Editor’s Note: State Rep. wants DPS dissolved

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Twp, dropped a bomb Friday as a guest on Michigan Public Television’s weekly show “Off the Record.” Kelly said he thinks dissolving the state’s largest school district is the way to go.

This comment from Kelly, who is chair of the House appropriations subcommittee on K-12 school aid, probably came as bad news to Gov. Rick Snyder, who hopes to convince lawmakers this summer to send $500 million to Detroit Public Schools. And it likely didn’t thrill members of the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, which is also advocating for a state bailout.

Kelly says the plans from the coalition and governor focus too much on “money and adults”—not on kids.

“I think we need to start looking beyond traditional avenues of reform,” Kelly said on the show.

Rather than sending more money to keep DPS afloat, Kelly suggests expanding school choice. He stopped short of using the word “voucher,” but that’s what he’d like to see.

“I believe in publicly funded education, not necessarily publicly delivered,” he said.

If the state wrote a check to every family in Detroit and told them they could send their child to any school of their choice, that’s a reform Kelly says he could get behind.

It’s not a bad idea, but it’s a tough political sell — especially since vouchers for private schools would require a change in the state constitution.