Special Report
Education Funding

Lawmaker Proposes More Michigan Charter Schools

By The Associated Press — October 22, 2009 2 min read

A state lawmaker wants Michigan to remove limits on charter schools to put the state in the running for a share of more than $4 billion in federal stimulus funds.

Sen. Buzz Thomas, D-Detroit, is introducing legislation that would remove the state’s cap on the number of charter schools, which receive state aid and don’t charge tuition but operate with more autonomy than traditional public schools.

Lifting limits on charter schools would allow Michigan to compete for a share of the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” grants to be made available by the Obama administration, which wants to increase the number of charter schools, Thomas said during a teleconference Wednesday. Michigan plans to apply for $400 million to $600 million, he said.

Critics contend charter schools drain money and talent from traditional public schools. But Thomas said under his legislation, public schools would still get a share of the state aid they would otherwise lose if a student enrolled in a charter school.

Apart from saying it must be used to improve student achievement, the federal government hasn’t specified how states can spend the “Race to the Top” grants. But Thomas said it was important for Michigan to qualify for the money, especially considering the Legislature’s vote this week to cut state aid to public schools.

“Anything we can add to the pool is good,” he said.

More than 104,000 students are enrolled in approximately 240 charter schools statewide. They operate under charters granted by public universities, local school districts, intermediate school districts or community colleges.

There are 46 charter schools with nearly 21,000 students in Detroit, where enrollment in the public schools has fallen from 104,000 to 93,000 in the past year. Robert Bobb, the Detroit Public Schools’ state-appointed emergency financial manager, said in July that he welcomed competition from charters, but the district mounted an aggressive campaign this fall to recruit news students and lure others away from charter and religious schools.

Eliminating the caps would make it easier for 12,000 children now on waiting lists to get into charter schools, Thomas said.

“Michigan families are demanding an alternative (to public schools) ... it’s time to acknowledge that charters are part of the Michigan educational fabric,” he said.

Thomas said neither the Michigan Education Association nor the American Federation of Teachers, which represents Detroit Public Schools teachers, has responded to his legislation.

But the MEA, the state’s largest teachers union, said in a recent newsletter, “There isn’t any credible evidence that increasing the number of charter schools will improve student achievement.”

Messages seeking comment were left with the MEA and after business hours with the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

Related Tags:

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

President and CEO
Alexandria, Virginia
National Association of State Boards of Education
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.

Read Next

Education Funding Opinion What's It Take for Philanthropy to Help Rural Schools?
Place-based philanthropy has enormous potential to revitalize rural communities. The trick is, it’s tough to get this sort of approach right.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Education Funding Summer School, Extended Learning a Priority in $129 Billion COVID-19 Relief Bill
The reconciliation bill from House Democrats is an early attempt at what's shaping up to be a new federal aid package for education.
5 min read
A staff member holds the door open for kids on the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.
A staff member holds the door open for kids on the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.
Mikala Compton/Herald-Zeitung via AP
Education Funding Details of Biden's Education Relief Pitch Prioritize Smaller Classes, Avoiding Layoffs
The administration's breakdown of COVID-19 needs also includes $50 billion for social distancing and $29 billion for learning recovery.
5 min read
Image of the White House seal
Bet Noire/Getty
Education Funding Lawmakers Push $75 Billion for Learning Recovery Among Trio of COVID-19 Bills
The legislation, which also covers school infrastructure and education jobs, could become the vehicle for Biden's K-12 relief plan.
6 min read
Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., speaks during a news conference in Washington on June 24, 2020.
Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., speaks during a news conference in Washington on June 24, 2020.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP