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The Doctor of Detroit Public Schools

Emergency Manager Roy S. Roberts fights to save an ailing district

(page 1 of 5)

One week before his appointment as the new Emergency Manager for the Detroit Public Schools, Roy S. Roberts picked up a local newspaper with a glaring headline, “Nearly Half Of Detroiters Can’t Read.”

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund’s controversial May 2011 report made national headlines and the story was another embarrassment to the Motor City’s battered image.

The report offered lurid visibility to the devastating consequences of a failed school system. The report revealed that 47 percent of Detroiters were functionally illiterate.

That meant nearly half of the city’s adult workforce was unable to complete a job application, read a prescription or execute rudimentary tasks requiring a minimal reading.

Roberts and everyone else knew the report implied DPS was producing generations of inadequately prepared young people. 

The report followed another scandalously bad test performance by DPS students 18 months earlier. 

District reading scores from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress made national headlines when it reported a shocking 73 percent of fourth-graders and 60 percent of eighth-graders read below grade level.

In fact, they were the worst student scores in 18 large cities and the worst scores ever on a national exam. The devastating news underscored Robert’s sense of urgency.

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