Group Offers to Take Over Westwood Community Schools to Reverse Loss of Students

Mackinac Center: Improve Quality of Education, Don't Trap Children

MIDLAND—In a letter to the Westwood Community Schools Board of Education, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy today offered to take over the Westwood Community School District and stop the exodus of students that has resulted from the schools-of-choice program. The district sued the state of Michigan to prevent students from choosing schools outside the district, which the district claims has resulted in greater segregation.

"The district has this exactly backwards," said Mackinac Center Senior Vice President Joseph Overton. "With a schools-of-choice program, parents will continue to live in the district, even though their children may attend school elsewhere. If we erect barriers that prevent parental choice, parents will simply move out of the district, leaving both the schools and the community more segregated."

The letter suggests that instead of using the force of law to trap children and families in the school district, the district should be surveying parents to find out why they are leaving, and then taking steps to improve the quality of education in the Westwood schools. The Mackinac Center offered to contract with the district to run its operations. In addition to conducting education policy research, the Mackinac Center currently provides legal and financial consulting to many Michigan school districts to help them become more competitive.

"This public school district needs an attitude change," said Overton. "Instead of viewing parents as the problem, administrators need to view them as customers. The focus should be on improving the schools to earn parental support, not erecting a political razor-wire fence to stop children from escaping."