June 28, 2016

CONSERVATISM MEANS TAKING EVIDENCE SERIOUSLY:

Detroit's Children, More School Choice but Not Better Schools (Kate Zernike, 6/28/16, NY Times)

Michigan leapt at the promise of charter schools 23 years ago, betting big that choice and competition would improve public schools. It got competition, and chaos.

Detroit schools have long been in decline academically and financially. But over the past five years, divisive politics and educational ideology and a scramble for money have combined to produced a public education fiasco that is perhaps unparalleled in the United States.

While the idea was to foster academic competition, the unchecked growth of charters has created a glut of schools competing for some of the nation's poorest students, enticing them to enroll with cash bonuses, laptops, raffle tickets for iPads and bicycles. Leaders of charter and traditional schools alike say they are being cannibalized, fighting so hard over students and the limited public dollars that follow them that no one thrives.

Detroit now has a bigger share of students in charters than any American city except New Orleans, which turned almost all its schools into charters after Hurricane Katrina. But half the charters perform only as well, or worse than, Detroit's traditional public schools.

"The point was to raise all schools," said Scott Romney, a lawyer and board member of New Detroit, a civic group formed after the 1967 race riots here. "Instead, we've had a total and complete collapse of education in this city."

The city has emerged almost miraculously fast from the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Downtown Detroit hums with development -- a maze of detours around construction sites with luxury apartments, a new Nike store along a stretch of prime but empty storefronts. Even where blight resumes a few blocks out, farm-to-table restaurants and modern design stores sprout hopefully. Last year, the city had its smallest population decline since the 1950s.

But the city's residents -- many of them stranded here after whites and middle-class blacks fled in waves -- will not share in any renaissance as long as only 10 percent of rising high school seniors score "college ready" on reading tests.

School choice was a worthwhile experiment that didn't work.  It's long past time to move families out of cities to where good schools and neighborhoods already exist.
Posted by at June 28, 2016 8:23 PM

  

« LIKE THEY WERE HUNTING GOOSE WITH DICK CHENEY: | Main | A FITTING CAPSTONE TO THE TRADINGEST PRESIDENCY EVER: »