Thursday, March 04, 2010

In The Land Of The Illiterates The School Board President Is King

Can you qualify to be the president of the School Board if you can't write in English? In Detroit - Yes you can!

Does DPS leader's writing send wrong message?

The president of the Detroit school board, Otis Mathis, is waging a legal battle to steer the academic future of 90,000 children, in the nation's lowest-achieving big city district.

He also acknowledges he has difficulty composing a coherent English sentence. Here's a sample from an e-mail he sent to friends and supporters on Sunday night, uncorrected for errors of spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage. It begins:

If you saw Sunday's Free Press that shown Robert Bobb the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, move Mark Twain to Boynton which have three times the number seats then students and was one of the reason's he gave for closing school to many empty seats.

The rest of the e-mail, and others that Mathis has written, demonstrate what one of his school board colleagues describes, carefully, as "his communication issues." But if these deficits have limited Mathis, as he admits they have, they have not stopped him from graduating from high school and college. In January, his peers elected him president by a 10-1 vote over Tyrone Winfrey, a University of Michigan academic officer.....Can Mathis read?

"Yes, I can read. I'm capable of reading a lot of information and regurgitation," says Mathis, who told me he sometimes needs to read documents two or three times to fully comprehend their contents but then masters -- and memorizes -- them.

Indeed, Mr. Mathis couldn't graduate from Wayne State University in Detroit as he couldn't pass the English proficiency test. He only passed when they removed the requirement for the test:
He graduated from Southwestern High School in 1973 with what he says was a 1.8 grade-point average but was previously reported as a .98 average. After serving in the Navy, Wayne State placed him in a special program to help academically unqualified students move forward, on the G.I. Bill.

He stayed at Wayne for 15 years, as a student and a counselor, becoming a virtual "prisoner of Wayne," as he jokes, unable to graduate.

Mathis and another student unsuccessfully challenged the use of an English proficiency test as a requirement for graduation. In 1992, when the case went to trial, the lawsuit gained national attention. Mathis said then his failure to pass the test "made me feel stupid." The requirement was eventually dropped in 2007, and Mathis applied to get his degree the next year, after his election.

However, illiteracy in Detroit School Board officials may not be a bug - it could be a feature!
"I know he's a terrible writer. Oh wow, I've seen his e-mails," says Ida Byrd-Hill, a parent and activist who runs a nonprofit and is a member of Mensa, the high-IQ group.

"His job, though, is to represent the community. His lack of writing skills is prevalent in the community. If anybody does, he understands the struggles of what it's like to go through an institution and not be properly prepared."
Pick you're jaw up off floor there, I'll wait.

The Detroit Public Schools have a graduation rate of 24%, and many of them are as likely as not functionally illiterate due to the policy of social promotions as the School Board President himself.

Detroit Public Schools doesn't need leadership that reflects the illiteracy of the community, it needs leadership that can teach the kids in its care to read, write, think and improve themselves.


Murphy's Law said...

When I saw this story, I immediately remembered his lawsuit to be able to graduate despite writing like a retard. I had no idea that the third-world morons of Detroit had elected him to the school board, much less made him head of it.

Detroit is really nothing more than Mogadishu with a bridge to Canada.

Duncan Idaho said...

I'd like to see Mrs. Byrd-Hill's Mensa membership card, or whatever they're using nowadays, as to prove her claim. Smell test, she ain't passing that.