Public Act 277 of 2011
First of all, charter schools do not threaten me. Nor did I suggest that they were not public schools. However, here are some facts from my experience. 1. Charter schools do not have to operate under the same rules as regular public schools. They do not have to accept everyone who shows up like regular public schools nor do they have to keep them. Charter schools also do not have to do the same amount of documentation regarding student progress that the regular public schools do nor do they have to do much about proving what they are doing to improve student progress. 2. I work in special education so I routinely get IEPs from the schools the kids are coming from. I have yet to find an IEP from a charter school that is even halfway toward being well written. 3. There have been several families that have left the district to go to charters and, guess what, about 75% of them return. 4. I have no problem with "competetion" if it is a fair one. Make the charter schools follow the same rules, prove their results, take everyone who shows up and keep them like the regular public schools do and provide the same services.
After the bill has passed, I've learned that high-performing charter schools were never subject to the cap anyway. If a charter school could demonstrate that they were giving their students the best education possible and the students in that school received good grades (presumably that's judged by their scores on standardized tests), then the state would allow the school to open additional locations, etc.
I feel that organizations like MAPSA gave very little information about this issue on purpose, so that they could urge everybody to contact their representatives about it. I just wonder why MAPSA would do this. Why would they want the cap removed from poorly performing schools? Is it truly to promote competition? I think the real purpose is monetary or political. Look at the vote results. Only Republicans voted for it, yet education is something that I wouldn't expect to be polarized along party lines. Something is wrong here.
My representative pointed out that 75% of Michigan charter schools are performing below average. The charter school my son attends has always been excellent, so I assumed all charter schools would be. I can see now that I was wrong.
I hope Gov. Snyder vetoes this bill. If it passes, I hope legislators will work to make charter schools and public schools equally accountable for the quality of education they offer their students.