Tag: Detroit

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My mate and I are huge fans of the Distant Worlds concert series and try to catch the tour at least once a year when it is within driving range. This year the closest venue (that didn’t conflict with vacation plans) was in Detroit. So, this past Thursday, we road-tripped to America’s most notorious failed […]

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Steve Tobocman, head of the economic development nonprofit Global Detroit, and one of the thousands of refugee business owners he’s assisted, Mamba Hamissi, Burundi native and co-founder of Baobab Fare, an East African restaurant. They discuss their work to harness the immigrant work ethic to rebuild Detroit and infuse it with life and culture. In the early 2000s, the city fell on hard times, when population loss and the economic downturn led to the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. But that’s where immigrants and refugees come in. As they’ve done for generations, immigrants move to places with affordable rents, and they often have few other options for earning an income than starting small businesses. It’s no wonder then that they have higher than average rates of entrepreneurship. We’ll learn about how a modest investment in a newcomer’s business can help lift up an entire community, in this week’s JobMakers podcast. 


This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Bernita Bradley, founder and president of Engaged Detroit, a parent-driven urban homeschooling advocacy coalition. Bernita shares her background, and how she became a nationally recognized parent advocate for urban K-12 education reform. They delve into problems with the chronically underperforming Detroit Public Schools, the ways in which parents have responded, and the tensions in Detroit between the traditional public schools and charter schools. Bernita describes her daughter’s experience during COVID, why it was a turning point, and how it sparked an interest in homeschooling. She shares how Engaged Detroit and other parent organizations’ efforts to organize parents across the country are progressing, and the main lessons K-12 education policymakers should be learning from parent-driven school reform efforts.

Stories of the Week: A new study from a team of political scientists found that those college grads who worked for Teach for America were significantly more likely to vote than their peers who applied but weren’t admitted to the program. Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has called for the abolition of the agency she once led, and giving more authority back to states and localities.

Join Jim and Greg as they discuss even more revelations from the New York nursing home scandal and former Cuomo staffers admitting that working for the governor was like being in a cult. Jim fumes as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan refuses to accept the Johnson & Johnson vaccines and also because many states and school districts are not keeping track of how many teachers are getting vaccinated. They react to revelations that Barack Obama tried to talk Joe Biden out of running for president in 2020 and they get a kick out of learning the candidate Obama seems to have preferred.

The Future of Our Cities


Buildings on Hamilton Avenue, Detroit.

In 1968, in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, a great many American cities were engulfed by riots. In one such city – Detroit – the mayor, a well-meaning liberal Democrat named Jerome Cavanaugh, made a fateful decision to rein in the police and let the riot burn itself out. To his judgment, the state’s governor – George Romney – deferred, and the riots went on for five full days. “Burn, baby, burn,” they said. And burn it did.

Eighteen years before, Detroit had been the richest city in the United States – with a per capita income exceeding that in every other urban area in the country. By 1968, it was no longer so well situated. But it was prosperous. It was vibrant. The architecture was stunning; the churches, beautiful; the picture palaces, a wonder.

Lessons Unlearned from ’67 Race Riots


Detroit Tigers left-fielder Willie Horton. (Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

A long time ago, in a Detroit far, far away, the Tigers split a doubleheader with the Yankees. Tiger pitcher for the first game, Mickey Lolich, had just lost his 10th straight game, a club record. During the second game, left fielder Willie Horton hit a home run to help the Tigers beat the Yankees. Radio announcer Ernie Harwell had been instructed to say nothing about the thick, black smoke billowing north of iconic Tiger Stadium.

The Curious Case of ‘Gary B’


In Gary B. v. Whitmer, a divided panel of the Sixth Circuit last week held that the state of Michigan owed a constitutional duty to ensure that students in the worst-performing public and charter schools in Detroit receive “a basic minimum education, meaning one that provides a chance at foundational literacy.” The logic behind this theory is straightforward enough. Illiterate young people have no ability to participate in democratic deliberations and no skills to support themselves or their families. And society overall is made worse off with fewer able participants to join a well-functioning economy.

In the majority opinion, Judge Eric Clay detailed the bankruptcy of Detroit’s public school system, whose dismal educational performance, he wrote, was driven by “the absence of qualified teachers, crumbling facilities, and insufficient materials.” He then correctly concluded that the state has general oversight and control over the educational system and is thus a proper constitutional target to remedy the bankrupt and derelict Detroit school system. The case was decided on the pleadings, which let the majority define its right to a minimum education without getting into the details of how best to implement the right in practice. One major problem with the decision is its inability to define the content of this positive right to government support. Full disclosure: Judge Eric Murphy, who dissented on these grounds, is my friend and former student.

Gary B. relies on Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, which enables federal courts to provide a remedy against any Governor or other state officials who have brought about “the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution.” That Section covers violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides that no person should be deprived of the protection of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor denied the equal protection of the laws.

New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut joins “The Learning Curve” for a fascinating conversation about how to accelerate innovation in schooling and scale creative models, such as the New Hampshire Career Academy and the state’s education tax credit scholarship program. Bob and Commissioner Edelblut also discuss the new NAEP results, the importance of objective measures of student performance, and the need to create learning environments that nurture students’ curiosity.

Cara and Bob break down the newly released student performance results from NAEP, known as the Nation’s Report Card.  In Denver, will next week’s school board election mean a setback for school choice and accountability?  In Detroit, an “equity lawsuit” that could have national implications regarding students’ “fundamental right” to a quality education is making its way through the court system.

Kid Rock and Detroit’s Restoration


Detroit has a sad past with deadly riots, so I was little trepidatious when I headed downtown to the opening night of the Kid Rock concert on Sept. 12. Anti-Trump protestors were expected to swarm the streets surrounding the new Little Caesars Arena, which Kid Rock was inaugurating. I had received a note from his publicist that he would be sharing a special message with his fans regarding his political views and plans for Michigan. Smelling a formal announcement that he would run against Debbie Stabenow for Senate, press swarmed the place, and I was one of them.

Word was that Antifa was planning to create mayhem, and I was nervous enough about it to ask a buff client of mine who had military bodyguard experience to accompany me. My stalwart friend and superior half of @WhiskeyPolitics, @davesussman, worried that I might get my head bashed in whilst chatting up Antifa thugs, so he firmly suggested that I just stay away from them. Having reported on a near-riot the day Michigan passed Right-to-Work, I had no intention of taking on crazed Antifa people, but of course, once I got there with a big bodyguard, how could I resist?

An hour or so ahead of the concert, I immediately noticed the large, no, huge police presence. Officers in uniform, security personnel, mounted police, plainclothes detectives; the street looked more like a police convention than anything else.

John Fund on Election Integrity and Voter Fraud


John FundJohn Fund (National Review and Fox News) returns to Whiskey Politics to update us on the issues discussed during our last podcast visit regarding the bipartisan Election Integrity Commission and how some 2.8 million people are registered in two or more states, and 1.8 million registered voters are dead.

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There’s been a fair bit of chatter about a “Detroit renaissance”, with artists and entrepreneurs supposedly moving to the city and breathing new life into it. There’s also perennial chatter and debate about how Chicago is able to avoid the decline that Detroit has suffered. Preview Open

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DeVos, Detroit, and a False Media Narrative


In advance of today’s confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos, the nominee for Secretary of Education, defenders of the status quo have been spinning a narrative about her reform efforts in Detroit that runs contrary to all available evidence.

In op-eds, editorials, and editorials veiled as news, the New York Times has pushed the narrative that in Detroit, “charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.” However, as Max Eden and I show at Education Next today, all the available data show that charter schools in Detroit significantly outperform their traditional district counterparts.

Here’s a taste from the Mackinac Center’s report, one of the three studies of school performance in Detroit that we break down:

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The liberal news media has been hammering us with Black Lives Matter for a while now. It seems that the best response we have been able to muster is “All Lives Matter”, and while that’s nice, it’s not going to do much good. This may seem hard to believe, but embracing Black Lives Matter is a perfect opportunity to render the […]

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The New York Times Misrepresents Charter School Research


Yesterday, the New York Times ran a front-page story purporting to show that “betting big” on charters has produced “chaos” and a “glut of schools competing for some of the nation’s poorest students.” (One wonders how many of those low-income families are upset that they have “too many” options.). However, the article’s central claim about charter school performance rests on a distorted reading of the data.

The piece claims that “half the charters perform only as well, or worse than, Detroit’s traditional public schools.” This is a distortion of the research from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). Although the article actually cites this research – noting that it is “considered the gold standard of measurement by charter school supporters across the country” – it only does so to show that one particular charter chain in Detroit is low performing. (For the record, the “gold standard” is actually a random-assignment study. CREDO used a matching approach, which is more like a silver standard. But I digress.) The NYT article fails to mention that the same study found that “on average, charter students in Michigan gain an additional two months of learning in reading and math over their [traditional public school] counterparts. The charter students in Detroit gain over three months per year more than their counterparts at traditional public schools.”

Detroit GOP Debate Wrap-up


This is a preview from Friday morning’s The Daily Shot newsletter. Subscribe here free of charge.

TDS-Logo-BLast night the remaining Republican candidates gathered in Detroit for the 11th Republican primary debate. (Yes, there has really been 11 of them.) This one was hosted by Fox News and moderated by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace. It was held at the Fox Theater, which seats over 5,000 people, so the crowd was big … and very loud.

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If this was how Republicans argued in televised interviews, they wouldn’t always be stuck defending themselves against Democrats’ lies. Instead of investing in fleeting individual campaigns, the Republican party should invest in promotion of videos and arguments such as this.   Preview Open

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Renewing Detroit, in Fits and Starts


“Can Detroit come back?” One can hardly have a conversation about Detroit without that question being asked. No longer a premiere destination, Detroit has come to be associated with blight and ruin. Detroiters, however, love their city, and are working to bringing it back. They are coming up with creative ways to engage members of the community to make a real difference and change lives in different ways with varying degrees of tangible results.

A good indicator of a city’s health is the real estate market and, in that area, things are looking up.  People of a variety of demographics are moving to Detroit and staying there. No longer just a city for young urban professionals, people are choosing to move into the neighborhoods when moving into a single family home rather than heading to the suburbs. Empty nesters are moving in when they’re ready for a change from the suburbs, too. Home values are going up and inventory is going down, leading to bidding wars in some areas of the city. Why is this? According to Austin Black of City Living Detroit, it’s because people are “confident in the city’s direction and want to be part of the revitalization.” This not only comes with living in Detroit, but working to make a real difference in local communities, which comes in many shapes and forms.

The Detroit Wince


shutterstock_154949270I have a conference to attend in Detroit, so I flew out a few days early to visit my extended family, which is spread across Michigan.

My first stop was Sault Ste. Marie on the Canadian border. When I grabbed a meal at a local eatery the waitress asked where I drove in from. “Detroit,” I said, to which she made a funny face and said, “sorry.”

I visited my 100-year-old grandma who spent most of her life in the state. The sweet, kindly, 4’8” centenarian who taught me to cuss in Finnish asked where the conference was. “Detroit,” I yelled to make sure she heard me. “Why would they meet there?” followed by a disapproving face.