The following Letter to the Editor was published in the Michigan Chronicle on 1/16/2018. I hope it motivates you to engage in the all important conversation of “everyone” pulling together to improve education in Detroit.
There are many conversations about how charter schools have ruined public education in the United States, particularly in Detroit. But most of these conversations have nothing to do with solving the actual problems of educating our kids.
Recently, I read Diane Ravitch’s Detroit News column. I agree with what she shares about the need for improvements, but I disagree with how you get there.
Today we live in a world that focuses on talking points and attack points that reinforce our different agendas. It doesn’t matter if it is education, politics or healthcare. The back and forth is crazy and clouds the real issues that have to be solved. So I want to thank Diane Ravitch for motivating me to speak on this issue.
It is true that a large number of Detroit parents are putting their children in charter schools. The charters are not dragging parents to bring their children to these alternative public schools. No one has passed legislation that demands that “certain” kids attend these schools.
Diane Ravitch is correct. Michigan’s public education system is failing all of our children across the state. But the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is not just competing against charter schools. The Detroit Public Schools District is competing against the suburban school districts that surround Detroit and want the per pupil allotment that follows each child every year.
Parents and guardians like my wife and me are making the decision to place their child in the school they feel is best for them. Also, parents who can afford it are moving to communities that provide safety, good housing, and a great education for their child.
Today, I live in Redford Township on Detroit’s border. I have two teenagers. One graduated from a traditional public high school. My daughter attends a charter high school in Dearborn. When I was considered a young parent, my wife and I loved living on Detroit’s East Side. But when it came time to enroll our child in school, we couldn’t find a school in our community that could service his needs.
So we “shopped” around. We ended up finding a charter school for our son in the suburbs near my wife’s job. That was our good fit. This move led us down the road of looking for a new home closer to my son’s school and my wife’s job. That process led us to Redford Twp. Where we live today. These are the factors that drive a parent’s decision to place their child in a traditional or public charter school.
Recently, Detroit charter schools have pooled their resources together to outreach and empower parents by creating parent meetings and empowering them to be active in their schools and communities.
And I think with DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, they will continually increase their numbers for student enrollment because they are dealing with the issues that actually affect their numbers and what parents are looking for in a school district.
I believe Dr. Vitti understands what school choice is. And he is working to encourage Detroit parents to choose the Detroit Public School Community District.
So, whether you are a charter or a traditional public school. Let’s deal with the reasons why people of color are in the situations they are in and let’s stop creating new fights that don’t solve the “true” problems that our kids and parents face everyday.