Friday, June 17, 2016


 As I wrote in my previous June 13th article, last week an email was forwarded to me stating that Ypsilanti High School students were going to be holding a rally called Students Rights Matters. The email also stated that after the rally students would be speaking at the YCS board meeting that evening. I was very impressed with the email and was looking forward to covering the student led protest. I thought it was great that students would be raising concerns regarding what is going at Ypsilanti High. Students were to be addressing school safety and the fact that they feel there are too many school suspensions, The students also want to see the re-implementation of restorative practices at Ypsilanti High School.

Unfortunately, the rally was cancelled. Instead of hearing students speak their minds, a handful of us middle aged folks were greeted in the parking lot by new Ypsilanti High School principal Scott Snyder. Snyder, who had much on his mind, did not hesitate in sharing his thoughts with us regarding the school. Snyder made some very interesting comments to us as we stood in a circle in the Ypsilanti High Parking lot.

Listed below are a few of the comments principal Snyder made in our chat circle Monday evening. To the best of my knowledge, this is what I recall hearing him saying, These are not direct quotes, I am paraphrasing his comments.

1. Only 2% of incoming freshman to Ypsilanti High are reading at grade level.
2. He must handle teachers calling in sick to work per their doctors stating that they could not come to work due to emotional duress related to their teaching positions. This is due to stressful teaching conditions.
3. It is not uncommon for teachers to attend seminars such as restorative practice training and then quit their teaching jobs in the district only to find teaching positions in other districts.
4. Local gangs pose challenges to an already difficult learning environment at Ypsilanti High School.

Scott Snyder is up against a lot of tough realities. These powerful and enlightening comments from Snyder are reflective of the dire predicament public schools are facing in not only Ypsilanti, but Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and my hometown of Flint. There is much talk in America about the importance of education, but catch phrases like "stay in school" ring hollow in a state and nation that is not motivated to truly assist or help struggling public schools. Often students must go without textbooks or proper supplies leaving this burden directly on the shoulders of underpaid teachers.

Principal Scott Snyder truly is facing a mountain of challenges at his school. As I said in my previous article, there is no question that Snyder cares deeply about and is committed to students at Ypsilanti High. The issue is how do we fix our broken public education system in this state and in the country? I wish I had the answer.

Jeff Brown
Purple Walrus Press.

New Ypsilanti High principal Scott Snyder center speaks to small group of concerned citizens in parking lot. Photo Purple Walrus Press.

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