STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Want to know what's going on in Detroit Public Schools? Ask the students.

Reginald Franklyn (r) interviews his princicpal at Cody Academy of Public Leadership.
Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio
Reginald Franklyn (r) interviews his princicpal at Cody Academy of Public Leadership.

The Detroit public school district is in desperate need of a lifeline. It’s drowning in debt, and Lansing can’t agree on what a bailout should look like. Meanwhile, many teachers fled to other districts mid-year when they heard they might not get paid.


The teacher shortage has taken a toll on Cody Academy of Public Leadership, a high school on Detroit’s west side. It lost four teachers during the school year, and it can almost never find subs when it needs them.

We wanted to know: How do the students feel about all this? To find out, we gave recorders to Reginald Franklyn and Slytazion Sanders, two juniors at Cody APL.


We'll let them take it from here.


Sly and Reggie take us through a day in the life of a Cody student. Granted, it's one of the last days of the school year, and it also happens to be senior prom later that evening, so things are a little chaotic in the building. Staff are missing -- some because of prom, some because they left midyear, some for reasons unknown -- but the young men still manage to grab interviews with two teachers and several students.


Here's an excerpt of a conversation between Reggie and a ninth grade student. Reggie is the one asking the questions:


What class are you in right now?


The computer lab.


What class are you supposed to be in?


Oh, U.S. History


Who's your teacher?


Mr. Cowles.


Where's Mr. Cowles at?


He don't work here no more.


So what, you all just come here to chill?


Yeah, basically.


When's the last time you did work in here?


Uh ... since like two months ago.


How's that make you feel? You being cheated.


It makes me feel bad because I'm not learning. I come to school to learn and I'm not learning anything.


Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and worked as a producer for WFUV in the Bronx.