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School choice in Michigan

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School choice refers to the educational alternatives available to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local district public schools to which they are assigned. Public school choice options include open enrollment policies, magnet schools and charter schools. Other options include traditional school vouchers, scholarship tax credits, personal tax credits and deductions and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which allow parents to receive public funds directly for educational expenses.[1][2]

School choice options in Michigan include: charter schools, inter-district and intra-district open enrollment policies and online learning programs. In addition, about 8.05 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.

Educational choice options

See also: Number of schools by school type in the U.S.

Charter schools

See also: Charter schools in Michigan

According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, there were 276 charter schools operating in Michigan in the 2012-13 academic year. During that time, charter schools enrolled 129,205 students.[3][4]

Charter school authorizers are, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the organizations "designated to approve, monitor, renew, and, if necessary, close charter schools." As of June 2014, the organizations in the following table were listed by NACSA as charter school authorizers in Michigan:[5]

Magnet schools

See also: Number of schools by school type in the U.S.

Magnet schools, sometimes called theme-based schools, are public schools of choice that use a specialized subject area or innovative learning approach to attract students from more diverse backgrounds. In fact, magnet schools began as a way to desegregate public schools through choice rather than force. Magnet schools can reach beyond the barriers of school districts, but they are still managed and funded publicly by local districts, even though they are centered around specialized themes and subjects.[6][7]

In the 2011-2012 school year, there were 2,949 magnet schools in the United States. In that year, Michigan had 436 magnet schools that served 203,825 students. Approximately 35 percent of students enrolled in Michigan magnet schools were classified as a minority. That percentage of students was predominately black. This was slightly higher than Michigan's average of 33 percent minority enrollment. The state also reported an average student:teacher ratio of 18:1 in magnet schools, which is the same as the state average in traditional public schools. The table below lists this information again and compares it to Michigan's neighboring states.[8][9]

Magnet school participation, 2011-2012
State Magnet schools in the state Students in magnet schools Minority enrollment percentage Student:teacher ratio
Michigan 436 203,825 35% 18:1
Illinois 108 75,960 76% 18:1
Indiana 33 15,602 68% 18:1
Wisconsin 4 1,596 43% 15:1
Source: Public School Review, "Public School Review state magnet school pages," accessed December 12, 2014

School vouchers and tax credits

Michigan provides neither school vouchers nor school choice tax credits.[10]

Online learning

According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, Michigan has the following online learning programs:[11]

  • Seven online charter schools
  • At least seven blended learning schools
  • The state-sponsored Michigan Virtual School, which had 20,812 course enrollments in the 2012-13 academic year
  • GenNET, a program operated by the Genesee Independent School District with more than 400 participating districts, had more than 22,749 course enrollments in the 2012-13 academic year
  • Single-district online learning programs

The Michigan State Legislature passed Public Act 205 in 2009, which provided for the formation of full-time online schools. The law was also the first in the United States to mandate that students have an "online learning experience" prior to graduating.[11]

Private schools

In the 2011-12 school year, 123,417 students, or 8.05 percent of school age children, were enrolled in 727 private schools. Michigan ranks 33rd highest in the nation in private school attendance.[12]

Public school open enrollment

According to the Education Commission of the States, Michigan has three open enrollment policies:[13]

  1. Intra-district/mandatory policy, which "allows students in low-performing schools, as designated by the state, to attend a different school within their district"
  2. Inter-district/voluntary policy
  3. Inter-district/voluntary policy, which "allows a district to determine whether or not it will accept applications for enrollment by nonresident applicants residing within the same intermediate district for the next school year"

Intra-district policies provide for the transfer of students within a school district, while inter-district policies allow students to transfer between districts. Under mandatory open enrollment policies, school districts are required to participate. Under voluntary policies, school districts may choose whether to participate.[13]


In Michigan in 2012-2013 an estimated 45,113 students, or 2.67 percent of the total student-aged population, were homeschooled.[14]

A summary of the state's laws relating to homeschooling can be accessed here.

School choice ballot measures

See also: School choice on the ballot and List of Michigan ballot measures

Ballotpedia has tracked no statewide ballot measures relating to school choice in Michigan.

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Michigan + Education + Choice"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Michigan School Choice News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. National Conference of State Legislatures, "School Choice and Charters," accessed June 18, 2014
  2. Friedman Foundation for School Choice, "What is School Choice?" accessed June 18, 2014
  3. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Schools - Michigan," accessed June 23, 2014
  4. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Students - Michigan," accessed June 23, 2014
  5. National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Michigan Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014
  6. Public School Review, "What is a magnet school?" accessed December 9, 2014
  7. Magnet Schools of America, "What are magnet schools?" accessed December 9, 2014
  8. National Center for Education Statistics, "Selected statistics from the common core of data: School year 2011-2012," accessed December 12, 2014
  9. Public School Review, "Michigan magnet schools," accessed December 12, 2014
  10. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "School Choice in Michigan," accessed June 23, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, "Michigan," accessed June 23, 2014
  12. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "Private School Universe Survey (PSS)", 2011-12 ; "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey, v.1a.," accessed May 12, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Education Commission of the States, "Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed June 23, 2014
  14. A2Z Home's Cool, "Number of Homeschoolers in the USA," updated February 2, 2014