Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 8, 2012

Another View: Students will benefit

By The Detroit News

---- — When Detroit's young people walk to school each morning, they shouldn't fear what they may encounter along the way. Efforts that began last year to halt unsafe conditions both in and out of school seem to be reaping results. ... The city, Detroit Public Schools, Detroit Police and the state and federal government have joined forces this year to create safer routes to school for students, and we support them in this work.

For many children in Detroit, an education is the only ticket to a better life. But crumbling neighborhoods and families have spawned a culture of violence and instability — one that doesn't foster a good foundation for learning. Students focused on self-preservation will be much less interested in their multiplication tables and essays.

City and state leaders are right to step up and curb some of these threats to the city's youths.

Prior to the start of school in 2011, DPS and the city launched a district-wide project involving several law enforcement groups and increased security at schools. The district also aimed to create safer routes to school in known trouble areas around several high schools, including Osborn, Denby and Cody. Students who attend these schools have had to deal with the harsh realities of violence, such as losing friends to shootings. Just last summer alone, three Osborn students and one former student were killed.

Frank McGhee, program director for the Neighborhood Services Organization's Youth Initiatives, helped organize a Safe Routes to school program last year in conjunction with Detroit Police. The program uses police and community members to patrol trouble areas near schools. Annie Ellington, director of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative within the Mayor's Office, says the Safe Routes program will continue this year, expanding in the same neighborhoods the city focused on last school year. ...

In August, DPS Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts said that most serious school incidents fell in the 2011-12 school year. Overall, crime reports were down 10 percent and the majority of schools showed declines in crime. The number of serious crimes like arson, breaking and entering, assaults and carrying concealed weapons dropped between 15 and 61 percent. During the year, parent involvement in schools and student activities increased.

In addition, Gov. Rick Snyder promised extra state aid to the city earlier this summer to clean up distressed neighborhoods surrounding schools. ...

No young person should have to dodge bullets or drug dealers on his way to and from school. The initiatives in place appear to be working, and we encourage Detroit officials to continue with this endeavor.

The Detroit News