Since 2009, the day-to-day management of Detroit Public Schools has been under the auspices of Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb. He was appointed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm to right the ship that is DPS. It had already struck the iceberg, and Bobb was tasked with not only ensuring it didn’t sink, but that it wouldn’t drag the whole state down with it.
During Bobb’s brief tenure, DPS is already showing signs of improvement. He has slashed the budget, gotten rid of some of the worst teachers and increased the graduation rate by nearly three percent. DPS has a very long way to go, but there’s finally a sense that things are improving.
A lot of that has to do with Bobb’s approach to his job. He is a straight-forward man who has little patience for waste, fraud, abuse or putting adult interests ahead of student needs. He should be an inspiration for every taxpayer watchdog group in America.
Last year, when it was rumored that a group of radical, renegade Detroit teachers was threatening a walk out on students because their “rights” were in jeopardy, Bobb had little use for that, too.
We asked Bobb about the walk-out threat when we interviewed him for our documentary “Kids Aren’t Cars.” In typical fashion, the plainspoken Bobb cut through the B.S. and called out the renegade teacher group.
Whenever we hold public screenings of “Kids Aren’t Cars,” this scene causes the audience to burst out in applause. They find Bobb’s candor to be refreshing and inspiring.
State and school leaders across America would be wise to look at Robert Bobb and emulate him. We need more leaders like Bobb who are willing to name names and attack the status quo. Too many of our public schools are designed to benefit the adults at the expense of the children. Bobb understands that if our children are to have any kind of a future, this has to stop.