Last week, charter schools advocate Gary Naeyaert spoke with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson about a Republican lawmaker’s proposal to dissolve the Detroit Public Schools district and replace it with an all-charter system. This morning, Henderson spoke with Dan Varner, former member of the State Board of Education, and CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit.
Varner has some strong words about Naeyaert, who directs the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), and his opinions.
“Who is Gary Naeyeart to show up making these kind of pronouncements?” asked Varner. “He is a high-priced lobbyist. He is not relevant to this discussion.”
Varner says he’s not against charter schools.
“There are plenty of charter school advocates who disagree profoundly with Gary Naeyaert,” he says.
Last week, Naeyaert told Henderson, “We’re talking about a particular district that has shown itself to be so academically and financially bankrupt that it has forfeited its right to teach our children.”
In response to Varner’s criticisms and assertion that the organization is not relevant to the debate, GLEP tweeted, “He’s about to learn just how relevant we are.”
Varner and others are advocating for a state bailout for DPS, which would include a new commission to oversee school openings and closings for charters and traditional public schools. Varner says the creation of the Detroit Education Commission [DEC] would involve, “creating a map annually that says: here’s where new schools are needed, here’s where new schools are not needed. [It would also] create a grading system. The state [would use] the “F” grades to [decide] which schools should close.”
The DEC “would not ban good charter schools. It would ban bad ones, and thank goodness,” says Varner.
“We’re not guessing at the outcome here [if the DPS bills pass]. We have data to suggest something like this makes sense,” he says.
Varner feels that the chances of passing the proposed legislation are good.
“I’m really hopeful…that we’ll get legislation passed…[that] will include some academic reforms.”
Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.