Tax Dollars, Lax Scholars: Michigan Spends $1B/Year on Charter Schools with Little Accountability

Meanwhile, schools in Detroit be like...The Freep has a story about how the state of Michigan opened up the floodgates for charter schools, refused to properly oversee them, and instead created an environment in which money flows from tax coffers into private pockets with very little accountability.

Michigan taxpayers pour nearly $1 billion a year into charter schools — but state laws regulating charters are among the nation’s weakest, and the state demands little accountability in how taxpayer dollars are spent and how well children are educated.

A yearlong investigation by the Detroit Free Press reveals that Michigan’s lax oversight has enabled a range of abuses in a system now responsible for more than 140,000 Michigan children. That figure is growing as more parents try charter schools as an alternative to traditional districts.

Stephen Henderson has a column about it.

But ideology is a dangerous intoxicant when it comes to schools, because using schools as proof of free-market principles doesn’t account for children whose future success is largely determined by the quality of public education. This shouldn’t be about theory or ideology. What matters are results, and there’s no way to ensure them without basic quality control. In Michigan, the law basically makes it easier to close a puppy mill than to shutter a lousy charter school.

I don't know anyone who thinks that all charter schools are the tools of the devil and should be shuttered immediately and forever. I've got friends whose children prosper at charters in ways they couldn't in traditional public schools (Morey Charter School has educated the children of a number of them). This isn't about black-and-white choices, but making sure that choice delivers in results. The point of an education system isn't to give parents choice but to educate children, and we should at that same time agree that mere choice doesn't translate into success ... it simply imparts options.


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