LANSING — State Reps. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit) and Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) held a rally last week at the former Detroit Kettering High School to show their support for the students and families of Benton Harbor. Both legislators expressed their concerns for the pain caused by the closure of schools within their districts and the damage it can do to communities.
“Emergency managers and school closings devastated communities across Michigan over the last decade. It is my hope that we change course from these destructive and failed education policies,” Robinson said. “We must fight to restore public education and stop erasing the history of our local communities. Shutting down Benton Harbor high school would continue a destructive legacy. We are working to raise billions of dollar in revenues for our schools; surely we can help a local school district with about 700 students keep their only high school open.”
As conversations continue, one common concern is that the school district is facing consequences for decisions made outside of their control. Benton Harbor has had emergency managers in the past and is currently in a consent agreement with the state.
“The challenges Benton Harbor School District is facing did not appear overnight,” said Carter. “We can’t ignore the circumstances surrounding the origins of those challenges. Here in Detroit, we were put under the control of an emergency manager to manage the debt the school district had. Not only did the emergency manager fail to decrease the debt as intended; it increased. That is just one example of how removing local control can devastate a community. Instead of closing the school and shipping the students out to neighboring communities, we should be working with the school district to find a solution that works for the students.”