“You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way.” – Lena Horne
The largest annual salary Donald Smith ever collected while working for the city of Detroit was $28,000. But the lure of a pension and a lack of skills to pursue higher-paying jobs kept him at the city for 29 years, even as he watched the industrial stalwart become a faded remnant of its former self.
So until his retirement about eight years ago, he held down various jobs, including working as an emergency medical technician for Detroit Receiving Hospital and a parking-enforcement officer for the Detroit Police Department.
But now the $679 that he nets in monthly pension payments could be dramatically reduced.
Judge Steven W. Rhodes filed for bankruptcy, public employee pensions were not exempt from the federal Chapter 9 bankruptcy, even though they are protected by the Michigan Constitution.
The ruling essentially states that federal bankruptcy law usurps state law regarding protections for public employees’ pensions, which enables the city to include the pensions of 23,000 retirees in its financial-restructuring plan. The pensions for general workers in the city average approximately $19,000 per year,
Black Students Face More Discipline
Black students, especially boys, face much harsher discipline in public schools than other students, according to new data from the Department of Education.
Although black students made up only 18 percent of those enrolled in the schools sampled, they accounted for 35 percent of those suspended once, 46 percent of those suspended more than once and 39 percent of all expulsions, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 statistics from 72,000 schools in 7,000 districts, serving about 85 percent of the nation’s students.
One in five black boys and more than one in 10 black girls received an out-of-school suspension. Over all, black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.