Detroit Schools Chief Wants Out of Charter School Business

Except, the state’s two best elementary schools are charters authorized by his district

Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. Photo via Twitter.

The new superintendent for Detroit’s public schools said he will recommend the school district no longer authorize charter schools and focus instead on improving its conventional schools, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“We have to get it right with traditional public schools and our focus, our energy, our resources need to be on that,” Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told the Free Press.

ForTheRecord says: Two charter schools authorized by Detroit's public schools were rated as the best in the state, according to a report card published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The report card examined Michigan’s middle and elementary schools and adjusted their rankings to reflect the impact of students’ economic background.

Detroit’s Martin Luther King Jr. Education Center Academy was the top rated elementary and middle school in the state. Ross/Hill Academy was the second-best.

Ironically, Detroit’s public schools have been rated as the worst large urban school district in the country. In 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015, the National Assessment of Education Progress did assessments and Detroit was rated as the worst in each time.

Most Michigan charter schools are authorized by state universities, and most conventional public school districts do not authorize any charters. Detroit is an exception, having authorized 14 charters.

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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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