More School Closings in Urban America, but is it a Bad Thing?

So today, I’m sure many of you have seen the news that Detroit will be shuttering 44 schools.  The adverse economy is really battering the urban schools at an alarming rate. 


Today I’d like to be a bit provocative.  Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing for our education reform efforts. Let me offer my evidence and you, the jury, can weigh in, deliberate, and decide:


  1. Many of these schools are broken, not only from poor physical infrastructure, but broken from the lack of academic performance resonating from their learning environments.
  2. Of course, in the short-run, this is going to be very, very painful for these communities, the laid off adminstrators, teachers, and most importantly, the students and their families.  But in the long-run, perhaps starting over with a new school design will have a higher probability of success compared with trying to re-engineer an existing institution.  Consider this analogy, which may be a bit oversimiplisitic: isn’t it easier to sometimes start an essay or letter from scratch than trying to edit an existing one, which could have been written by another person and in another person’s unique writing style?


I know what you all might be thinking.  I’m not cold-hearted when it comes to our children.  But analyzing through the eyes of a strategist, it is my fiduciary responsibility to present this as a viable, necessary ingredient in systemic change.  Maybe we’re at the beginning of the “bottoming out?” Maybe not.  But either way, it seems clear to me that we may be reaching a “defining moment” in our journey to reinvent educaion in our country which may or may not win a lot of accoldates.  Is this situation a necessary or “logical” consequence of the times? Or are these distressing decisions being made ones that could have been avoided?


I have asked my friend and colleague, Michael Horn, who is far more revered and credible than this author, to provide his insights on the evolving school consolidation underway across the country.


My next post will address another interesting article that hit today’s press about the continuing emergence of gender differences and the lower male performance in schools.

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