Detroit Caucus Members Seek to Correct MIRS Quotation

Legislators united on education, frustrated by misrepresentation
Monday, October 19, 2015

LANSING — Members of the Detroit Caucus spoke out against a MIRS article that ran early Friday morning and contained false information regarding caucus attitudes toward education and Detroit Public Schools (DPS). The article attributed a quote from a different representative as having been given on behalf of the Detroit Caucus, which was not the case.

“The caucus’s priority is, without question, to work together for our kids,” said state Representative Brian Banks (D-Detroit), chairman of the Detroit Caucus. “We’re dedicated to coming up with legislation that will address DPS’ academic and financial issues. So it undermines the work we’re doing, and the achievements we’ve made so far, when a quote like that, on an unrelated topic, is presented like it’s meant to speak for us.”

“Did it make for a good quote? Sure. But just because something is sensational doesn’t make it true,” said state Representative LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit). “Regardless of whether it was an oversight or an intentional misrepresentation, the fact remains that that quote had nothing to do with the Detroit Caucus, and certainly nothing to do with how our members feel about education reform in the city.”

The quote — “…kids who can rap Dr. Dre but can’t read Dr. Seuss, and we socially promoted them along the way” — was given by a representative during a floor speech in favor of an education bill dealing with third-grade reading. In the MIRS article, it was not only presented as having been given on behalf of the Detroit Caucus, but was also entirely out of context. The bill in question, while related to Detroit in the sense that any statewide piece of education legislation would be, did not directly involve DPS and so members of the caucus were particularly surprised that it was used in an article which focused solely on the area.

“There are several educators in the caucus now serving in Michigan’s Legislature,” said state Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), the Democratic Caucus’ Urban Education chair. “We are appalled when leaders in our state make disparaging remarks about those who struggle to read and learn. It’s even more unfortunate that in many instances, intentional misrepresentation builds on a narrative of ignorance meant to misinform readers and paint an inaccurate picture of the work we’re attempting to do on behalf of DPS and our kids.”

 “Education is a main priority in the Detroit Caucus,” said state Representative and Assistant Democratic Leader Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit). “As an area with a number of unique factors impacting education, it’s vital to us as a caucus that we stand united in addressing this problem. We also understand the importance of working together to find a common solution for both our city, and our state. That will not happen if situations like this continue to derail the conversation.”