Michigan legislature approves more charter schools
By: Stephan Burklin
Although decisions on some openings have yet to be made, the less-than-anticipated number of new schools to be added to the existing 255 charter schools operating in the state has allayed fears among critics of the expansion – generally teachers unions and Democrats.
Gary Naeyaert, a spokesman for the Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University, told the Associated Press that the educational landscape will not change rapidly.
"You don't just wake up one day and say 'I'm going to open a school.' It can take two or three years, and there's a process," he said.
Charter schools are public schools that operate independently from other schools within the same district with the aim of increasing student performance. They can be authorized or "chartered" by public universities, community colleges, traditional K-12 school districts, or a combination of these agencies.
Proponents contend that the choice and competition engendered by charters enhance educational opportunities, while critics argue that they undermine already struggling public schools by peeling away both students and state aid money.
Critics have also been emboldened by a recent study released by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education concluded that charter schools in Michigan spend more per-pupil on administration and less on instruction than traditional public schools.
Michigan has had charter schools since the mid-1990s, and now roughly 7 percent of the state's 1.55 million students attend one. Charter school enrollment has grown about 16 percent in the past five years while overall public school enrollment has declined in the state.