Better Charter School Oversight Needed in Michigan

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Michigan desperately needs to expand high quality educational opportunities for our children. Too many of our public schools are broken, and far too many young people graduate unprepared for college and a career โ€” if they make it to graduation.

Our inability to effectively educate all our children requires significant, yet responsible, change.

A hopeful sign has emerged โ€” potentially transformative legislation in Lansing โ€” but my hope is tethered cautiously. The legislation, a package of seven bills, would remove the state cap on charter schools, allow community colleges to authorize charter schools outside their geographic boundaries, enable the development of charters in districts with graduation rates of 75 percent over the course of three years, exempt charters from property taxes and permit charters to opt out of their district's collective bargaining agreements.

That's a lot of policy speak for a simple outcome: If this legislation passes as is, it is conceivable that one day we will have more charter schools than traditional schools in Michigan.

As someone who has devoted many years to reforming Michigan's education system, I recognize the critical need for high performing charter schools. They provide new, innovative education options for our children, especially when our state's traditional public schools consistently fail to effectively educate our students.

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