Editor’s Note: Don’t prioritize DPS over kids
Judge Steven Rhodes, the emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools, confirmed the fears of many charter school advocates last week, while taping a TV show.
Rhodes has pushed the Legislature for months to pass bills that would send the financially ailing school district as much as $700 million to get out of debt and start a new district free from debt. If lawmakers don’t act, DPS faces payless paydays by the end of June.
But charter schools have also gotten thrown into the discussion over DPS’ future, much to the chagrin of charter operators and authorizers. Legislation passed by the Senate in March includes a Detroit Education Commission that would be appointed only by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and have oversight of charter and district schools in the city. The commission would control the opening of new schools and would have influence in determining which schools close for poor quality.
That’s connected to a comment Rhodes made Friday, openly admitting DPS’ financial stability is tied to limiting charter schools, which have drawn thousands of students from the district.
“It will be more challenging for DPS to succeed without some kind of control over the opening of new charter schools or other kinds of educational opportunities,” he said.
Such a significant state investment in DPS would create an incentive to prop up the district at the expense of other — possibly better — choices for families. And an institution should never come before students.