by Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News
October 24, 2014
Michigan charter schools are feeling a little picked on lately.
Since July, these public schools which educate about 10 percent of the state’s students have received nearly 100 percent of the criticism coming from Democratic lawmakers and other education leaders.
In recent months, Democrats have introduced three pieces of legislation that ultimately seek to limit charter schools and single them out for additional accountability and transparency when all public schools could benefit from more scrutiny.
And earlier this summer, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan put 11 of the state’s 40 charter authorizers on notice, jeopardizing their ability to charter any future schools.
The common thread behind all this action against charter schools stems from a detailed series of media reports that came out in June.
Lawmakers and other leaders quick to jump on the anti-charter bandwagon should take a breather considering a report released Monday that analyzes the reporting and finds it falls short.
The Media Bullpen, the independent news branch of Washington, D.C.-based Center for Education Reform, took a close look at data and came to very different conclusions about the health of Michigan’s charter school community. The center works to promote school accountability and choice around the country.
“Michigan spends $13 billion of taxpayers’ dollars on K-12 public education, yet not a single traditional public school has been closed by the Michigan Department of Education or a Michigan school district for academic reasons,” Kara Kerwin, Center for Education Reform president, said in a statement. “Michigan’s charter school closure rate is 22 percent, while the national charter school closure rate is 15 percent. The fact that Michigan has one of the highest charter school closure rates in the nation shows that authorizers in the state take accountability and the public’s trust to educate students to their fullest potential