As a nation we often talk about the importance of educating our children, but sometimes we talk the talk more than we walk the walk. In Michigan, a year-long investigation conducted by the Detroit Free Press showed that Michigan taxpayers pour nearly $1 billion a year into charter schools but fail to hold the schools accountable.
The investigation found that the lack of oversight allowed charter schools to cheat students out of a good education. The Free Press found “wasteful spending, conflicts of interest, poor performing schools and a failure to close the worst of the worst.”
In Michigan, specifically, the Free Press reports:
- “Charter schools spend $1 billion per year in state taxpayer money, often with little transparency.
- “Some charter schools are innovative and have excellent academic outcomes — but those that don’t are allowed to stay open year after year.
- “A majority of the worst-ranked charter schools in Michigan have been open 10 years or more.
- “Charter schools as a whole fare no better than traditional schools in educating students in poverty.
- “Michigan has substantially more for-profit companies running schools than any other state.
- “Some charter school board members were forced out after demanding financial details from management companies.
- “State law does not prevent insider dealing and self-enrichment by those who operate schools.”
Michigan laws governing charters are among the weakest in the nation, so charter management companies are flocking to Michigan to get their hands on state dollars. In the end, however, it is the students that suffer.
Please take time to read the investigation. It is full of online resources documenting the state of charters in Michigan. It is a great example of investigative journalism and a must read on the importance of accountability and high quality oversight of public services.