Caring for Kids: How One Detroit Pediatrician Entered the World of Policy and Advocacy

How one pediatrician in Detroit decided to tackle policy and advocacy for children

United Way for Southeast Michigan

Children in Detroit deserve better than what adults and officials are giving them and their schools. That’s according to Detroit Today guest Dr. Herman Gray, who is the new CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Gray is a Detroit-native pediatrician who came to the United Way from DMC Children’s Hospital, where he was also the CEO. Now Gray is advocating for children in a different way and he wrote an Op-Ed that ran in the Detroit Free Press last week that called on lawmakers to do better by kids in Detroit.

“Pediatricians have a holistic view of their patients… because children rely on their caregivers around them,” Gray tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson. Gray says he is at a place in his career where he wants to tackle tough issues around kids’ well-being outside of a medical facility. “I’m not interested in making friends, I’m interested in moving off the dime on how children are treated in our community.” 

From Gray’s Op Ed:

Detroit has witnessed transformative change in the last few years, but a true resurgence will require a strong, functional school system — one that can provide our kids with the high-quality education they need to reach their full potential and, equally as important, one that will be held accountable when it does not.

Our current fragmented system fails on both counts. Not only do Detroit students continue to score among the lowest in the nation, the Detroit Public Schools district also has the burden of operating on fewer dollars per pupil as an alarming amount of its funds are being redirected to pay down debt.

Our children deserve better from their leaders.

Gov. Rick Snyder has expressed support for legislation recently introduced in the Senate that is designed to address the district’s financial distress. While this is an important step, these bills fall short of the real reform needed to confront the issues of overcrowded, under-resourced schools — many with crumbling infrastructure.