Detroit News Hearts Publik Edukashun, Smears Homeschoolers

Talk about social promotions! Laura Berman, a writer for The Detroit News, recently penned a column about Otis Mathis’ inability to write a coherent sentence.

Berman offered readers several examples of Mathis’ unique talent. Here’s one of his emails:

If you saw Sunday’s Free Press that shown Robert Bobb the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, move Mark Twain to Boynton which have three times the number seats then students and was one of the reason’s he gave for closing school to many empty seats.


Do DPS control the Foundation or outside group? If an outside group control the foundation, then what is DPS Board row with selection of is director? Our we mixing DPS and None DPS row’s, and who is the watch dog?

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Mathis, a product of the Detroit public schools, is none other than the president of the Detroit school board – a man who “repeatedly failed an English proficiency exam” at Wayne State University (also in Detroit) but was shrewd enough to mount a legal challenge against the requirement.

Berman treads carefully in her expose. While she appropriately is concerned about his lack of lit cred, she informs readers that Mathis, who was elected to his position by a 10-1 vote, is an engaging, honest fella who speaks persuasively and has plenty of fans.

Pshaw. (And, yes, I spelled that correctly.)

Mathis has been a member of the school board for a couple of years and president since January … and just now the Motor City MSM is noticing that he can’t spell simple words or know where to place an apostrophe? Come on. Mathis defends himself in this clip by shamelessly playing the learning disability card.

That the worst big-city school system in the United States has such a communications-challenged person at this level of leadership seems entirely fitting. What is disturbing is that the Detroit News is such an enabler of this train-wreck of a public education system.

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The newspaper, conversely, has plenty of energy to smear homeschooling. You know, that alternative that produces kids who win national spelling bees, doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime, and empowers families, not unions?

Back in December, the daily featured a huge, above-the-fold front page story, headlined:


Calista Springer lay tethered to her bed by a dog collar while siblings went off to school each morning.

Ron French, starring in the role of crusading investigative journalist, reported how poor Calista, a 16-year-old who lived in Centreville, Michigan, perished in a house fire in 2008, while strapped to her bed.

The teen was “homeschooled” by her father and stepmother, Anthony and Marsha Springer, who were eventually convicted of torture and child abuse.

Prior to 2005, Calista attended public schools, and French noted that confidential complaints had been lodged to the Children’s Protective Services, an arm of Michigan’s Department of Human Services, about her welfare — but nothing came of it. What French does make perfectly clear is that the complaints stopped when Calista was removed from conventional school to home school. Prosecutor John McDonough irresponsibly makes the assertion, “Home school played a role in Calista’s death. They basically eliminated any person who could have reported abuse….”

Of an estimated 72,000 homeschoolers in Michigan, French found only one other example, similar to the Springer story, to bolster his anti-parental rights argument for tougher homeschooling sanctions targeting closet child abusers posturing as homeschoolers. Back in 2004, the body of seven-year-old Ricky Holland was found near his home in Williamston, Michigan. His adoptive parents, Tim and Lisa Holland, also claimed to be homeschoolers. The Hollands were convicted of the child’s murder and are currently in prison.

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What is ironic is that in the same edition that the Springer story ran (along with two accompanying articles hammering home the point that the vast majority of Michigan’s law-abiding homeschooling parents aren’t monitored enough), the newspaper’s award-winning opinion page was brimming with silly letters on the theme of “how to fix Detroit’s schools.”

To make matters even more absurd, there was also an editorial about a so-called “rubber room” — a holding pen of sorts for unfit classroom teachers who can’t be fired. The new labor contract mandates that Motown teachers will not only get paid, they will receive benefits while sitting in this room and leeching off taxpayers in the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

The editorial noted, “The old contract kept those teachers in the classroom, where they could continue to damage children” (emphasis mine). Why didn’t you demand that the book be thrown at those creeps, Detroit News?

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As if lumping dedicated homeschooling parents with criminals wasn’t enough damage for one day, the newspaper posted a cyber-poll which asked the following: “Michigan’s laws on home schooling include no instruction-time requirements, no curriculum standards, no minimum education level for the teachers and no testing. Should the state toughen its laws on home schooling?”

No! But perhaps school board presidents should be required to know how to spell “are” correctly.