In a move likely to shock many observers, Detroit Public Schools has named Doug Ross to head its charter school office.
Ross is the CEO of New Urban Learning, which manages what’s widely considered Detroit’s most-successful charter school system. He'll help Detroit Public Schools as it expands the number of charters it authorizes from nine to 14. He’ll also oversee the process for selecting operators to convert more of the district’s traditional schools in 2012.
Ross says it’s time for critics stuck in the charter-versus-traditional school debate to move past it:
"Parents don’t care if a school is run out of the Fisher Building, by a charter school board, by a church, by a private school group. They simply want more schools that are safe, and will prepare their children for college and future."
The schools Ross’s organization now runs boast 90 percent graduation rates, with 90 percent of graduates going on to college.
Ross has been a fierce critic of Detroit Public Schools. But he says he sees the failure of public education in Detroit is a “moral issue.”
Ross will be an unpaid advisor to the school district until the fall. He says he’ll then be paid three-quarters of a salary that’s not been finalized while he works on a transition plan for the charter school management group he’s run since 1999.
Ross has been a candidate for Michigan governor, a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor, and a lecturer at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.