There are lots of school choices, but only if we make informed choices
Eight schools. Newberry, Fitzgerald, Wilkins, Von Stueben, Butzel, Munger, Burbank and Cass Tech. These are all of the Detroit public schools I attended while growing up. My experience over 20 years ago, unfortunately, is still the experience of many children in Detroit. There is a great deal of transiency among school-age children driven both by poverty and by school choice.
As a child, going from school to school, I could tell which teachers cared or if they had high expectations for me. I also remember which schools provided me with daily homework, after-school activities and an academically challenging environment. Essentially, as a child, I could tell which schools were good and those that were struggling to prepare students. Luckily today, parents can avoid my experience for their children. Excellent Schools Detroit just released their 2012 School Report Card, which helps parents understand how well schools in Detroit and the metro area are performing. The 2012 School Report Card ranks all Detroit public schools and public charter schools, as well as some private schools. It also has included suburban schools where at least 30% of the students are from Detroit. The 2012 School Report Card only reports academic performance of students. This is limited information because it doesn't include data on school culture, attendance, safety and student growth. Nevertheless, it reports the most important indicator on whether students are prepared for success in life, work and college -- their ability to read and do math proficiently. Despite our concerns with the limited data, we should not let perfect become the enemy of good. If parents feel they need more, they can also attend Excellent Schools Detroit and Detroit Parent Network-sponsored Shoppers Fairs, where the best schools are showcased and are recruiting students. Data can be complemented with face-to-face experiences with good schools. By acknowledging the power of both data and experience, parents can make informed decisions, which is the true test of school choice.