Michigan has been in the headlines recently with right-to work legislation and an omnibus abortion bill. What didn’t cause much stir is Michigan’s 2011 eighth grade education report card. The state as a whole is able to claim to be on par with the nation in reading, with 32 percent of eighth graders rating as “proficient” or better; in math, 31 percent of students ranked as “proficient” or better. Compared with national averages of 32 and 34 percent of eighth graders at or above grade-level in reading and math, respectively, Michigan’s public education system appears to be as mediocre as every other state. What the statewide numbers don’t show, however, is the complete failure of the Detroit Public Schools.
Decades ago Detroit, called the “Paris of the West,” was the fourth largest city in the nation with a large and thriving middle class. WhenHenry Ford perfected the assembly line, he was able to bring down the production costs of automobile manufacturing, which in turn made ownership possible to a much larger portion of Americans. With increased sales, Ford needed more workers to produce more vehicles. To attract those employees, he offered $5 a day wages and a shorter work day. The work was monotonous, but the wages were nearly twice what any other auto manufacturer offered. Hopeful workers flocked to Detroit for jobs. Their employment created a large and prosperous middle class[…]