Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sandra Hines, Grassroots Candidate for the Detroit School Board in District Five

Sandra Hines, grassroots school board candidate

By T. Kelly
The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT—Children, schools, community. For Sandra Hines the links among the three must be restored.

“That is why I am running for school board,” she told a group of supporters Oct. 27.

Her struggle to save her neighborhood school—and others in the McKenzie High constellation—from the massive school closures enacted this year by the current board prompted her run for the board.

“For the last 30 years I have fought for our people in every movement struggle,” Hines said. “My mother and her mother before her were activists. It’s just in me.”

She said not one school board member walked through Courtis, her neighborhood school, before they made the decision to close it. “Teachers, parents, students were all walking around like zombies when they heard Courtis was to be closed,” said Hines. “The decision to close the school wiped everyone out spiritually.”

“The decisions that our officials are making have been brash and devastating to say the least. They have severely hurt Detroit’s economy, schools, workers, families, neighborhoods, morale and image,” Hines says in her campaign literature.

And in public comments she makes it plain how “devastating” those decisions are because she believes the board is focused on contracts, not children.

She described how the board allowed school communities effected by the closings to have five minutes each to present an argument for keeping their school. We got “proactive” Hines said, with parades and banners, prompting Interim Supt. Lamont Satchel to respond, “these people aren’t going away.” He gave Courtis a reprieve.

Not without reason. Its MEAP scores are strong and above required norms, its teachers highly qualified, excellent safety record, support from Lear Corp., Renaissance Links Chapter, Quaker Corp. and GMAC. All achieved with strong parental involvement.

More teachers are to be laid off, buildings closed, Hines said.

Smaller class size and more text books are two of her goals. Hines also said she is not waiting until elected to continue her work for better schools.

Forming the Coalition to Restore the Hope to DPS, a coalition of educators, parents and students, the group has called for a state investigation of the missing school books in Detroit schools. The Coalition is also working to help students’ transition following the mass closures.

The Coalition has called on Supt. Connie Calloway to develop a program to assist schools not making Annual Yearly Progress for three or more years.

Hines’ platform consists of five elements: Rebuilding community through education, mandatory site visits for Board Members, children before contracts, accountability for Title I Funds and programs that improve literacy and reduce truancy.

The Hines campaign is an uphill battle. She faces incumbent Joyce Hayes Giles, senior vice president of customer service for Detroit Edison. Giles voted for school closings and despite the $6 million penalty imposed by the state for mismanagement of the Last Chance schools, voted to renew those as well.

One of the Last Chance schools is run by the Rev. Horace Sheffield. On his radio program Sat. Oct. 27, Sheffield urged listeners to vote for Giles, despite the apparent conflict of interest.

While Hines won the first round in her battle to keep Courtis open, the battle for a seat on the school board hangs on voters Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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