I live in Michigan and our largest metropolitan area is Detroit. Currently the Detroit Public Schools have been out of local control and run by the State for the last 6 years because of their low performance ratings and their high level of debt. In the time the State has been helping, the performance ratings have dropped and the debt has risen. Now, our business minded governor has proposed creating a second Detroit school District. The original one, funded by the taxpayers in Detroit will simply exist to pay down the half billion dollar debt. The second one will be run by an emergency manager that will have sweeping powers. (You may have heard about Emergency Managers in Michigan if you followed how well they took care of Flint’s water recently.) But the reason I bring all this up is because none of these actions handle the problem. They address saving money, but there is absolutely zero in here about saving schools. So we will cut school budgets, impoverish school staffs, possibly privatize several schools (a resounding failure thus far in Detroit) and no one of it addresses the real problem. Why?
Because no one knows what the real problem is. Trust me, if they did, they would be accepting their Noble Prize as they descended from their gold-plated cloud. Education in Michigan is a mess. People who should have a strong voice have been locked out of conversations by a legislature that is more worried about avoiding blame than actually getting something done. Our legislature makes sloths look like Richard Simmons. They won a court case with Highland Park schools that stated, essentially, as the major funder of the Public School system, they have no responsibility for the quality of that system, or to even provide a focus for what education should look like.
This is what happens when people want to run schools like a business. SCHOOLS ARE NOT BUSINESSES. Just because there is money involved doesn’t mean it is a business. In a business, if your product or service doesn’t sell or work, you can close your doors and try something else. But we can’t do that with schools unless people are willing to stop have children until we get it all figured out.
Now I refuse to believe that the best and brightest in this State cannot find some processes that will allow for all kids to have a decent shot at a quality education regardless of where they live. But we are going to have to put making a profit on it aside and we are going to have to put political agendas aside. We are going to have focus, step way outside the box and fund appropriately whatever we come with. Because there isn’t anything more important in the long run than an educated and informed populace.