Thursday, August 13, 2009

Detroit Public Schools Filing Bankruptcy - Time For A 100% Charter System

The Detroit Free Press has been covering the final gasps of the failed Detroit Public Schools.

The Detroit Public Schools may have no choice but to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which would make it the first big-city school district to use bankruptcy court to avoid paying millions to vendors, employees and bondholders, experts said Thursday.

The insider mismanagement, embezzlement, and shameless disregard for the kids has been captured by Mike Thompson at the Freep.

I can only imagine the outcry if an outside group, say white conservatives, were stealing from the poor and mostly black inner-city kids of Detroit. Yet in Detroit, we get reelections of criminals like Kwame Brown and can barely elect an honorable man like Mayor Bing. How long before the Mayor is run out of town for trying to curb the rampant cronyism and pay-to-play? A recent audit showed that there were at least 257 "ghost" employees - people who get paid but don't actually work.

DPS is almost 300 million in debt, yet it's infrastructure/legacy costs are just as high as when the system served a much larger population. While shrinking by almost 65,000 students between the years of 2002 and 2008 (157,003 to 94,054) may seem like a large number, the district is now approximately half the size it was in 1970. In fact, DPS spends a large part of it's budget closing schools - and it's still not enough.

DPS has a few "select enrollment" schools that are doing well. They hold these up as some sort of shield to the vast majority that are providing third world education.

A very wealthy man, Bob THompson, opens up charter schools and leases them for $1 per year as long as the kids are served properly. The Charter School System is now up to 54,000 students. More importantly, 90% of those kids are going to college. As you would expect, DPS is fighting this "black flight" tooth and nail.

For these charter kids, 83% of those who attended a four year university re-enrolled for a second year, and 57% of those who attended a two year college re-enrolled for a second year, beating national re-enrollment averages of 73% and 45% respectively. (wiki Detroit News and Free Press)

Detroit families are grabbing every opportunity to get their kids out. That any are still being forced to remain in the DPS system is criminal. Instead of using stimulus money to prop up the DPS, the money should be spent to close the remaining schools and ensure the kids get a good education in the charter system. After three decades of miserable failure, the unwinding of DPS is now inevitable - the only question is how much money is spent on a facade.

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