What Detroit Needs

What does the city need?

Schools.

Good schools.

That’s it. Fix the education system here and everything else will fall into place.

Marketing guru Seth Godin wrote a manifesto on education (check it out here) a few years back called Stop Stealing Dreams, where he assessed the purpose of mass education and its impact. He posits that “Large-scale education was not developed to motivate kids or to create scholars. It was invented to churn out adults who worked well within the system. Scale was more important than quality, just as it was for most industrialists.”

In Detroit, let’s admit, the public schools are horrible. There is no diversity, no good high school options. When the mass exodus happened a few decades ago, all the options left. Outskirts neighborhoods have diversity and slightly better systems – Hamtramck, East Dearborn, little pockets of ethnicity.

In a Virginia Commonwealth University study from 2013, Curtis Cobert says, “Quality public schools help improve the human capital of an area, which in turn helps draw businesses looking to locate in resource heavy environments. This raises the question about what impact does the quality of local public schools have on economic development of an area.”

The study continues: “Economic development allows government, private and public sectors, and local communities to work alongside each other to improve the local economy…”

If we don’t educate our youth, our city dies. In every way.

Improve Detroit schools, and you’ll see a city even more on the rise than it is now. Yes, businesses are relocating here. Millennials are moving into the city. But when they become parents, where will they send their children?

Until we build systems that support our youngest citizens, and help them build productive, successful lives and careers, we’ll only be limping along.

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