A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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Michigan School Exporting Education to China

District expects to help fund its Michigan classrooms with Chinese tuition payments

When the U.S. Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965 and created “magnet” schools, it’s unlikely that anyone at the time thought this might lead to the creation of international magnet schools, especially ones headquartered in China. But that’s exactly Oxford Community Schools is launching this fall.

About 50 Chinese 10th graders have decided to enroll at Northeast Yucai Oxford International High School in Shenyang, China. Students there will be dual-enrolled, meaning they’ll be able to earn credits towards two diplomas: one from their China-based school and one from the Oxford school district.

Dr. William Skilling, superintendent at Oxford, has spent four years establishing NYO high school. He says there are a number of reasons why Chinese students want to enroll in this school.

“They want the American ways of teaching in China and this will be used as a model. This school will provide opportunities for students in China to not only develop better English skills, but to learn in new ways that are not test-driven. … We will create the conditions by which they learn to be members of a team, which is a foreign concept in China classrooms. We will give them opportunities to create and invent, which is a foreign idea.”

Skilling also said that many Chinese students are interested in earning an American high school diploma, because it will make it easier for them to get accepted at an American university. They’ll also have the opportunity through this program to spend at least one year studying in the United States at the Oxford International Residence Academy.

Enrolling Chinese students will pay tuition that will provide the funding for the operation of the school.

Oxford’s local students are also likely to benefit from this new program. The school is expected to provide opportunities for Mandarin Chinese immersion experiences. Plus, starting in the fall of 2012, the district will be offering 20 full-tuition scholarships for local Michigan students to attend NYO high school in China for a year.

“It’s a win-win for the Chinese students and the American students,” said Aaron Dobson, who was hired by Oxford to serve as the school’s first principal. “The exposure it’s going to give to our students here at Oxford, and the cultural exposure, the educational exposure, just on all levels it’s something that is really going to give them an awareness that they’re going to need as they leave college and go into the work force.”

Dr. Skilling also sees this new program as a way for the district to generate new revenues.

“I’m talking about to the point where we are not at the whims of the state government and how they fund us,” Skilling said. “We still would receive funding from the state, but I want to get to the point where it doesn’t matter.”

Skilling is not sure whether other districts in other states have tried something similar to this program, but says he’s confident that it can work.

“I have no doubt it will succeed.”

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See also:

No Cutting and Complaining Here: Oxford Schools Bucks the Trend

Oxford Schools: Saving Money and Improving Service

Michigan School District Virtually Bucks Spending Cuts Trend

Mackinac Center for Public Policy Director of Education Policy Audrey Spalding describes her latest study on right-to-work law violations in public school contracts and suggests why districts and unions are ignoring the law.


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