This week’s New York Times Magazine article by Mark Binelli is very disappointing. He produces a very long story with a lot of incomplete facts. I guess it helps you if you have a one-sided view of charter schools and school choice.
I’ve been involved in Detroit education and political conversations for nearly 20 years. I’ve lobbied for last year’s DPS legislation to empower the schools for DPSCD parents/students. I continue to advocate for school choice as a school choice parent. I understand the issues, resist lazy stereotypes, and will continue to study all sides of every issues.
This, judging by the Times article, is not Mark Binelli’s style.
In fact, he spent the entire story talking about how charter schools are failing kids in Michigan. Apparently, he has not looked at numbers that show that Michigan is struggling to educate our children across the state, regardless of what type of public school they attend. Binelli’s comparisons between local government corruption and the invasion of charter schools into the state are so incomplete. I don’t think people who were involved with corruption were motivated to break laws in order to create more charters. They did it for their own greed. I don’t see the connection.
Also, the article misrepresents Edtrust Midwest’s analysis of the Detroit school scene. It is true that the large number of charter schools in the city is an issue. But the study shows that Michigan’s K-12 system poorly serves many Michigan children poorly. And with the current submission of Michigan’s ESSA plan, it doesn’t look like it is going to get better soon.
This story does a disservice to all of us in Michigan who are trying to improve education for our children. The only way you can solve a problem is to deal with the entire problem. Charter schools are not going anywhere. Can they be improved? Yes. But the other half of the problem is the poor quality of our traditional public schools system.
Like many urban cities, public school districts stopped performing as well as they used to before charter schools came into the mix. In fact, their failures opened the doors for higher-quality public schools, like charters. The only way to deal with improving our schools for “all” Detroit’s kids is to combine all of our resources together to “fight” low performance in our education system.
I’m beginning to see charter and traditional public school advocates who are saying similar things. Last year, the Detroit Coalition for the Future of Detroit’s Schoolchildren developed a plan to deal with the logistics for
Detroit’s traditional public and charter schools. Any form of this plan that would have passed thru the Legislature would have mandated that charters and public schools to work out problems collaboratively and communicate with each other. And just this week, Dan Quisenberry, the president of the MI Association of Public School Academies said, “We need more quality schools, and we need the proper support systems in place to get those students into those schools.”
Both sides of the school wars in Detroit agree there needs to be a better system of communication. It will not be easy to get there. But we won’t get there by people like Binelli putting out incomplete information. We get there by telling the entire story and dealing with all the problems in this story.
That is what we do at Detroit School Talk. We share and discuss both sides of the story so that we “all” can work together to solve the problems of educating our children in Michigan.