Why Don't Detroit's Most Successful Public Schools Get More Praise?

In a recent column, Detroit Free Press writer Brian Dickerson attacked the motives of charter school operators.

Dickerson wrote: “The charter industry is a business that is more interested in capitalizing on the collapse of Detroit’s traditional public schools than in reversing it.”

FortheRecord says: Opponents of Detroit charter schools often appear focused primarily on propping up a particular government entity — the failed Detroit school district. In contrast, parents care much less about how the institutional furniture is arranged and are focused instead on getting their children a good education in a safe school.

Detroit Public Schools has been consistently ranked by the National Assessment of Educational Progress as the nation’s worst urban school district. DPS enrollment has dropped from 106,485 in the 2007-08 school year to 46,368 in 2015-16. (During the same period the city of Detroit's population fell from 917,234 to 680,250.)

Charter schools exist so that parents — especially those in a failed school district like Detroit’s — have another option. According to peer-reviewed research by independent scholars and the nation’s most authoritative academic investigator of this subject, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), Detroit charters are providing a better education for the city’s schoolchildren than their district-run counterparts. CREDO reports that children get the equivalent of a few weeks to several months worth of additional learning from the city’s charters compared their peers in DPS schools.

In fact, according to CREDO, charter schools in Detroit “can serve as models to other communities.” That’s not the usual kind of results reported for Detroit institutions these days. Which makes it curious that so many in the region’s media establishment seem intent on attacking Detroit’s charter schools rather than commending them.