Download audioDetroit Should Charter Its Schools

What to do about Detroit's schools? The job of straightening out the current financial and bureaucratic mess—to say nothing of improving the quality of education—is so daunting no one, it seems, is interested in becoming its new chief executive officer.

And no wonder. Detroit has more than 150,000 students, nearly 9,000 teachers and more than 13,000 other employees. One of its biggest problems is the sheer size of the district and the massive bureaucracy that goes along with it.

Massive problems call for ground-breaking solutions. What if the Detroit school board were to charter all of Detroit's schools?

This would free schools from the bureaucracy and empower parents, teachers and principals to make their own schools work. They could hire, fire, and promote on their own; determine their own pay, budgets and curricula. Accountability would increase, since the reform board—as authorizer of the charters—would periodically evaluate each school to see if it needs to be handed over to managers who can do better.

When charter schools fail, they can be shut down—unlike the Detroit school disaster, which goes on and on. It's time to try the charter option. Detroit's children deserve no less.