The face-off between district and charter school leaders Wednesday night produced fiery moments and tense exchanges. But it also produced something useful for parents and community members: a new way to compare the services they provide.
When the advocacy group 482Forward invited Detroit School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti and the leaders of the city’s two largest charter school authorizers — Grand Valley State University and Central Michigan University — to speak at Wednesday’s first-ever State of the Schools Address, it gave them a list of facts they wanted them to bring. Among them: How many of their schools provide arts, music, special education, bus transportation and other services.
Scroll down to read their responses.
Also, if you missed the debate Wednesday, you can catch the replay below.
Some of the exchanges worth skipping ahead to include Vitti’s response to a question about the value of school choice, about 35 minutes in.
“Let’s be real. This is competitive,” he said, before launching into a discussion that ended with, “In the context of Michigan, choice has been disastrous because it has not had guardrails … We should not be allowing schools to open as if they’re corner gas stations, hoping that they do well for children.”
There’s another good exchange that starts around 54 minutes in when Vitti rebuffs the suggestion from charter leaders that Detroit schools could collaborate to benefit all city kids.
“At the end of the day they’re trying to recruit students from our system .. and we’re trying to do the same thing,” Vitti said. “So when’s the last time Mcdonald’s and Burger King got together and shared their recipe for hamburgers?”
That prompted a response from Grand Valley’s Rob Kimball who said: “This is not about burgers and fries. This is about kids’ lives and kids’ dreams.”
Below the video are the data documents provided by Grand Valley, Central Michigan and the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
Here’s the panel discussion.
And here’s the panelists answers to audience questions: