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  1. #1

    Default Best Public Schools Left in the City

    Now that the school closings have been announced and we've all had time to consider what the ramifications, what are the top 3-5 schools left in the city at each level? Is Chrysler still one of the best elementary schools in the city?

    My wife and I are considering buying in the city when our downtown lease is up this summer, and though we haven't started a family yet, we're trying to plan long term.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    It's hard to tell what the future holds for DPS. Last week, DPS announced an increase in the number of application schools for 2012/2013 school year:
    http://www.freep.com/article/2012021...yssey=nav|head

  3. #3

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    So that your question is answered....


    Renaissance HS
    Cass Tech HS

    Bates
    Ludington
    FLICS


    I'll check some others for you.

  4. #4

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    The Ben Carson school is showing some promise even though its not even a year old.

  5. #5

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    Chrysler elementary in Lafayette Park is pretty well regarded and there are lots of people who grew up in the neighborhood who send their children there. Ironically, it seems like the folks in the neighborhood who do have children send them to the Friends School, the Waldorf School or University Liggett. We live there and we are pretty sure that there will still be good public and private options when we have kids. Honestly, living in Downtown isn't living in a bubble and so many of our friends in Metro Detroit send their children to Friends, Waldorf, Liggett or Cranbrook that we'd likely do the same even though there is a great DPS school literally in our backyard.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveJ View Post
    Mistake #1. You are planning for the long term in a city that is bankrupt and about to be taken over by the state.
    Oh you gotta love optimists like yourself. Really doing the world good .

    To answer the question though, both Cass Tech and Renaissance are wonderful schools. There are also many excellent private and charter schools in the city and I would seriously consider those as well. Don't let people like Steve J lead you to think otherwise, you can raise a family in Detroit and give your kids a good education. Always great to hear from people who realize this!

  7. #7

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    Detroit CMA (Communication and Media Arts) is a good school. It's in the old St Marys of Redford HS building (near Gand River and Greenfield). There's been talk of it closing in the past, but it's survived so far. They fixed the school up last year, upgraded the heating and cooling, classrooms, exterior, etc. via a TV show. I can't remember the name of the show offhand, it's similar to Extreme Makeover, but they fix up public schools that have a good core of students but are in bad shape ('physically'). Supposedly they have a 97% graduation rate, which in a Detroit school is close to a miracle.

  8. #8

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    I worked as a university recruiter for 3 years, and there are lots of great kids that come from DPS... even outside of Cass Tech and Renaissance (ie a few students from Western International HS who had high 3.0-4.0, and 26-32 ACT scores and went to DPS their whole lives). Sometimes it isn't just about where you go, but also how it is reinforced at home and your own personal value of education.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by LIM View Post
    I worked as a university recruiter for 3 years, and there are lots of great kids that come from DPS... even outside of Cass Tech and Renaissance (ie a few students from Western International HS who had high 3.0-4.0, and 26-32 ACT scores and went to DPS their whole lives). Sometimes it isn't just about where you go, but also how it is reinforced at home and your own personal value of education.
    So true LIM. If the student's education is supported at home, they can succeed almost anywhere, including most DPS schools.

  10. #10

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    I have to chime in here, even though my experience has only been with 2 high schools. It's really not so much about the SCHOOL, it's about the kid's attitude about school, which is a direct correlation to the parent's attitude about school. I have some GREAT kids who have done well on the ACT and have great GPAs. The kids who are doing exceptional are the kids who have parents who show up at conferences, who have an interest in school (because the parents expect nothing less), and who aren't afraid to ask questions in class (this is fostered by their parents asking THEM questions when they get home from school).

    While there are some crap teachers in DPS, the fantastic teachers far outweigh the crappy ones. It's not about the school, per se. It's about what comes from home and what is fostered in the classroom. The two can not work individually. I can do a fantastic job in the class, but if school is not important at home, then it won't transfer to the classroom. I have some VERY bright kids who do minimal or no work because education isn't valued at home.

    If you look at the parent teacher conferences at the Cass and Renaissance type schools, there are parents all over. I see MAYBE 5 parents at PTCs out of 200+ kids. There are a few more that I keep in regular contact with via email because their job prevents them from attending PTCs. We see more parents because a phone was taken away than we do because of academics.

    School is what the home makes of it. Sure, there are VERY FEW kids who have a crappy home life and parents who could care less who are very successful at school. More times than not, it's the parents who are riding the kids who are making the most of school, no matter what type of school they attend.

    **These statements are just from personal observation and are not meant to generalize ALL kids and parents**

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by poobert View Post

    Aren't you just a treat for everyone.


    Jokes on you. You live in this region too. And while you might like to think you're protected by some magic Oakland County forcefield of affluence and prosperity, your sorry ass isn't. The fate of your inconsequential suburb is tied to the broke, fucked up city to the south, no matter how much you tell yourself otherwise.

    And I'd dare not send my children to most Detroit schools but "black hole"? Last I checked people from the suburbs still send their kids to U of D Jesuit and Waldorf, if they can even afford it.
    SteveJ may not not sharing the most tactfully written responses, but I think we can all agree his view represents the majority opinion in this region. If I wasn't concerned that he wasn't at least a little bit right, i wouldn't have posted this question in the first place.

    I'd like to say that my wife and I are crusaders that are trying to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem, but that's not really true. The simple fact is that we really like it down here. We both work downtown, and being a 10 minute walk away from work is absolutely awesome. (I was already walking 10 minutes from my parking structure to the Ren Cen anyway!) Driving 30 minutes to work every day is for suckers, and if we can get most everything we need in the city, why wouldn't we live here forever?

    As SteveJ alludes, there are lots of reasons. For us, schools are the biggest. But the last generation with adult memories of the riots are getting ready to move on (my grandmother was reluctant to even step foot in the city to attend my downtown wedding), and I think that attitudes like theirs are one of the few things holding back a sea change that finally gets this city fully moving in the right direction.

    Case in point: Dan Gilbert isn't Father Cunningham. He is a billionaire business man that bought up a half dozen downtown buildings because he sees good business opportunities. To my wife and I that's a really good sign. So since we already like it here, and there are tangible indications that things are finally getting better, we're wondering if now is the right time to consider a permanent move to the city.

    Rainbows and butterflies aside: if Waldorf, Friends, etc weren't in the area, we probably wouldn't even be considering a permanent move downtown. If the public schools don't end up being up to snuff (in the next 5 years), it's important to know we have other options. Like I said, we're not crusaders. We're not going to sacrifice our children's education to be "part of the solution."

    Thanks to everyone for your replies.

  12. #12

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    I'm nowhere near where you are yet but I do plan on raising a family here someday. As far as public schools go, I understand Renaissance is the best and actually is one of the top schools in the midwest. It's also a blue ribbon school.

    It is an application and examination school though.

    As far as private schools, as someone has mentioned earlier Waldorf is supposed to be fantastic. Look up Waldorf Education on Wikipedia for more on the philosophy behind the school. Frankly, I think it's absolutely necessary for us to cultivate creativity alongside our analytic abilities. It's what makes the best entrepreneurs IMHO.

  13. #13
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pseudo View Post
    Rainbows and butterflies aside: if Waldorf, Friends, etc weren't in the area, we probably wouldn't even be considering a permanent move downtown.
    Friends and Waldorf are both good schools, but they're absolutely tiny, and both have plummeting enrollment. Both schools have lost nearly half of their enrollment over the last few years. About 100 students each.

    Hopefully the newcomers downtown will stabilize the enrollment at both schools.They're important anchors if there is to be any middle class presence.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bham1982 View Post
    Friends and Waldorf are both good schools, but they're absolutely tiny, and both have plummeting enrollment. Both schools have lost nearly half of their enrollment over the last few years. About 100 students each.

    Hopefully the newcomers downtown will stabilize the enrollment at both schools.They're important anchors if there is to be any middle class presence.
    Parents from Friends School and Detroit Waldorf that I've met over the past few years have mentioned enrollment a little higher. 130 students or so in K-8. Not a huge difference in size of the schools, but a big deal when it comes to their budgets. Regardless, both schools have plenty of room to handle larger enrollments. The more kids enrolled, the easier to keep tuition affordable. Those schools are hugely important assets for attracting middle class college-educated families to their neighborhoods. It is noteworthy, though, that both schools also attract kids region-wide.

    Pseudo raises issues that can't be avoided for young middle class families exploring placing roots in Detroit. For families with mobility and educational options for their kids, DPS offers painfully few choices. There are no more than a half-dozen or so DPS elementary schools (Chrysler is one) where test scores rise above the 25th percentile statewide. Detroit's future and any "comeback" will always be limited if it can't solve the problems of the educational achievement of its children.

    And for white families, there is also the thorny issue of the absence of diversity. Any family, white or black, will usually think long and hard before placing their child in a school where nobody looks like them. Right now in DPS, many elementary schools have no white students. Even at Chrysler, where it seemed for many years to always have a few white kids in each class, there only 3 white kids out of 172 in K-5. Knee-jerk race-baiters will call this "concern" racist, and it is a sensitive issue to discuss. But few reasonable parents, white or black, would deny that a child entering a class where nobody looks like her would likely face some cultural issues. FWIW, Friends School and Detroit Waldorf have long had approx. 50/50 black/white enrollments (although the recent proliferation of charter schools has siphoned off some black enrollment).

    Families like Pseudo's who are considering the decision to educate their child in Detroit will have to be committed to some extra research. Finding and speaking to peer families who have done, or are doing the same thing is vital. Certainly, the enrollment staff-persons at Friends and Detroit Waldorf could help in this regard. That sort of customer service might be hard to get at DPS though.

    This generation of young middle class Detroit families seem to have an unprecedented ambition to improve their communities. The biggest bang for their buck will come from contributing to education solutions.

  15. #15

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    Last year, 97% of Detroit International Academy's 12 grade graduates
    went on to college. DIA is the only K-12 all-girls public school in Michigan and Detroit Public School's best kept secret.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by swingline View Post
    Parents from Friends School and Detroit Waldorf that I've met over the past few years have mentioned enrollment a little higher. 130 students or so in K-8.
    As of 2010 (most recent year available) Friends had 110 enrolled K-8, and Waldorf had 126 enrolled K-8.

    What's worrisome is that both schools are losing enrollment every year. Since 2004 (first year of available data), they're both losing about 20 students each year-over-year.

    My guesses for the decline: proliferation of charter schools, crap economy limits private school affordability, and Detroit is still losing young families.

    Quote Originally Posted by swingline View Post
    FWIW, Friends School and Detroit Waldorf have long had approx. 50/50 black/white enrollments (although the recent proliferation of charter schools has siphoned off some black enrollment).
    Waldorf has such a profile, but Friends doesn't. As of 2010, there are 13 white children enfolled at Friends (13 out of 110), while Waldorf seems to be about 50/50 black/white.

  17. #17

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    Academy of the Americas, formerly St. Hedwig's, on St. Hedwig st. near Michigan and Junction is a DPS academy that teaches kids in English and Spanish, and was excellent when I lived in the neighborhood about 7 years ago. There were people who brought their kids all the way from the far east side to attend classes. I know it had a waiting list, so sign up early!

  18. #18

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    Though this thread began as a discussion about public schools, I’m a parent at Detroit Waldorf and wanted to clarify a few items that other posters have brought up about our school.

    Detroit Waldorf currently has 127 preK-8 students. This is a net INCREASE of six students over three years ago. To us, the school seems to be on a very positive trajectory.

    Personally, we treasure the fact that the school is on the small-side. All of the children are known by name by nearly every staff person and teacher in the school and classes are small enough to give every child the attention they deserve. It has a genuine sense of “community.”

    The fact that it is 50/50 in terms of race is one of the things that drew us to the school from the suburbs. (Roughly 30% of families come from the ‘burbs and 70% from the city.) More than one-half of the kids get tuition assistance, so it is diverse in a socio-economic sense too.

    Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that Detroit Waldorf seems to be getting more students from the suburbs – there are problems in public schools outside Detroit too.

    There is a lot of information about the Waldorf educational philosophy at www.whywaldorfworks.org (from the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, the agency that accredits Waldorf schools in the U.S.).

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyalOakMI View Post
    Though this thread began as a discussion about public schools, I’m a parent at Detroit Waldorf and wanted to clarify a few items that other posters have brought up about our school.

    Detroit Waldorf currently has 127 preK-8 students. This is a net INCREASE of six students over three years ago. To us, the school seems to be on a very positive trajectory.

    Personally, we treasure the fact that the school is on the small-side. All of the children are known by name by nearly every staff person and teacher in the school and classes are small enough to give every child the attention they deserve. It has a genuine sense of “community.”

    The fact that it is 50/50 in terms of race is one of the things that drew us to the school from the suburbs. (Roughly 30% of families come from the ‘burbs and 70% from the city.) More than one-half of the kids get tuition assistance, so it is diverse in a socio-economic sense too.

    Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that Detroit Waldorf seems to be getting more students from the suburbs – there are problems in public schools outside Detroit too.

    There is a lot of information about the Waldorf educational philosophy at www.whywaldorfworks.org (from the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, the agency that accredits Waldorf schools in the U.S.).
    What Royal Oak said.

    I live in Detroit, and I've had kids in DPS (Chrysler) and now Waldorf. When the oldest "graduated" from Chrysler after 5th grade we ended up sending both to Waldorf so they'd be in the same school. Chrysler is a good school, but Waldorf is extraordinary.

    What's most telling is that pretty much all the kids there love school -- even the 8th graders. I don't think in a typical middle school you'll find most of the 8th graders lovin' it.

    Great school, great people, great community. And economically, geographically and racially diverse.

    Ironically, if you live in Detroit or the suburbs, and want racial diversity in a school, most of your choices will be private schools. Just watch the marching bands at the Thanksgiving Day parade and you will see what I mean.

  20. #20

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    Not to completely hijack the thread, but for those of you with kids at Friends or Waldorf, where do you children go for High School?

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScienceFair View Post
    Not to completely hijack the thread, but for those of you with kids at Friends or Waldorf, where do you children go for High School?
    From Waldorf, for the last few years I know about, several kids have gone to Cass Tech and are doing very well. From Waldorf some kids have gotten scholarships to Liggett and Roeper. Also Mercy for girls and UD for boys, I know people from both Waldorf and Friends who've gone there. The Performing Arts High School next to Orchestra Hall, and the CCS Charter School. There are actually many good choices, public and private. Maybe half a dozen kids from Waldorf the last couple of years, both Detroit and suburban, actually decided to go to the Steiner High School in Ann Arbor (only Waldorf high school in Michigan) through an organized car pool. People are talking about getting a bus for next year. That's pretty extreme, I know, but it's supposed to be an excellent school.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingline View Post
    And for white families, there is also the thorny issue of the absence of diversity. Any family, white or black, will usually think long and hard before placing their child in a school where nobody looks like them. Right now in DPS, many elementary schools have no white students. Even at Chrysler, where it seemed for many years to always have a few white kids in each class, there only 3 white kids out of 172 in K-5. Knee-jerk race-baiters will call this "concern" racist, and it is a sensitive issue to discuss. But few reasonable parents, white or black, would deny that a child entering a class where nobody looks like her would likely face some cultural issues.
    I understand your concern here, and it is well-taken. I think you are correct about parents' concerns, and that one certainly doesn't have to be some sort of racist for thinking about this issue.

    However, from my own personal experience, I can't help but provide a bit of a counter-narrative. I went to a Detroit elementary school for 7 years (K-6) that was at roughly the same racial composition you cite for Chrysler. In fact, for a few years my sister and I were the only white students in the school. We also attended the same middle school, which was maybe 5-10% white.

    I certainly was not adversely affected by the experience. In fact, if anything, I think it was a profound experience that has served to broaden my outlook significantly as I go through life. Both my sister and I also have friends that we have kept for a lifetime from those days. It has definitely been a factor in softening my views on the real significance of race, which still, sadly, seems to be the central issue around this metro area to the point where we often can't seem to see or hear our individual selves over the din created by these surface manifestations and our sad history of division by them.

  23. #23

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    Are any of the schools in Palmer Woods/University any good? Pasteur elementary got a high rating on greatschools.net (not that that means anything...)

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by gameguy56 View Post
    Are any of the schools in Palmer Woods/University any good? Pasteur elementary got a high rating on greatschools.net (not that that means anything...)
    I don't know if Hally Middle is still open, it was/is located about 3-4 blocks from UDM in the University District... it's a magnet school and was 1 of the main feeders for Cass Tech.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScienceFair View Post
    Not to completely hijack the thread, but for those of you with kids at Friends or Waldorf, where do you children go for High School?
    For Detroit families, including those at Friends School or Detroit Waldorf, St Francis Cabrini in Allen Park and Shrine H.S. in Royal Oak are fine options. As modestly sized co-ed parish schools, they offer a different parochial school experience than U of D Jesuit, Mercy, DeLaSalle, etc. And their tuition is discounted quite a bit from Cranbrook, Country Day, University-Liggett and Roeper.

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