Tags: Education | Schools Closures | Michigan

Michigan Orders Closure of 38 Underperforming Public Schools

Image: Michigan Orders Closure of 38 Underperforming Public Schools

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (AP)

Friday, 20 Jan 2017 02:27 PM

Michigan on Friday ordered the closure of 38 chronically underperforming public schools in Detroit and other communities, marking the first time that traditional schools will be closed explicitly for academic reasons under state law.

The announcement came in conjunction with the release of Michigan's school rankings, which are based on standardized test results, students' improvement over time and the gap between the best and worst pupils. Schools in the bottom 5 percent for at least three consecutive years can be closed if other forms of state intervention have not worked.

Twenty-four of the 38 schools are in Detroit, a city with the worst academically performing school district of its size in the U.S. The rest are in other urban areas such as Kalamazoo and Saginaw.

Some schools likely will remain open. State officials next will determine whether a closure would be an "unreasonable hardship" for children with no better schools to attend. Factors to be weighed within 30 to 45 days include whether there are nearby schools that rank higher academically and could handle additional enrollment.

"Our goal is to make sure that every kid in the state of Michigan has access to a quality education so they have the skills necessary for a high-wage job, a career or college. That's the only way really to end multi-generational poverty for a large majority of the children in the schools that we're serving," said Natasha Baker, the state's school reform officer. She also freed 79 "priority" schools from state intervention after they demonstrated progress.

In 2015, the Republican Gov. Rick Snyder took more control of the office charged with turning around the lowest-performing schools by transferring its functions to a department that reports to him instead of the elected state Board of Education. He cited unsatisfactory progress and said no schools in the bottom 5 percent had been placed in a state turnaround district as authorized under a 2009 law.

The law lets the state impose one of four intervention models, including closure, if a school's "redesign" plan is not working.

Last week, a GOP state senator introduced legislation to repeal the school-intervention law, calling it flawed and in need of a fix now that state powers are being used more aggressively. Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm enacted the measure to improve Michigan's chances to win a federal grant.

Detroit activist group By Any Means Necessary and former Detroit teachers' union President Steve Conn said in a statement Friday that they were calling "on the people of Detroit to join us in building mass civil rights resistance in order to keep open every one of our precious Detroit public schools — by any means necessary."

In the fall, Snyder had decided not to close any Detroit schools for three more years because he believed it would have conflicted with the terms of a $617 million state bailout and restructuring of the district. That angered Republicans who control the Legislature, and GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette subsequently issued a legal opinion to the contrary, which is binding unless reversed by a court.

Until Friday, the state had only once before ordered school closings for academic reasons. In 2010 and 2011, a former state superintendent closed two charter schools in accordance with a law governing the independent public schools.

 

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Michigan on Friday ordered the closure of 38 chronically underperforming public schools in Detroit and other communities, marking the first time that traditional schools will be closed explicitly for academic reasons under state law. The announcement came in conjunction with...
Schools Closures, Michigan
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2017-27-20
Friday, 20 Jan 2017 02:27 PM
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