Standing for Kids- Detroit Public Schools in Crisis

My guess is that many of you, even if you’re out of state, have come across news of the Detroit Public Schools in crisis.  Here’s a recent article in Time that explains some of what’s happening as teachers take a stand against the horrible learning conditions in DPS.

Though our boys are not yet school-age, this news (literally) hits close to home as there is a Detroit Public School (elementary and middle school) across the street from our house.  Since we moved to Detroit 3 years ago, Josh and I have both been involved in different capacities at this neighborhood school.  Currently, I spend my Thursday mornings at a little table in the hallway helping a handful of struggling kindergartners.  Kindergartners are my new favorites.

We have friends and neighbors that send their children to this neighborhood school, we know others that would never entertain the thought, and still others that have tried and eventually pulled their kids out.  We identify with all three groups and are not sure what the best choice will be for our family and our community.

What we ARE sure about is that the lack of quality education for Detroit Public School students is a problem for all of us.  I beg you to listen to this message by Tim Keller: “Blessed are the Poor.”  In it, he says, “Jesus Christ was absolutely passionate for the poor.  It was a consuming passion for His life and anybody who says they’re a follower of Jesus Christ must be just as concerned.”

The DPS crisis is more than just an economic condition.  It’s a social injustice.  I love what Tim Keller says about this:

“Because poverty is an economic condition, we respond to it as believers with MERCY, but then secondly, because it’s a social condition, we must respond to it with JUSTICE.”

It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?  But think of what the intentional practice of mercy and justice could do for the 46,000 students in Detroit Public Schools right now.

Here’s the deal.  Being overwhelmed can make me stagnant.  I also fear getting it wrong (which has already occurred, and makes me feel embarrassed and then I want to give up).

Josh and I have endless discussions about all of this.  One way we think we can show up and stand for justice is by providing a library for kids in our neighborhood.  The school across the street doesn’t have a librarian or an easy way for kids to check out books.  We’re hoping our family can stand in that gap by placing a library in our front yard.

We’ve already been gifted this Little Free Library by generous friends.  Some of you have already given us books for our collection- Thank you!  We are hoping to collect a lot more–in fact if we never get a book returned to our Little Free Library, we’ll consider that a win.  We’re needing books in good condition that are appropriate for grades K-8.  As we fight for justice, we want to put out books that communicate value to all the African American kids in our neighborhood.  A study showed that in 2013, less than 3% of children’s books published featured black characters.  We welcome your used books and are finding that many people are having fun buying a book or two (or 20!) from our

Detroit Little Free Library Amazon Wish List.  

These books will ship directly to us.

Thanks for joining with us to stand for Detroit kids.

“It is my belief that the most powerful force in a child’s life is a caring adult.  And that we must get involved personally if we are going to change the outcomes for those children who face the most difficulties.”

-Geoffrey Canada (one of my favorite people to listen to on the topic of urban education)


We have floor to ceiling shelves across an entire room in our house.  Our goal is to fill all five of these shelves with children’s books to lend out.  Please message me if you have books to donate and I’ll arrange a pick-up time.  Better yet, we’d love for you to drop them off in person and join us for dinner or a Saturday brunch in our home!

3 thoughts on “Standing for Kids- Detroit Public Schools in Crisis

  1. You just made my day! I love this child who is absorbed in the book. I wish every child could enjoy books. Our educational organization gives away many many books each year in certain schools. At first, we gave them to children who may have never owned a book.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Hi April! I found this blog post through the recent Taylor U email. My husband and I are both Taylor grads (’09) and currently live in Ann Arbor. I am a social worker, so I really love what you’re doing to care for the DPS students in your neighborhood. I also am a p/t youth ministry director at our church and would love to chat about possible ways to get some middle schoolers involved in helping your library. I hope we can email/chat soon!

  3. Thanks so much, Ashley! I just connected with you via facebook and can’t wait to talk more. I love that this project has brought on so many opportunities for kids to help other kids.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s