Detroit Public Schools Facing Budget Apocalypse

You basically never read anything cheery about Detroit and these education cutbacks are no exception:

Detroit Public Schools would close nearly half of its schools in the next two years, and increase high school class sizes to 62 by the following year, under a deficit-reduction plan filed with the state.

The plan, part of a monthly update Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb gives the Department of Education, was filed late Monday to provide insight into Bobb’s progress in his attempt to slash a $327 million deficit in the district to zero over the next several years. Under it, the district would slim down from 142 schools now to 72 during 2012–13.

Bobb has said school closures, bigger classes and other measures would be needed if he cannot get help from lawmakers to restructure finances in the state’s largest school district.

The terrifying thing is that these don’t even seem like terrible ideas. The city really should be operating fewer school buildings, and though large class sizes aren’t ideal it’s more important for kids to have access to effective teachers than for kids to have low student:teacher ratios. But obviously this is death spiral stuff — the more the city pares back, the more the people with means and opportunity will leave and the worse things will become. The really important thing, though, is not so much to help the city as it is to help the people who live there. I’d rather see money put in the hands of Detroit’s residents rather than into the municipality’s coffers. Citizens with more cash in their pocket would end up boosting the city’s per capita tax base, but trying to leave is a perfectly rational response to the objective situation and if that’s what people choose to do with their assistance then so much the better for them.