Charter School Group Demands Apology from Detroit Free Press Columnist

Dickerson compared charters to liquor monopolists

The state charter school association is calling for an apology from a Detroit Free Press columnist who equated the motives of charter school managers and employees to those of alcohol wholesalers.

In a Feb. 24 column critical of the charter school industry, Free Press writer Brian Dickerson said, “But the charter industry’s interest in the health and welfare of Detroit’s K-12 students is approximately analogous to the beer and wine distributors’ interest in the health and welfare of Michigan drinkers. Alcohol wholesalers want drinkers to buy their product; charter school operators want students to fill their seats (and the tax dollars that come with those students), with a minimum of interference from locally elected school boards.”

The president of the state charter school association objected to school workers being compared to alcohol distributors.

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“It’s beyond outrageous and offensive that someone would compare the motives of a charter school educator to the motives of a beer salesman,” said Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. “A student is not a bottle of beer, and a charter school leader is not an alcohol salesman. Brian Dickerson has crossed every line of good taste and decorum, and he owes an apology to every charter school educator, parent and student in Detroit.”

“This is a critical time for education in Detroit, and there are some very serious discussions taking place. Instead of offering constructive ideas and solutions, Brian Dickerson — a columnist for the state’s largest newspaper paper — is more interested in lobbing outrageous insults at charter school educators.”

“If Brian Dickerson doesn’t want to send his child to a charter school, he doesn’t have to. But tens of thousands of Detroit parents have made that choice for their own children, and they deserve better than these types of insults and attacks. We call on Brian Dickerson to issue an apology to Detroit’s charter school educators, parents and students.”

Michigan beer and wine distributors are a special interest that benefits from regional monopolies granted by the state. That makes them akin to conventional school districts, to which children are assigned not by choice but by ZIP code. Charter schools only get students if their parents make that choice.

Dickerson didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.