The Lesson of Detroit
Last week a group of children in Detroit, Michigan sued the governor, the state board of education, the superintendent of public instruction, the director of technology, management and budget, and the state school reform/redesign officer.
The lawsuit runs over 100 pages, but the table of contents provides a pretty clear outline of the argument:
1) Literacy is a fundamental right
2) The state of Michigan's role in securing educational rights (subheadings: it has one)
3) The failure to provide access to literacy in plaintiffs' schools
4) Failure to deliver evidence-based literacy instruction and intervention programs in plaintiffs' schools
5) Failure to ensure educational conditions necessary to attain literacy (including failure to provide course selection, to maintain a decent physical plant for education, to meet students' needs, to provide a supported and stable staff, and to demand accountability with charter and school closings).
6) The state's failure to implement evidence-based reforms to address literacy
The details and accounts of the state's failure is stunning, almost unimaginable, from a "lake" in a classroom cordoned off with tape to the math classes taught by an eighth grader for a month-- and that's not because nobody was paying attention, but because that was the solution the school came up with for their staffing issue.
A lot of outrage has been expressed as the lawsuit's details have spread, supported by photographs from many sources. Yesterday, columnist Nancy Kaffer tried to explain to Detroit Free Press readerswhat the suit was about and just how bad things are for the largely African-American student population of the five schools named in the suit. But here's the part of her piece that jumped out at me:
Detroit's traditional public school district (the former Detroit Public Schools, now the newly created Detroit Public Schools Community District) has operated under state oversight for most of the last 16 years. The schools haven't gotten better. Nor have schools removed from the old DPS and placed in the state reform district, the Educational Achievement Authority. Nor have, in aggregate, the charter schools that were supposed to offer parents better options (at the literal expense of traditional public schools) delivered on that promise. The State of Michigan played a strong hand in the creation of this three-part system, and so the suit argues that it is responsible for fixing it.
Michigan has run the entire table of reformster ideas-- takeover of the district, creation of anachievement district, and charter operators brought in to replace the publics. Detroit is now a reformy buffet. Moreover, Detroit should be a beautiful display of how well the various reformster policies work. Except that it isn't, because they don't.
Detroit is a case study in state authorities looking at a system in crisis and saying, "Let's try CURMUDGUCATION: The Lesson of Detroit:
Big Education Ape: Detroit student file lawsuit against Gov. Richard Snyder - Business Insider - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/09/detroit-student-file-lawsuit-against.html
Big Education Ape: Donald Trump Dances to His Billionaire Backers’ Tune on School Choice - The Daily Beast - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/09/donald-trump-dances-to-his-billionaire.html
Big Education Ape: Detroit civil rights lawsuit attempts to assert a constitutional right to literacy | US news | The Guardian - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/09/detroit-civil-rights-lawsuit-attempts.html
Big Education Ape: School choice, metro Detroit's new white flight | MLive.com - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/09/school-choice-metro-detroits-new-white.html
Big Education Ape: Suit: Detroit schoolchildren denied right to literacy - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/09/suit-detroit-schoolchildren-denied.html