Monday, January 15, 2007

Detroit News seen mumbling incoherently to self about charter schools, many worry if sanity has slipped away forever.

In today's updated online editorial the Detroit News pleads for the cap of 150 charter schools to be lifted as a cure for what ails detroits students.

"Charter schools are independent public schools, usually chartered by a state university, that operate outside of some work rules imposed on standard public schools. They are variable in quality -- but parents, especially in Detroit, should be given more options to escape a clearly failing school system."

Ahh, yes. The tried and true "deserve more options" option. That bastion for the free flowing of thoughts and ideas to solve problems in a serious way. Results be damned. Sure, the education your child receives may be worse than the one in the Detroit Public School system, but, garsh darn it, your child DESERVES to underachieve. Aren't you happy? You get a choice!

Are Detroit Schools falling apart? I dare anyone to argue otherwise. But sending more money out of the district? That doesn't seem like long term solution. It sounds like adding more anchors to a ship that's listing badly. Now, here comes the part where a Republican would attack my stance on this issue.

What's my solution? Don't have one. That doesn't make adding even more charter schools with questionable results to the mix the solution. Here's the thing. There is no easy fix. There really isn't. Adding more charter schools adds more mediocre options to an already bleak education situation. And the "well at least it's SOMETHING" argument falls flat. I'm all for education. I think education is one of the big keys for any sort of economic development in this state. It has to be a place that's attractive to employers. If they are to live here, and their children, and their workers children to attend the schools in the area, it's essential to have good, quality schools. I'm in favor of raising the quality of the education system, but i think spreading the education dollar even further across this area is a mistake.

1 comment:

John B. said...

There are many answers to mismanagement.

But basic structural change is needed not just in urban schools, but across the state. Michigan's school district structure is antiquated and based upon history and geography.

Right sizing school districts would be a good start in dealing with the state's built in inequities in funding.

Michigan's school districts are predominately either too small or too large. In Detroit, the school district is too large to manage effectively.

Although some charter schools are effective, especially if they attract the best and brightest students, they are not the answer as you pointed out.

Consolidation of small school districts in rural areas and decentralizing school districts in some urban areas would open the doors to millions in savings that could be directed to those children in need of a high level of intervention to succeed.

If there is a courageous politician willing to propose such a solution, it would be a miracle.

The solutions are obvious, but the political will is lacking.

Simply put, Michigan needs to redirect its resources from administration into the classroom.
There are simply not 552 excellent school administrators in Michigan, but there are that many school districts. Many states Michigan's size have far fewer school districts and are run more effectively than Detroit's public schools.

But even the nation's best managers could not be effective in Detroit without adequate resources in a structure that lends itself to management failure.

When the state and federal government base funding on each pupil equally it does a huge injustice to poor and urban schools. Only special education students receive more per pupil funds to meet some, but not all of their more demanding educational needs. Special ed has been historically underfunded, however.

Schools in poor and educationally challenged neighborhoods should receive a much higher level of funding in order to provide them with the same kind of opportunity that rich suburban schools already have.

No Child Left Behind, without adequate funding for poor schools, is an outrage. It is akin to kicking a wounded animal.

Schools can not pull themselves up by the bootstraps, if they have no boots.

Truly exceptional leaders on rare occasions may perform miracles in some of the nations worst schools. But cloning those rare leaders is not the answer.

Poor children should not suffer because their state's leaders lack the political will to effectively manage their schools and allocate resources where needed and provide a state school structure that makes sense in today's world.