Click for audio Michigan Public Education: A Little Competition, A Lot of Improvement

Two recent reports on Michigan charter schools have good news and bad news, and part of the good news is that the bad news isn’t all that bad.

The reports, released in February by Western Michigan University and the Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants, studied over 100 charter schools and found that charter school students scored slightly lower on achievement tests than did traditional public school students.

The good news is that charter schools’ surging popularity with Michigan parents has spurred traditional public schools to improve and offer new programs to attract families tempted to exercise their educational options elsewhere.

Many Michigan districts responded to charter school competition by offering all-day kindergarten, more before- and after-school programs, and greater emphasis on customer satisfaction.

Charter schools have room for improvement where student performance is concerned, but their presence is fueling a renaissance in school districts accustomed to having a virtual monopoly on school children and their parents’ tax dollars.

Greater competition among all schools will lead to even more innovation and improvement in public schools. A tuition tax credit or voucher to help parents offset the cost of nonpublic education will ensure that all Michigan children reap the greatest possible benefits from school choice.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.