Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine: How a Detroit charter school was set up to fail

Two months ago, I pulled up to Detroit Delta Preparatory High School and witnessed what looked like the normal end of the day — school buses pulling up, students outside chatting and messing around.

There were just a few problems with the picture: It was noon on a school day and it was clear that more than a few students had been crying. A student threw a recruitment sign into the street, where it would be run over by the school buses that had just begun to arrive.

We’d heard that the charter school’s board was considering shuttering this school just three weeks into the school year. Turns out they’d done just that.

At the time, Detroiters were shocked by the timing more than anything else. Families aren’t often sent scrambling to find new schools with so little warning. But our story yesterday made clear that when schools are allowed to open when they have little chance of success, and are able operate without enough supervision or support, students pay the price.

This story offers important lessons for this city and this state. As one of the people charged with overseeing the school told me for this report:

“If we don’t learn from this one, shame on us.”

Also today, hear directly from the advocates, experts and educators who believe that the state of Michigan has violated the rights of Detroit children by failing to provide a quality education. Lori wrote an update this week on the historic federal right-to-read lawsuit that’s been filed against the state. Yesterday, she posted a slew of the legal briefs from people pushing for the case to succeed. Read them here.

Scroll down for more on these stories plus a couple of important reads from our colleagues across the country. And have a great weekend!

— Koby Levin, reporter

Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox.

WHAT WENT WRONG It’s impossible to identify a single point of no return for Delta Prep: Was it the moment that the board’s relationship with its management company became fractious? Or the moment school leaders, desperate to boost enrollment, filled their building with high schoolers whose needs they were unprepared to address? Or was it even earlier, when that Michigan’s most respected philanthropies used their money and connections to give a flimsy school proposal a second chance? Chalkbeat

IN THEIR WORDS Economic experts said the first step to social inequality is denying children the right to literacy while a team of education law, policy and civil rights professors from Michigan’s top universities concluded that only the state of MIchigan can be held liable for violating Detroit students’ rights. Chalkbeat

CLASSROOM DIVERSITY  The number of teachers of color in the U.S. has skyrocketed. But they still make up only 20 percent of the teaching force. Chalkbeat

SCHOOL FUNDING “People who say money is not the issue are usually people who have money.” National Democratic strategists want education reformers to talk about school funding. Chalkbeat

STATE GRADES A bill that could advance through the legislature next month would give schools across the state A-F grades, but experts disagree about whether such grades would improve Michigan schools. Here’s how the grades would be structured. Bridge Magazine

CITY GRADES The citywide organization designing an A-F letter grade system to measure schools in the city of Detroit is hosting several community events in early December to get feedback on its proposed system from parents and educators. Community Education Commission

SALARIES Four school district superintendents — including Detroit’s — are among the ten highest paid public servants in Michigan. CapCon

BASKETBALL A Detroit high school principal has issued a detailed statement about why she fired a basketball coach who has sued to keep his job. WDIV

AUTISM Michigan has gone from 33rd to 10th in the nation for the number of certified behavior analysts who support children with autism. State of Michigan