This transcript of a Mackinac Center Free Market Moments radio program is being broadcast on 15 Michigan radio stations during September, 1997. For more information on Free Market Moments, contact Producer Joseph Lehman .

For kids who grow up in depressed, urban areas, their only hope may be a good education. But the city council of Highland Park, near Detroit, just told the world that preserving its failing school system is more important than the students’ future.

A proposed charter school called the Learning Academy for Employment wants to offer high school diplomas and construction training to students aged 16 to 20. It would provide an alternative for those who aren’t succeeding in Highland Park’s regular public schools, one of Michigan’s ten worst districts.

But the district didn’t want a competing school to succeed where it is failing. When the charter school needed council approval, school district officials asked the council to squash it .

The council unanimously rejected the charter school’s request. The incredible reason was to prevent the new school from siphoning students away from the district’s adult education program.

What’s so bad about a school that educates kids so well that they don’t need adult ed programs later in life? There’s little hope for improving Highland Park schools while leaders there keep acting as if the system is more important than the children.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.