Friday, July 9, 2010

Robert Bobb, Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2005

Wayne Circuit Court Judge Susan Borman indicated today Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb is entitled to receive part of his pay from private foundations.

The issue -- challenged by the district's school board, a civil rights group and a coalition of teachers who oppose charter schools -- was whether Bobb was in conflict of interest for accepting $89,000 of his salary from a foundation that supports private and charter schools. Bobb receives $280,000 in salary and $145,000 in supplemental income from foundations for fixing the school district's finances

Arguing on behalf of the Board of Education was attorney George Washington, who said the constitution trumps the statute allowing Bobb to collect pay from foundations.

"The precedent would be the same as if you had the British Petroleum Foundation paying one-third the salary of oil inspectors," Washington said. "One-third of that salary is being paid by people who want to deconstruct the schools. They believe charter schools and private schools can do better. It's OK to believe that, but it's not OK to pay Bobb's salary…

Under his one-year contract extension approved in March by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Bobb receives $56,000 from the Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation. The Broad Foundation paid Bobb $28,000 last year. The sources of the remaining $89,000 in this year's contract were not identified. But the W.K. Kellogg Foundation said this week it's chipping in $39,000 to retain Bobb in Detroit, compared to $56,000 it gave him last year. It is unclear who else is paying the remaining $50,000. The governor's office has yet to release the names of the other donors…

Wherever big privatization moves are happening in America's urban schools, you will find the hand, or the underhand, of the BBC (Billionaire Boys' Club). Case in point, Detroit, and the Broad Foundation, which runs its own superintendents' indoctrination academy that teaches the corporate junk yard dog style of ed leadership.

In Detroit, the puppet in charge is Robert Bobb (Broad Class of '09), who continues defending his case in court to hold on to the $145,000 in sweetener that he collects from Broad and the infamous Kellogg Foundation, whose eugenicist namesake, John Harvey Kellogg, was co-founder of the Race Betterment Foundation and an early proponent of clitoral mutilation using carbolic acid. One other oligarch providing Bobb's bag bonus money remains unnamed.

Surely Bobb was not to be influenced to follow the wishes of his patrons when he came up with Detroit's segregation/containment/cognitive sterilization school plan to increase class sizes in Detroit by shutting down 55 schools and to shoving out all the experienced teachers and cutting the pay and benefits of those remaining. Nah, no judge would make that connection…

Each passing day brings emergency financial manager Robert Bobb closer to the end of his contract leading Detroit's public schools from near-financial collapse toward fiscal responsibility and respectability.

Given the urgency of the job, spending Friday afternoons in a cramped Detroit courtroom is the last thing he expected or wants.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Wendy Baxter has ordered Bobb and members of the Detroit Board of Education to attend hearings in a civil suit filed against him by the school board.

Backed by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and attorney general and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Mike Cox, Bobb is defending himself in the legal battle to determine academic control in the troubled district…

The state Appeals Court last month tossed out Baxter's order stopping Bobb from proceeding with the academic restructuring plan and closing school buildings.

Bobb has testified that his academic changes all are part of his plan to wipe out a deficit of more than $300 million.

Granholm agreed, saying finances touch all aspect of the district.

But that's more than what Bobb was hired to do, school board member Tyrone Winfrey said.

"The financial manager was put here by the governor to handle the finances, to make sure the district is solvent and the budget is balanced," Winfrey said. "The board still has a role — it was elected by the people. We should be able to have our marbles. We should be able to play together. I hate to see that we're in court, that we have this discord."…

Bobb has sharply decreased administration staff and the ranks of school principals, sent layoff notices to 2,000 teachers, and worked to renegotiate vendor contracts in his quest to reduce the budget deficit. And 30 schools in Detroit are closing their doors for good as part of Bobb's plan…

Fireworks surrounded Detroit Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb as he presented his budget for the 2011 school year Wednesday night.

Parents angry with Bobb for the way he is handling the situation lashed out, with some saying the best thing he could do for the children is to leave.

The comments were in reaction to Bobb's budget, which calls for drastic cuts next school year. Detroit Schools are facing a $363 million dollar deficit. In order to deal with that, Bobb's budget calls for a 25% across the board cut to spending, increased class sizes and cuts to some special education programs…

Detroit Public Schools would close nearly half of its schools in the next two years, and increase high school class sizes to 62 by the following year, under a deficit-reduction plan filed with the state.

The plan, part of a monthly update Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb gives the Department of Education, was filed late Monday to provide insight into Bobb's progress in his attempt to slash a $327 million deficit in the district to zero over the next several years. Under it, the district would slim down from 142 schools now to 72 during 2012-13…

DPS spokesman Steve Wasko said the district has laid out the path it must take to eliminate the deficit, and Bobb remains focused on working with lawmakers to pass one of three plans to restructure DPS' finances.

…A third plan would look at new systems and agencies used in New Orleans, which has converted more than half of its public schools into charter schools in the past several years…

Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager Robert Bobb announced a radical restructuring plan for the struggling school system Saturday that he says would save the district millions of dollars by converting 41 poorly performing schools into DPS-authorized charter schools.

Based on a similar plan in post-Katrina New Orleans, the Renaissance Plan 2012 would lease the buildings and equipment to charter operators, who would run the buildings as public school academies in the fall…

In 2009, Detroit public schools had the lowest scores ever recorded in the 21-year history of the national math proficiency test.

The district had a budget deficit of $200 million.

About 8,000 students were leaving Detroit schools each year.

Political leaders had to do something, so they rounded up the usual whipping boys:

Wasteful bureaucrats. In 2009, the governor appointed an emergency financial manager, Robert Bobb, a former president of the Washington school board, to run the Detroit district. Mr. Bobb is known nationally for his work in school finance, and recruiting him took a big salary, $425,000 a year. He has spent millions more on financial consultants to clean up the fiscal mess left by previous superintendents.

Greedy unions. Though Detroit teachers make considerably less than nearby suburban teachers (a $73,700 maximum versus $97,700 in Troy), Mr. Bobb pressed for concessions. He got teachers to defer $5,000 a year in pay and contribute more for their health insurance. Last week, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a bill to give emergency managers power to void public workers’ contracts. If signed by the governor, Mr. Bobb could terminate the Detroit teachers’ union contract.

Traditional public schools full of incompetent veteran teachers. Michigan was one of the first states to embrace charter schools, 15 years ago. Currently there are as many Detroit children in charters — 71,000 — as in district schools. Now there is talk of converting the entire Detroit district (which is 95 percent African-American) to charters. Supporters say this could generate significant savings, since charters are typically nonunion and can hire young teachers, pay them less and give them no pensions.

Since Mr. Bobb arrived, the $200 million deficit has risen to $327 million…

Nor have charters been the answer. Charter school students score about the same on state tests as Detroit district students, even though charters have fewer special education students (8 percent versus 17 percent in the district) and fewer poor children (65 percent get subsidized lunches versus 82 percent at district schools)…

Last spring, Mr. Bobb had planned to close 50 schools with dwindling enrollment. But his list was reduced to 30 after several public meetings at which parents and staff members pleaded their school’s case before the all-powerful Mr. Bobb…



  1. Bob Bobb's Bio on the DPS Web site:

    Robert C. Bobb has served as Emergency Financial Manager of the 87,000-student Detroit Public Schools since March 2, 2009. A one-year appointment by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm was extended through March 1, 2011 in October 2009....

  2. This comment was left under John Q. Porter's page:

    "When you investigate the background of Robert Bobb in Richmond Virginia where he was city administrator for nearly 20 years, you will find a criminal. Ask the former mayors of Richmond Virginia and former city council members. He even used public funds to support a private swim team that his son participated."