Culture Beat / June 8, 2016

Detroit Writer: Hey, Let’s Kill School Choice Supporters

“[S]ew them into burlap sacks with rabid animals, and toss them into the Straits of Mackinac.”

Stephen Henderson is an editorialist for the Detroit Free Press whose contempt for school choice and its Republican backers reached a new low. In a weekend op-ed, Henderson accused the state legislature of “dooming children in the state’s largest city to continued chaos and mediocrity, on the strength of empty rhetoric and false promises.” The tirade came in response to a House-approved bill last week that would enact changes to Detroit’s school system — and for good reason.

The city’s infamously atrocious education system has stimulated a charter school dash. But Henderson and the Leftmedia argue it’s the other way around. Earlier this year The New York Times reported, “According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, about 20 percent of school-age children in Detroit were attending charter schools in 2006. By 2014, that number was up to 55 percent.” But then it adds: “Most of the charter schools are outside district control but receive public money, drawing funds from the traditional system that would be used for its overhead and wages, critics complain.”

That nuanced backhand is one of the things Henderson highlights when he says, “Public schools … have been underfunded and torn asunder by depopulation and corruption.” That’s certainly true, to an extent, but it’s also a distortion — underfunding isn’t the cause. In fact, it’s the other way around. The reason charter schools are blossoming is because public schools are failing.

So what’s his solution? Make no mistake, a Republican would be absolutely lambasted for what Henderson advocates: “We really ought to round up the lawmakers who took money to protect and perpetuate the failing charter-school experiment in Detroit, sew them into burlap sacks with rabid animals, and toss them into the Straits of Mackinac.” And just for good measure, he tweeted, “GOP House harlots deserve worse than hanging for selling out #detroit kids…” Republicans are trying to help Detroit get out of a rut. Yet Democrats want them permanently silenced. That’s Detroit’s decades-long problem in a nutshell.

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