Thousands of Detroit Parents Vote With Their Feet for School Choice

Interest groups are trying to block their choices

Four Detroit parents named as co-authors of a letter published by the Detroit Free Press say that even though their children attend charter schools, they want the Legislature to create a government commission designed to restrict charter schools in the city. The letter said it was also signed by 27 other charter school parents, though only the four were identified.

Two of the four individuals have ties to organizations that are prominent advocates of a state bailout for Detroit Public Schools and are critical of charter schools in the city.

Bernita Bradley is listed as the community engagement and outreach manager for Excellent Schools Detroit, a nonprofit that has advocated for more restrictions on charter schools and has criticized their quality.

Ana Rivera is a program assistant facilitator/coordinator for the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, whose executive director Angela Reyes co-chairs another entity critical of charters, the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren.

But personal testimonies aside, the actions of thousands of Detroit parents make their preferences clear: They are voting with their feet for the two forms of public school choice available to them.

The 25 new charter schools that have opened in Detroit since 2011 have attracted 7,500 students. The parents of those children had to actively choose a charter school; if they had not, their children would have been assigned automatically to a district school based on where they live.

Also, as of 2015-16, there were 7,216 students living in Detroit whose parents were able to enroll them in a nearby school district outside Detroit that had space. In the other direction, Detroit attracted only 1,577 students from outside its borders under the Schools of Choice program, for a net loss of 5,639 students.