Detroit Parents Agree: Anything But Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit News reports that over half the parents in the city of Detroit this year have taken advantage of schooling opportunities outside Detroit Public Schools. A poll commissioned by the paper shows that parent confidence in Detroit schools is so low that less than twenty percent of those surveyed preferred DPS over the other educational options available to their kids.

Aridrianna Turner is one such parent. Last year, her 6-year old daughter began attending a local DPS elementary school. Conditions in the school were so bad that her daughter had to share school books with other children. She used the bus to get to class every morning, but the stop was located on one of the most dangerous local streets.

After one year Turner had had enough. She didn’t want another 10 months worth of worry about every aspect of her daughter’s education. Come September, she enrolled her daughter in a nearby charter school.

“Every test came home has an A. She gets individual attention. I like the hands-on element,” Turner said. “I think charter schools are the best option. My sister also put her kids in charter school. They are better hands-on; they don’t have to share. The kids come home and are saying they love school.”

Between September 22nd and 25th, pollsters from Glengariff Group Inc. interviewed over 800 Detroit residents to discover the feelings of parents about educational options available to their children. The survey was conducted by land line and by cellphone and was funded by a grant from the Thompson Foundation.

The news for Detroit Public Schools was dire. Nearly 80% of respondents thought that any other option would be preferable over sending their kids to a DPS school.

Despite the fact that they’ve soured on DPS schools, overall, parents feel optimistic about the quality of education their children will get. Even among those whose kids attend DPS schools, 100% believed that their kids will end up graduating high school and only a slightly lower 93% believe that they will end up enrolling in a college program — despite the fact that only 59% of DPS high schoolers go on to graduate.

Dan Varner, CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit, a nonprofit advocacy group, said there’s a wide gap between what parents think public schools deliver, and what students learn. Varner also said that issue isn’t unique to Detroit.

“There is a pretty remarkable disconnect in grading systems and college and career readiness in Michigan,” he said. “We have two different measuring systems — card marking and state assessments — and they don’t intersect. They don’t reflect each other. Folks are getting report cards with good grades, and they don’t graduate or attend college.”

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