LANSING — State Representative Leslie Love (D-Detroit) responded to testimony yesterday given by Judge Stephen Rhodes during a House Appropriations Committee hearing. Rhodes was recently announced the new emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools (DPS). The committee is currently hearing testimony regarding the House Republican-sponsored package of bills meant to deal with financial issues in the school district.

“While ultimately we want DPS returned to local control, I was pleased to hear that Judge Rhodes is ready to work with local stakeholders,” said Rep. Love. “It is most important that we focus on creating an excellent environment for our children to learn and grow.”

Rhodes, who previously handled the bankruptcy process for the city of Detroit, was named emergency manager following the resignation of Darnell Earley. In his testimony, Rhodes voiced his commitment to avoiding bankruptcy for DPS, a looming possibility given the district is set to run out of operational money in April. In addition, he mentioned his willingness to work with Detroiters, and called for better assessment standards for teachers.

“The experiences we had with our previous emergency managers created distrust between community and government,” said Rep. Love. “But I hope the judge’s testimony marks a turning point in the state’s attitudes toward the district. Although there is the potential for bankruptcy, in my mind this is not an option. Knowing that one of the largest employer of women — particularly women of color — in this state is DPS, bankruptcy threatens their jobs and their retirement. We must take into consideration those who have given twenty to thirty years of service to the district, and what bankruptcy would mean to their pensions. When we dismiss the potential harm of a short-sighted bankruptcy option we overlook the catastrophic consequences not only for the students of Detroit but the students, teachers, administrators and retirees across the state. This is an opportunity to start again with a more inclusive and collaborative model of financial solvency.”