DPS Sports Hall of Fame Dinner


Telford’s Telescope

September 9, 2014

DPS Sports Hall of Fame Dinner

By the time you read this column, I may already have been inducted into the Detroit Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame at Bert’s Marketplace on 2727 Russell.  If you happen to be reading this before September 13, tickets for that 7:00 p.m. dinner on that date are $50—available at Bert’s.  I’m in other athletic halls of fame, but this one is special to me because I’m being inducted for races I ran in high school at Denby more than sixty years ago.  Other inductees are Bertha Smiley, George “the Iceman” Gervin, the late Leroy Dues, the late George “Baby” Duncan, Robert Dozier, Debra Walker, Robert Smith, Elbert Richmond, and my old Southeastern student Marchel McGehee.

Ella Willis—the greatest female long distance runner to come out of DPS—belongs in that Hall, too.  She should also be in the Michigan Sports Hall.  Now 57, Ella wasn’t born yet when I was a world-ranked sprinter at Wayne State and went undefeated competing on the U.S. national team in Europe in the mid-1950s, later running on record-breaking relay teams with the Detroit Track Club.  Allan Tellis—my old mile relay teammate at the Penn Relays who succeeded me as head track coach at Pershing—had Ella train with his male distance runners.  Girls’ track wasn’t a high school sport until 1975, her junior year.  She then set PSL records—and while still at Pershing, she was the first-place woman finisher in the Detroit Free Press 13th Annual Motor City Marathon.  Throughout the more-than-fifty-year history of that marathon, Ella was the youngest runner, male or female, to win it, and the record time she set stood for thirty years.  She won that prestigious race an amazing four times.  Her clockings for that 26-mile distance ranged well under three hours, and she often outran some of the elite male marathoners.  She joins old Miller High’s Aaron Gordon (U-M), Olympian Lou Scott of old Eastern (Arizona State), Ronnie Philips of Denby (Illinois), and old Finney’s Ken Howse (Illinois), among elite DPS middle-distance and long-distance-running alumni.  And speaking of elites—Mark Smith of Northwestern, an NCAA high jump co-champion at WSU in 1953, also belongs in the Hall, as does Charles Fonville, Miller’s and the University of Michigan’s  world record-breaking shot putter.

Over the past century, DPS has been better known for producing champion sprinters.  In addition to Olympians John Lewis (old Northeastern and WSU), Eddie Tolan (Cass Tech and U-M), sprinter/long jumper Lorenzo Wright (old Miller and WSU), Otis Davis (old Miller and Oregon), Henry Carr—Northwestern’s great “Gray Ghost” (Arizona State), Darnell Hall (Pershing), and internationalist Marshall Dill (old Northern and MSU) and world  70-yard record-holder Buddy Coleman (old Miller and WSU), my WSU and Detroit Track Club teammates Cliff Hatcher (Central) and sprinter/hurdler “Bullet Billy” Smith (Northwestern) should be in the Hall.  So should Jerry Green (Miller and Texas Southern) and sprinter/hurdlers Allan Tolmich (Central and WSU), Paul Jones (Pershing and WSU), Thomas Wilcher (Central and U-M), and Randy Williams (old Cooley and Kentucky State).  So should George Wesson of Southeastern (a state 440 champ in a record 49 seconds on cinders), Cooley’s Claude Tiller (U-M), Pershing’s Reggie Bradford (U-M), and Mumford’s Ken Burnley and Homer Heard (U-M and WSU respectively).   So should Stan Vinson of old Chadsey (EMU), Eliot Tabron of old Murray-Wright (WSU and MSU), and Bob Wingo of Hamtramck High and WSU (Hamtramck was in the PSL then).  So should Lauryn Williams, an Olympic medalist in the women’s 100 meters.

Cliff Hatcher set an incredible mark of 48.8 seconds for the full 440 yards (not the shorter 400 meters) on an archaic dirt track in 1951.  Then one of the five fastest times in American high school history, that 48.8 stood as a PSL mark until 1971.   Cliff later ran with me and “Bullet Billy” on winning teams at the Penn and Ohio Relays.  I’ll be mentioning some of these fabulous speedsters in my five-minute acceptance speech when I’m inducted on Sept. 13.

I hope to see Ella Willis inducted next year, along with others listed here.

An NCAA All-American quarter-miler in 1957, John Telford is also a recent DPS Superintendent. Four of his books are available on Amazon, and his website is www.AlifeontheRUN.com.  Contact him at (313)460-8272 or at DrJohnTelfordEdD@aol.com, and hear him at 4:30 Sunday afternoons on NewsTalk1200.

How to take the public out of public education



Telford’s Telescope

September 2, 2014

How to take the public out of public education

Public education is a threat.

It really is that simple, and once you internalize the dangerous simplicity of that statement, it should become painfully clear why public education has come under attack. A good education provides freedom, the kind of freedom that should be enjoyed by all Americans regardless of background, race or ethnicity. A good education provides the qualifications necessary to acquire a good job, which provides the freedom to make a decent living, which provides the freedom to support a family and live a reasonably comfortable life. Certainly there are those who have managed to accomplish these things without the benefit of a great education, but I think we can all agree those numbers are few. And although it is true that a college degree no longer offers anywhere near the job security that it did once upon a time, I think we can agree that it provides a much better chance at security than a GED.

But there are those who aren’t interested in freedom, or at least not in freedom for all. Because freedom for all means equal access for all, which means fewer special privileges for the few which…well… is kinda scary for those few. So instead of embracing equality, these terrified yet mighty few prefer to work overtime (or to hire those who will work overtime on their behalf for a considerable sum)  ensuring that the few remain the few and not the many. Which brings me to the rather interesting article I ran across recently in the Daily Kos  discussing what’s going on in Wisconsin public schools entitled “The price of a ‘free’ public education turns out to be damn expensive”.

Pretty self-explanatory I’d say. I’d suggest reading the entire article, and here’s a peek to show you why:

“Thirty-three years ago when I started high school (GO PURGOLDERS!), my parents did not have to pay any fees for me to attend school. There were no fees for me to play football, and no fees for textbooks or consumables. As I recall, the only fees my parents paid while I was in high school were $20 for a season pass to all athletic events (total of $80 for four years), and $60 for driver’s education my sophomore year. That was it.

Now, 30-some years later due to a shifting of the tax burden from the wealthy and businesses, school funding has taken a hit. Now my taxes no longer cover what it costs to educate a child.

And yet, Article X Section 3 of the Wisconsin State Constitution states:

The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable; and such schools shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years…

Well, this does not look like free to me:

Off-season football camp: $75.00
Athletic fee (per sport): $115.00 x 2 (Football and Wrestling)
Off-season Speed, Strength, and Conditioning: $70
Spirit Pack (Clothing required for football): $45
Activity Fee: $30.00
Consumable Material Fee: $17.00
Planner: $5.00
SCI111-Course Fee Yr: $4.00
Textbook Fee: $35.00
Gatorade Fee: $20.00 (Added fee for football to pay for post-game refreshments)
Optional Yearbook: $47.00
Optional Student Athletic Pass: $20.00″

Not only are our public schools being allowed to crumble and fail, but we, born with the mark of the Beast (otherwise known as the mark of not being rich), are being asked to use our own tax dollars to set fire to one of the last best hopes we ever had of achieving a better life.

If that’s not a crime I don’t know what is.