Dem Candidate For Governor Says: Preserve Failed Detroit Schools, Close Charters

District schools unionized, charters not — and teachers unions a major Dem funding source

The National Assessment of Educational Progress has judged the Detroit school district to have the worst urban schools in the country since 2009.

Yet Gretchen Whitmer, a former Democratic state senator now running for governor, said in a news story she would not close failed schools in the Detroit district. Whitmer told Crain’s Detroit Business that she would, however, work to close poor-performing charter schools.

Crain’s reported: “In taking a strong stance against charter schools with low test scores, Whitmer said she wouldn’t hold traditional public schools to the same school shutdown standard.”

“‘The states that are successfully turning around schools are states that put more supports around schools that are struggling,’ Whitmer said. ‘They don’t abandon families by closing.’”

ForTheRecord says: Whitmer’s comments follow the Democratic party line of opposing any competition to unionized district schools. Public charter schools are a major source of that competition, and they are not unionized. Teachers unions are a major source of money for the Democratic party.

Whitmer claims that closing such schools “abandons families,” but she has it backward: Detroit parents are abandoning Detroit’s traditional public schools. The district’s track record on academics is the worst in the nation.

Last August’s state figures showed Detroit’s public school district enrolled 46,319 students. A count taken this March showed that enrollment had fallen to 44,669. In other words, 1,650 children have left the district in less than a year.

The federal government’s National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) performs biannual assessments of the largest urban school districts in the country. In 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015, it showed that Detroit Public Schools was nation’s worst in academic performance each time.

In contrast, the latest research on Detroit education by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) shows how much better Detroit’s charter schools have performed compared to the city’s unionized public schools. CREDO says Detroit's charters are a model other communities should follow.

And they say charter schools are the problem?

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.