Educational outrage 

Dozens of angry people flooded from City Council chambers to vent disgust after Councilwoman Sharon McPhail continued a routine of banging her head against a brick wall, figuratively speaking. McPhail, in a position of power after losing a series of Detroit political races, is trying in vain to take the reins at council. Last week, she proposed that council hire a constitutional lawyer to study “all possible legal challenges available” to the 1999 state takeover of Detroit Public Schools. The action by Gov. John Engler unseated Detroit’s elected school-board members, and still smarts like an open wound. “It’s a statement from this council … that we’re not just going to let it go,” says McPhail, an attorney representing a group challenging the takeover in court. But her compatriots want more time before voting, and Councilwoman Kay Everett pointed out that with a $95 million deficit looming, the city has bigger worries. The postponed vote set the audience into a flurry as debates sparked in the hallway. “I think that is the most stupid group of African-Americans anywhere,” said Larry Nelson, who has 15 grandkids in Detroit Public Schools. “I think it was very disrespectful of the council today,” said Bettie Cook-Scott. “In the past, black folks were deprived of voting all the time. This time, we voted for a school board and then they changed the rules. I need to be able to tell my son that when he votes, his vote counts.”

Lisa M. Collins is a staff writer for Metro Times. E-mail comments to

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