From the Detroit News June 22, 2006
Drop-out rate report makes case for opening more charters in city
Detroit school officials are taking great offense at a new national report that pegs the 2003 high school graduation rate at just 21.7 percent. And that number, Detroit insists, is now much closer to 63 percent, when those who have abandoned the city schools for suburban, private and charter schools are counted.
Even if Detroit's numbers are right, that's not really good news. The district is still losing a third of its students to drop-outs and roughly another third to alternative classroom settings.
The fact remains that one way or the other, only one in four students who start ninth grade with the Detroit Public Schools is still with the district on graduation day, according to Editorial Projects in Education Research Center in Bethesda, Md. That's the worst among the nation's 50 largest cities.
Those are dismal results, especially considering that Detroit spends $1.4 billion a year to achieve them.
The district has failed. Report after report indicates the same thing. And yet the education establishment will not admit defeat and allow parents more publicly funded choices.
The most humane thing Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the state Legislature can do is lift the cap on charter schools and allow more of them to open in Detroit. Sure, some of the existing charter schools perform just as poorly as the public schools.
But many perform much better. The push should be to duplicate the successful charters and get as many children into them as possible.
At some point, there has to be an official recognition that the current system of education in Detroit doesn't work for enough students. Continuing to deny that reality will only doom more children to a life of limited opportunities.