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The Future of Detroit Schools

The 73,000 students who currently attend Detroit Public Schools can be forgiven if they're wondering just what will be waiting for them when they come back to school in the fall.

In the past few weeks, the school system has been a part of a debate of whether it should even exist.

First, Dan Rather called the district a "national disgrace" in a recent documentary. Then, the Detroit Free Press wrote a lengthy article last week on the district's move toward charter schools, with the headline "Is Detroit Public Schools Worth Saving?" (Education Week has also written about Detroit's plan to turn over up to 45 schools to charter operators)

Finally, at a recent retreat for lawmakers, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in an interview that structurally, the district is a "failing format." He says that the district would be better run as a system of schools operating with autonomy, rather than as a school system with centralized management.

With all these plans swirling around, eyes are now turning to Roy Roberts, the former GM executive recently named emergency financial manager for the district. Roberts is expected to unveil a new plan for the district by the end of this month, he said in a radio interview. From an article written based on that interview:

"There are people who would say you ought to just blow it up," Roberts said of the district, referring to a frontpage Free Press article asking if the school system was worth saving. "I would say the shrapnel would hurt some of our students."

"I think, very importantly, you better be smart about it. If you take something out, you put something really good in its place."


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