News reports about the possibility of Detroit Public Schools filing for bankruptcy always cause me to shake my head and draw a breath in exasperation. The negative press that my hometown’s school district gets frustrates me. I’m not frustrated by the news anchors covering the story, nor even the columnists who report on Detroit’s dirty laundry, allowing those near and afar to cast judgment on the school district responsible for my high school diploma. I’m not ashamed of the education I received from Detroit Public Schools. But what I am ashamed of is that I hail from the same city as those responsible for the school district’s distressed state.

While I’m weary of the thought of the Detroit Public School system filing for bankruptcy — it would be the only public school system to have ever done so — I’m also hopeful. Bankruptcy would be a way to end the skepticism, cynicism and pessimism that surround Detroit Public Schools. It’s time for a change — and bankruptcy could bring about the transformation that many public school reformists have been demanding for so long.

I’m optimistic about the financial relief that the bankruptcy will bring. If the Detroit Public School Board adheres to the recommendation made by Robert C. Bobb, their emergency financial manager, DPS’s deficit would be cleared. According to a report by the news outlet Bloomberg, DPS has about $1.6 billion of debt that has the potential of being reoriented in bankruptcy (Detroit Schools May Consider Bankruptcy to Resolve Deficit, 07/13/2009). While Steven Wasko, the district’s spokesperson, has acknowledged that bankruptcy could be used to sell assets and cut costs for DPS, filing for bankruptcy is still merely one of the alternatives that DPS will choose from to bring about financial relief.

Special reports by Channel 7’s chief investigative reporter Steve Wilson have highlighted the lack of integrity in Detroit’s elected officials. Other reports have exposed these officials pocketing government money allocated to the district for public. I’m disgusted when I hear reports like these.

The reality is that, in more ways than not, some Detroit elected officials are directly responsible for DPS’s wasteful spending and the deficit that haunts the Detroit Public Schools. Unfortunately, the problems that trouble the system now are so deep and so complex that they cannot be solved by just overturning the debt. But bankruptcy can be one of the few ways that Detroit might use to restructure their district’s infrastructure. Such a change in the Detroit Public School System’s infrastructure was much awaited by many for far too long, and it would be appreciated by many, including myself.

Bankruptcy could be Detroit’s saving grace. While some prideful elected officials may see filing for bankruptcy as a sign of failure, I see it as a showing of sincerity. By filing for bankruptcy, the school district of Detroit is being true to itself and starting to address its bountiful problems. Detroit would not be simply dismissing the disturbing issues the surround the school district — It would be taking necessary action to resolve the problem.

While some may think filing for bankruptcy would be too extreme, I believe bankruptcy will serve as a sense of relief for Detroit. It would be the rainbow to a never-ending storm of deception, corruption and greedy politicking that has a tendency to not trail far behind Detroit politics. If Detroit’s school board decides to follow Bobb’s recommendation, yes, Detroit would go down in history as having the first public school district ever to file for bankruptcy. But if all goes as planned, Detroit could possibly be known as the city that made the greatest comeback in favor of education.

Though disappointment in my city wouldn’t be entirely relieved, I would be heartened to see signs of real action being taken. Once such changes are being brought forth to not only positively transform the district but also the entire city, I would be convinced that real change is coming Detroit’s way. Until then, I’ll continue to wait, keeping hope alive that better days for Detroit are still to come.

Brittany Smith is an LSA sophomore.

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