Sunday, June 22, 2014

Freep: Editorial by Stephen Henderson: For students' sake, Michigan must do better on charter schools

      Any educator in Michigan can tell you they are targeted by politicians that couldn't last a week and most a day with the average public school student. Add regulations, politics played by school district administrators with teacher evaluations and a right to work element that has eroded teacher rights in the work place and you can see why many of the 2014 graduates are staying away from the education profession in droves. Add a charter school environment that resembles the wild west where profits by large companies and a set of rules that are much more liberal that allows them to pocket money that would go to students and valuable programs and you get the idea. Add Stephen Henderson and the Detroit Free Press staff's look at the failed promises of charter schools and you may take a look at the school down the road from the public school that may be running rogue from regulations and providing a quality student learning environment.

Stephen Henderson: For students' sake, Michigan must do better on charter schools

June 22, 2014   |  
There were 12 charter schools the first year the state law governing them was passed; today, there are about 370.
There were 12 charter schools the first year the state law governing them was passed; today, there are about 370. / Romain Blanquart/Detroit Free Press
Great idea. Lousy execution.
Twenty years ago, charter school advocates in Michigan promoted independent public schools on two premises: that they would provide quality options for parents in places like Detroit — where the public school system was, even then, abysmal — and that they would introduce competition into the educational marketplace that would force old-line public schools to get better or face closure.
Today? Neither pledge has come true. In fact, neither is even a reasonable pipe dream, because Michigan’s charter law enforces little or no quality control over charter schools. The last two decades have been a raw and unregulated experiment on Michigan children with no accountability for academic performance or the spending of public money.
Full coverage: Free Press special report: State of charter schools
Related: Michigan spends $1B on charter schools but fails to hold them accountable
It’s a laissez-faire free-for-all that is sacrificing children in the name of “innovation” and “choice.” And the saddest part? There’s barely a whisper in Lansing about doing any better.
A Free Press series that begins today lays out the scope and shape of the state’s charter school mess.
There were 12 charter schools the first year the state law governing them was passed; today, there are about 370. Statewide, 38% of all Michigan charter schools that are ranked fall below the 25th percentile, meaning at least 75% of all Michigan schools perform better.
Meanwhile, there’s little effort to hold them accountable. Nearly two-thirds of the charter schools that have been open for more than a decade are in the bottom half of the state’s school rankings, and state law is not demanding that they get better or be shuttered. They’re also largely reticent even to say how they spend their money, while a whopping 60% of them are run by companies that take public dollars to operate on a for-profit basis.
And most public schools are no better than they were in 1994. In the districts with the most charters, like Detroit, the principal effect has been to siphon money away from old-line public schools, fueling their decline and ongoing financial troubles. All we’ve done is create dual school systems — both awful, one near totally unmanaged.
To read the rest of Henderson's editorial, click below. 
http://www.freep.com/article/20140622/COL33/306220072/