MIDLAND, Mich. — A paper released today by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy critically examines a recent report on charter schools which includes factual errors, incomplete information and misguided reforms.
The report published earlier this year by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, titled “Improving Oversight of Michigan Charter Schools and Their Authorizers," makes the case for more “public oversight” of Michigan’s public charter schools. Remarkably, the report fails to provide any evidence that the current level of oversight is inadequate. It nevertheless asserts that state bureaucrats need to write more rules to govern charter schools.
In the process, the report commits a few factual errors and misleads with inconsistencies. For example:
It assumes creating new laws for charter schools and handing state bureaucrats more power over them will improve public education, yet provides no evidence for this assumption.
It mischaracterizes what it calls “exemptions” from state laws and regulations for charter schools.
It recognizes that charter school innovation is beneficial and that over-regulation limits this, but then recommends adding more regulation of charter schools as a means to improve them.
It shows a bias towards one form of public school governance — local school boards — but never explains why this bias is justified.
It suggests that charter school governance must change simply because it differs from other forms of public school governance.
This is not the only recent report that misleads about the state’s charter schools. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission published a report last month that is more egregious in its use of misinformation and even calls for funding cuts to charter schools. That paper presents an unfair and unfounded depiction of how charter schools operate and about the students they serve. The report misstates basic facts, including an oft-repeated myth that charter schools do not have to follow state or federal laws, an assertion that is simply false.
Michigan’s public charter schools are held accountable through state testing and regulation, just as traditional district schools are. Unlike district schools, charter schools must also meet the requirements of their authorizers and are ultimately responsible to the parents who must actively and continually choose to enroll their children there.
“It’s remarkable that after more than 25 years of charter schools in Michigan, prominent groups can still get so much about them wrong,” said Ben DeGrow, director of education policy and co-author of the study. “Myths and misinformation about charters should be rejected, not repeated. K-12 education in our state can’t be improved with deceptive arguments that attempt to justify restricting choices for parents, most of which prove a lifeline to families in need of better educational opportunities.”
Learn more about the Mackinac Center’s work on education here.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
Please consider contributing to our work to advance a freer and more prosperous state.