Students real losers in Ravendale shutdown
More than 400 students were left without a school this fall when Ravendale Alternative Education Center was shut down. Located on Detroit’s East Side, Ravendale was, for many students, their last chance to earn a high school degree since it enrolled students who had either dropped out of or were expelled from the Detroit Public Schools. The bureaucratic snafus that led to the closing of this school have left the children of Detroit holding the bag.
Ravendale was funded through the Clintondale Community Schools of Macomb County, despite that it was located in Detroit. A shocking oversight that points to serious bureaucratic disorganization in the Michigan school system. The investigation examining the grant that established the school found miscommunication on the parts of the Department of Career Development, which mistakenly approved the project, and the state’s Department of Education, which is the only office licensed to do so. When the Detroit Public School system became aware of the situation, it ordered Ravendale to be shut down.
Administrators and students were rightfully distraught over the ruling to close the school, which was a last resort for most of its students, who had rediscovered the road to graduation. Despite the school’s illegality and the danger inherent in privately-funded schools, Detroit’s decision to shut the school down is heartless and smacks of grim of stoicism.
This story illustrates the many problems that the current school system faces. Not only are students failing out, but one of the only school that offered them the prospect of graduation has also been shut down because of red tape.
It is widely recognized that a number of Detroit schools are often unable to adequately address students’ needs or offer a comfortable learning environment, a situation that leads to high drop-out rates and expulsions. Band-aid solutions, such as alternative schools would be unnecessary if public schools were not under funded and mismanaged. Instead of allowing students to drop out or attend alternative schools, the structural problems with the public school system must be addressed. Furthermore, the problems with funding for-profit schools, such as Ravendale need to be addressed. Financing for-profit schools with state taxes – through programs such as vouchers – encourages people to leave the already under-funded public schools.
While the problems at hand are not easily fixed, steps can be taken to ensure better education for students. For starters, the Detroit Public Schools should take responsibility for the Ravendale students displaced by the city’s actions. All students deserve ample opportunities to graduate. Taking that away from students because of bureaucratic sloppiness undermines the very mission of public education.