School’s Out Forever in Detroit

A school art classroom ransacked by vandals has cupboards and a closet still well-stocked with art supplies; the closet still had a six-foot pile of unused paper. Art programmes have been among the first cut by Detroit Public Schools under its current budget shortfall.
An abandoned Detroit school art classroom ransacked by vandals has cupboards and a closet still well-stocked with art supplies; the closet still had a six-foot pile of unused paper. Art programs have been among the first cut by Detroit Public Schools under its current budget shortfall.

Vice has a disturbing photoessay depicting the numerous abandoned school properties scattered across Detroit, which has lost nearly half of its population over the past few decades. From the essay:

With an aging infrastructure built for twice the existing population, the [Detroi] school district has to shut down and vacate school buildings every year. In 2007, the school board awarded a contract for securing, cleaning and removing supplies from closed schools to a Philadelphia-based company with ties to school board members. However, the work at many closed schools was simply never done. As with any buildings left unsecured in Detroit, thieves looking for metal immediately broke in to steal copper pipes and other valuables. These “scrappers” are like locusts. In 2008, I went into several schools closed the previous year to find buildings stripped of metal but left with libraries full of books, computer labs upturned, art classrooms full of supplies, and administration offices filled with confidential and sensitive student records.

It goes without saying that the city’s schools are in a bad way. Only recently, a principal at one Detroit public school asked parents to send toilet paper and light bulbs to school with their children because the district could no longer provide those necessities. Most students are not allowed to bring textbooks home, if their school has textbooks at all. The Detroit Public Schools are allotted more tax dollars per pupil than any other district in the state, and yet none of the money actually reaches those students or their teachers. It disappears in a morass of bureaucratic waste and corruption.

Read the whole thing. On the upside, it only costs about $7500.00 to buy a house in Detroit these days, so there is plenty of money left in the budget for private schools!

At the end of the 2007 school year, Jane Cooper Elementary (built in 1920) was left unsecured in the middle of the wasteland where a middle-class neighbourhood once stood. It took “scrappers” only a few months to strip the building of every last ounce of metal and leave it looking as though it hadn’t been occupied for decades.

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