The destruction of thousands of books and materials from the Highland Park Renaissance Academy library was a disturbing revelation. The library was known to hold significant items that told the stories of the African diaspora and Native American history. This priceless collection was intended to chronicle the lives of various peoples and instill pride in their posterity. The destruction of these records leaves a stain on the proud history of Highland Park.
Emergency Manager Donald Weatherspoon's undertaking to "consolidate" the library's collection and place it in a "secure environment" was an abysmal failure. It is dismaying to witness his lack of interest in the rectification of a tragedy that he created. Instead of trying to win community support and replacing the collection, he claims it was an "accident" and refuses to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.
The reign of emergency managers has been a sorry display of Governor Rick Snyder's inability to effectively govern under democratic principles. His style of governing resembles that of a chairman of a corporate board: emergency managers as board members and citizens reduced to mere "customers." His CEO mentality does not allow for local governments to disagree with his decisions. Rather than work with municipalities, Governor Snyder's immediate reaction is to remove their elected governments and impose unqualified bureaucrats.
Tossing Highland Park Renaissance Academy's library collection into a dumpster is part of a larger trend. It shows that Snyder and his appointees believe that nothing is sacred, particularly knowledge. This corporate governing-style has reduced vital services and assets into mere commodities.
Examples of Snyder's governing shortcomings are many. The Education Achievement Authority has forced our children to participate in a failed experiment that does not allow for parental input or community consent. The irreplaceable masterpieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts are merely viewed as a pile of cash waiting to be thrown at a debt the citizens of Detroit did not create. As long as the bottom line is met, our Governor will continue ignoring the policy blunders caused by his appointed carpetbaggers.
History shows us that only the most perverse regimes suppressed their citizens and destroyed critical cultural institutions. Some of our leaders in Lansing have been no different and Mr. Weatherspoon has been an active participant in this unjust government. His actions further highlight Governor Snyder's inability to lead. Mr. Weatherspoon should help restore dignity to the schools of Highland Park by resigning. The power of an elected school board should be restored. Only then can the district begin addressing its issues and provide the city's children with the education they deserve.