Charter schools open because parents want choices
State Board of Education Vice President Casanda Ulbrich said in a recent story that more "for-profit" companies could be running many state schools.
Ulbrich, a Democrat from Rochester Hills, made her comments after the struggling Highland Park and Muskegon Heights districts proposed converting from conventional school district systems to charter schools.
"Under Proposal A, funding is based on headcount,” Ulbrich said in the story. "However, as we continue to open more and more charters and cyber charters, we are dissipating the head count to the point where community-based schools are finding it harder to stay in the black. If this becomes a standard method for reducing debt, this state is going to lose more of its locally-governed schools, which affects the entire community."
In an email to Michigan Capitol Confidential, Ulbrich said when she referred to "we" in terms of opening charter and cyber schools, she was referring "to the state, in general."
But Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said Ulbrich is making a mistake many politicians do in assuming charter schools get their students like conventional school districts.
Van Beek said charter schools operate only after parents make a choice to send their children to them.
Ulbrich’s comments make it sound as if charter schools are assigned students like conventional schools.
"To open a charter schools requires a number of things, but two necessary conditions before any charter school opens is that parents have to choose to enroll their children there and a group of local people have to agree to oversee the school," Van Beek said. "The state does not create charter schools or open charter schools. No one is imposing them on other people."
Van Beek said if parents flock to charter schools, it’s because they have made a choice that their child would be better served at a charter than a convention school.
"How is that bad? How is that wrong?"