Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine: What can we learn from a charter school’s sudden decision to close?

steven mcduell
PHOTO: Koby Levin
Steven McDuell, 16, waits for a ride after learning that Delta Prep will be closed. A member of the football team, he has been preparing for the homecoming game this Friday.

Good morning! Yesterday was a tough one for anyone with a connection to the Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy for Social Justice. In a tearful, contentious meeting with parents and students, the school board decided to shutter Delta Prep, effective next Monday. With enrollment cratering, the school wasn’t financially viable, board members said, so about 200 students will have to continue their education somewhere else.

I arrived at the school in the middle of the day yesterday to find a crowd of students outside on the sidewalk, debating their next steps and wondering whether the homecoming game is still happening on Friday.

The episode highlights the precarious financial stakes for schools in a city where many parents don’t make final enrollment decisions until deep into September. That leaves school leaders scrambling over the summer to answer questions like how much money they’ll bring in from the state. It also explains why the school board didn’t realize it needed to pull the plug until now. Our story has more details, and puts the closure in context with debates about charter school oversight.

Also, if you missed our listening tour event on Tuesday where we heard from Spanish-speaking parents whose children are learning English in Detroit schools, we have a recap, in both English and Spanish. Please take a read, and be sure to keep scrolling for the latest education headlines.

— Koby Levin, reporter

Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox, or forward to a friend who cares about public education.

SHUTTERED The shuttering of Delta Prep is the latest in a line of sudden charter school closures that have angered parents and raised questions about how well charter schools are managed and supervised in Detroit. Chalkbeat Detroit Free Press WXYZ The Detroit News

LOST IN TRANSLATION Spanish-speaking parents say they won’t stop chipping away at the literacy and language barrier in Detroit schools. Chalkbeat Chalkbeat en Español

FRESH LOOK A Detroit philanthropy is becoming a major player in funding education in the city, and its director wants to help the city’s main district open new schools. Crain’s The Detroit News

CLASS SIZE Despite pleas from parents and local school officials who want class sizes lowered to improve academic achievement, Michigan still has no cap on the number of students in a classroom in K-12 schools or reduction programs to reduce crowded classrooms. The Detroit News

RESPECT A former Michigan teacher of the year says the solution to the state’s teacher shortage is more respect for the profession. Michigan Radio

MENTAL HEALTH Here’s how a local university is working with school counselors to help students cope with depression. Model D

YOUNG PARENTS A new report digs into the challenges facing young parents, starting with poverty and limited access to good jobs. Annie E. Casey Foundation

VAPOR TRAIL As the popularity of huffing nicotine-infused vapor soars, the practice is taking hold with kids — and making its way into schools. The vaporizers are often disguised as everyday objects, making them difficult for adults to detect. Detroit Free Press

BASKETBALL COURT Parents and students at a top Detroit high school are angry over the principal’s effort to replace a basketball coach. The coach has filed suit to block the firing. The Detroit News WDIV Detroit Free Press

VIDEO Some Michigan high schools are debating adding video games as a varsity sport. MLive