Michigan shuts down bad schools. Leading states build them up.


Activists and youth from several community groups gathered Feb. 20 at Osborn High in Detroit to protest the state's plan to close up to 38 low-performing schools, 25 of which are in Detroit. "We need books, not a closed school," said Aija Sparks, 18, a senior at Osborn. Rev. Larry Simmons, an activist in the Brightmoor neighborhood, said the closure process needs to include public meetings. "We want to be at the table of decision, the table of design."

The law is meant to push all schools to work harder. But critics say it doesn’t have enough specifics. The law has the power to change the lives of thousands of children. But it has confused and incensed parents.

The announcement in January that Michigan will enforce its school accountability law by shutting down the state’s lowest-performing schools set off a flurry of protests. Thirty-eight public schools -- 25 in Detroit -- enrolling more than 12,000 students face possible closure by June 30, though the final number will likely be far fewer.

Researchers across the country say Michigan’s school accountability law is in a class all its own. They note that no other state requires the closure each year of its lowest-performing public schools. To the contrary, higher-performing states focus instead on first trying to take concrete steps to improve failing schools by replacing school leaders or adopting other strong measures.  

“Michigan is unique. We need to look at what a smart leading state is doing versus what we are doing,” said Sunil Joy, assistant director of policy and research at Education Trust Midwest, an advocacy and research nonprofit group based in Royal Oak. “High performing states like Massachusetts have a more research-based vision for school improvement, one based on best practices. You’d never see a list of 40 schools come out so randomly.”

With the State School Reform/Redesign Office set to announce in the next few weeks the finalized list of schools that will close, and dozens of other schools potentially facing closure next year, some policy questions warrant exploration

Michigan law allows schools that qualify for closure -- those that perform in the bottom 5 percent of schools statewide for three consecutive years -- to remain open if officials determine the closure would be a hardship.

Natasha Baker, who heads the reform office, said state law requires her to close persistently failing schools. The closure provision pushes schools to make gains if they want to avoid the disruption of a closure, she said. Addressing critics, Baker argues that closing bad schools is not the problem, allowing them to stay open and continue to miseducate children is the problem.

I think it’s more more disruptive to graduate kids who can’t read. It’s very important that every kid, regardless of where they come from, can get a high-quality education,” Baker said. “We’re not looking to be punitive. We want to incentivize rapid turn around.”

The nuclear option

The federal “Race to the Top” grant program started all of this. States that wanted a share of $4.3 billion coming from Washington had to adopt laws that guaranteed intervention in the bottom five percent of schools. Michigan adopted its law in 2010 in an attempt to win a share of the grants.

Michigan’s law calls for the state to create an annual list that ranks public schools based on test scores - which includes both traditional public schools and charters. The law also created the school reform office to supervise improvement plans for the schools in the bottom 5 percent. The federal grant program required states to offer the lowest performing schools the option to choose among four school improvement models -- a turnaround model (replacing the principal and at least half the school staff), the restart model (restarting as a charter), the transformation model (replacing the principal along with other  academic reforms), or school closure.

Michigan did not win any of the $4.35 billion in reform grants, and only two percent of the grants went to shut down low-performing schools nationwide, according to a study by the Center for Public Education and the National School Boards Association.

Overall, 74 percent of schools in states that adopted the school improvement interventions chose the “transformation” option which included replacing the principal.

Closure laws, results in other states

Across the nation, states have rarely closed traditional public schools for poor performance, but are increasingly considering it. When they do close the worst schools, the results have been mixed for the students sent to other schools, studies show.  

Most laws that require school closure for low-performing schools pertain to charter schools. Thirteen states, including Michigan, have laws that trigger the closure of low-performing charter schools including Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington and Louisiana, according to the National Association for Charter School Administrators.

Louisiana was perhaps the most aggressive in closing low-performing schools. That state’s Recovery School District took over nearly all of the schools in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and replaced them with charter schools.  

The Education Research Alliance for New Orleans last year studied the impact of school closures in Baton Rouge and New Orleans and concluded that “results tend to be more positive when schools are phased out rather than immediately closed and when students stay in the same school post-intervention.”

In New York City, then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg and public schools Chancellor Joel Klein pushed a secondary-school reform plan that ended up closing 44 low-performing public high schools from 2000 to 2014 with marginal positive results for the kids whose schools closed, according to a study by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools.  Along with the closures, the city opened 200 small themed high schools and allowed school choice so all students could go to school outside of their neighborhood boundaries.

The study showed on average just 56 percent of the students whose schools were closed graduated from high school within four years, which was better than their likelihood of graduating had their school not been closed  in some cases, but not all.

“Students who likely would have attended the closed schools fared better elsewhere, they still did not fare well … there is a need to invest in vulnerable students and to identify structures and supports that maximize their odds of success,” the study found.

Massachusetts, a state celebrated for increasing student achievement from mediocre to world-class over the past 20 years, has closed 28 low-achieving charter schools, but does not close down traditional low-performers.

Massachusetts schools that are chronically low achieving can be taken over by the state - or put in receivership or state control. Three districts are under receivership now. Unlike Michigan, the process that could lead to reconstituting or closing a school involves a public meetings with the school board and community, though the state-appointed receiver has final say. Michigan’s law that allows closing low-performing schools does not require any public meetings.

“Closing any school, including an underperforming school, in Massachusetts is a local decision,” said Russell Johnston, senior associate Commissioner for accountability at the the Massachusetts Department of Education.

Compared to Michigan, the reform process in Massachusetts is more detailed and walks low-performing schools through a process for how to improve performance with benchmarks and expectations outlined, said Brett Lane, a consultant who has worked in Massachusetts and is now working for Michigan’s reform office. Massachusetts’ state law is very prescriptive and has precise language about what a school has to do when it’s identified as a low-performing, from convening public meetings to reviewing union contracts to allowing flexibility on issues such as length of school day and school year.

“The precision of how improvement activities are carried out is much different. People know what they need to do to improve,” Lane said. “Michigan didn’t really do it right. The (closure) law  was ambiguous.”  

Maria Montoya, director of communications and partnerships for Excellent Schools Detroit, a group that creates a scorecard of Detroit schools for parents, concurred, saying that Michigan’s accountability law lacks specific instructions such as how much progress schools are expected to make and how they should go about doing it.

“There’s a lack of a plan -- who’s going to hold the state reform accountable for making sure each kid gets placed in a better school? Where can parents report issues? Who’s going to go knocking door to door helping get families enrolled?” she said. “In Louisiana there is a matrix that was public about how decisions were made. We’re going to get these closure decisions in March with no public meeting. It’s a chaotic landscape.

Close, then what?

Studies on the impact of school closure on children have turned up mixed results: when students are re-assigned to high performing schools, they do better. If not, they don’t.

Students of color are disproportionately affected by closures and reports show that when a school closes these students typically are not placed in high performing schools, according to a 2013 study by the Schott Foundation for Public Education an advocacy group based in Cambridge, Mass.

Most students at schools on Michigan’s closure list are students of color with nearly all in the cities of Detroit, Saginaw, Flint and Benton Harbor. Michigan’s school reform office has wide discretion over the closure process but does not have authority to assign students from closing schools to high-performing schools.  Baker, the reform officer, said her office intends for students from closed schools to be able to attend schools ranked in the 25th percentile or higher.

Daniel Quinn, executive director for the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice a nonprofit research organization funded by education groups such as teachers unions, said research does not show closure by itself is an effective reform tool. Even with the states that won the federal grants, closure was an optional and least used reform model, not something that is mandated after three straight years of failure as in the case of Michigan, he said.

“I haven’t found any other states with similar laws to Michigan,” Quinn said. “Closing schools, according to advocates, for under-performance would encourage innovation and spur better overall performance. If faced with closure, the school would be forced to compete and improve their performance. However, the threat of closing schools without providing for equitable resources or adequate supports has proven to be unsuccessful.”

The major difference between Michigan’s accountability process and the procedures in more successful states is that Michigan’s education landscape is highly politicized and divided over the best way to reform schools, experts who have studied policies here have said. Most agree that school closures should occur with public input and only after the state implements other reforms to ensure students go to a better school.

“The bottom line is you have to address the scarcity, the lack of high-performing schools. If you’re not going to do that then (students) are just stuck,”  said Robin Lake, executive director for the Center or Reinventing Public Education in Washington which studied Detroit school reforms.

“The state should absolutely be involved in making sure there’s a better option,” Lake said, “but the worst-case scenario is there’s no other option so you do nothing. There has to be someone thinking about increasing the number of quality schools and addressing the quality desert.”

Where to?

After the state announced the potential list of school closures, parents were sent a list of other school districts with better performing schools. Many are located in other counties - as far as 50 miles away - and have few low-income students or students of color who are similar to the students whose schools are set for closure.

The lack of public meetings in the process - especially about where students are expected to enroll if their school is closed - has angered parents.

Sharlonda Buckman, executive director of the Detroit Parent Network, an advocacy group, said with so few good schools in the city, the closures guarantee children’s lives  will be disrupted, but won’t guarantee students will end up in better schools.

Parents “want to work with the state to bring in additional resources and support to ensure their schools get better and maintain education in their communities,” Buckman said. “The state wouldn't dare to attempt to assign children in more prominent communities!”

If the state reform office determines closing a school will create a “hardship,” the school can remain open. The “hardship” determination is up to the discretion of the state reform officer and is not outlined in the law. Baker has said the factors that will determine  whether a school can avoid closing include whether there’s a school ranked in the 25th percentile or higher near the school scheduled for closure.

That could exempt most if not all of the Detroit schools because in Detroit none of the 25 schools facing potential closure has a better performing school nearby, according to a map created by the Detroit Free Press.

Efforts are underway to fight the closures so students don’t have to go anywhere.

The Detroit school board voted recently to hire an attorney to fight the closures. Also, State Sen. Phil Pavlov, chair of the Senate Education Committee, introduced a new bill in January that would repeal the current state law. Pavlov has labeled the current “failing schools” law “chaotic” and wants his bill to set off a public conversation over how to incentivize school improvement on state and local levels. The bill has not yet come up for a vote.

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Tue, 02/21/2017 - 9:30am

Setting aside the question of whether it's parents and culture or schools and teachers that drive success. Why not just stop new kids from entering these subject schools? Then they theoretically have 4? years to improve while firing the least effective personnel along the way, until kids dwindle to zero. Of course this could be called a slow death rather than a quick one.

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 4:03am

I think one thing that is often overlooked is that these kids have to go home. School has them for 6 or 7 hours a day then they go home then there's the weekend. If people don't start realizing that schools cannot do it alone, we'll never get anywhere!

Darryle J. Buchanan
Mon, 02/27/2017 - 1:12pm

Exactly. The elephant in the room is poverty, period. We can dance all around it, but until Michigan gets serious about elevating people out of poverty, this scenario will never change.

Chuck Fellows
Tue, 02/21/2017 - 9:53am

This is another example of Michigan's continuing educational genocide.
First, Michigan policy treats schools as warehouses in the production process of "education". Schools, and governance, are not a "business model".
Second our policy and non profit dunderheads are using discredited and ineffective measures to identify winners and losers (AKA Failures).
Third, no one is listening to the real voices in education, the teachers, student and parents.
Fourth, it is about learning, not academic education, winners and losers, cut scores and percentiles. LEARNING, something we all enter the world knowing how to do, and do it, until the institutional forces of education destroy that natural human ability.

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 11:59am

Other states didn't have Betsy Devos writing the policy and buying the votes to get it passed.

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 1:53pm

The laws pertaining to closing failing schools, as the article states, were a response to the federal government's Race to the Top program, which was created by President Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. The bills were signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Chuck Fellows
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 9:36am

Laws created by the legislature and approved by a majority republican legislature with the power to override a Governor's veto as part of a larger package prepared to win an award of funds from the race to the top intiative, an effort to get the institution of education to be creative and innovative. Michigan's republicans failed to win an award.

Marti Fritz
Tue, 02/21/2017 - 1:37pm

Michigan's approach to school reform hurts kids, their families and neighborhoods. Basing a process on test scores with no public input and no plan for placing displaced children in higher achieving schools makes no sense. Two of Kalamazoo Public Schools' 17 elementary schools have been threatened with this closure. Ironically, KPs's two high schools are among the nine high schools (as determined by Bridge) that best prepared students for success among the 141 schools in which more than 55 percent of students were eligible for a free or reduced-priced lunch (the poorest of Michigan's high schools).

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 4:07am

I agree and the way it currently reads, there will always be schools in the bottom 5%, so you'll always have schools closing! Most alarming is that there is no plan coming from the SRO. Close schools then what?

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 2:03pm

Who do we call and what is that number?

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 6:28pm

legislature.michigan.gov; votesmart.org; countable.us; GovTrack.us

Dick Burke
Tue, 02/21/2017 - 3:21pm

If leading states choose to build up their low performing schools, what should we learn from that? Close them down? Duh. No, invest in education. It's our future.

Scott Boone
Tue, 02/21/2017 - 5:42pm

What role, if any, did Betsy DeVos have in creating Michigan's vague reform plan?

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 10:52am

Virtually none. The current School Reform Plan was designed to comply with the priorities of the Obama administration's Race to the Top program.

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 6:02pm

I go back to basics because there are too many variables that so-called educational experts and activists fall back on. A school is as good or as bad as the community. History has shown that providing a certain demographic with a good school building, good teachers and academic resources for the classroom does not equate to academic success. The answer in my opinion is more control at the local level to develop a curriculum that is based on reality for the demographic. This must also include at least twice a year an intensive review of each students performance that includes exposure to opportunities based on academic success. The student - family has to be held accountable and are the key to any success.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 02/21/2017 - 8:05pm

The take-away that I got from this piece is that accountability and responsibility in public schools are bad.

Even after umpteen warnings to improve their outcome.

And then we do...help me out here?

District like Detroit already receive a disproportionate level of funding in relation to other districts around Michigan. With many of those same district leaving Detroit in the dust (academically speaking).

So EXACTLY what does Mrs. Dawsey propose?

Tell those same district already receiving less money, that they must give up even more of their funding in order to make people in districts like Detroit feel better for one more year?

Chuck Fellows
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 9:41am

Accountability and responsibility methodologies are defective. They measure nothing and worse simply punish children and teachers. This is systemic problem impacting all Michigan's schools. In simple terms all those well intended experts at the top do not know what they are doing and are too intellectually lazy to implement available solutions.
The state distributes operational funds. The community (Detroit) has to raise revenues for school infrastructure and capital expenditures - to provide the environment within which operational funds can be used effectively.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 7:57pm

These schools have failed for three years straight.

In Detroit 96% are not proficient in math. Think that's bad? 93% are not proficient in reading. And those numbers are straight from the US Dept of Ed. They didn't come across problems as bad in other Michigan cities.

Care to elaborate on why?

And I don't see Detroit residents being very receptive to any new tax hikes whatsoever.

Chuck Fellows
Thu, 02/23/2017 - 10:14am

The measures indicating failure are defective, see fairtest.org. Comparisons to other districts and states are not valid since they all have different systems, curriculum and pedagogy, and individual states control the "manipulation" of the numbers sent to DoEd. Review Michigan's draft plan to comply with ESSA for examples.
Detroit's residents are already taxed at an effective rate higher than the wealthy suburbs and property values are extremely depressed, the source of revenues to support educational infrastructure.
Detroit's difficulties are not generated by Detroit's residents. "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs does a good job of laying out the problems Detroit has experienced.
Private and public efforts are working to revitalize Detroit as well as other American cities. The minority community in Detroit is acting to help themselves and the larger community around Detroit. You can help too by learning and remaining aware, and sharing your factual knowledge.

Michigan Observer
Tue, 02/21/2017 - 10:42pm

The article says, "Baker has said the factors that will determine whether a school can avoid closing include whether there’s a school ranked in the 25th percentile or higher near the school scheduled for closure." Unfortunately, while, on the face of it, that would seem to rule out closing any schools in Detroit, it would have been extremely helpful if Ms. Pratt Dawsey had made a stronger effort to determine precisely what those factors were.

The Free Press map linked to in the article provides a lot of useful information that could be the key to not only achieving the goal of providing a better education to those students in the worst schools, but providing a means of putting real pressure on the staffs of those schools. I have neither the time or energy to make a list of of each group of schools (Detroit Public Schools, EAA, and charter) and determine what percentage of each are in each percentile classification, but it appears that a high percentage of charter schools are in the two groups of better performing schools (yellow and orange). If, instead of attempting to close the worst schools before school starts in the fall, suppose it was stipulated that they would be closed before the start of school next year, and that charter school operators would be invited to submit proposals to open schools in the existing neighborhood school buildings.

That would offer a high likelihood of providing a better education for those students in their own neighborhood and give the current operators of those schools adequate notice that they were highly likely to be displaced if they did not sharply improve the education they were offering.

Chuck Fellows
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 9:45am

The issues facing schools are not within the schools authority to correct. Legislatures and academics maintain a one size fits all warehousing operation called schools using centuries old methods prescribing in great detail the what, how, when, where and why of classroom activity. Children are not allowed to use their natural ability to learn and teachers are not allowed to teach.

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 4:42pm

Yet with all the diversity of learning and teaching that children and teachers exhibit, aren't you against almost any type of school choice? Just trying to figure out where you're coming from in this.

Chuck Fellows
Thu, 02/23/2017 - 10:46am

I will try to give you an idea of where I am coming from.
Choice as currently applied is a red herring. Where "choice" must occur is in the classroom, not in the legislature or adult imaginations. Children and teachers must be allowed to learn and grow together in a collaborative and cooperative environment, safe from harm supported by resources defined by teachers voices .
That cannot happen in education since the 100 year old system is prescriptive in terms of what, where , when, and how "Academic" content is delivered. Further, assessments of "progress" or "growth" are created by three major private non profits, ETS, the College Board, and ACT which focus on content retention are are culturally tuned to a suburban middle class audience. (The kids in Detroit don't have a chance). Knowledge is parsed and delivered in silos negating any effort by teachers and children to collaborate in and integrate knowledge and actually demonstrate their proficiency (what the real world demands). Read Mathew & Hargreaves "The Fourth Way" for an overview of the system which is artfully described in Ken Robinson's "paradigms" video on You Tube.
Funding is "per pupil" allegedly to insure all have a FAPE. In reality this type of funding does not support learning since learning is an individual effort, not a collective one size fits all activity driven by a calendar . "Equitable" funding would be a system wherein teachers in classrooms develop curriculum and pedagogy for each individual child (some schools already do this - Big Picture Schools, real Montessori schools), then district staff monetize and aggregate into a budget that the legislature must fund. Infrastructure is an area where states can create a level playing field for all children by insuring the facilities are indeed equal throughout the state. Current efforts for higher standards (would they knew what a standard is), greater rigor, and increasing test scores will not improve learning anywhere. The rest of the developed world has repeatedly demonstrated this but the all powerful Academic and uninformed Politician are so limited in their perspective they literally cannot see. The same as all those automotive executives and experts that traveled to Japan for decades trying, and failing, to see why quality and productivity in Japanese industries grew to such levels so fast - they could not comprehend that the people that actually do the work (in education the teachers and the students) are the voices senior management must pay attention to (Read Max DePree "Leadership is and Art" and Peter Senge's "The Fifth Discipline" as primers of this concept. Ed Deming's "Out of the Crisis" is the definitive text in this regard (Neaves "The Deming Dimension" as an alternative) and as an added bonus teaches us how to really measure for improvement). A review of "Understanding Variation" by Donald Wheeler will illuminate how measuring should be done and date should be used.

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 5:25pm

Chuck I recognize I'm picking out pieces here but, "Children and teachers must be allowed to learn and grow together in a collaborative and cooperative environment...." ? Not all kids respond in the same way to the same environment. I'm sure some kids thrive in an educational Disney land where others do better in educational Marine Boot camp. They're are not little machices falling off an assembly line that require only a tweek here or turn there. I nor anyone else should pretend to force them one way or another, your side has been trying with not so great results for a long time.
Your drive for educational "equity"???, you can't seriously believe that anyone with any amount of money to spend can ever achieve any real level playing field if you even knew what factors ultimately deliver success . The ultimate destination of this pursuit would be some combination of North Korea and Brave New World.
We already have examples of that vastly out perform our system and it's not the education by zip code that your side of the fence insists on. Our nation is one of the few that insist on this.

Michigan Observer
Thu, 02/23/2017 - 10:32pm

Mr. Fellows is so caught up in his educational philosophy that he has utterly failed to notice that students are being educated every day, and have been for thousands of years. Listening to him, you would never know that numberless people have been well educated and led successful lives.

Perhaps he would care to demonstrate his educational philosophy's value by sharing the results of the school that he is involved with.

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 4:19am

Mrs. Dawsey can't determine those factors because the SRO itself hasn't determined the factors! Iive in the city. Please understand that schools performing in the 25th percentile is still not good! Even the small group of charters you reference are not high achieving, stellar schools! Furthermore, unlike traditional public, most charters can be and are selective in who they enroll. Just because a charter is nearby, it doesn't mean it will take those children and as the article states, the SRO can't make them! This plan is ridiculous and does not put kids first!

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 11:37pm

Everyone is missing the obvious - if the State is allowed to shutdown the worst performing schools every year, eventually, all schools will be shut down. This is the goal of the Repugnant Party - to ensure that the electorate is poorly educated because statistics show that better educated people tend to vote Democratic.

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 10:19am


Michigan Observer
Thu, 02/23/2017 - 10:44pm

Plubius is entirely mistaken when he says, " if the State is allowed to shutdown the worst performing schools every year, eventually, all schools will be shut down." He is forgetting the stipulation that there must be a nearby school in the 25th percentile or above before a school can be shut down. Instead, if an operator of high quality charter schools was invited to open a charter school in the vacant building, you would find a steady upgrade of our schools.

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 4:21am

You can't assume that especially considering the fact that even charters in the city are mediocre! Come on folks, let's stop glorifying charters!

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 11:06am

The state is currently allowed (required?) to shut down only those schools that have been in the bottom 5% of performance for 3 consecutive years. A school could consistently perform just barely well enough to be in the 6th percentile for one year in three and continue to operate indefinitely under this law. That's an extremely low-performance bar for us to set as a state, which is as it should be if we're talking about potentially changing *everything* about a failing school except the students; the school operator, the governance model, the principal, the faculty, the curriculum, the length of the school day, the school calendar, etc.

In addition, the Michigan Department of Education committed to not closing chronically failing schools in the 2017-18 school year unless there is an accessible school which has been performing at the 25% or higher level for the students to transfer to. What's "obvious" is that schools need to better serve students and their families. Not that the MI Dept of Education will close "all the schools" because there will always be a bottom 5%.

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:40pm

What does it take for people to recognize that Republicans DO NOT support the people and have nothing but contempt for the poor? 96% of the students of one "failing" Kalamazoo public school are on free or reduced lunch program. Overall, our public school population is disproportionately poor and/or minority. Any idiot knows that concentrations of poverty raise many barriers to educational achievement. Yet, our unaccountable state bureaucrats prefer to punish poor children, not educate them. We in Kalamazoo are proud of our public schools, and support them. One of the schools to be closed is new this year. WE voted for and paid for that school, not these faceless bureaucrats who know nothing and care less. So much for local control. I challenge Snyder and his minions to find properly constructed peer-reviewed research studies demonstrating no correlation between educational achievement and socio-economic status. Simply to solely use the raw data of a newly-invented test to label the schools of 750 students "failing" is immoral. That these students are among our poorest makes this a morally squalid action. Although our two high schools are ranked among the top 25, these students chances of making it there will be even more limited. I understand Michigan now is second to last (Mississippi last) in per capita state support for education. Is there no one in Lansing who even cares?

Sat, 02/25/2017 - 12:28pm

We USED to be up there in the rankings with Massachusettes (which the article references has been deliberative, researched-based, publicly-vetted, etc. in its school-improvement initiatives). Now, as you said; we're "at the bottom" with Mississippi. The oft-heard re-branding of our state as Michissippi, unfortunately, appears to be well-deserved! Thank you, Chastity, for what we've come to expect from your well-written summary on the "present state of school reform."

Chulita R
Fri, 02/24/2017 - 8:25pm

Governor Snyder's closing of school's in the low-income areas of the state is just another exhibit of him disenfranchising low-income and minority people throughout Michigan. They should be investing in schools, building them up, and providing them with the necessities children need to achieve success. Students don't even have desks or books, laptops etc. Where is all of the lottery money going? It's obviously NOT going to the schools; nor are there any plans to reform low performing schools. Very sad; school closures should NOT be happening.

Chuck Jordan
Sun, 02/26/2017 - 2:29pm

So I'll just tear down the house I'm living in without thinking about what I will do next. Smart.

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 4:21am


Ben Washburn
Sun, 02/26/2017 - 8:15pm

For the past 40 or 50 years, the educational systems of other nations which have tighter-knit family structures, have out-performed our students on international measures of student performance. Duh! Some have been far more desperate than us as emerging economies; others were mainly in European nations which still have a higher standard of living than us.
There is NO TOP-DOWN SOLUTION to this reality. The more we expect from government to somehow intervene on this issue, the worse that we will make things. Any successful governmental intervention it TOTALLY dependent upon a TOP-DOWN answer!
If there is an answer, it is to be found only within our families, and within those institutions into which families resort, such as, our religious congregations. This is not to promote any particular religion, but only to recognize that today, these are the only remaining strong institutions left, which can effectively help with this issue.

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 7:29pm

What kind of accountability is this? Governor Snyder sends Emergency Managers to take control of city governments that are in financial distress but the state just shuts down local governments educational institutions that are failing to do what they do best at, EDUCATE. If EM are required to help cities get their general and capital budgets in order, how should this differ from the school side of the budget. I believe that the State of Michigan owes it to their local units of governments, to provide assistance and leadership to bring their educational institutions "up to par", to help make this great state competitive to other states in our country. It is time to make education equitable again and develop the young minds in our "inner city" youth. They are a wealth spring to our future. Closing their local schools will only create future inequality and further put our lower income areas in poverty behind the eight ball. The State of Michigan has crippled its local governments and helped them to fail by keeping their Constitutional and Statutory Shared Revenues that are written into our state constitution. If you aren't going to keep your word, then you need to take care of your "own" and make Michigan a great state!