By Dan Quisenberry
As President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), and as a representative of Detroit’s charter public school community we want to welcome Nikolai Vitti, the new superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District. We invite him to collaborate with the charter school community in the city. The leaders and supporters of charter schools in Detroit, 70 percent of which are locally operated, know how important the performance of all the city’s schools are to the future of the Detroit and to the future of our children.
Our invitation comes while noting that Superintendent Vitti made several comments regarding charter schools to the media last week. He gave interviews to the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News in which he took a strong position regarding charter schools in the city.
Among other things, Superintendent Vitti told the Free Press, “We have to lobby strategically and unapologetically to create better quality control of the charter authorization process. That has not been done appropriately in the state of Michigan and it’s allowed too many for-profit charters and charters in general to be able to establish schools without any track record of success.” Vitti also told the News that charter schools are “experimenting on our children.” He had earlier said, “We are going to put charter schools out of business,” and called certain charter schools “criminal.”
[NEWS LINK: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2017/05/13/new-detroit-schools-chief-sees-renaissance-district/101640812/]
FINAL LINK: http://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2017/03/29/nikolai-vitti-detroit-superintendent-finalist/99791066/
Dr. Vitti has been away from Michigan for a long time. He might not be familiar with the charter community here in Detroit and in taking the job of leading the new Detroit school district, he will be faced with significant challenges. We understand. As a result, we welcome him to his new job, and we stand ready to work with him to make education better for all students in Detroit. We know from evidence and polling that charter schools are very popular among parents in the city, and as a result, more than half the students in Detroit attend charter schools. Charter schools have been and will continue to be part of the renaissance taking place in Detroit.
Charter schools in the city have learned a lot about making schools work against all odds. Research from Stanford University shows us that charter school students in Detroit gain an additional three months of learning every year in English and math, so it’s evident that charter schools in Detroit are not only popular – they’re successful. In order for Detroit’s renaissance to continue, we need all schools to be successful. It’s not about the governance – it’s about the students. We all need to keep our focus on that.
We look forward to connecting with Dr. Vitti and we will invite him and his leadership team to visit some of Detroit’s successful charter schools, to see what’s working and why. Only by working together can we make Detroit one of the truly great educational cities in America.
The Michigan Association of Public School Academies advances quality education through choice and innovation. MAPSA has been the unified voice of the public charter school movement in Michigan since 1996. MAPSA represents more than 150,000 students, 10,000 teachers, dozens of authorizers and more than 50 education service providers working in 300 charter public schools in the state. MAPSA assists the state’s charter schools in their mission to deliver achievement, choice and accountability through advocacy, communications, technical assistance and professional development services. For additional information, please visit www.charterschools.org.
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