One-third of Detroit Public Schools May Become Charters

One-third of Detroit’s public schools may be turned into charter schools – publicly funded, but privately run. That’s if everything goes according to the plan laid out by Detroit Public Schools’ emergency financial manager, Robert Bobb. According to an announcement this past weekend,, Bobb says handing over control of 41 of the district’s 142 schools to charter operators would save up to $99 million dollars, and will hopefully improve many of the city’s worst schools without having to close them.

A student learns to read at Cleveland's Intergenerational Charter School. Photo by Ida Lieszkovszky.

This solution isn’t exactly a new idea. About seven years ago, Chicago launched a plan to shut down poorly performing schools and replace them with new ones, many of them charter operated schools. Our Changing Gears partner WBEZ did an analysis to see how well these new schools have done, with mixed reviews. You can see their results here, and listen to coverage here and here.

In Cleveland, the debate between traditional public schools and charter schools has been raging for years. But Cleveland Schools’ Interim CEO, Peter Raskind told Changing Gears partner WCPN that charter schools are an inevitable part of Cleveland, and there is little point in fighting their development.

What are your thoughts on charter schools? Do you think they provide a better education than traditional public schools, or do they place too big a burden on parents? Is it a good way to cut costs?

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