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INGRID JACQUES

Editor’s Note: Closing bad schools a good start

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Public schools in Michigan have been put on notice. If they are consistently not showing academic gains for their students, they face closure. It’s about time.

This is a huge development in a state where no traditional public schools have ever closed for strictly academic reasons. A few districts and buildings have shut down in recent years due to low enrollment, but not for poor performance.

Now that the state’s School Reform Office is under Gov. Rick Snyder’s direct oversight, it’s poised to take action in a way it never did when it fell under the state Department of Education.

If the Reform Office follows through, this could finally bring true accountability for all public schools. Charter schools, while far from perfect, have done a much better job of self-policing. For instance, the current tally of charters that have closed in Michigan is 108 — many of which were closed for academic failures. And many more face closure.

Nowhere is tougher accountability needed more than in Detroit. When bailout legislation for Detroit Public Schools passed in June, lawmakers included language directing the Reform Office to close the worst schools. There are around 30 schools in the city that fit the bill.

Dozens of other schools in the state should be held to the same measure. If done fairly, this could finally be a way to move kids out of chronically low-performing schools and into ones that offer a better future.