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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 9 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.  

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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