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A Detailed Look at the Rampant Problems in Detroit’s Education System

A Detailed Look at the Rampant Problems in Detroit’s Education System

Detroit’s school district has wrapped up a particularly challenging school year that revealed the district as the subject of national scrutiny as many of its education problems that have been years in the making have come to a head.

At multiple points throughout the school year, the majority of Detroit Public Schools were forced to close due to excessive numbers of teacher absences; teachers used sick-outs to protest poor working conditions such as school buildings in disrepair and, later on in the school year, threats of not receiving earned pay over the summer.

These well-reported on problems have drawn attention to the myriad other challenges plaguing Detroit’s education system, problems that have been manifesting below the surface for years and years.

According to a recent in-depth New York Times article looking at the state of education in Detroit, many of the problems can be traced to an irresponsible decision to allow schools to compete to best educate students.

Though the intention was to raise schools up, many argue the focus on competition is directly responsible for the district’s current chaos.

The Times says that there are 30,000 more seats open in the district’s charter and public schools than students to fill them, leading to a grotesque battle for enrollment that places student success second to a scramble for education funding.

Not to mention the disproportionate number of opportunities available in some parts of the city versus others. In the up-and-coming and more affluent downtown area of the city, roughly 2,000 students can comfortably choose between 11 different high schools. In the northeastern area of the city however, over 6,000 students are served by only two high schools. That kind of disproportion has not been explained by any officials.

And while lawmakers have approved a $617 million deal to pay off Detroit Public School’s accrued debt, the political climate in the district is still volatile after a potential commission that would "determine which neighborhoods most needed new schools and set standards to close failing schools and ensure that only high performing or promising ones could replicate” failed to pass thanks to the continued battle between public and private schools.

For now, charter school closures after years of turmoil thanks to financial and academic problems dominate the news. Here’s to thinking about the students who exercised school choice only have to choose a new school once again.

Read the full article here.

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