Superintendents' Letter About Charter Schools 'Incredibly Misleading'

12 superintendents sign statement with 'completely inaccurate' claim

A letter-to-the-editor signed by 12 Michigan superintendents attacking Senate bills that support expanding charter and cyber schools contained statements that were “incredibly misleading,” according to Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The letter appeared in the Paw Paw Courier Leader and criticized Senate Bills 618-624.

One paragraph in the letter claimed Senate Bill 621 would allow students who do not attend public school to go to public schools, including charter public schools outside their district, as a “as a roundabout way to enact vouchers (public tax dollars paid to private schools). Eleven years ago, Michigan voters firmly refused to pay vouchers at the ballot box.”

Currently, students who don't attend public school can attend one that offers a course that is considered noncore. That public school gets pro-rated state funding for taking in that student, Van Beek said.

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Van Beek added that the funding follows the student to whatever public school he or she attends, such as a charter school.

The letter’s claim that “public tax dollars paid to private schools” is “completely inaccurate,” Van Beek said. “Remember, these (charter schools) are public schools.”

Jeff Mills, the superintendent for the Van Buren Intermediate School District and one of the 12 superintendents who signed the letter, said in an email he would review Van Beek’s claim with his education staff members.

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See also:

Choice For Me But Not For Thee?

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

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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Detroit Prep is a top-rated and economically and racially diverse charter school in the city. It's growth means it needs to move out from a church basement and into a new location. Nearby is a former Detroit Public Schools building, sitting empty for years. But, worried about competition, the public school district refused to sell. For years, district and local government officials in Detroit had worked to block public charter schools. They pushed legislation at the Michigan Capitol to hinder them, refused to sell to them, transferred surplus buildings from the district to the city government and imposed deed restrictions on property sales to private developers. All of it was aimed to hinder or even prevent charter school choice outside the confines of the Detroit school district.

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