By Eva Ward
Everything from reading to social skills is developed in school. But some Detroit students may not get that opportunity. They are the ones who will probably end up dropping out out of school because of the unstable learning environments from home and school.
One example is from the story of classroom 8B, a story of 31 students who have all changed schools many times because of different issues. Erin Einhorn explains a particular student’s background, “By the time she’d reached the 8th grade, Shantaya Davis had attended so many schools — at least five — that she couldn’t name them all.”
Shantaya is one of the many Detroit students who deals with problems like schools shutting down or unsafe environments. As a direct result of constantly switching schools, students have lower test scores and are more likely to to drop out of school.
Not only does this problem affect students who move often, but it also affects those who stay. It makes it harder for everyone to learn especially if people they know keep moving away. Another student from classroom 8B explained, “Some [departing classmates] say goodbye and some of them don’t tell nobody. It makes you feel like you ain’t got nobody to talk to.”
These students not only struggle academically, but socially as well. As people keep moving away, they no longer have anyone to talk to. In the midst of everything going on at home and school, they have to make new friends. This once again shows the devastating effects of the Detroit Schools program. Due to low funding and dangerous environments, students don’t have opportunities to learn and grow, but also, they lack opportunities to make connections and lifelong friendships.
In addition, many students in Detroit witness the dilapidated state which these schools are in. Classrooms are overcrowded and the building itself is falling apart. Some Detroit teachers have documented the state of their classrooms by taking pictures and leaving comments on social media. One of states, “Bullet hole 1 of 3 in a classroom at Osborn.”
It shows a picture of a large bullet hole. Evidently, these students need the chance to learn and grow without having to deal with poor conditions of home and school. School needs to be a place where students should be comfortable and be able to learn efficiently. Poor conditions fuel the dropout rate.
Another aspect affecting Detroit’s poverty is the number of unemployed. Since these adults don’t have jobs, they have no way to provide for themselves, or their families. Kurt Metzger, a demographer and director of Data Driven Detroit sais, “Detroit’s biggest challenge is to increase the labor force participation rate by providing significant adult education and job training programs.”
These programs are very beneficial to Detroit’s economy because about 5% of Detroit citizens are unemployed. Many of these adults lack the education they need to be hired with a full time job. According to the Detroit Free Press, “Failure to finish high school makes a major difference. The poverty rate among Detroit residents who fail to finish high school was 52.1 percent . . .” This means many adults who don’t finish high school tend to live in poverty.
On the other hand, many Michigan lawmakers argue Detroit already is getting enough per pupil, about $14,000, while the state average is $9,000. Even though this may seem like a high amount compared to the state average, these students still suffer academically.
For example, CNS News reports that according to the U.S. Department of Education, “only 7 percent of the 8th-graders in Detroit are considered proficient in reading.”
These means students who come from Detroit’s public schools are already behind by 8th grade. What is happening to the money going to these schools? And why are the schools in the condition they are in?
Students still need to deal with the dilapidated condition of the schools, moving to different schools, and struggle socially and academically. This makes students feel as though school is not a safe and comfortable learning environment, which fuels the dropout rate, making it harder for them to get a job.
This demonstrates issues needed to be resolved by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Detroit Public Schools should be top priority. These students should be given a chance, just like we were.
Clarkston Junior High 8th grade Honors ELA students wrote columns focused on increasing activism. The top six were submitted to The Clarkston News.