Detroit NAACP Hearing on Quality Education: Was It a Quality Conversation?

Last night, the Detroit NAACP hosted the fifth of seven hearings on quality education (Traditional public vs. charter schools) at the Detroit College Preparatory High School formerly known as Detroit Northwestern High School. The previous four hearings were held in New Haven, Memphis, Orlando and Los Angeles. The hearings have five areas of focus: Charter funding, Oversight & Accountability, Charter governance, Charter performance and Charter fiscal management.

Each of the previous four events were very raucous. Attendees got lound and out of control. The battlefield was made up of folks in the traditional public vs. charter school wars. The lines were drawn between the education reformers and the teacher unions. I wonder if any solutions for properly educating our kids ever came up.

Totally different story in Detroit. The Detroit NAACP’s President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony hosted and facilitated a well organized conversation about Detroit’s current education situation. He was able to provide the national NAACP panelist from out of town a cross section of info from Detroit area public charter and traditional public school leaders.

What was powerful for me is that the list of testifiers were made up of co-chairs and steering committee members from the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren. This diverse group of local education supporters came together to fight for solutions to improve education for “all” Detroit’s children. It is powerful because it shows the diversity of the coalition can still come together and honestly discuss Detroit’s education issues. No matter what side you fall on, when it comes to what type of school you support.

Skillman’s Tonya Allen shared the problems parents have trying to figure out what or where their child should go to school and if that school is good for the child. Detroit Parent Network’s Sharlonda Buckman discussed how the organization has fought to empower and educate parents to fight for their children’s rights. One of those rights is that all children have the right to a great education and parents have a right to choose where their child can attend school.

This is when the conversation about quality schools comes up. Detroit has a few good charter and traditional public schools, but many are low performing. Parents could care less if there kid is in a charter school or not, as long as it is a great school. So, with over half of the city’s children attending charter schools and many other Detroit students going to school outside of the city. Where do we improve education for Detroit kids.

How about we work collectively to improve the “quality” of all Detroit’s schools. I will say this until I’m blue in the face. All of our children deserve to be in a great school. We win when we start having hearings and planning sessions on improving all of our schools. At this point, picking sides in the school wars is leaving our children on the battlefield defenseless.

I thank Rev. Anthony for hosting a meeting that shows Detroiters are focused on resolving our problems together. As we learn to work together as a community. The Education Post team is pro school choice. And we are pro quality schools in a community that needs quality in both Detroit charters and Detroit Public Schools. I’m looking forward to further conversations about improving quality in Detroit schools. #Voices4Ed #DetroitSchlTalk #NAACPHearing


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