Please note: Initial figures for
grades, number of students, numbers of fulland part-time teachers, and tuition
apply to the 1989-90 school year. Figures in parentheses apply to the 1990-91
school year and appear only when different from the previous year.
St. Ambrose Academy (Catholic),
1091 Alter Rd.; founded 1914; pre-school through 8th grade, 203 students; 11
full-time teachers, 2 part-time teachers; tuition: $990.00/yr. (No change in
this data for 1990-91).
Fundraisers and subsidies from the archdiocese provide vital financial
assistance at St. Ambrose, which has one of the very lowest tuitions in the
city. Sister Marie Cyril Delisi, principal, reports that some of her enrollees
were former public school students with major problems. "We do not get the cream
of the crop," she says, "but we take each individual with all his/ her faults
and limitations and try to work with them." Weekly school assemblies are
designed to give recognition and peer support for students who have in some way
succeeded or excelled during the previous week. Regular homework assignments are
regarded as "critical" and are integral to school policy. An exceptional program
for those with "Learning Disabilities" has frequently produced advances in
students of as much as two years.
St. Thomas Aquinas
5845 Auburn; founded 1956; K through 8th (pre-K through 8th), 228 students
(250 students); 9 full-time teachers (10 full-time teachers), 2 part-time
teachers; tuition: $1,650/yr. non-parishioner, $1,030 parishioner ($1,670,
Parental involvement is considered essential and is actively cultivated at St.
Thomas Aquinas, with a notable degree of success. Administrators such as Sister
Jan Stocking, principal, regard parents as "co-educators of the children," and
have encouraged them as volunteers in the school, members of the school board,
coordinators of workshops and seminars, and planners of "family-type" activities
from picnics to ballgames. Test scores (American Testronics) put this school's
students at the 70th percentile of students nationally. Fundraisers and
subsidies from the archdiocese assist in financing. The school currently has a
waiting list of prospective students.
St. Clare of Montefalco (Catholic),
16231 Charlevoix, Grosse Pointe Park (included here because students who
reside within Detroit make up 82% of the school's enrollment); founded 1928; K
through 8th, 491 students (468 students); 21 full-time teachers, 2 part-time
teachers; tuition: $1,690/yr. non-parishioner, $1,125 parishioner ($1,845,
school boasts a strong reading program, an outstanding sports program, a
gifted/talented program for grades 5-8, professionally-produced public
relations materials including handbook and brochures, and numerous academic
achievements in spite of a library that is "woefully outdated." The school's
goals are clearly outlined in a mission statement and are broken down in actual
practice into "current" goals and "long-range" ones. Progress is carefully
monitored and in the long-range category, goals are occasionally refined and
updated. The principal, Hank Burakowski, reports that in meeting the goals for
the most recent year, the school was nearly 100°1o successful. Homework is
deemed very important, and guidelines throughout all grade levels are part of
school policy. An endowment fund, uncommon among non-public schools in Detroit,
supplements tuition, church subsidy and fundraising efforts. The school
currently maintains a waiting list of prospective students.
Dominican High School (Catholic),
9740 MeKinney; founded 1940, 9th through 12th grades (will add 6th-8th in fall
1990), 260 students (243 students in grades 9-12, 65 in grades 6-8); 19
full-time teachers (22 full-time teachers), 5 part-time teachers; tuition:
Sister Peggy Manners, principal, strongly differs with the "myth" that Catholic
or other private schools pick and choose "the best and brightest." Her
conviction is that minorities and disadvantaged youth excel and succeed in
Catholic schools at a rate far superior to that in public schools. Her
conviction is supported by several studies she referred to. Goals are
"practical" and evaluated periodically by staff and faculty. "No goal is
unrealistic," says principal Manners. Students wear uniforms. Many win
scholarships to colleges and universities as well as local and national
recognitions. Homework is regarded as important in every class, but each teacher
sets his/her own requirements. The rather large gap between tuition per pupil
and actual cost per pupil is made up through a raffle, candy sales, church
assistance and a development drive.
Holy Cross Lutheran (Lutheran),
14213 Whitcomb; founded 1927; K through 8th grade, 200 students (180
students); 10 full-time teachers, 2 part-time teachers; tuition: $1,600/yr.
for a number of science fair winners and its music programs, Holy Cross Lutheran
reports great difficulties in bringing public school transferees up to grade
level. Discipline is a strong attribute; students wear uniforms. Typical of the
complaints of most non-public school administrators, principal John Reed notes
very low parental involvement in spite of it being highly desirable.
unique, non-graded regime in which teachers work with levels instead of grades,
individual students pursue reading and mathematics according to their personal
abilities, not their age. Special attention is given to fostering a strong
desire to learn, a deep appreciation for knowledge, that the students will
hopefully carry with them as they continue their schooling elsewhere later. The
relaxed, relatively non-structured environment carries over to homework
requirements. Sister Irene Theresa Gumbleton, principal, reports that "parents
and students must realize that homework doesn't always mean written assignments.
We do not impose any minimum homework requirements," she says. Standardized
tests are "a contradiction" to the school's philosophy.
Mt. Calvary Lutheran (Lutheran),
17100 Chalmers; founded 1923; K through 8th grade, 160 students (142
students); 8 full-time teachers, 1 part-time teacher; tuition: $1,325/yr.
Principal Walter Krone makes the point that non-public schools such as his do
choose selectively in the middle and upper grades "because students coming from
public schools are so far behind." However, in the lower grades, especially
kindergarten and first, there is "very little" selection because "we can teach
any child to read and write if we can start them out ourselves." Homework from
kindergarten on up is applied on a regular basis by the teachers, but by
consensus not by set minimum school-wide standards. Students have consistently
scored above the norm for students in their comparative grades on standardized
tests, though not as high above as several years ago, "as the standard of living
in the surrounding community has declined." Church subsidy is substantial.
GA. Zurstadt Lutheran (Lutheran),
22159 Grand River; founded 1924; K through 8th grade, 124 students (119
students); 5 full-time teachers (6 full-time teachers), 1 part-time teacher;
Though two teachers here are not certified, they have taught successfully at
Zurstadt Lutheran for over 25 years. All seven of the school's board members are parents of
children in the school. Students score well above average on standardized tests
(Stanford Achievement). The school boasts a large percentage of its graduates
who go on to attend and complete high school, with many going on to college.
Awaiting list exists for prospective students.
Zion Lutheran (Lutheran),
4305 Military; founded 1577; Pre-school through 8th grade, 91 students; 5
full-time teachers; tuition: $1,350/yr. (No change in this data for 1990-91).
homework for students at Zion is mandatory in all grades. Students score better
than Detroit public school counterparts, but below national average. Funding
sources besides tuition are increasingly hard to come by, according to principal
Joe Dickerson. Starting salaries for teachers is $12,000, about the average for
non-public schools in Detroit. The school maintains a waiting list of
St. Gerard Consolidated
19900 Evergreen; founded 1957; K through 8th grade plus Spec. Ed., 240
students (246 students); 12 full-time teachers, 4 part-time teachers; tuition:
Bingo, raffles, candy sales and a small church subsidy
supplement tuition. The school has highly regarded sports, art, music and
computer programs. To the claim that private schools have an advantage over
public schools in that they can "pick and choose" their students, principal A.
Francis Bontumasi replies, "Ridiculous! We simply implement discipline and high
standards for our children; public schools can do the same but don't. It's that
attitude that we can pick and choose that stops them (public schools) from
adopting similar high standards." Regular parent surveys help the school assess
its success. Students score at an average level (American Testronics) among
Sister Clara Mohammed (Masjid Wali
Muhammad Church), 5505 Van Dyke; founded 1932; K through 9th grade, 70
students (95 students); 7 full-time teachers, 2 part-time teachers; tuition:
Principal Nadir Ahmed estimates that 10°10 of students here have one or more
parents who are teachers in public schools. Students wear uniforms in this
highly disciplined environment with Islamic roots. Homework is standard both
daily and on weekends. Emphasis is very strong on "keeping the moral climate
high and intact without deterioration." Students score a grade level or two
above their counterparts in nearby public schools. There is a waiting list for
Our Savior Lutheran (Lutheran),
12844 Elmdale; founded 1975; K through 8th grade, 130 students (112 students);
G full-time teachers, 1 part-time teacher; tuition: $1,570/yr. non-members,
Parents here can volunteer as lunch monitors, teacher aides, room parents and,
in some cases, one-day substitute teachers, but principal Howard Alexander
reports that parental involvement is nowhere near what the school would like to
have. He complains strongly about "apathetic parents." Nevertheless, the school
counts among its greatest strengths a stable staff extremely dedicated to the
"teaching ministry," school-wide computer instruction from K through 8th grade,
and firm, consistent discipline that the children often do not receive in their
home life. The governing board is relatively inexperienced and needs to work
harder at firming up its goals. Students generally score about average.
Echos Church of the Air), 11055 Glenfield; founded 1983; Pre-school through
12th grade, 320 students; 18 fulltime teachers; tuition: $1,350 in
elementary, $1,550 in high school. (No change in this data for 1990-91).
Fundraisers and a church subsidy which takes care of mortgage payments on the
school building assist in the school's financing. Principal Susan Conti reports
that approximately 10% of enrollees were "rejected" by the public schools
because of discipline problems. The school does test incoming students, but as a
means to determine at what grade level each child should be assigned, not as a
way to "weed out" undesirables. Parental involvement is deemed so important that
the school "couldn't survive without it." The parents "call a lot," says Conti.
Special emphasis is placed on "developing the whole person," with programs to
encourage interest in the arts, sports and music. Administrators report that
students coming here have been behind as much as four years but the longer they
attend, the narrower the gap becomes. Some extreme deficiencies, such as in
vocabulary, have been dramatically improved. The dropout rate in the high
school grades is near zero.
East Catholic High (Catholic),
7320 St. Anthony Place; founded 1967 as an amalgamation of seven high schools
on the east side; 9th through 12th grades, 234 students (200 students); 12
full-time teachers, 3 part-time teachers; tuition: $1,375/ yr. ($1,475).
city's Catholic schools enroll a substantial number of non-Catholic students. At
East Catholic High, 80% of the students are not Catholic. The dropout rate is
less than 10% Rarely does East Catholic turn down a prospective student, even
those with histories of troublemaking, and expulsion from public school.
Administrators, most notably principal Sister Judy Dutka, make a habit of
knowing each student personally. They stress values, mutual appreciation and
knowledge of black traditions and history, and respect for life and property in
a neighborhood where the great majority of children "have had friends or family
members assaulted or shot." Seventy percent of the parents are below poverty
level. The student population is 100% black, whereas teaching staff is composed
of 11 whites and 4 blacks. About 80% of the school's graduates continue their
education at 2-year or 4-year colleges. The school is especially proud of the
large number of its graduates who have gone on to earn higher degrees and then
come back to Detroit to live and work in the city and work to improve life in
the neighborhoods. East Catholic is the only co-ed Catholic high school left on
the east side (Dominican, the only other Catholic high school in that part of
Detroit, is all-girls).
Bethany Lutheran (Lutheran),
11475 E. Outer Dr.; founded 1889; K through 8th grade, 210 students; 9
full-time teachers, 2 part-time teachers; tuition: $1,700/ yr. non-church
members. (No change in this data for 1990-91).
Members of Bethany Lutheran Church who have children enrolled in the school do
not pay tuition, but are expected to keep their annual contributions to the
church at a level at least equal to the tuition charge. The school is currently
drafting a document which will clearly specify academic goals to be achieved by
each grade level. Class size is limited to 25. James Johnson, principal, also
teaches certain classes – a phenomenon not uncommon among principals in
non-public schools. Parents are expected to assist in fundraising efforts. Test
scores (Stanford Achievement) show average to slightly above average student
performance. Incoming students are tested only for grade level assignment.
7000 W. Outer Dr.; founded 1952; K through 8th grade, 236 students (227
students); 9 full-time teachers; tuition: $1,800/yr.
Greenfield Peace regards itself as "liberal with admissions and strict with
retention and graduation standards," according to principal Patricia Schultz.
She is quick to point out that the school is not equipped to serve the very
gifted or "the very far behind," and testing incoming students is designed in
part to avoid admitting children the school can't help. Nevertheless, occasions
have arisen when the school has accepted children expelled from public schools
and successfully "turned them around." Parents are expected to perform 20 hours
of volunteer time per year, from providing field trip transportation to
fundraising. Parents are also urged to spend at least 15 minutes each night
assisting, their children with homework. Nearly 100% black, the
student body exhibits exceptional spirit. Administrators are proud of the
numbers of their students who have gone on to Cass Tech, Renaissance and Martin
Luther King high schools, and on into "almost every profession." Home visits by
teachers used to be a school policy but sadly, due to perceptions of potential
danger, this is no longer a policy.
Detroit Urban Lutheran (Lutheran),
8091 Ohio St.; founded 1972; K through 8th grade, 225 students, 9 full-time
teachers, 1 part-time teacher; tuition: $1,600/ yr. ($1,700).
Between 30% and 50% of students admitted at Detroit Urban Lutheran are below
grade level at the time of admission, but within a few years most perform above
grade level. The school is especially proud of the large numbers of its
graduates who go on to success at Renaissance, Martin Luther King and University
of Detroit high schools, or at Cass Tech. In 1988, the school was recognized by
the U.S. Department of Education for its exemplary schools program because every
graduating senior, for several years consecutively, had scored above grade
level. Starting salary for teachers is high for non-public schools, at $16,000.
Parental involvement is deemed very important and is required in some instances,
such as for field trips, cultural, social and athletic activities, fundraising
and a parent-teacher league. The school's teachers maintain exceptionally high
homework requirements. Racial make-up of teaching staff is white by a ratio 2 to
1, but the student body is 99% black.
Gesu School (Catholic),
17139 Oak Dr.; founded 1920; K through 8th grade, 828 students (813 students);
35 full-time teachers, 2 part-time teachers; tuition: $1,780/yr. ($1,850).
is able to offer options often unavailable at other non-public schools: drama,
Spanish, after-hours care, and many extracurricular activities. The school has
accepted enrollees who had been asked to leave public schools. An entrance exam
is required but is used to place the student at the appropriate grade level.
Students are required to read 15 books outside the classroom per year. Many go
on to the city's best public high schools. Student achievements are prominently
recognized and encouraged. Though mathematics is not the school's strong suit
academically, its students have excelled at science fairs, in English writing
competitions and in the arts. The school enforces a dress code. The principal
claims "a lot" of children who attend Gesu have parents who are public school
teachers. Unlike most of the schools in this survey, Gesu patrons are not
typically low-income, tending instead to be from middle-income families.
Evergreen Lutheran (Lutheran),
8680 Evergreen; founded 1956; K through 8th grade, 117 students (98 students);
5 full-time teachers; tuition: $1,652/yr. nonmembers, $1,120/yr. members.
Parents are asked to
give 15 hours per academic year in volunteer work. All teachers give homework,
even on weekends. As part of the school's "family" atmosphere, every child gets
"hugged" at least once every day. Enrollment since 1988 is up 75%, and a waiting
list is kept. Entrance exams are given, but teachers are not told the results
until the child has been attending the school for one year, so as to prevent any
pre-dispositions about the child's potential. This school is a rarity in that
the school contributes financially to the church. Accordingly, school cost per
pupil is less by a substantial amount than tuition. Additionally, most 8th grade
students score at the 12th grade level on standardized tests.
East Bethlehem Lutheran (Lutheran),
3510 E. Outer Dr.; founded 1944; K through 8th grade, 219 students (209
students); 10 full-time teachers; tuition: $1,725/yr. ($1,600).
Though the teachers are
certified and the school is accredited, principal Wayne Wolfrom makes an
interesting point on the matter: "In reality, the accreditation that counts is
the accreditation that the parents give us." Parental involvement is not as
great as he would like to see, but is "encouraged" by requiring attendance at
five evening parent meetings per year and two days per year lunchroom
Benedictine High School (Catholic),
8001 W. Outer Dr., founded 1955; 9th through 12th grades, 642 students (561
students); 32 full-time teachers (30 fulltime teachers); tuition: $1,890/yr.
Murray, principal, is noted for knowing every student by name. The dropout rate
is near zero (one student in the past academic year). A minimum of at least one
hour of homework is required per night. The school's board has succeeded in
bringing teacher salaries up to 70% parity with public schools. Between 85°1o
and 95% of the students go on to college. In three out of the past four years,
Benedictine had one student among the 10-member Detroit All-Academic Team. An
entrance exam is given, but the principal emphasizes that the school "will
accept almost any child regardless of scores if we have a program that can suit
him." The librarian, Mrs. Ballard, makes the point that, "It's not money that
makes the difference in education; it's philosophy, leadership and values."
Fairview Christian (Fairview
Baptist Church), 14142 Ford ham; founded 1986; 1st through 6th grades, 56
students (61 students); 3 full-time teachers (4 full-time teachers), 1
part-time teacher; tuition: $1,300/yr. plus a $200 "fundraising fee" which is
returnable if parents assist in school-sponsored fundraising and raise that
here from public schools sometimes must be put back a grade. Homework is
required every night but Wednesday and parents often must sign it before the
students brings it in the next day. Parents are also encouraged to be involved
in a number of ways: they cook dinner for "Grandparents Day," assist in a
student fashion show, attend chapel, cook lunches for students, attend
parent-teacher meetings, etc. Principal Janet Parkhurst regards one of the
school's greatest strengths to be turning around the low self-esteem which many
incoming students have. A weakness she cites is the difficulty of finding black
Detroit Waldorf School (non-sectarian), 2555 Burns; founded 1965; Preschool through 8th grade, 160
students (180 students); 10 full-time teachers, 7 part-time teachers; tuition:
between $3,725 and $4,850, depending on grade.
Though the tuition is more than double that of religious schools, many of the
children attending Detroit Waldorf come from low-income and lower-middle income
families. Some parental involvement is required. The school excels in music and
art. It has no principal in the traditional sense, but is instead a
Friends School (Quaker), 110
St. Aubin; founded 1965; Pre-school through 8th grade; 150 students (107
students); 18 full-time teachers (19 full-time teachers), 3 part-time
teachers; tuition: $3,800 to $4,300, depending on grade).
Students at Friends School are from predominantly single-parent, minority
households (not atypical of Detroit non-public schools), which have middle-level
incomes. The cost of educating each student is remarkably high at about twice
the tuition average of other non-public schools. The difference coming from
grants, awards, donations and fundraisers. Dr. Ed Jacomo, principal, believes
parents choose Friends because of the school's commitment to academic excellence
and the Quaker "social consciousness" that is infused into the curriculum,
though almost none of the parents (or children) are actually Quakers. Efforts to
encourage parental involvement are particularly strong, involving many
parent-teacher conferences, "narrative" report cards, and school-sponsored
programs on parenting and a parenting library. Homework requirements are
rigorous, culminating in two hours per night by the 8th grade, including
weekends. Following Quaker philosophy, the students do not play competitive
athletics and do not participate in rivalrous contests. Dr. Jacomo cites a
problem that universally plagues non-public education in Detroit, namely, far
less support (moral or otherwise) from the business community than is deserved.
It is still rather "unfashionable" socially and politically to be perceived as
less than fully committed to public education.
Academy of Detroit
(non-sectarian, for-profit); 16418 W.
McNichols; founded 1973; K through 6th grade, 150 students (114 students); 7
full-time teachers; tuition: $2,100/yr. ($2,400).
Academy of Detroit has the lowest tuition of any of the non-sectarian schools
responding to the survey, and as one might imagine, the school is overflowing.
The waiting list is substantial. This location is an "affiliated school" of the
larger Academy of Detroit network, which maintains school sin Oak Park and
Southfield as well. An impressive 20-page StudentParent Handbook details
policies and philosophy. An assessment of each new student is done after
enrollment, but for placement, not admission purposes; as a policy, the school
accepts all children except those who have been expelled from other schools for
severe discipline problems. Optional bus service is provided for an additional
Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse of Detroit (non-sectarian), 19176
Northrop; founded 1978; K through 8th grade, 70 students (92 students); 4
full-time teachers, 4 part-time teachers; tuition: $4,000-$5,000/yr.,
depending upon grade.
Located in a former public school and named for a deceased child of the founder
and principal, Carmen N'Namdi, Nataki Talibah impresses the visitor with a sense
of excitement and pride in many accomplishments. The curriculum provides an
"Afro-centric" approach and is high on innovative programs involving family
activities and field trips. Academic excellence is a vital ingredient, but
administrators stress the school's efforts to develop the "whole" child into a
"global citizen" with strong self-esteem and leadership qualities. Instruction
is highly personalized. Mrs. N'Namdi recently received an important award from Learning
has been asked to assist the M.S.U. teacher training program. Parents tend to
come from middle to upper-middle income levels. Students wear uniforms.
Faith Christian Academy (Word of
Faith Christian Center), 7616 E. Nevada; founded 1982; Pre-school through 8th
grade, 246 students (250 students); 12 full-time teachers, 3 part-time
teachers; tuition: $1,650/yr. non-church members, $1,450/yr. church members.
"Excellence or nothing
at all" is the motto of Faith Christian, where teachers and administrators feel
it is important to always have very high expectations of the students. "If you
don't expect much," says headmistress Joyce Stevens, "you won't get much back."
Like the other non-public schools, Faith Christian accepts many transfers from
public schools and finds that after perhaps a year of difficulty, the student
catches up and begins to perform at his or her best. Parents are very involved,
as are other members of the adjacent church, which provides a subsidy to the
school. Class size is limited to 22.
(non-sectarian), 14901 Meyers; founded 1974; Grades 1 and 2, 12 students (15
students); 1 full-time teacher; tuition: $1,040.
struggling school has been plagued by location in a high-crime neighborhood. It
suffered eight break-ins during 1989-90, the main reason it has been extremely
difficult to attract and keep a teacher for very long or to add grades. The
parents' main motive for sending their children here is a desire for them to
learning a relatively safe and reliable environment. The school is open
year-round and is closed for just six major holidays.
(non-sectarian, for-profit), 17151 Wyoming; founded 1976; K through 8th grade,
75 students (79 students); 5 full-time teachers; tuition: $56.50/wk. for 39
weeks ($60.00/wk for 39 weeks).
According to Mrs. Perkins, principal, between 30% and 40% of parents with
children here are teachers or administrators in public schools. The key, she
says, to keeping good teachers in spite of salaries well below those in public
schools, is giving teachers freedom to innovate and experiment in the classroom
and making them feel they are part of a team or "family." Students come from
low-income and lower middle-income families and have been recipients of many
awards, from WKBD TV — Channel 50 to the National Geographic Society. Results on
MEAP, California Achievement tests and others put students here above the
Lutheran High School
8181 Greenfield Rd.; founded 1944; 9th through 12th grade, 216 students (200
students); 14 full-time teachers (13 full-time teachers), 4 part-time teachers
(3 part-time teachers); tuition: $3,000/yr. Non-church members ($3,400/yr.
non-church members), $1,500/yr. members ($1,700/ yr. members).
Despite teacher salaries which are 50-55% of Detroit public school salaries,
this school has been able to attract high quality teachers who seek to integrate
shared goals and religious values throughout the curriculum. According to the
principal, parents select the school because of its values, its safety, and its
discipline. Students tend to come from low-income families and while parents
strongly support the teachers, the level of parental involvement is slight. The
school adheres to a strong attendance policy. Additionally, 30-40% of students
receive some kind of scholarship assistance.