From K through 12th grade, I attended Detroit Public Schools, graduating in the late 80s, and was able to go on to bigger and better things as a result, including earning a bachelor's and master's degree, and securing a well-paying career in technology.
That's why it pains me to see what's been happening to the district over the last several years. Student enrollment is in freefall, as anyone who follows DPS knows well, and currently stands at about 110,000 students, a sharp decline from just a few years earlier.
However, I can certainly understand the reasons for parents taking their kids out of DPS schools. Most well-meaning parents recognize the value of a good education, and Detroit parents are no exception. Many of them have come to the realization that, by and large, DPS schools simply are not providing the kind of education that students need to succeed in the real world anymore. They've decided to vote with their feet, either by moving out of the city entirely, or staying in the city but sending their kids to other districts, such as Inkster and Highland Park, which accept kids from outside of their own districts. And of course, many more parents are sending their kids to charter schools, which seem to be almost as prevalent as check cashing stores and gas stations these days.
While I can't say that any of these alternatives are the answer, the message is clear: DPS is not convincing parents to keep their kids enrolled in its schools. Unfortunately, there are those who seem more concerned about the survival of the district rather than the education of our city's children.
Personally, at the end of the day, I really don't care where kids are being educated, so long as they're receiving the best education that they can get. So while I'm a supporter of free public schools (a magnificent concept not shared in many other countries), I'm all for any options that give students and parents alternatives to what they feel is an educational system that's not working for them.
I want to see DPS get better (and not just at a few select schools), but I don't think parents can afford to wait until that happens.