02 May 2010

Bobb Aims to bring Teach for America to Detroit

The Detroit Free Press

Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager of Detroit Public Schools, delivers the commencement address to the graduates of the School of Education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor today. (WILLIAM ARCHIE/Detroit Free Press)
Speaking at the University of Michigan this evening, Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager Robert Bobb announced that he intends to bring the well-known program Teach for America back to the city in the fall.

Bobb, the state appointee who oversees the DPS budget, was the graduation speaker for the School of Education at U-M.

U-M leads the nation in the number of graduates who join TFA -- which aims to end education inequality by placing graduates as teachers in impoverished schools, according to U-M President Mary Sue Coleman.

In recent years, U-M graduates have left Ann Arbor and gone to cities across the nation, but not to nearby Detroit, after budget cuts and teacher layoffs pushed the program out of DPS several years ago.

“I look forward to signing a contract next week with Teach for America,” Bobb said.

Bobb’s announcement about bringing new teachers to DPS comes weeks after about 2,000 DPS teachers were sent layoff notices because the district faces a deficit over $300 million and declining enrollment.

Keith Johnson, Detroit Federation of Teachers president, said Bobb’s announcement was premature.

“No TFA is coming into DPS when I’ve got teachers facing layoff,” he said. “We have to discuss a whole laundry list of things before it can even be considered for implementation.”

Bobb, a Louisiana native, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Grambling State University, a master’s degree in business from Western Michigan University and completed a certificate program from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

He urged the U-M graduates to bring their passion to DPS.

“It’s all about the children and about action,” he said.

Graduate Jessica Thudium, 26, of Sterling Heights said TFA could bring quality, energetic teachers to DPS and attract young professionals to the city.

“You always have to go where the opportunity is,” said Thudium, who earned a master’s degree today after having been laid off a teaching job in Troy schools. “Hopefully this will be an opportunity to bolster education and the city in general.”

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