The report also contains several inaccuracies or misrepresentations of facts. While some of these errors are simple mistakes, others undermine key points made in the report.
One misrepresentation occurs when the report discusses charter schools’ “key exemptions from state regulations.” That section names only one exemption — charter schools are not subject to Michigan’s teacher tenure law — but that exemption is not to a regulation, but to a state statute instead. This may appear to be a nitpick, but considering the report differentiates between statutes and regulations when making recommendations, it seems that readers should expect consistent treatment of these terms throughout the entire report.
The other two “exemptions” mentioned are not exemptions at all. While it is true that most charter schools do not participate in the state’s public school pension system or need to comply with Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act, the reason is not because they have a regulatory exemption. It is because charter schools tend to hire private companies to staff their schools, and their employees then are technically private, and therefore, these laws do not apply to their employment. Conventional school districts may also hire private companies that employee private workers, albeit in a more limited way, and most do. These districts could be said to be “exempt” from these laws for the same reason.
A key recommendation of the report is that Michigan should mimic the charter school oversight systems used in other states, but on one occasion, it misrepresents these laws. The report praises the Massachusetts Department of Education for performing site visits of the schools it authorizes. It then says some authorizers in Michigan do the same, but laments that they are not legally required to do so. But that line of reasoning falls apart because site visits are not legally required in Massachusetts either: state regulations simply allow for them.
The report also fails to provide important context when it compares Michigan’s laws about education service providers — private companies that operate many charter schools. It suggests that Michigan’s financial disclosure requirements for these providers is lacking compared to other states and describes the requirements used in those states based on a different study. What the report does not mention is that this same study gave Michigan’s laws a favorable and high rating. The state received a six out of eight rating, with only one state scoring higher and only six others receiving the same. In other words, the source used to argue that state laws are inadequate actually says that Michigan’s law are better than most states.
Some facts about state government presented in the report are, at best, misleading. In arguing that the Michigan Department of Education needs more resources to provide more oversight of charter schools, it says, “State departments suffered budget reductions as a result of the Great Recession a decade ago. Staffing was cut … Some funding has been replaced in the interim, but not to the extent it was before Michigan’s difficult financial period.” While this may have been the experience of some state departments, it is not an accurate depiction of MDE.
According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, MDE’s staff for fiscal year 2020 was 11% larger than it was immediately after the Great Recession in fiscal 2010. And its budget is significantly larger too. MDE received three times more funding from state revenues in fiscal 2020 than it did in fiscal 2010. These increases are not simply backfilling cuts in revenue from other sources. MDE’s overall appropriations in 2020, including federal, local and private funds, was also three times larger than it was in 2010.
 “Improving Oversight of Michigan Charter Schools and Their Authorizers,” (Citizens Research Council of Michigan, Feb. 2020), 28, https://perma.cc/9DHA-3DFB.
 Ibid., 37.
 603 CMR 1.08(2), https://perma.cc/Z35Q-Q6W2.
 “Improving Oversight of Michigan Charter Schools and Their Authorizers,” (Citizens Research Council of Michigan, Feb. 2020), 38-39, https://perma.cc/9DHA-3DFB.
 “Transparency Regarding Educational Service Providers (ESPS) Allowed” (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools), https://perma.cc/MQ3M-D4QY.
 “Improving Oversight of Michigan Charter Schools and Their Authorizers,” (Citizens Research Council of Michigan, Feb. 2020), 57, https://perma.cc/9DHA-3DFB.
 The growth in the size of the MDE over this period was greatly impacted by an executive order Gov. Rick Snyder signed that moved the Office of Great Start to MDE. Although this significantly increased MDE’s overall budget, it does not account for all of the growth over this period. “Department of Education: Funding History” (Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, Oct. 10, 2019), https://perma.cc/J7P5-8FJ9.