Can an Inner City School District Attract and Retain Middle Class Families?

DPS often loses when middle class families in Detroit weigh their options

Detroit Today’s Stephen Henderson investigates the relationship between the Detroit Public School system and Black middle class families, focusing on reasons families choose to leave DPS and enroll their children in private or public suburban schools. 

Henderson and his guests speak on their own experiences in different school systems, as well as the choices they have made for their children. 

Chastity Pratt Dawsey, education reporter for Bridge Magazine, mentions an experience she had at a Detroit Public School her children attended where a teacher had been, “placed in a classroom that was a window-less storage room turned into a classroom.”  She now sends her children to school in the suburbs, “It’s different in the suburbs…those types of problems [at DPS] problems of resources, they impact achievement, they impact everything that goes on.”

Kurt Metzger, founder of Data Driven Detroit and mayor of Pleasant Ridge, says although many people are choosing to place their children in suburban schools, other families do not have that option, “Now you have even more opportunities, more variety of schools…and if you have the wherewithal, and can do that, you have those opportunities.  And what’s left are the people who don’t have those opportunities.”  For many Detroit families, sending their children to a private or a suburban school isn’t an option. 

Chase Billingham, assistant professor of sociology at Wichita State University, adds whether or not families choose to enroll their children in Detroit Public Schools, “there is a commitment to democratic public institutions that needs to be upheld.”  

Click the audio link above to hear the entire conversation.