Gerson Ramirez (MPP '20) speaks about his experience working for Detroit Public Schools Community District and his passion for helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in their education.
My name is Gerson.
I'm a second year MPP and I'm from Chicago.
This summer I had the honor of working for Detroit Public Schools community district which is dedicated to serving all students in Detroit.
And I was assigned to the Office of Government Affairs.
My experience can be summed up by one of my favorite poems by Tupac Shakur.
And it goes like this: did you hear about that rose that grew from the crack in the concrete?
Proving nature's laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems but by keeping it streams, it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.
You see the students of Detroit, Chicago, and other struggling districts are roses and yeah we have bruised petals but people need to learn to celebrate our tenacity and our willingness to grow.
You see it 2nd grade I needed an Individualized Education Program which meant I was a special-ed kid.
Since my school lacked resources, there were times students like me didn't have enough- I didn't have a proper classroom to learn separately from the regular students.
So we had to jump from the lunchroom, basement, and closets at times, but outside were other factors that played a role like the local gangs, like the poverty, and violence in my neighborhood.
But there by the grace of God, a consistent work ethic, and a strong family foundation, I am able to be here with you today.
But you see I believe we can separate politics from public education.
The politics of compassion and decency is needed and it is the least we can do for our future leaders.
What happened throughout my primary education was political and it should not be the norm.
That is why I was so motivated to spearhead DPSCD city's legislative agenda by helping Leinster build tracker using Share Point.
I had to compile all legislation introducing the education committees which was well over 2000 bills.
So every department head can follow the legislation that was related to their line of work.
Additionally I summarized bills that would directly impact Detroit's public education system.
These summaries were sent to my supervisor to keep her in the loop of all the specific bills necessary.
I'm proud to have worked for an institution that like me has overcome so much.
Despite critics calling it a failure.
You see it's not true that the DPS city mismanages funds.
In fact it's on the story consecutive year with a budget surplus.
The number of fully staffed schools increased from 22 to 44 and that since 2017.
This year DPS city managed to decrease chronic absenteeism by 7 percent.
It may not be much, but it's heading towards the right direction.
Don't get it twisted, we don't want handouts or pity.
Just stop pointing at our bruised petals.
Instead help celebrate our willingness to reach the sun.
Before coming to Michigan I was the assistant to the Illinois deputy governor and chief operating officer and I had some doubt that education policy was still my interest.
But I am happy to have been relieved of that doubt after my experience in Detroit.