91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Despite more school choice, Detroit parents still frustrated

Boy in classroom with his hand raised
Mercedes Mejia
Michigan Radio
A charter advocacy group gives Michigan's charter law a passing grade

Eighty percent of Detroit parents say they do not believe the city's public schools are the best choice for their child. But they’re split on the other options as well.

A new survey from the Detroit News and the Thompson Foundation asks Detroit parents how they feel about their school choices.

Only one in five parents picked DPS as the best for their kid. But even with the recent increase in school options - charter, private, public schools outside the city - none was a clear winner.

Sharlonda Buckman is the with the Detroit Parent Network. She says the good news here is that with more choices available to them, parents are getting more involved. 

"Unlike years in the past, parents really are exercising their choice," she says. "They're really working to understand the issues better. They're getting more involved. And I think that's what we can be really optimistic about."

But more choice doesn’t necessarily mean more quality. Buckman recalls parents who’ve left DPS out of frustration, only to find that charter schools may not provide enough support for special needs students.

At the end of the day, parents’ are still frustrated, she says. "Children are the ones who are getting the short end of the stick, and that's been happening way too long. So as much as we have more choices now, there's still not enough good choices for kids."

DPS is trying to come back from declining enrollment and governance issues. Of the parents who do enroll their child in DPS, 80% say they’re satisfied with the system.

Still, most parents say they would enroll their kids in another school system, but transportation is the biggest obstacle to school choice.  

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.