I’m sitting here tonight, thinking about all of the stuff I should be writing about, like the EMU student with tuberculosis and Rick Snyder’s “One Tough Nerd” gubernatorial ad, but all I really feel like discussing is this article in the Free Press today about the state of Detroit’s public schools. Maybe it has something to do with having just finished season four of The Wire, which is all about how monumentally difficult it is to fix an entrenched educational system that wasn’t built to serve today’s inner-city kids, but I can’t stop thinking about one of the ideas put forward in the article – the possibility of a public boarding school in Detroit… Here’s a clip from the article.
…Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick floated the idea in 2008 of creating a public boarding school on Belle Isle, but the plan never gained enough support. The school would have steered students toward careers relating to waterways and oceanic studies.
Kilpatrick’s idea was based on the work of Carl Taylor, a Michigan State University professor, and his brother, Virgil Taylor, who have worked with urban youths.
They envisioned a boarding school framed by military regimen and discipline. It would be isolated from the chaos of the streets. A team of teachers, counselors and even a physical education teacher could work with students on their academics, health and social skills.
And parents would have to stay away for a while.
“I think the problem that a lot of people don’t want to discuss is that a lot of kids would do better without their parents,” Carl Taylor said…
The nation’s only two college-preparatory public boarding schools are in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, operated by the Washington-based SEED Foundation. The nonprofit bills the schools as “a comprehensive solution to the challenges facing urban students.”
It costs $20 million a year to operate both sites. But the schools have showed results since opening in 1998 and 2008, respectively — 97% of graduates have been accepted to college, and 75% of last year’s graduates were first-generation college students, according to the foundation’s annual report…
According to the web page of the SEED Foundation, they are currently working with leaders in Ohio and New Jersey to establish new schools in those states. And I’m wondering why Michigan isn’t on that list. My fear is that we didn’t make it through their rigorous screening process, which seeks to verify community support, identify appropriate sites, and “determine the availability of the financial resources necessary to build and sustain a school,” but maybe that’s not it. Maybe Detroit hasn’t yet been considered. If not, I don’t see how it could possibly hurt to open up a dialogue with the organization… Right now, I’m reading through their 2002 analysis of Milwaukee (pdf), and starting a letter to the Detroit Public School Board… This, you see, is apparently what I do for fun these days.
And, for what it’s worth, if Rick “tough nerd” Snyder can pull off something like this, he’s got my vote.