Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Detroit Public Schools (DPS)

It's amazing how slow government organizations work.

January 1st I posted about assisting a financial analyst from the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) on a report on how to solve the bankrupt Detroit Public Schools (DPS) financial problems.

The financial analyst was excited about the ideas we came up with. He presented the report to the union president who embraced many of the ideas. On January 7th the DFT presented the report to Robert Bobb, the state trustee placed in charge of the DPS. While he liked many of the ideas, Mr. Bobb was determined to stick with his original plan of having the state pay off the DPS debt. This man is paid six figures a year and his big plan is to have the state pay off the debt; an idea that has been rejected more than once. Unfortunately this type of waste is typical of the DPS. The financial analyst informed me:
At one point, several years ago, the District was using at least eight different law firms as well as maintaining their own legal department. It has been a District tradition to spend millions of dollars yearly on outside consultants and attorneys.

During the last three rounds of contract talks, the District utilized numerous attorneys and consultants. The last round of talks that ended in 2009 had more consultants than ever. They put together fancy presentations and were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars even though, in the end, nearly all of the $60 to $70 million in savings to the District came from ideas generated by the DFT at no cost to the District. This past summer, the District paid several million dollars to two consulting companies that made a complete shambles of the hiring and assigning of new teachers and the revamping of the special education program.
January 18, the plan was presented to the president of AFT-MI (the state teachers union).  The plan was well received, but the AFT thought they should continue to try to get Mr. Bobb on board.

The plan was to be presented to the DFT membership at their monthly meeting on January 20.  However,

The meeting never officially started.  The newly elected officers were sworn in to the sound of shouts and boos. Then chaos ruled for the next two hours as Steve Conn and his followers denounced the results of the recount and demanded that either all of the ballots be recounted again by hand, or that there be a new election.  The situation could have gotten even more ugly than it did, but there were three police officers in the back of the auditorium.  Still, it was quite disheartening to realize how thug-like some of our Detroit teachers could act.  Some of those folks are really scary.
The plan was finally presented to the DFT membership February 11.  The financial analyst told me that in spite of the first hour of the meeting consisting of people insulting and shouting at each other, there was complete silence when he got up to address the financial problems.  He stated our plan was well received and actually received a round of applause.

Next week (almost two months later), the DFT finally plans on presenting our plan to the governor.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, I am sorry for not noting this entry earlier!

    Congratulations!! This is quite an honor (not the part about it being presented to government officials, but the part about people recognizing and applauding your great plan)! I hope you get paid accordingly.