Dem Amendment Would Define Michigan's Top High School As Criminal Enterprise

Look for the union relationship

Michigan Democrats have worked to keep the state’s worst schools open while at the same time trying to close some of the best. They also have close financial and political relationships with labor unions that oppose charter schools.

Last winter, Democrats opposed the Michigan Department of Education’s plan to close the worst-performing schools in the state.

And on May 2, state Rep. Kristy Pagan, a Democrat from Canton, offered an amendment to the state education budget to criminalize the act of a charter school board hiring a for-profit management company to operate its school. The measure lost on a voice vote.

Had the amendment been adopted and signed into law, many of Michigan’s best public schools would be shuttered.

In fact, 183 of the 380 Michigan charters are operated by full-service and for-profit companies, according to the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

Wellspring Preparatory High School in Grand Rapids is a public charter school, and it was just named Michigan’s best high school by U.S. News & World Report. Arbor Preparatory High School in Ypsilanti is also a charter school and was No. 2 on the news magazine’s ranking. Both schools are operated by for-profit management companies under a contract with their charter school boards.

High-quality charter schools are also operating in Detroit, where Democrats have fought to prevent academically failing conventional public schools from being closed — even after years of little or no improvement. Michigan House Democrats issued a press release on Feb. 21 featuring their efforts to stop some of the state’s worst schools from being closed, including 24 from the Detroit school district.

Democrats generally oppose charter schools. Unlike regular district schools, the vast majority of public school academies are not unionized. Politically active teachers unions regard non-unionized charter schools as depriving them of potential members, and they direct the vast majority of their campaign contributions to Democrats.