Flint's Community Schools: The Golden Age of Flint, Michigan
There we're taking a break for our sponsor anchor DOT FM. Let me tell you. A bit about anchor They have a creation tools. That are free like you can create your own podcast using an edit that podcast using your phone or your computer. They'll distributes your podcast for you on spotify apple or many other Podcasts hope hosts. And you may even make money off your podcasts. With no minimum listenership. It's everything you need to make a podcast in one place. Download ANCHOR FOR FREE BY GETTING THEIR APP. At ANCHOR DOT FM to get started and We're using it and hopefully you will too thank you very much. And we'll resume our Our Program Okay Good Morning. This is Arthur Bush. And you're listening to Radio Free Flint and we have a wonderful guest today and I'm really excited about this. It's taken me a very long time and get this podcast going. So I had turned my phone off and we have skipped Harbin who is a legend in Flint in schooled won't Grand Blanc in southwestern and skip a is also flintstones so without any further ado. I wore the spartan hat for you today. Skip well. I'm a Michigan Fan but I'll go with the art okay disparate today and Skip on you went to South Western high school. What did you graduate in the class of sixty eight year union two years ago? So it's been fifty two years. Suss inside was a student at southwestern. And and of course. You're a star fullback on that team correct. Well I played fullback as captain the team. I don't know about star but we had a good team. I enjoy playing football and I played two years of Fair State College and enjoyed that. Play the first undefeated football team at Madison. Three years ago we were inducted in the fair state. All of Maine. Wow now tell me. I'm interested in south Western first and then wound Ferris. Okay cool. Who were some of your teammates? There that to That you remember Gary Elford who became a homicide detective in Flint. Mich more also became a police officer in Flint. I I guess the number one would be carpenter. Number both captains of the team and which went on and played for years at University of Michigan played the Rosebowl and SARS. He passed away at twenty seven years old twenty seven years of age so kind of sports but He was a heck of a guy and What position did he play? Play tight end and defensive end. And who is the quarterback on that team Gary Wilson near Wilson Zimmerman Kid? Yeah he played quarterback. Now you have one of my favorites. At that time. I've lied Gary Sylvie was at his was at his story was a few Gary so he was a few years before me. He graduated southwestern in nineteen sixty five the same year my brother did so he played baseball there southwestern and he graduated in sixty three years before. I was there. I'll skip. You spent a lot of your life actually. Most all of your professional life has been working with young people in some capacity or another. Let's Take me a little bit around your career and where where you've been and some decision saying okay. Well I graduated in nineteen seventy two from eastern Michigan and. I got a teaching position at McKinley. Junior high. I taught there one. Year was a ninth grade football coach. Then I became a community school director in Flint. I was at Holmdale elementary for five years and then I became the school director in one thousand. Nine hundred seventy seven at southwestern high school and I was until eighty to eighty two. I became the community school director at longfellow Middle School in Arizona until eighty nine when they phased out the community score director program. I'll tell tell us a little bit. Abusers going to be people were listen to this from other places a little bit just a short version of what is the community school director. And what? What is that program all ow? While that was the lifeblood of schools for a number of years we provide all kinds of programs and activities or people look community from pre-schoolers all the way up to senior citizens we help goes the elementary middle school athletic teams To provide the kids was good. Clean Wholesome Athletics Keystone. Things like sports when ship teamwork working hard. All those things that you learn sports and we we also did the Flynn Olympian USA Games in the summer. Which is the biggest program in Flint for a number of years for kids to participate in So that pretty much wraps it up. I mean we were kind of like the do everything Kinda got. We wore the white hat. We reminded great opportunities for kids adults and I enjoyed that job. Probably more than any job I've ever read. So the the canoes games were something else And that tradition in Flint. Still Continue. Doesn't it does it? Does it sure does? And they've tied in with the body cream foundation and the Bobby Krim combinations. Now one of the major sponsors of the Flint Olympian Canoes Games of the flint schools. No longer kind of overseas that pretty much under the guidance of the Bobby Krim Foundation. And they've got a lot more resources and things to provide that The schools just couldn't provide anymore so that is essentially a partnership between City Hamilton Ontario. And those in city of Flint and then families and individuals competing against families individuals and the other Country Rain The big part of that more than the competition. Was that when you go to Canada and participate. There's an athlete. You live in the home of another raft fleet who you're probably competing against so fellowship goodwill international relations that you developed in more so than the competition course. You Always WanNa be Canada but again winning or losing was the most important thing. The most important thing was developing those relationships with another country people from another country and it was. It was fun. Great Times now. That program has been ongoing for how many years you know yes started a pretty sure. Nineteen fifty seven and so they pass their fiftieth anniversary was in two thousand and seven in so yet thirty about sixty for years now. They've been going strong and flint and the community. School Director explained some explained to the listeners. What a community school director does. What were your activities when your food all sure? There's all kinds of activities preschool. Reading Art. Three and four year old Adult High School completion class sought recreation activities. Men's Club Teen Club Providing Open night for women to come and play volleyball or senior. Citizen's come in and square dance in. Sit and play cards. Have a good time have potlucks of gathering place. The community school was the haven is the lifeblood of each individual community and when we had to start closing schools in flint. That was probably my hardest decision. You're probably misleading. And when I was a flint board member was having to close schools. We close schools other schools. The communities depended on those schools or those activities for that place to go and gather and when you star closed community schools they lost sense of community and you start seeing some of these communities deteriorate as a result so I I kind of I kind of tie loss of the community education program per se with the musical directors in in in the Not really deterioration and wants to flint. But in your not people exit slam they The suburbs look for different things to do because we just couldn't provide the same things that they used to provide. You grew up in the city. I'm south into flint near Freeman school. What were an example? Some of the activities. You -ticipant it as a youngster. Okay why I grew up Actually Lincoln School. I was Lincoln School for kindergarten through fifth grade. In that time of the I know I know the Caribbean Community School director that I came into contact from the fifties. All the way up till the sixties was in. Bob Shaw Lincoln and I late. They're the ones that taught me how to gosawx. Worcester by Chagrin. I learned how to golf. At in the fourth and fifth grade. At Lincoln School I then moved onto sixth grade. We moved on in the neighborhood of Freeman School in the community order. The director was Mel Herald. And we had Bob Callous and Nick Dick McMillan of the musical director for a number of years and I went onto McKinley and Joe Fisher was communicable director. There then on to South Western. Dante was the community school. Rector and then I later became school record. Southwestern was kind of neat going full circle like that Dan Keating became the director and chief engineer community schools. A national. I think he worked for several years. The career doing them yes. He was at the National Center for Communication. Which was on Avon Street is also one time President of National Community Education Association? Look Dan Dan really was the guru of community education for a number of years. We've had a gastric spoke about people coming here from other places to study saying such as the Community Radio Station. W. F. B. and And I assume there were other spirits where people came from you to other countries this study Flint Mall. Oh yeah to give you an idea. Of How big commute education was flint back in the sixties into the seventies down at the administration building for the Flint community schools. They had an office was called conference and visitation had two full time staff members and their primary job was to provide Conferences services for people coming from other states other countries into the united into Michigan into Flint. And they sold them out to take into to school program concept back to their community. So Oh yeah. It was a big time like say when you have a full-time office with two full time. Staff members providing these things for other people to take communication education. Back it was it was something what was a place of people didn't run from in those days. They wanted to come to. Oh no question. That was the foot we move into flint because of the schools. And it's sad the way things are going to give you an example here in late sixties there were forty seven thousand students in the flint community. Schools there's less than four thousand students in Flint. Mi Schools now. Now skip new least in my mind. Research is new represent in are the epitome of Flint's heyday. So to speak you were raised in the sixties in Flint and participated and all kinds of activities. I assume you had a flight football team. Someplace in their own at six straight at McKinley or excuse me of freemen football program in Kinley and that was provide with him out foundation Saturday mornings. We'd go there and laptops high school athletes along with maybe coacher a teacher from the school there and we played a few games. Donate stadium to end the season. So yeah it was It was big sports. Were always big and Flynn in fact. I want to ask me. Why went such a resilient in town? I think the foundation is the athletic sports programs. That is one really a fed flint and You look all the state championships. Flint used to win central northern South Western northwestern. I mean for years a year single buying in a flint. School didn't win a State Championship. Jim In one sport or another and the is it sad. Now that we've gone down that we don't have our sports teams have really haven't been doing as well as they have in the past and that's what really bothers me. That seems to have shifted many respects to private schools course powers powers. Catholic is of great tradition and some of the schools Detroit Country Day. I think of some of the other southwest side of the state seemed seemed to have that that vacuum if you will of of the demise of schools when we get back to talking about you almost at every stage of your life. You've you've benefited. It seems like with or academics or community activity and then you went back to be a leader in in that in that system. What was it about that Upgrade of yours that made you WanNa do that and stay and how people slip way. Did they do with drawing up and Flint? My Dad was a flint police officer for twenty five years and I. It was all school gun. A DAD and You always gave back to the community that you brought up an. He taught me that he told me that. You know what we were. Offer a lot of things in flint and we aren't we ought to put things back and so I really feel them. Working with the kids and Flint was proudly my high point in my career. I did go on was the assistant principal and Athletic Director grambling Middle School. The fun part about that was being the athletic director and working with kids. That's always been the most fun. Part of my life is it. My job is working with kiss. And that's it's it's a rewarding thing so you you went moved to suburbia in a nice. Miriam Graham Blink and you finish your career there and retired position. Mos At our. What position did you last? The Assistant. Principal Athletic Director gramling middle school retired after forty years in education in twenty five and sixteen in Grand Blanc and one thing I found out was whether from Clinton Graham white kids are the same kids. They're the same they they're no different. You know they're you know. Kids are brought up under different circumstances and in the the haves and have nots. But there's really they all have. They're all good kids and get some flint word. Just as good as a kiss from Graham Blanket grambling kiss or just as kids and flint cell. I don't like to compare the two as wants better than the other because I don't think that's the case and one of the things that interested me is. Watch you rather reluctantly. I think get involved in the school board get involved in a position of school. Swear somehow somebody side love. I'm not sure how that work to tell us that. How you got interested serving award lived in. Flynn all my life. I still live with so I'm seventy years old and I've never left Flint Soul my roots in Flint. After left the school system that made me eligible to be able to run for the flip board as school employee. You cannot run for the board of Education because as an employee can't Rubber School Boarding Flynn so when I started working Graham Blank. That left open for me to then rump. The school board. Some people mentioned to me of my experience as a teacher coach new school director administrator of went that maybe I could bring some ideas to the board of education so in two thousand one I was elected to a six-year term and certain the board for five years Two years as the President Flint Board of Education and I mentioned earlier the hardest decision we have to make a board is developing a budget. And you know they say you always make decisions that are in the best interest of kids. Well the problem is sometimes financial reasons. Don't allow you to do that. do you put a new roof on a building or bus more technology? Do you put a new boiler in building or you buy new textbooks. I mean the the Yang Yang with that was really really frustrating. Because you only have so much money to spend in your had to maintain buildings that were deteriorating. But at the same time that was taking money from the kids in the education that was the most frustrating part about being on the board of Education and that along with adding to close schools. That was tough now. One of the things that's always had questions about and that is we saw Michigan. Get into the charters business and it seems almost as though the soon as charters came along then. The population of the of the public schools started to diminish. What effect do you think this the Turner's who movement and Michigan has had this Public School district? Well I think what's happened is is drained from the schools districts were. That's when they start losing kids you start losing state aid money in state aid. Money helps pay for the bills and pays for the teachers salaries based technology face for the maintenance base rallies. Things in the less money you bring in you still got the buildings less money bringing in less money. You've got to take care of your house and so that was really really hurt. Flint was when the charter schools. Start Drinking and they always said that the providing a better education. I don't believe that I believe that if we would've castrated that money and developed schools We wouldn't have need those charter. Schools in the State of Michigan approved. Amanda Number Charter Schools. Did Star siphoning off pupils from school district yet that did hurt and especially at the elementary school level. It seems that the charter schools in have money to run the more complicated parts of education. That may not have been as profitable. Which would be on junior high middle school and Emma Alderman High School? Many more programs that you have any success rate will yet charter. Schools are for profit organization realize charter schools. Are there to make money so as a result of you're making money they're taking off some of that profit if they're getting state aid money and they're they're making money off of a dictation. The public schools did not do that. They were not a for profit organization. All the money that they receive from state aid will go back in and they were trying to make a problem so as a result when you start trying to make a profit what are you gonNA do. You'RE GONNA cut back activities US I know I was Grand Blanc. Middle School there were kids parents whose kids went to charter schools and they wanted their kids to participate in the athletic programs that we providing at grambling middle school well the Michigan Highschool Association which we run to their rules and guidelines said that you had to attend the school rule that you were playing for in so I tell parents well. You made a choice to send your chat to a charter. School in that choice involves them not being able to participate in our after school athletic program and they got a little upset. I said in the money that you are getting for your child is going to that charter school. I guess you need to go that charter school in. Sturt pressuring them to develop some after school athletic programs for the kids at school. You're you're trying to raise money trying to get a profit. You're not gonNA provide all those things and sorry now. It seems to me as I look at the Public School. Mr Essentially what you have is a reversal of what the trend has been for the good part of the sixty seventies and even some part of the eighties. The Charter School Movement. The decline of the public schools in Flint. I'm essentially change a racial composition in the school and created a segregated school. More or less you agree with that. Well it is hard to say you know. Which is I'll tell you what really hurt her Fulton. I mentioned You know the charter schools loss of jobs in flint and they closed Fisher Ones Fisher to Buick City. Chevy in the whole AC work there and those factors and lived in flint. Well when they close those factors that people left flint because of that not because the school district but because they edge over the jobs word a start really hold uh GM accountable. The loss of a lot of students. We lost a big tax base when the factories closed down we were giving money to the schools through a tax base in. Gm took a lot from the community for years. And then as far as I'm certain he left US high and dry. I'm bitter about the way General Motors. Handle that on donor are started using jobs to Mexico China other places instead of hiring and in providing jobs for people in in the flint community. What we've got to come back is have some manufacturing jobs gets more jobs for people in Flint. And maybe we can start attracting people back. I would love to see on the main campus at central and whittier tear down. Those schools build a big major highschool there call Charleston Plasco Academy whatever he wants. He's got the Institute of Arts. You've got the music you got the planetarium. You've got the You've got college rate there. Limp Public Library. What a place to have a middle school high school campus in that along with them go sports complex facility on another site where these kids can then go and develop those athletic abilities And then then. GonNa get scholarships. Lot Kiss afflicts scholarships from playing athletics. Now US give you done a lot more than just working schools. You've been involved in the community other ways particularly big brothers and big sisters. Some communities. Don't have it in Flint and Jefferson County. We've had big brothers big sisters for many years. On one of your best ransom. I understand this Dunkin Beagle many ways has been up travel biggest cheerleader in flint. That program tell us a little bit about your activities outside of school district say well. I was the summers several summers where I was. The director of the five bucs road race we had over. Thousand runners participate net for a couple years. I was a director of the Mecca. Three on three basketball tournaments took place in downtown flint. We do that in conjunction with the big brothers. Big Sisters Dunkin Beagle has been very instrumental. He has been set the major cheerleader. He's grows bobble the Atwood Duck stadium renovations in other things and a duck in his very very strong supporter of afloat. I'm glad to call him a friend. Now going back to your Your many years I know. Football and athletics generalists love and Flint has become a still is seen across our nation as a sports town is interesting reading the paper here recently. They put the ten highest drafted players from plant in there and was quite a was quite a read hall of fame beat up walk players and credited mazing group. I everybody from all crowds Reggie Williams Brandon Car Mark. Ingram and one leaving lady off Lynch add noise from my mind on modern Michigan State Rick Leach Rick Leach me icefall mater. He did he did. He didn't play out professional football. He played professional baseball repeated for ten for ten years when I guess going back into looking at what is it that makes these young people who come from Flan and we still. They may not wounded strict. But they're coming from other places diliah today. What is it that makes this area such a high gross zone mcnew will professional athletes? I think it goes back to the elementary schools. When you're giving good guidance and direction learn the fundamentals there sports refined these skills at the middle school and high school level and that was one thing as community school directors. We all had sports teams. That are elementary school and we got these kids in the Fourth Fifth Sixth Street and Adam. Planning flag football at employing. You're organized basketball. Had them playing US baseball? Or whatever and We just don't have that as much anymore. Hey tribute allow those athletes. Have you looked back into the past? They had some very good guidance and coached not just at the high school level but going all the way back to elementary school. Skip when you were coming along in Flint or some near mentors? Oh Gosh so my mentors shoot Dan. Katie was definitely one of my mentors. Vince Olszewski who was a principal. South Western was one of my mentors in guys that I worked with John. Clothier scillies guys. Who had been school director before I got there? They really helped bring me along and and it helped me because you always had support. If you had a problem you call one of those guys up and sure enough. It helps salvage. They'll there's a a to too. Many dimensions Farzaneh Mentor Sir. It anybody I came into contact with who had more experience than I tried to learn from them. Just like when I worked for Ron Barnett. As assistant principal bill one of the greatest principles I had worked for and so I learned a lot from him as how to be an administrator to work with staff how to be a leader in the I think I've just pick the best one the biggest ones I got to mention him was Bob Leach. He was my football coach. Affairs State Very Very. Dig Mentor for me. I really enjoy playing football him. And as you know. He coached Central for a number of years and he went on to which affair state anyone to coach the St Louis Cardinals as assistant coach in pro football now at the APP. Pharisees said it was undefeated gene and who were some of your teammates that we might know all coach Leach. Recruiter LIFTS LINEAR Tommy. Hamlet was an all American that year he played a foot northern graduated sixty eight year. Alfred Sturdy Defensive Andy to solve Bester Dave Gardy came back he graduates sixty five. Marine Corps Court went to Vietnam came back and played at Ferris. Ho shooters suck I think. They're I countered by eight or ten kids from the flint. Schools about other fibers suspects from the parochial schools. The Played Richie Green from Atherton Alec Kennedy from Davidson Tomlin root for traffic. Don't Miss Anybody. But we just got our fifty year reunion of undefeated teams and twenty thirty. The guys came back was really really need. Some of our players teammates passed on bin. Laden are still around and we swap stories and we were always better now than we were back. Then you know that goes for sure for really hersher now Skip new grew up in in a neighborhood in the south end limp and just as locks had at near with this radio. Frequent project that I undertaken. We're doing personal history interviews. A seems like I got stuck in that neighborhood for some reason and I've interviewed some pretty interesting people. How would you describe that that neighborhood? In general what what has submitted such a special place. Well one thing you know back then you most families who a mom and Dad I don't remember to any of kids that grew up with. It came from divorced families so he got a mom and dad in that home and usually the dad was the breadwinner and mom was June cleaver staying at home and that was the traditional family thing so I think that really added to the support. The kids had if you went up to a baseball game. He saw parents on the sidelines. You out or there's a way game. You see Paris trying their kids to the game so the parental support in the in allow the flint community especially the Freeman. School area was tremendous in really I. I mentioned mentor Louis. My Dad was my number one brochure. Now asking if you had any advice for the people of lent somebody will take. What might that be? Well don't lose faith. Don't give up see what you can do to make the community better Don't just complain. If it's a matter of giddy about politically being a volunteer at a school running for a school board position running through the city council be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. I think that's the big thing in stay in Flint Flint. But a lot of friends that we've got the exodus says I know a lot of people support flint in look somebody supporters. None of Limb Flynn anymore but they they love flint grew up in flint and the really Brag About Flint. But they don't live in. Flynn so I guess we need to keep the ones we try to get them to move back trying to this project at least bring Flynn to them for the mid. And maybe they'll get inspired by people like you skip. Marvin I can talk to you for a long time I I met you on. That hard surf missed field out near the Kinley school when you were high school senior and you're trying to teach me. Hardly a fullback. GonNa work get I did I did. I help you know no I. I wish I had a few moves I didn't have the speed stays and then after I on seen what was happening with linear all great players played Nazi mark. Ten of them into Division One. Ncaa Division One football think. They beat our team like nine nothing or something and I realized that made me. Baseball's was more my sport. And so that's kind of ood folded. But I still play golf in. I and I love sports as you do and I wanna say this. I'm be apple. Many people out there who are nothing but the highest the hidden. The vote needs to be of limestone you when I backed all the things that I've done so they're appealing like you were disobeyed rockall that Tom. I admire what you've done. I know you enjoy retirement and keep keep my beloved southbound lacks. I'll try to get it just still downstream in school were used to. I was talking Jeff Nancy other day and he talked about some of those sandlot football games we had and he said that toughen him up to play football in high school baseball and go on to play semi professional ball and Professional. While we had some we had some tremendous players. That would would join up on a Sunday afternoon. Kinley entering and And some of those kids were around playing college and Jeff the other day was reminiscent about Bob. Krause and Famer some say the best athlete to compromise area mentioned this one hell of an athlete. But you know that also ended my career because I injured and I had surgery so Dr Christians and came. I have tell him. The unfortunate news was that I couldn't continue to practice with his team because I had to read of that injuries. So in any event on next time I'll have you interviewed me and I'll tell my story else good to me. Take care skin stay inside. Hopefully you'd give that advice. Everybody's listening please stay at all just a little bit longer and to be that much longer hopefully off for now this is Radio Free Flint your host Arthur Bush guests. Today's give you wish you a very nice day bye.