Editor’s Note: State isn’t sold on DPS bailout

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Michigan lawmakers are taking heat for waffling on a comprehensive plan to overhaul Detroit schools. And they are getting pressure from business and community leaders at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference that ends today.

But give them a little slack.

A statewide poll released this week shows that while the Legislature is hearing from Detroit stakeholders and the governor that they must bail out Detroit Public Schools and add new layers of oversight for all city schools, statewide voters aren’t thrilled.

Since most lawmakers don’t come from Detroit, you can see how their constituents may not support sending at least $600 million to the broke district, which has proven immune to past reforms.

It’s a tough sell. Not to mention school districts around the state face budget shortfalls and academic challenges.

Statewide, 49 percent of voters do support some sort of bailout for DPS, but 39 percent don’t. Opposition is higher on the west side of the state.

And while Mayor Mike Duggan, Senate leaders and others are pushing hard for a Detroit Education Commission to monitor school quality and control where schools can open, it’s not a concept embraced widely by Detroiters — 49 percent oppose it and only 41 percent support it. Parents have flocked to charter schools in the city, and don’t want those choices hampered.

The chambers have struggled to get the votes to pass a compromise deal, partly because no House Democrats support the legislation. That leaves it to Republicans, who have to go home and face their constituents, to get the job done.