Letter: Bills out of Lansing don’t ‘save’ school choice

Re: Goeff Hansen’s March 30 column “How we’re saving DPS and school choice”: Sen. Hansen’s bills may very well “save DPS,” but they sure aren’t going to “save school choice.” In fact, they’ll do just the opposite. That’s because these bills will create a new layer of bureaucracy, the Detroit Education Commission, designed to ration school options for families. A prime directive of the DEC is to improve the district’s financial condition, so how will it expand learning opportunities when its goal is to enroll more kids into district-run schools? Why would it welcome new, top-notch charter operators when they would make it harder for the DEC to do its job?

Rather than double down on more centralized authority, let a thousand flowers bloom. There really are only two options: either have a politically appointed board determine what’s best for Detroit schoolchildren (something that’s clearly failed in the past), or empower families to decide for themselves. A free market of educational providers — one where good schools are rewarded with more students and funding and bad schools are closed — can work in Detroit, if given a chance.

Ben DeGrow, education policy director

Mackinac Center for Public Policy