GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan charter public schools are being punished by "edujobs" rules that disallow spending on teachers hired through private management companies, a charter school association spokesman told The Grand Rapids Press.

The $10 billion in federal funding was intended by Congress to avert teacher layoffs, but the details say that doesn't include teachers who are contracted through a private firm, which is how many Michigan public school academies arrange their payroll, according to The Press. Those schools will have to return the cash, The Press reported.

Critics say the arrangement shows that the "edujobs" funding is a teachers union bailout, since most charter schools are not unionized, The Press reported.

"Do I think the unions were in the room when the language was being written, and that this is a shot across the bow? Absolutely," said Gary Naeyaert, vice president for public relations and legislative affairs for the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. "Why are 90,000 students being punished?"

National Heritage Academies, based in Grand Rapids, manages 61 charter schools nationwide and 10 in West Michigan, The Press reported. All of the employees in its schools work for the company rather than the individual schools.

"It's disappointing that students and teachers at many schools may be intentionally left out of this initiative," National Heritage spokeswoman Tara Powers said.

One reason charter schools do not hire teachers directly in Michigan is that they then would be required to pay into the state pension system for those employees, at a cost equal to almost 20 percent of each worker's salary, The Press reported.

SOURCE:

The Grand Rapids Press, "Charter schools cry foul over rules that force most to refund thousands in new federal aid," Sept. 10, 2010

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "'Edujobs' Will Hurt Michigan Public Schools," Aug. 17, 2010

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