News Story

Member of state ed board called for ending charter schools

Board of Ed member who said in 2016, ‘charter schools should end,’ among those voting to have state, school districts, veto new charter schools

On April 10 the Michigan State Board of Education called for giving the Michigan Department of Education and local school districts veto power over the creation of new charter schools, which would be a dramatic change in state law. One of the members voting for the resolution previously called for an end to charter schools

Mitchell Robinson, a professor of music at Michigan State University, was elected to the state board in November 2022 and took office on Jan. 1, 2023.

Robinson has regularly criticized charter schools, both on his personal website and on the progressive website Eclectablog. In one article published on Eclectablog, he compared charter schools to private prisons.

“As with the private prison scenario, the explosion of charter schools in the last decade has created parallel school systems — both allegedly public, but fighting for limited resources, and competing on an uneven playing field,” Robinson wrote. He then called for the policy of “diverting public funds to private schools” to come to an end.

The board of education’s resolution reads, in part:

“WHEREAS, we believe that the large number of charter schools in Michigan— 285 districts with 363 schools, approximately one-third of the local education agencies in the state, schools that are not governed by elected boards and as such, are not directly accountable to the citizens of their communities—is a threat to democratically governed community-based schools; NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Michigan State Board of Education calls for and supports state legislation that includes the following:

  1. Review by MDE, for approval or denial, applications of new, replicating, or expanding charter schools after consultation with the local district in which the charter will operate;”

Robinson has not yet responded to an email seeking comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.