Detroit's school system is now $400 million in debt. And if its enrollment dips below 100,000, as is likely by autumn, it will no longer be a "Class A" district under Michigan law--which means that charter-school start-ups will be allowed in the city after a several year hiatus. Local politicians aren't thrilled about that possibility. "I just think it's a terrible time to introduce competition that does not have a track record," school board President Carla Scott told the Free Press. "It would financially cripple the district." (As if it hadn't crippled itself, not least by running schools from which tens of thousands of pupils have fled.) But by that reasoning we'd keep Toyota from importing more Priuses because they're beating the pants off GM and Ford. Instead, we expect American companies to, you know, compete, as GM is trying to do by racing its electric car through the development process. Protectionism is nothing new in the Motor City, but for the sake of that city's many needy children, let's hope it doesn't prevail this time around. The expansion of high-quality charter schools is exactly what Detroit needs.
"DPS expects a $400 million shortfall," by Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Detroit Free-Press, June 17, 2008