Detroit’s class act

Can a cause seem so lost that not even many philanthropists feel charitable toward it? Detroit’s schools have been that kind of hard case. In recent years public schools in such cities as New York, Chicago, and New Orleans have enjoyed major infusions of cash from charities like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But that never happened in Detroit, whose school system is so far gone that barely 3% of its fourth-graders meet national math standards. „Between the destruction of the auto and manufacturing industries, massive blight, and political problems, the philanthropic view is that there’s been no basement to build on in Detroit,” says Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank.