Black Students Flee Detroit; White Subburbs Embrace Them

One of the many complaints against school vouchers -- all bogus -- is that white schools will reject black kids bearing vouchers. Detroit voters have rejected vouchers and limited the number of charter schools. But still Detroit parents are finding ways to get their kids into other schools, including suburban, white-majority government schools that permit non-residential enrollment.

This article explains that of about 100,000 K-12 students left in Detroit, over half -- 51k -- are taking their state money to government schools outside of Detroit's system, with 10k more each year expected to join them. Vouchers would mean that these kids could also choose private schools, including private school built inside Detroit, right in their neighborhoods.


Nadir said...

From http://lastchocolatecity.com/2007/01/15/the-miseducation-of-detroit/

Mike Wilkinson’s Detroit News article on the exodus of students from Detroit Public Schools paints a glass-half-full portrait of the city’s failed school system. Wilkinson notes that parents are taking advantage of “school choice,” and are sending their children to charter schools in Detroit and public schools in the suburbs.

What Wilkinson doesn’t discuss is the tragedy that results from the miseducation of Detroit’s students. The hardships that families must endure by transporting their children across town or to the suburbs are often too difficult to bear in the nation’s second poorest big city. Many students who can’t find a way to a new school in a region without quality public transportation simply drop out.

Diane Bukowski’s article in the Michigan Citizen tells the grimmer side of the same subject. Diane analyzes the losses that Detroit families endure, not the gains of surburban school districts.

At Chadsey High School, one of the schools again targeted after being saved from the 2005 round of closures when students walked out in protest, students reacted with dismay and anger.

“My whole thing, if they close Chadsey, I know half of the students are going to drop out,” said Satin Johnson, 14. “Some of them get a chance here. Where will the students from Munger Middle School [next door to Chadsey] go if they close Chadsey? Those are our brothers, sisters, cousins and friends.”

The unfortunate truth is that except for a few jewels, DPS schools offer a poor quality educational product. Superintendant William Coleman and Board President Jimmy Womack are focused on cutting costs and keep their budget in line, not on providing a quality education for students.

Already we see that the plan is to allow the hemorrhaging to continue. How else could the system go from 232 schools to 120 in just three years? The board doesn’t want to retain students. If it did, it would change its ways.

What is needed at DPS is new leadership and radical reform of the school’s educational and business models. A school board that is dedicated to Detroit’s future through the nurturing and education of its children would duplicate proven models like those at Cass and Renaissance across the city. It would find ways to attract students beyond iPods and Gameboys on count day. What Detroit’s families want is real schools that provide a real education, and because Coleman, Womack and the rest of the board refuse to provide it, those families are leaving in droves.
Even in its current challenged condition, Detroit is Michigan’s economic engine. A poorly educated workforce is not attractive to business. Therefore jobs are leaving Michigan like students are exiting DPS. Unless something changes, the result will be an undereducated, impoverished state with higher crime rates than those that exist today.

Until Jennifer Granholm, the Michigan legislature, Kwame Kilpatrick, the city of Detroit and the DPS school board make a commitment to improving Detroit’s public schools, the state will continue to lose jobs, revenue and population.

Paul Hue said...

How about vouchers? That would let private outfits create schools right in these neighborhoods.

Would you prefer that subburban schools ban Detroit kids? Obviously at least half of the parents want out, even at the cost of extra transportation. Many of our Ben Carson students had parents driving their kids great distances every day to attend private schools.

I believe that the Detroit school officials really want the kids, but just not enough to change meaningfully. They would rather adhere to their old, discredited ways of doing things. What can the governor do? The state already pays more for Detroit kids than for just about any other city (except perhaps the even worse Inkster system).

The people running Detroit's school system get my blame. They could easily adopt the Paul-Nadir plan (require teachers to have real academic credentials, basics-only schools, day care centers for miscreants, moving sports over to rec centers, etc.), but they will not, because they are more devoted to providing a jobs program for for people with weak academic credentials and skills, and sports entertainment.

Nadir said...

I am stil against vouchers in principle because they are only bandaids. Publicly funded education in the form of public schools are the best answer for educating the broadest number of students. There is already an infrastructure on which to build. Why build new schools that are market based when an quality education should be a right just like clean water? Schools are a utility, not a product.

Unfortunately the problem in Detroit will require some bandaids until the gaping wound can be healed. Those bandaids are now in place for the current crop of DPS students, but for the future, Detroit needs to do major surgery. Start by decapitating the schools system with the amputation of its superintendant and school board. Put educators in charge and find administrators who have proven that they have improved the academic quality of schools systems, not the bottomline.

Any business person knows if you don't have a good product, you're wasting your time trying to cut costs. Fix the problem with quality and your customers will come back. Don't keep laying off workers and expect people to think you're working to fix the problem. DPS uses the same business model as Ford. Neither is doing so well right now...