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The student voice of Detroit's High Schools.

Dear Dr.Vitti and the Department of Literacy ...

My name is Zharia Akeem, and my colleague, Jalise Little, and I, both attend Renaissance High School. We are both enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. Recently, we’ve been analyzing the public educational system’s effects on young African Americans now, and those likely effects in the future.

We have found the following: lack of educational resources and supports coupled with the almost the non-existent belief in our potential, has led Detroit (majority African American) to have only 7% of our eighth graders proficient in reading.

Our current academic standing will influence our socioeconomic standing in the near future. Numerous career options are available to us. However, we are kept ignorant of these.

Per your administration, we were required to take a computerized literacy test to determine our Lexile range on Achieve3000. We are also expected to use the platform twice weekly.

The test provides us a list of career paths and the literacy levels associated with them. Upon closer examination of this list, we noticed that a majority of the “careers” were trade-based. Although the recommended jobs are very important to help society function, necessary are those jobs which determine how society functions.

We are concerned that absent from Achieve3000 are careers involving economic and political matters and those that require higher levels of thinking and continuous learning.

If students do not see those careers as options, recommended on list, could they even fathom the possibility of having an influence in politics, linguistics, and history?

Did you consider the expectations set for students when you assigned the literacy test? Do you recommend and approve the careers listed? If so, why? Why are the humanities missing from those?

We write subjectively and want to get more information before assuming your intentions. Our purpose is to voice our concern: low expectations can be equally harmful as a lack of resources in a district.

We hope your next move raises expectations.


Zharia Akeem and Jalise Little


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