Articles tagged with charters

Investigation finds poor results at Michigan’s charter schools

Michigan taxpayers spend nearly $1 billion annually to support the state’s 370 charter schools, but there’s little transparency in how that money is spent—and many poor-performing charters aren’t held accountable.

Those are among the findings of a recent Detroit Free Press investigation that has put the spotlight on failures in Michigan’s charter school policy.

For their money, the newspaper makes clear, state taxpayers aren’t finding that charter schools offer any improvement in student academic performance. Although many excellent charters exist, 38 percent fall below the 25th percentile in state rankings, compared to 23 percent of traditional schools.

What’s more, the Free Press uncovered a pattern of wasteful spending, financial conflicts of interest, and interference in the efforts of charter school boards to provide oversight.“Michigan laws regulating charters are among the nation’s weakest,” it reports.

Some of the state’s problems appear to be related to the proliferation of for-profit management companies, which today operate more than 60 percent of the state’s charter schools. “The state’s failure to insist on more financial transparency by for-profits—teacher salaries, executive compensation, vendor payments and more—is particularly troubling to charter critics because the for-profit companies receive the bulk of the money that goes to charter schools.”

Charter school board members who have attempted to demand some accountability for these funds reportedly found themselves threatened or forced out of office by the school’s authorizers.

Failures by the Michigan Department of Education to hold charter school authorizers accountable also came to light. According to the Free Press, a majority of the worst-ranked charter schools in the state have been open for a decade or more.

At the same time, state officials reportedly have never suspended a charter school authorizer for the poor performance of its schools.

In response to the Free Press’ findings, the state’s school superintendent, Mike Flanagan, gave public notice that he was ready to hold charter school authorizers accountable for the poor performance of their schools and was willing to “suspend an authorizer’s ability to open new charter schools.”

Check out how state charter school policies are shaping the charter school and education landscape, read the American School Board Journal article and view the video.

Del Stover|July 10th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Charter Schools, School Reform, Reports|Tags: , , |

U.S. House passes misguided charter schools bill

NSBA expressed disappointment yesterday with the recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to provide $300 million in additional federal funds to support charter schools.

On Tuesday, the House voted 365 to 54 in favor of H.R. 2218, the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act, which expands a federal program to provide state grants for charter school start-ups. NSBA had urged members of Congress to reject the bill.

“This flawed legislation lacks accountability by allowing independent charter sponsorship and is extremely costly in this current economic environment,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy.

Although supportive of charter schools, NSBA questioned a number of provisions in the House legislation—and shared those concerns with House members in the days and weeks prior to Tuesday’s vote.

One concern was the priority placed on states using multiple authorizers for charter schools. NSBA’s position is that, to ensure proper accountability, local school boards should be responsible for sponsoring charter schools—and they must have the authority to decertify or not renew the charter of any school that fails to demonstrate improved student achievement.

“Local board sponsorship of charter schools creates a positive synergy between the traditional schools and charters, while charters sponsored by entities other than the local school board frequently result in alienation and negative competition among local schools,” Resnick said.

Another concern about the bill, NSBA argued, was that it fails to specifically direct that charter schools will “abide by the same environmental, labor, due process, and fiscal laws that public schools must.”

Supporters of H.R. 2218 garnered strong bipartisan support by including language in the bill to encourage charter schools to share “best practices” with public schools—and to expand enrollment opportunities to more disadvantaged students. But the legislation’s future remains unclear. It is just one of a series of bills that the House Republican leadership intends to consider as part of a piecemeal approach to the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Meanwhile, the Senate leadership is working on a single comprehensive reauthorization bill, and the New York Times reports that “most people involved in the process say profound partisan disagreements will make it difficult for the two chambers to coalesce around a single rewrite, perhaps until after the 2012 elections.”

As the legislative process continues, NSBA will continue to urge caution in the rush to expand the number of charter schools nationwide.

“Given that only 17 percent of charters outperform traditional public schools, where the majority of our American school children attend, the cost benefit of investing $300 million into this effort rather than into programs within traditional public schools is not justifiable,” Resnick says.

“Instead, Congress must focus on investing in and improving traditional public schools that are currently facing budget shortfalls, laying off teachers, and cutting programs that advance student achievement.”

For more information about the policy implications surrounding charter schools, local school officials can turn to the 2010 report: Charter Schools: Finding Out the Facts released by NSBA’s Center for Public Education.

Del Stover|September 14th, 2011|Categories: Charter Schools, Educational Legislation, Center for Public Education|Tags: , , |
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