Are Detroit & New Orleans Models for Reforming Public Education?

Educators in Detroit recently announced a plan, the Excellent Schools Plan, to turn around the city’s education system.  Unfortunately Detroit has been plagued with low graduation rates and poor performance in the city’s public schools for years.  Thus, the plan to improve its school system is getting a lot of attention from those interested in education reform.

The plan would have:

– Detroit’s Mayor take over the city’s public schools

– Eliminate the elected school board

– Close underperforming schools

– Encourage parents to choose the best options for schools for their children

– Open new schools to replace the failing ones

– Create competition between charter schools, public schools, and private schools for students in the hope that the best schools will attract students

The plan is controversial as it would do away with the elected school board and would place a lot of authority in the hands of the mayor.

Is this the blueprint for the future?

There have been other examples, such as the efforts in New Orleans, post Katrina.

In New Orleans, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) school district ran the majority of the schools before Hurricane Katrina hit.  The school board now runs 4 public schools and 12 charter schools.  The Orleans Parish School Board is still an elected school board.

In addition to the OPSB, New Orleans has a Recovery School District (RSD) which was originally created in 2003 to take over schools that were underperforming.  After Katrina, the Recovery School District  took on a more active role and now runs about 24 public schools and 47 charter schools in New Orleans.  The New Orleans Recovery School District is managed by a superintendent who is appointed by the state.

What do you think?  Should control of underperforming schools be taken away from local school boards and given to other state or local authorities?  Should more charter and private schools be allowed to compete for students in many areas where student test scores are low?

Is this the way to reform our school systems?

What do you think?


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