Where is the Business Community?

July 30, 3008

Re: http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080730/OPINION03/807300345

There is a better question than that. The business community in Detroit is the same community that used Coleman Young and his successors as fronts for mutual gain, when the rest of the city entered a period of organized decay that now works at hyper speed. Much, if not most, of the business community has been part of the problem since the 60s.

Today, the sole group of people who hold the potential, the power, and the reason to remove the Mayor from office is the teaching force. They sit in the last, and central, organizing point of life for most people in Detroit--school. They are organized and have demonstrated, in limited ways, that they have clout. They have every reason to want to seek the Mayor removed, or step down. They look in the faces of children whose lives are already disrupted and teetering on many brinks every day. And now they have the Mayor as the utterly corrupted symbol of the city to deal with.

The teachers are organized, naturally, with deep ties to every community in Detroit. Despite the condition of the schools, which anyone knowledgeable about schools and inequality would agree are awful, education workers still retain the respect of the community, and for the most part for good reason.

A march of the teachers and community members on City Hall, demanding the resignation or removal of the Mayor, would have a breathtaking impact.

They, unlike the business community, could offer what is needed in Detroit: hope won by connecting reason to power, and action.

So, where are the teachers? Sadly, the DFT is deeply split at the top with opportunists vying with each other for jobs, and some honest second tier leaders struggling to keep whatever there was about unionism inside the DFT afloat. Whether or not that latter group will be able to mobilize the work force and the community to remove or replace the Mayor, and set the stage for a renewed relationship between education and the community, remains to be seen.

All the best

Dr Rich Gibson
Emeritus Professor
San Diego State