Student advocates target Michigan in federal suit over Detroit schools' shortcomings
- Plaintiffs at five Detroit schools filed suit against the state of Michigan and Gov. Rick Snyder in federal court Tuesday for deplorable building conditions in their schools and the low academic achievement among the mostly black students who attend them.
- CBS Detroit reports the lawsuit, similar to one dismissed in 2012, accuses state officials of violating the civil rights of students in these buildings and asks for literacy instruction at all grade levels, as well as universal screening for literacy problems and better oversight.
- At one school, Hamilton Academy, not a single sixth grader scored proficient on state reading or math tests in the 2015-16 school year, and only 4.2% of third graders scored proficient in English, while only 9.5% of third graders at another school identified by the lawsuit, Experiencia Preparatory Academy, scored proficient in English — compared to 46% statewide.
The Detroit Public Schools system is a mess. The district has struggled under a mountain of debt that recently prompted it to split in two, creating a new district for buildings and funding to run day-to-day operations and leaving the old district in place to continue collecting property taxes and paying down $467 million in operating debt. This was a top-down strategy imposed by the state legislature and it did not get any support from Detroit representatives or the local school board.
While the charter school sector has ostensibly sprung up to offer better choices for families stuck in failing schools, the system in Detroit leaves parents with a lot of bad choices. And the oversaturation in the schools market has forced administrators to spend time and money on recruitment, including enrollment bonuses, rather than improving the educational opportunities or fixing building maintenance issues.
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