Detroit Free Press “State of Charters” Where’s Special Ed?


The Detroit Free Press series, “State of Charter Schools,” (June 22-28) will undoubtably win journalism awards. It will be viewed as a stellar piece of investigative journalism. I would agree if I didn’t know better. As a longtime advocate for all children and a voice for children with disabilities, the Detroit Free Press glaringly omitted the “state of special education” in our charter schools. Where was the investigative journalism on charters and (un)-special education?

Outside of a paltry couple of short paragraphs in Thursday’s series, not a word about students with disabilities and violations to our state and federal special education laws. Many words on egregious mismanagement of charters like Summit and NHA but not a mention of the special education mess in the Mosaica-run Muskegon Heights Public School Academy, outside of the severing of this management company’s contract.

During the 2012-13 school year while other news services covered the mismanagement and poor educational conditions for “all” students in the for-profit-charter-run Muskegon Heights Public Schools Academy, there was also substantive coverage of gross neglect to students with disabilities and systemic violations to their special education plans (“IEPs”). Not a written word from the Detroit Free Press in an unheard of “eight-day” series, called the “State of Charter Schools.” Better stated, the “State of Charter Schools” and who cares about students with disabilities? The FREEP editorial board has opened and closed Sunday editorials with “Michigan’s charter schools are largely un-proven, unregulated and inadequate to solve the problems they were conceived to address.” How on earth does this not apply to charters and special education?

Can the Detroit Free Press accept criticism while basking in the glow of this eight-day series? Only the printing of letters to the editor, and this one included, will answer that question.

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