Yes They Are: National Magazine Says Poor Detroit Charter Schools Not Closed

Academically failing district schools a different story

A May 10 article published online by The Atlantic magazine got some key facts wrong as it attempted to analyze public charter schools and what ails the Detroit public school system.

The story repeated a narrative promoted by Detroit’s charter school opponents: “In reality, the operators of Detroit’s charter schools almost never close them because of poor academic performance. So even a school where no child is achieving at grade level can continue enrolling new students.”

ForTheRecord says: The state of Michigan tracks when and why charter schools are closed. Its records show that 27 charter schools within the city of Detroit have closed as of August 2015. In nine of those cases, “academic viability” is listed as a reason.

For Detroit parents, the 65 charter schools now operating in the city may represent their children's best and only chance to escape the nation’s worst urban school district, to which they are assigned by ZIP code. It’s unfortunate, then, that so much reporting mischaracterizes what is actually happening in Detroit public education.

Charter-school proponents claim their record of accountability contrasts with the state of Michigan having never shut down a traditional public school for academic reasons. State officials have never refuted this.