proper amount or method of assistance required to ―fix‖ Detroit schools. Dumping money into Detroit‘s Public School system can be compared to attempt to cure cancer with Tylenol. scoring 238 compared to the . (238) This method of addressing injustices in public school systems in Chicago has yielded much greater results than Detroit. On the other hand. enrolled in various Detroit grade schools took the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. ―Taken by about 1. In 2009. It has instituted ―school reform about parent-based democracy. It seems as though the common theme in most major cities and their intrinsic problems stems from the gigantic bureaucracy that every big city intrinsically possesses. Chicago became the center of the most dramatic form of school decentralization ever undertaken in a major city. In 1988. Detroit‘s fourth-graders scored 200 against the national average 239 on a scale of 500.and eighth-graders. The Skillman Foundation and its contributions to Detroit have definitely supplemented the ever-decreasing tax base. cultural diversity. something The Skillman Foundation‘s donations cannot. Chicago has decentralized their system of education. minimizing the effect of the city‘s stagnant and sluggish bureaucracy on education. and child centered development‖ (Betancur and Gills 97).900 fourth.

The decisions availed to the inner city minorities who control the city only further self destruction and perpetuate racial segregation. The city of Detroit stands at the base of a mountain and to solve its educational crisis. those who make Detroit‘s educational decisions must be out of Detroit. At the time of this test. something must be done to stop cumulative causation. it must essentially climb that mountain. Detroit is allowing its past to destroy its future by crippling its own youth. Children are hope. These results are truly shocking. While The Skillman Foundation‘s 30 million dollar per year donation seemingly has no drawbacks. Cumulative causation prevents the city from liberating themselves from its educational crisis caused so long ago. . who had been beneficiaries of an extra 4 years immersion in The Skillman Foundation‘s generous donations actually performed proportionally worse than the younger students. but the older students.‖ said Michael Casserly. it could just be responsible for perpetuating more apathy in Detroit. Education reform in Detroit must be made paramount in the short term and long term goals of Detroit.Quaglia 8 average of 282‖ (Erb and Dawsey). Whether Detroit decides to destroy the bureaucracy by decentralization of local government control or implementing complete state control. Not only has 270 million dollars been spent for the children of Detroit to perform the worst in the history of the test. ―Only a complete overhaul of the school system and how students are taught should be permitted at this point because the results signal a complete failure and breakdown of the grownups that have run this school system. The Skillman Foundation had donated around 270 million dollars (figure generated using an average of 30 million dollars a year since 2000). As long as Detroit remains racially segregated and cumulative causation unfortunately occurs. executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools. The Skillman Foundation must be supplemented. The Skillman Foundation cannot do this alone.

skillman. Jeffery E.1 (2004): 184-86. 1930-68. 2009.com/article/20091208/NEWS01/91208020/1319/DPS-students-national-testscores-at-record-low>. John J. .freep. Erb. Mirel. Robin. <http://www. "Wayne State U. "Community Development in Chicago: From Harold Washington to Richard M. and the Decline of the Academic Ideal: Detroit. 01 Dec. Kevin. 2010.com/article/Wayne-State-Us-Stark/124971/>." Detroit Students' Scores a Record Low on National Test Read More: Detroit Students' Scores a Record Low on National Test. Print. Web. <http://chronicle. 2010. Mirel. Web. Web.org/about-us/>.The Chronicle of Higher Education. and Jeffery E. <http://www. 29 Nov. "After the Fall: Continuity and Change in Detroit." History of Education Quarterly 38 (1998): 237-67.Quaglia 9 Works Cited "About Us." The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 594. Print. Curriculum. 8 Dec. and Douglas Gills." History of Education Quarterly 33." The Skillman Foundation. Galster. 1981-1995. Angus. 29 Nov. 2010. Betancur.'s Stark Graduation Gaps Reflect Detroit's Struggles Government . "Urban Opportunity Structure and Racial/Ethinic Polarization. "Equality.." 29 Aug.2 (1993): 178-207." The Chronicle of Higher Education. "Detroit Students' Scores a Record Low on National Test Read More: Detroit Students' Scores a Record Low on National Test.. Print. Kiley. David L. Daley. Detroit Freep Press. and Chastity Dawsey. 2006. George C.


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