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State releases list of potential school closures

Jan 21, 2017

On January 20th, the state released a list of 38 schools that could be up for potential closure by the School Reform Office (SRO) as part of the Department of Education's release of the 2016 School Score Cards.

The list, made up of schools that have been in the bottom 5 percent of all schools for three consecutive years, includes 24 schools in Detroit Public Schools Community District or Detroit's Education Achievement Authority.  In addition, there are three from Benton Harbor, one from East Detroit, two from Kalamazoo, two from Pontiac, two from Saginaw, one from Bridgeport-Spaulding, one from River Rouge, one from the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System and the Michigan Technical Academy.

On the other hand, 79 schools were taken off the list thanks to recent academic gains.

The schools on the list could be closed as soon as June 30, according to the SRO.

MEA President Steven Cook released the following statement today with regard to the release of the list and the threat of these schools being closed:

"We all need to be dedicated to ensuring every child, regardless of their zip code, gets a great public education.  But when it comes to closing schools through the School Reform Office, we need to take a hard look at how this process is working.

"First, closing schools without finding out why those schools are struggling isn't a viable long-term strategy.  Why have these schools been struggling for so long?  What's the cause?  For many years, MEA has advocated for rigorous educational audits of struggling schools to get to the bottom of why they aren't succeeding.  Simply closing schools and up-ending the lives of students won't fix any problems if the root causes aren't adequately addressed.

"It's also important to note the dissatisfaction among many Lansing lawmakers with overemphasis on standardized testing and the failure of existing federally-instituted school reform models. We must realize that for many students, academic achievement and academic progress simply cannot be measured by a standardized test.

"Finally, we need to involve all the stakeholders - staff, parents, and community members - in developing a plan that comprehensively assesses the needs of our students and determines any impediments to learning.  We need buy-in from those on the front lines of public education to make the changes necessary to helping every student succeed."

Stay tuned for more from MEA in the coming weeks about this situation.