State board divided on charter schools

LANSING, Mich. — The State Board of Education is divided on whether or how to increase the number of public charter schools in Michigan, and the split showed up recently when members could not reach agreement on what to tell the state Legislature on the issue, according to the Detroit Free Press.

At its regular meeting, the board considered but did not pass a draft of a letter to lawmakers that expressed support for more charter schools, but only if run by charter operators with a successful history, the Free Press reported.

The Senate already has passed a measure that would lift the charter school cap; that bill now is before the House, according to the Free Press.

Board members Marianne Yared McGuire, Kathleen Straus and Casandra Ulbrich, all Democrats, strongly oppose lifting the cap or believe charter school governance must change, the Free Press reported. They voted to reject the letter, as did Republican Richard Zeile, although he does support the legislation, according to the Free Press.

Republicans Nancy Danhof and Eileen Weiser, and Democrats John Austin and Daniel Varner also voted to support the letter, the Free Press reported. Danhof noted that the letter was not an endorsement, but a way to advise lawmakers, according to the Free Press.


Detroit Free Press, “Board of Education: No consensus on proposed charter school bills,” Oct. 11, 2011


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Commentary: Research Shows Parental Choice Works,” Sept. 23, 2011