All schools, including charters, need to be rooted in the community

Jun 25, 2019 by

As people who have worked with the parents and staff of Southwest Detroit Community School for many years, we were of course disappointed to learn of its abrupt closing. Much of the media coverage understandably connects this closure with that of Delta Preparatory Academy in September, with the implication that we should be grateful that at least students at this school get to finish out the  year. We hope it shines a spotlight on the missing element of real community voice in our charter sector and convinces decision-makers of the need for change.

Each charter school in Michigan is created and overseen by an “authorizer” such as an intermediate school district, community college or university — Ferris State in the case of Delta Prep and Grand Valley State University for SWDCS. The most important factor linking the stories of Delta Prep, SWDCS, and too many other schools over the years is the fact that the people with the ultimate power to control their fates were located hundreds of miles away from the neighborhoods they served.

Everyone agrees that schools need to be connected to the communities they serve to be effective. Traditional public schools in our state are connected via locally elected school boards. In Detroit Public Schools, that linkage was disrupted for much of the last two decades by emergency management and state control, when too many decisions that frayed the bonds between neighborhoods and schools were not subject to the checks and balances of a locally elected school board.

continued: All schools, including charters, need to be rooted in the community

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