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Partnerships, not closures, set to begin with Michigan’s struggling schools

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The state is stepping in to help struggling schools instead of closing them.


Earlier this year 38 schools were marked for potential closure. Those were schools that consistently ranked in the bottom five percent of all public schools in the state.


Now state officials and others are partnering with the school districts that house these low-performing schools to help them improve.


The partnership involves nine school districts and they will work with community partners to come up with a list of goals – and then have 36 months to meet them.


Governor Snyder said he hopes the legislature will soon update the law with a similar model. 


“I think this process has been really constructive, really educational and this is something I would like to see – can we institutionalize it in a more thoughtful fashion going forward,” he said.

If schools do not meet their goals or show significant improvement by their deadlines, the School Reform Office and State Department of Education will step in. This could mean a conversation with the ISD and/or talking with the district about closing or reconstituting a school, said State Superintendent Brian Whiston.


Whiston also said that final decisions are with the schools.


“The partnership model is really to say to local districts you own the issue. You own the problem,” he said. “Whatever the data says is the problem, you own that and you need to come up with some goals to address the issue.”


Some of the superintendents say they were already working on the goals in the agreements, but they appreciate the extra time and resources to help their schools.  

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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