News Story

Pro-School Choice Group: Let Detroit Students Attend School Anywhere They Want

Plan would allow state dollars to go to private schools

In 2009, students in Detroit Public Schools posted the worst test scores ever measured on a national test.

“There is no jurisdiction of any kind, at any level, at any time in the 30-year history of NAEP that has ever registered such low numbers,” said Michael Casserly, then the executive director of the council that administered the assessment. “They are barely above what one would expect simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers.”

Since then, charter schools have flourished in the city and more than half of Detroit's students attend them. A recent study from Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that charter students gain up to several months of education in reading and math every year over their conventional school counterparts.

A pro-school choice group says students in the city should be able to attend wherever their parents choose.

The Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) is calling for students in the city of Detroit to be able to attend any type of school they wanted in a newly created zone that would allow the state's per-pupil funding to follow students to even private schools.

GLEP, a pro-school choice advocacy group, unveiled its plan this week calling for an Education Innovation Zone which would replace the troubled Detroit Public Schools. The district's current Emergency Manager would relieve DPS of all teaching responsibilities and redeploy its assets, such as school buildings, to various public education providers.

“Enough is enough, and it’s about time we recognized that the Detroit Public Schools are academically and financially bankrupt, and they’ve lost the privilege of educating children in Detroit,” said Gary Naeyaert, executive director of GLEP, in a press release.

The plan calls for “a system of schools” that would be independently governed in the Education Innovation Zone. The schools would be considered part of the Detroit Public Schools when it came to state and federal funds.

The 49,000 students currently enrolled in DPS would go to high-performing DPS schools, existing charter schools, new charter schools, online learning, private schools, home schooling, neighboring districts and Wayne RESA Intermediate.

School sponsors would have to be accredited and would include community colleges, universities, the mayor’s office and other education providers in the area.

The press release states, “Students would receive an annual $8,000 ‘Opportunity Scholarship’ from the state to cover basic operational funding at any school in the zone, public or private.”

The plan would continue Detroit Public Schools' authority to levy taxes so it could pay off its debt.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.