- The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) will explore virtual classes as an alternative to traditional school experience, as outlined in its 2018-2020 enrollment plan.
- Among a number of strategies, the virtual classes would be designed to increase the district's student population and improve access to education. The plan notes the model could be entirely online, or include a meeting space where virtual school students report to regularly.
- According to a drafted timeline, research will be conducted this summer, recommendations will be made by the fall and, if approved, implementation would happen in spring or fall 2019.
DPSCD unveiled this plan in response to declining enrollment in the city's public schools — a 71% reduction over nearly 15 years, according to the Detroit Free Press. Aside from virtual schools, the district has proposed pop-up enrollment centers, technical education opportunities and career academies as institutions that could increase recruitment.
While virtual schooling is attractive due its unique opportunities and flexibility, some issues arise when students learn in an online environment instead of in a classroom. As our sister publication Education Dive reports, not all online course options are the same, as some are easier to navigate and understand than others. "Administrators also need to consider the support staff available to help with these courses in order to help students stay on track and succeed," the publication notes, outlining the importance of educators who closely track student participation.
Aside from developing entirely new programs, there are significant ways school districts can increase their enrollment and the appeal of an urban school environment. Smart school design and upgrades to basic infrastructure such as air conditioning can offer more comfortable environments for students to succeed in. Additionally, opportunities for advanced curriculums, like Apple's partnership with Chicago to bring coding classes to the city's public school system, can elevate the level of education that such children are exposed to in their K-12 years.