not all those who wander are lost

Jared W. Finney High School, resuming demolition.

There are literally dozens of school buildings closed in Detroit, and many dozens more on the chopping block. Declining enrollment, declining population, and fears of the hostile Emergency Financial Manager takeover of the system have caused an exodus away from Detroit Public Schools into the suburbs and into make-shift charter schools.

So what is the plan for THIS site ? Well the bankrupt city got together with the bankrupt county and the bankrupt state and they somehow came up with 45 MILLION dollars to build A NEW SCHOOL. What ? ! Yep yep. Why build a new school when you claim to have not enough children to keep 50 other viable buildings open ? I dunno.

What happens after they build this state of the art monstrosity and fill it with flat screen plasma monitors and computerized “smart boards” ? Well, I’ll bet you 45 million dollars they sell it all to a charter school for about 5 dollars. (45 million is roughly the yearly salary of 1000 Detroit Public School teachers. Just in case you are wondering where all the money comes from. So who will teach here ?)

I love it when private companies close public roads and call it “private property”.

Security guy talking to his mom on the phone.

Demolition signs ? Nope. Air quality measurement devices ? Nope. Fences all covered to prevent hazardous debris from wafting into neighborhoods ? Nope. I LOVE demolitions in Detroit ! (nope)

20 Responses to Finney High School Demolition

  • David – that is basically the issue here with the funding, its made that way by “Proposition A”, or “Prop A” as it is oft called. It is antiquated in many ways, and now with the radical new education legislation in Michigan, it will be almost a moot point.

  • For what it’s worth, the most common mechanisms for paying for schools are bonds which are legally restricted to use in construction; it’s almost laughable how often a district in a growth phase will have a bond approved for a new school and in the midst of that construction face an economic downturn which results in the district having to make budget cuts to instruction in the middle of the construction project. But unfortunately, they are in fact legally firewalled funds, and I kind of assume that’s the case here, particularly if the construction is being backed by foundation funds or something.

  • My friend taught there a few years back and from his description, it was falling apart. There were areas that the first floor could be seen from the second. In this case I think it was falling apart long before this.

  • I knew people who went to that school in the mid 90’s and they were no good. The area has people who do not care about school at all. Heck if I remember correct someone was shot with a shotgun in the hallway back then, and always tons of crime. So I am shocked to see they will rebuild. That is just nuts. I think it will become a charter or private school after it is all said and done, that is if it ever gets finished, because I learned in Detroit they might start a job, but it does not guarantee it will ever be finished.

  • Its not a “conspiratorial view” that 85,000.00 of his salary comes from an out side source that intends on privatizing Detroit Public Schools.

    If they have 45 million to tear down and rebuild a school, shouldnt it go straight to that 300 million debt instead ?

    The EFM issue has now spread to the entire State of Michigan with the new governors laws. The entire State is not in the same condition as Detroit, so what the hell does it need EFM’s assigned to dismiss school boards and city councils elected by voters ? I know Detroit is a special case, but the methods are being extrapolated out statewide now.

    The word “conspiracy” has a connotation these days that I dont particularly appreciate. A group of economic ideologues all working toward a common goal – privatization of public commons – that is what is transpiring.

  • but whoever sent this Bob Bobb guy here is behind a more organized plan, which is based on the larger privatization push in this state and others.

    The thing that, to me, draws this conspiratorial view into doubt is that, to the best of my knowledge, no one disputes that the Detroit Public School System is actually 300 million dollars in debt and losing more every day. That being the case, I agree that it’s difficult to understand why they would want to tear down a school in order to rebuild it, but the general moves of hiring an emergency financial planner and closing schools seem reasonable for a district that is deeply in debt. Do you think the claim of debt is false, or that at some level they’re purposely mismanaging funds in order to create a debt that they could easily fix if they really wanted to?

  • Pretty much – and yes, “crony capitalism” fits perfectly. Allowing the school buildings to be open to elements and scrappers to destroy them thereby causing an emergency situation which justifies demolition is what I believe has been going on. “Demolition by neglect”. Especially when anything historic is in question – like Cass Tech.

    Oh yeah, general incompetence certainly is running rampant – but whoever sent this Bob Bobb guy here is behind a more organized plan, which is based on the larger privatization push in this state and others.

  • So your view is that the City of Detroit (and whatever agency makes these decisions) decided to close a bunch of schools for no legitimate reason whatsoever, and only so that it could then pay construction firms to build new schools, presumably with the understanding that the construction firms would then pay bribery money back to the government officials who made the decision in the first place? (I added the last part because I couldn’t see a motivation for it otherwise.) Is that correct? That’s close to what I meant by “crony capitalism”, although perhaps a bit more cynical.

    And you could well be right, be it seems to me that general incompetence is at least as likely an explanation.

  • Well, the way I see it, they have created the disaster in order to “fix” the disaster. Whenever those are combined, and people or companies get rich – I think it is a fake money grab. The “shock” was closing half of all the schools in the city, which seems to have helped in chasing out a huge portion of the school children. I cant see how there is any shortage of money for school or for paying teachers, it is just being misappropriated by labeling certain funds as being only available for construction. Many schools in the suburbs have also terminated HUNDREDS of teachers – teachers that they need. (no shortage of children) Yet these schools build new facilities and new athletic fields on a regular basis. They pretend that the two funds can no t be combined, and that is nonsense. If they have 45 million dollars for this one project, why is the Detroit Public School systems Emergency Financial Manager requiring the teachers to forfeit a portion of their paycheck as a “loan” to the system ? Why cant they pay the teachers ?

    The wanton destruction of viable buildings filled with (often unused) supplies and computers and furniture is complete insanity. Yet we see it everywhere in the City. I have documented it too many times, as have the other Detroit photographers, and even international photographers. If the City is broke, why arent they saving all the books and desks and computers ? Why dont they sell the buildings for a dollar so they can collect property taxes ?

    I am not all that sure what the hell is going on, but none of it makes sense at face value. If you “follow the money” that Robert Bobb is paid, you will find some serious people are behind this privatization push. About 85K of his salary (how can they afford this guy? he makes as much as 7 school teachers! ) is from out of state unnamed privatization groups.

  • dfunk, thanks for the explanation; I had a completely deficient understanding of where you were coming from. Although there’s still one aspect of your reference that I’m unclear on. You referred to the demolition of Finney High as Disaster Capitalism in action. What is the shock or disaster that, in your view, is being exploited, and who is the exploiter?

  • Isn’t a new school being built on the former grounds of the Emelia Earhart Middle School also?

  • zincfinger, “Disaster Capitalism” is a direct reference to a book called The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “disaster capitalism”, although I think it’s possible this is explained by crony capitalism (government officials exchanging corrupt quid pro quo’s with private companies). I also think it’s possibly just a result of innocently inept governance. In either case, it seems like corrupt and/or inept governance is a substantial part of the problem. Which raises a question. If the city is poorly managed, who, ultimately, is to blame: the managers or the people who elected them? I certainly don’t mean to indict every Detroit government official, but I think most would agree that Detroiters don’t always perform due diligence when electing public officials.

  • agreed Loosh. That money would go a long way to UPDATE many of the schools that have been left to rot.

  • Seriously, that school isn’t even particularly old. It’s probably perfectly viable. So why waste it? Lame.

  • So much waste and destruction… it’s despicable. That school looks better than many here in Florida where so many of our kids and teachers must endure portables.

  • agreed: CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT ………….spend ? Huh ? It is a way to keep the contracts moving and the money all vacuumed out of the pockets of ordinary citizens and into the coffers of corporations and the wealthy. Why the HELL would you build new schools when you simultaneously claim that you can not afford to pay the teachers wages ? At a time when they are shutting down schools and leaving them open to rot with all the children’s permanent records and school supplies left inside ?


  • Pathetic. It’s got to be just a way to steal money.

  • Hey now dFunk! I was told on DetroitYes that this school needed to be torn down so that they could build a new one to attract more people and teachers into this neighbourhood. This new school would also make the teachers and parents care more than they would with a 40+ year old school :P

    I remain on your side of the fence.

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