In Dearborn, Michigan, the public schools have responded to
the needs of the community and competition from charter schools
by developing theme schools.
When talk of charter schools hit Michigan, Dearborn Public
Schools Superintendent Jeremy Hughes sensed that pressure would
mount for choice—if not by parents, at least by politicians.
Then, in 1995, the Michigan legislature passed the Private School
Academy law establishing charter schools. The law presented a
challenge to Michigan's public schools, which now faced
increased competition for public funding.
The public schools needed something to counteract competition
from charter schools, so Hughes invited Dearborn's principals
to think of ways to enrich the identity of their schools with
themes that would inspire teachers, maintain and enrich the core
curriculum, attract and involve parents, and motivate students
while preparing them for the real world. The increasingly diverse
100,000 residents of this urban community west of Detroit soon
discovered new opportunities in their public schools.