Donald Cohen, who runs an anti-privatization website (“In the Public Interest”), writes here about the damaging effects that charters in Detroit have had on public schools.
According to the corporate reform ideology, competition is supposed to be good for everyone. Wrong.
Emergency managers er shave created a large charter sector to compete with the public schools. But both sectors are struggling.
“This sort of competition — a zero-sum game — only helps some students and the management organizations and investors that profit from charter schools. Because charter growth has gone unchecked, DPS is struggling–and for no good reason. Charter schools have not performed better. In 2011, they were graduating 50 percent of their students while traditional public schools were graduating 75 percent. Despite this, Governor Rick Snyder and the state legislature passed a bill that lifted an important limit on the number of charter schools allowed in the state.
“Detroit’s schools need to be fixed now. But too much of DPS’s revenue is going to paying high interest rates instead of fixing buildings and paying teachers what they deserve. If charter growth continues unchecked and traditional schools lose more students, it will be even harder for DPS to pay down its debt and afford fixed costs, like buildings, maintenance, and administration.
“Wall Street agrees. The credit rating agency Moody’s recently downgraded DPS’s credit rating citing “a growing charter school presence.” Their outlook was bleak: “Absent enrollment and revenue growth, fixed costs will comprise a growing share of the district’s annual financial resources and potentially stress the sufficiency of year-round cash flow.”
“While Detroit’s charter schools continue to increase in number, there are some students they’ve avoided. Students with special education needs make up 17 percent of DPS enrollment; but for charter schools, that percentage is 9 percent. This difference further destabilizes DPS, as these students usually have higher costs associated with their education.”