Freedom to Choose School Affirmed

MIDLAND —The Mackinac Center for Public Policy hailed today’s 5-1 Michigan supreme court decision to uphold the state’s 1993 charter school law as a victory for parents, students, and public education.

The ruling ends worries for over 12,000 students who are set to start fall classes at over 75 independent public school academies, also called charter schools. It is not clear where these students would have attended school if the law had been overturned.

Unlike regular public schools which draw students from arbitrary geographic boundaries, charter schools are selected by parents based on their child’s educational needs and the strength of the school. The state funds charter schools based on the number of students choosing to attend.

Lawrence Reed, president of the Mackinac Center and member of the board of the Morey Charter School in Isabella County, said the court’s decision was the "beginning of the end of a monopoly system that too often fails the children of our state." He called for expanded choice to include tax credits for parents who send their children to alternative schools, which the Michigan constitution presently prohibits.

Reed said, "This victory for charter schools and children should embolden education reformers to take the next logical step and make the case for constitutional change in Michigan. Not until the grip of government monopoly is broken completely will parents have true choice and the schools have the strongest incentive to improve and serve their customers."

Joseph Lehman, the Center’s director of communications, said the ruling means "it’s time for opponents of parental choice such as the MEA to stop using their members’ dues money to oppose educational improvement and to focus on helping children get the best education."

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a Midland-based independent research and educational institute that has promoted since 1988 greater freedom for parents to choose their children’s schools.