Here’s an article I overlooked a few weeks ago, but discovered yesterday. I remember watching the Fab Five back in the early 90’s and it’s great to see Jalen Rose involved in such a great project in Detroit.
Mr. Rose plans to start with this freshman class and add a new grade each year until there are some 500 kids in grades 9-12. "This is college prep. We expect 90% to 100% to go on to college"—no mean feat when many students are entering ninth grade with only fourth-grade levels of reading and math proficiency.
… he saw many promising high-schoolers who had earned straight-As but couldn't score higher than a 14 out of 36 on the ACT. "What were they teaching these kids? There are just so many poor-perform ing schools here, and there are so many kids in our city that want to do the right thing, and families that want to put their kids in a quality school. But they can't."
His school also doesn't have tenure for teachers. "I hate tenure. Tenure allows teachers to put their feet up on the desk and possibly have a job forever. That's why I got turned on to charter schools. It's a business model. Every employee and every teacher will be monitored by performance."
Kids too: "We have a code of conduct here. If they act up, they're suspended. They come back with a better attitude."
He also wants to influence parents—empowering them to demand better schools for their kids. The rigid system of school boards telling families where their kids have to go to school perpetuates poverty and a sense of entrapment, he says: "Forty-seven percent of Detroit area parents are functionally illiterate. So that puts their kids at a real handicap. Say my mom is one of those 47%. That doesn't mean that I shouldn't have a fair opportunity for a quality public education. But since my mom is functionally illiterate and we grew up on the west side of Detroit, I'm forced to go to this school that has been a poor-performing school for 30 years."
"There should be parental choice," he says clearly. "Schools should be open. If it's a public education, and the school in your district is poor-performing, you s hould be able to put your student or kid wherever you want."
Choice could be relatively easily implemented, he says. "I'm a taxpaying citizen, right? So if I'm paying $4,000 worth of taxes and I don't want my kid to go to this school, why can't they give me my $4,000 and allow me to pick where I want to put my kids?"
Mr. Rose wants to end this injustice by starting small, with 120 students, and then scaling up—but it won't be easy.