Sunday, December 11, 2011

STOP SB 618!

If you have not already contacted your state representative (for most of us, that’s Lisa Lyons, but after the next election cycle, it will be Peter MacGregor, so it is worth contacting him, as well) about SB 618, please do so today.  If you have already contacted them, please consider contacting them again.  SB 618 will eliminate caps on the number of charter schools that may operate in this state.  Charter schools will even be allowed to operate in districts that are well-performing.  The competition that charter schools foster is competition for rather scarce dollars.  So far, they have not proven to be the panacea for failing schools that they were promised to be.  Here are some facts that you may not know about charter schools:

Charter schools in Michigan are NOT performing at or above the districts from which they draw students.  In fact, 75% of Public School Academies (PSAs) in Michigan are in the BOTTOM quartile of districts and buildings!

Charter schools in Michigan DO NOT provide equitable special education services based on student needs as required by Federal law.  In terms of actual services delivered, charter schools offer less than 25% of the special education services that traditional schools within Kent ISD offer.

Charter schools in Michigan – as compared to the districts from which they draw students – ARE NOT serving higher need students or students of more diversity; most diverse PSAs are VERY homogeneous.
Michigan provides much more publicly funded parent choice already than do most other states in the United States. 

Ask your legislator why Michigan would enact a policy to create more one-building schools at a time when many of our districts are facing significant deficits.  Why would Michigan expand one-building districts when traditional schools are being encouraged to consolidate operations?  Most importantly, why would Michigan lawmakers allow an unlimited number of schools that are failing our students at a MUCH higher rate than traditional public schools?

When you talk to your legislator, explain that any expansion of charter schools should be limited to districts where there are persistently low performing buildings with the provision that new charter operators demonstrate a track record of success and commit to providing the same level of service – transportation, food service, special education -- as the schools they are replacing.   Our reforms should be focused on quality, not quantity.  The charter school choices offered to parents must be better than the traditional schools they are seeking to leave.