It Failed

High-end nonprofit found no fix for Detroit schools in doubling down on status quo system

An operation called Excellent Schools Detroit, founded in 2009 and bankrolled by several large national foundations, has closed its doors.

According to Bridge Magazine, “Former officials with Excellent Schools Detroit won’t call its closure a failure because other nonprofits will continue many of its major projects..."

For the Record Says: It failed. In 2016, Michigan Capitol Confidential reported on Excellent Schools Detroit:

“In 2010, ESD stated that within five years, it would open ‘40 new high-quality school options.’ It would close or replace at least half the school programs in the city and attract and develop enough high-quality school leaders to transform Detroit district schools. The vision described transformed ‘new schools,’ many in existing Detroit Public School buildings, some possibly in new buildings. It would also turn around failing schools so that by 2020, the operation would have ‘ensured that every student in Detroit is in a quality school.’”

But little of that ever came close to happening. In the months leading up to a 2016 state bailout of the Detroit school district, Excellent Schools Detroit worked closely with local interests, groups and politicians who unsuccessfully sought to include a charter school rationing scheme in the bailout provisions.



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Detroit Prep is a top-rated and economically and racially diverse charter school in the city. It's growth means it needs to move out from a church basement and into a new location. Nearby is a former Detroit Public Schools building, sitting empty for years. But, worried about competition, the public school district refused to sell. For years, district and local government officials in Detroit had worked to block public charter schools. They pushed legislation at the Michigan Capitol to hinder them, refused to sell to them, transferred surplus buildings from the district to the city government and imposed deed restrictions on property sales to private developers. All of it was aimed to hinder or even prevent charter school choice outside the confines of the Detroit school district.

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