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

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Superintendents Spread Inaccurate Information on Education Reform Bills

School officials wrongly claim corporations can get state money for schools

Superintendents across the state are coming out against the proposed education reform legislation, and many are making inaccurate claims about the impact of House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358.

Among the recent inaccurate attacks is a letter printed in the Tuscola Today news site that was signed by 10 area superintendents.

The letter said: "For example, any company could open a school for the children of its employees and collect state education funding for it."

However, the specific school that was created would receive the money, not the corporation, said Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

"It's disappointing that superintendents continue to spread misleading information to their constituents about these legislative proposals," Van Beek said. "While they’re free to speak their minds about them, they should give these proposed policies more thought than is required to just repeat talking points or copy false information from news stories."

That corporations could open a school for children of its employees and receive state money for it was a claim put forward by The Bridge, a news site published by The Center For Michigan.

The Bridge’s article said the following about House Bill 5923: "For example, Compuware could open a school for the children of its employees and receive per-pupil funding for it."

When asked about that statement, Bridge Editor Derek Melot denied that the article suggested companies could get direct funding.

"We are not implying that Compuware, as a corporate entity, would somehow receive/profit from per pupil operational funds to run a school," Melot said in November. "The sentence is self-explanatory."

For a corporation to open a school, the employer must enter into an agreement with a public school authorizer. There are several other requirements: The corporation would have to assist in meeting the capital requirements for the school building; provide continual financial support for the school; provide space for educational services to be provided on the site of the employer; provide substantial employment in the area in which the school is located; not enroll more than 75 percent of the student body from the children of the employer’s employees and contractors (the other 25 percent must be enrolled via random selection); and not have affiliation with more than 1/3 of the governing board of the school.

Superintendents Randy Middlin of Reese Public Schools located in Tuscola and Saginaw Counties; George Rierson of Unionville-Sebewaing Area Schools in Huron County; and Steve Ley of Akron-Fairgrove Schools in Tuscola County didn’t return requests for comment.

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See also:

Superintendents Falsely Claim Charter Schools Shortchange Poor Children

Public School Officials Use Nonprofit For Political Action

Districts Use Taxpayer Resources To Oppose Education Bills

Debate On Education Bills Focuses On Choice

Public Schools: 'Profit' Bad For Others, Good For Us

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