Charter Pulse

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MICHIGAN: Charters elevate our public schools

charter-schoolIt’s unfortunate that the Enquirer chose to pit one type of public school against another in its Nov. 25 editorial (“Charters, choice are strangling our public schools.”)

Rather than focusing on what’s best for Michigan’s children, the editorial argued that protecting the status quo should be the state’s top priority when it comes to public education.

We disagree.

Every child in Michigan deserves a quality education in a quality school.

Period.

And to that end, it’s essential that parents be allowed to choose the school that best fits their child’s needs — whether it’s a traditional public school, a charter public school or some other educational option.

We know that cramming all children into a one-size-fits-all educational box doesn’t work.

All children learn differently, so parents need options when it comes to finding the right school.

Regarding the Enquirer’s editorial, the headline itself is misleading: “Charters, choice are strangling our public schools.”

Charter schools are public schools — public in every way. They’re subject to all the same laws and regulations as any other public school, and are open to any student in the state.

A few misstated facts in the editorial also need clarification.

First, charter schools do not “handpick” their students. They can’t; that would be illegal.

Charter schools have to accept any student that applies, and if the number of applicants exceeds the number of open spots at a school, a blind lottery is held.

The notion that a charter school “handpicks” its students would be laughable to any charter school administrator in the state.

If the insinuation is that charter schools don’t accept or educate special education students, that notion is also false.

In fact, the percentage of special education students in charter schools is roughly the same as in traditional public schools.

Charter schools serve some of the most challenging students in some of the most challenging parts of the state.

The Enquirer also cited research from the CREDO Institute at Stanford University as evidence that “charters can’t outperform traditional public schools.”

In fact, the most recent research from CREDO shows just the opposite — particularly in Michigan.

Quoting from CREDO’s Michigan-specific charter study, which was released in January of this year, “The typical student in Michigan charter schools gains more learning in a year than his TPS (traditional public school) counterparts, amounting to about two months of additional gains in reading and math.”

Hear that again: two months of additional learning every year in reading and math for a charter school student.

It’s baffling that the Enquirer would choose to either ignore or misinterpret those findings.

It’s also worth noting that charter schools are, in fact, the most accountable public schools in the state.

Each school is accountable to the public school board that runs it, and the school board is accountable to the public educational institution (a state university, community college, ISD or school district) that authorizes it.

Oh, and most importantly, they are accountable to the parents who choose it.

Again, though, we find it unsettling that the Enquirer feels it necessary to pit charter schools against other types of public schools.

What truly matters is the quality of education the child receives — not what type of school it is.

It’s also sad that the Enquirer feels school choice is a bad thing.

Do we really want to go back to the days where you had no options, where your school choice was limited by your ZIP code?

Ask the parents at a charter school like Arbor Academy in Battle Creek what they think about that idea.

Eliminating school choice might be what’s best for some of the adults. But it certainly isn’t what’s best for the kids.

Source: BattleCreekEnquirer – by Dan Quisenberry (President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), the state charter school association)

View more articles on Michigan charter schools

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This entry was posted on December 2, 2013 by in Advocacy, Charter Schools, Michigan and tagged .

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