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Michigan State Ed board seeks more charter school regulations

Board resolution singles out schools that educate more than 150,000

The State Board of Education is pursuing new regulations on Michigan charter schools that serve more than 150,000 students.

An April resolution demanded what the board called “transparency” for charter schools, which a department press release defined as a “threat to democratically governed community-based schools.”

The resolution calls on lawmakers to pass laws that would allow charter schools to expand or open only after “consultation with the local district in which the charter will operate.”

There are 285 charter school districts in Michigan responsible for 363 charter schools. The state’s Department of Education oversees these and other school districts and advises the Legislature on education policy.

The resolution supports forcing charter schools to accept transfer students during the school year if space allows. It also calls for a ban on the disenrollment of students based on behavior, academic achievement, disability, English-language proficiency, family status, or living situation.

“The Michigan State Board of Education is fighting to protect the government school monopoly at the expense of students and their families,” Corey A. DeAngelis, senior fellow at the American Federation for Children and author of The Parent Revolution: Rescuing Your Kids from the Radicals Ruining Our Schools, told Michigan Capitol Confidential in a text message. “These regulations would reduce the education options available to Michigan families just to protect the status quo. Underperforming charter schools shut down. Underperforming government schools get more money. Charter schools are directly accountable to families.”

Many other states are expanding education freedom, but the Michigan Democratic Party is a “wholly owned subsidiary of the teachers unions,” DeAngelis said. “It’s shameful because those in power are supposed to work for families and their children, not government school unions.”

Public schools often oppose charter schools, Molly Macek, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told CapCon.

“Allowing local public schools to have input on whether a charter school can be allowed to open is like giving Kroger the ability to decide whether a Meijer can open nearby,” Macek said. “Of course, they will always oppose it. That’s not what is good for students and families.”

The new regulations would hurt schools that serve some of the state's most vulnerable students, said Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

“Charter schools serve a disproportionately higher population of minority students and students in poverty,” Quisenberry told CapCon in an email. “About 50% of students in charter schools are African-American, compared to just 14.1% in traditional public schools. A total of 75.9% of students in charter schools are classified as economically disadvantaged, compared to 47.6% in traditional public schools. Just over 10 percent of all students in Michigan attend a charter schools. In Detroit and Flint, about half the students attend a charter school. Charter schools are free, public, and open to all, and these are students we should be looking to help, not hurt.”

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.