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Public School District 'Strikes Out' on Criticism of Charter Public Schools

Berkley School Board approves resolution with 'inaccurate' claims

The Berkley School District Board of Education approved a resolution this week that called charter public schools and online schools “for profits” whose governing bodies will be located in other states and said recent legislation pertaining to such schools has “no expectation of transparency and accountability.”

The board struck out on all three claims, however, according to Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Berkley’s claim that charter schools and cyber schools are “for profits” is inaccurate, Van Beek said. Charter and cyber schools are nonprofits, just like conventional public schools. Charter schools do contract out for services to for-profit companies for custodial, transportation, food services and instructional services, said Gary Naeyaert, a spokesman for The Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University.

But that’s not unlike the Berkley School District, which contracted out its food services to the for-profit company Aramark.

The Berkley board’s claim that charter schools and cyber schools have governing bodies that “will or may be” located in other states is also false, Van Beek said.

“The governing boards for all of these schools will be located in Michigan and they all will be authorized by public governing bodies (public universities),” Van Beek wrote in an email.

Naeyaert said charter schools must have five to nine “local” residents who are appointed by the authorizer.

“Despite arguments to the contrary, charter public schools must adhere to EVERY LAW AND REGULATION that apply to traditional public schools, in addition to additional requirements of their authorizer,” Naeyaert wrote in an email.

And Berkley’s claim that “much recent legislation” pertaining to charter and cyber-schools “has no expectation of transparency and accountability” also appears to be false if the board is referring to Senate Bill 618. That bill has passed the state Senate and, if made into law, would put more accountability on charter public schools than conventional public schools, Van Beek said.

There are 61 provisions in SB Bill 618 that address transparency, accountability and oversight of charter schools, Naeyaert said.  

Berkley School Board President Marc Katz did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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See also:

Charter School Demand Continues to Rise

The Republicans Who Blocked Charter School Choice

Commentary: Research Shows Parental Choice Works

Democratic Proposal: Charter Public Schools Must Outperform Conventional School Test Scores by 20 Percent

Parents Pin Hopes on Charter School Lottery

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