Sunday, January 29, 2017

School reform in Michigan: Fake solutions to real problems

School reform in Michigan: Fake solutions to real problems:

School reform in Michigan: Fake solutions to real problems

What do you do when you're a parent in this city struggling to find the best education available for your child? Stick with Detroit Public Schools Community District, which has been on a long, slow decline since the 1980s? Or take a chance on a charter school, which is too often run by for-profit operators, with profoundly mixed results? Or, leave the city altogether, for a school of choice in a suburban district?
It's an array of unsatisfactory choices, and the state's failure to make the city's schools right — yeah, this one is on the state, which created the charter system and has run Detroit's public schools for most of this century — is the biggest stumbling block in Detroit's still-tenuous recovery ... which is a financial argument against what should be a moral question.
How do we tell children in Detroit that they matter, when we can't give them the same basic education their suburban peers claim with no hurdles?
If I thought the state had a plan, maybe I could get behind it.
But take one look at the map of schools — traditional public, charter and those in the state reform district — marked for possible closure by the State Reform Office, and it is absolutely, unmistakably clear that there is still no plan for our kids.
Of the 38 schools marked for potential closure, 25 are in Detroit. But none of the 25, almost all in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty, are anywhere near a school that's doing better, whether it be traditional public, charter or a school in the state reform district. Only 20 schools in Detroit rank at or above the 25th percentile, the state's lowest threshold for adequate education. And only four Detroit schools are above the 50th percentile. Four schools, in a city whose publicly funded schools educate more than 100,000 students.
Because there's a dearth of alternatives, State Reform Officer Natasha Baker told the Free Press last week, some of those failing schools — the ones that lack a reasonable, higher-performing replacement — may stay open.
Yes, that's right: It's imperative that failing schools close. Unless all the other schools around them are also failing. Then it's fine.
If you measure a plan by its viability, by its own standards, the State Reform Office's plan isn't a plan at all. It's another in a long line of fake solutions for real problems — but that's essentially the unofficial motto of school reform in Michigan.
There are, at current count, three ways for the state to take over or close a school that's struggling academically or financially, and no evidence to show that any of the three improved academic results. What we've got, instead, is chaos.
Interactive map of public, charter and EAA schools in Detroit and their rankings:
That map, the one that shows how foolhardy the state's school closure list is, should put to rest once and for all the canard that Detroit's wild west charter school system has saved, or even substantively improved, public education in Detroit. The same School reform in Michigan: Fake solutions to real problems:

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