Michigan reform plan isn't an attack on charters

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Michigan Board of Education has issued a series of common-sense recommendations to increase accountability and transparency among the state’s charter schools. The state Legislature should set aside the political bickering that normally arises in Lansing whenever charter schools are discussed and take a serious look at the proposals.

The recommendations were inspired by a series of investigative articles in the Detroit Free Press in June, which we wrote about in this space last month, highlighting lax oversight, questionable dealings and poor performance at some of the state’s charter schools. Among other things, the Board of Education’s recommendations call for holding the universities and other institutions that authorize charters more accountable for the academic performance of the schools they oversee; preventing poorly performing charters from expanding or replicating; requiring open bids and more extensive financial reporting; and barring charter school operators from also acting as a school’s landlord. We think those are wise moves to promote quality, ensure that school operations are open and above board, and guarantee the $1 billion the state disburses to charter schools every year is money well spent.

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