Editor’s Note: Detroit top 10 for school choice

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

When Detroit’s education environment tops a ranking, it’s not generally for something positive. But in the case of a new report from the Fordham Institute, it’s something the city can celebrate.

Detroit ranks 10th best in the institute’s ranking of 30 U.S. cities based on school choice. New Orleans tops the list, and Washington, D.C., Denver and Columbus also make the cut.

The report highlights how more than 12 million students in this country enjoy a form of school choice, including charter and private schools.

Researchers examined about 50 different markers of “choice friendliness” and ranked the cities accordingly. And the Fordham Institute identified three main avenues necessary for flourishing school choice: political support, policy environment, and the quantity and quality of choices.

The study also breaks apart the ranking for each city. The authors note Detroit’s financial problems and multifaceted school landscape. Even though more than half of the city’s schoolchildren attend charter schools, Detroit got dinged for the state’s constitutional ban of any kind of voucher for private schools. Plus, the authors suggest Detroit families would be better served with more “logistical supports such as transportation and a common application.”

State and city leaders who want to revamp the city’s schools are aware of these concerns. And they shouldn’t be neglected.