Monday, May 30, 2016


It's terrific that a new principal was recently hired at Ypsilanti high school. Hopefully, Scott Snyder (unfortunate last name) will be a positive, as they say, "role model". Young people at Ypsilanti high certainly deserve a positive presence.  As odd as it may sound I'm little skeptical with the term "role model" when it comes to school administrators these days.

The previous "role model" at Ypsilanti high, principal Tanya Bowman,  faced  federal bribery charges in March related to school funds and recently pleaded guilty. Now there's a positive role model for students! Geez. The federal bribery charges date to a time period when she was a principal with Detroit public schools. Bowman is looking at the possibility of spending 18 to 24 months in prison. Prior to accepting the position of principal at Ypsilanti high, Bowman was principal of Osborne Academy of Mathematics, Science & Technology in Detroit. That's a mouthful. I do admit to being a little skeptical of the schools with gigantic names, but that's for a different article. In a press release last July the school district stated that Bowman aims to ensure students receive the best instructional practices and challenging curriculum necessary for success in their post-secondary plans. Well, as my dad always says, talk is cheap. Apparently, Bowman was not as altruistic as she appeared a year ago. She accepted $12,500 in kickbacks stemming from her acceptance of gift cards and kickback payments from the owner of a school supplies vendor.

I'm sure that way back when Tanya Bowman was earning her undergrad degree at Central Michigan University, and her masters degree from Wayne State she wasn't planning on committing a federal crime involving school funds down the road. But somewhere along the way in her career I guess something changed, or maybe she changed. I guess we'll never know. But what an awful shame for the students she was supposed to motivate, as well as for her and all involved.

I feel bad for young people today and wonder how they are perceiving the world around them. Lots of so called "role models" are behaving pretty badly these days. Think about what young folks are witnessing. A party front runner and presidential candidate is spewing forth a steady stream of bigoted, hateful and crass remarks aimed particularly at Hispanics, women and Muslims. He is an appallingly terrible role model. At the same time we learn that a significant number of DPS principals as well as ex- Ypsilanti high principal Tanya Bowman have been charged with criminal activity related to the schools. Students are taking this all in. Sad.

I can't imagine how I would have felt way back when if my old principal in high school faced federal bribery charges related to the school. I don't recall being enamored with my old high school principal back in Flint, but I'm sure I would have been shocked if he faced similar charges when I was 16, 17, or 18.

Today, young folks need positive role models more than ever, particularly in urban areas. How must our young people be feeling here in Ypsilanti, or in Flint, or Detroit as they witness such selfish and unethical behavior from our so-called role models? They certainly don't feel up-lifted. Here's to hoping that new Ypsilanti high school principal Scott Snyder is a good role model.

Jeff Brown
Purple Walrus Press

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