News Story

Moratorium or Mortuary? School Choice Proponents Claim Bill Would Kill Charters

Bill sponsor disagrees

House Democrats have introduced legislation as a measure to place a moratorium on any new charter public schools opening in Michigan. However, the pro-school choice Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) reads the bill differently.

According to GLEP Executive Director Gary Naeyaert, as drafted, House Bill 5852 would eventually spell doom for all of the charter public schools in the state.

“What we have uncovered is that the legislation they claim would just push the pause button on increasing the number of charter schools would, in reality, close every charter school in the state over time,” Naeyaert told Capitol Confidential. “Language in this legislation would prevent the authorization of new contracts for charter schools. Because charter schools operate on fixed contracts, that would mean that when those contracts expire the schools would have to close.

“If this legislation were in place, roughly 50 of Michigan’s charter schools would close every year over the first five years and the rest would ultimately close in the following years,” Naeyaert added. “This is further proof that the Democrats don’t really want better charter schools, they just want charter schools to go away.”

Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, the sponsor of House Bill 5852, insists that Naeyaert has it wrong.

“The bill says that no new charter schools could be authorized,” Rep. Roberts said. “I think the language is clear; but if anyone wants to help us work on amending it to make that true intent clearer during a committee hearing, we would be happy to work with them.

“If parents choose to send their kids to a charter school, that’s fine,” Rep. Roberts continued. “We are not saying that all charter schools are bad. But as we’ve seen recently there have been problems with some for-profit management companies. Our intent is to put a pause on opening any new charter schools until there is assurance they will be operated in a transparent, accountable and ethical manner.”

HB 5852 was introduced Sept. 18. Typically, when a minority party in the House introduces legislation in the midst of an election campaign, the measure has little or no chance of getting a hearing, let alone moving. Generally such measures end up being no more than an expression of a caucus position, rather than a serious attempt at passage.

“If the true intent of the legislation was really what they claim, then — at best — the bill was hastily and not very carefully drafted,” Naeyaert said. “Anyone who knows how charter school contracts work should be able to see that, as written, this bill would be more than just a moratorium on opening new ones.”


See also:

Challenging the Rhetoric in the War on Charters, Part II

Challenging the Rhetoric in the War on Charter Schools

A Democrat's Reasons For Supporting School Choice

From Detroit to the Ivy League: One Students Journey

Michigan Lifts Charter School Cap