What I'm about to share with you is MUST-READ material. It's a multi-part series on charter schools from the folks at the Detroit Free Press. To quote my colleague, Jack Lessenberry, "These are stories that everyone in this state who has kids, knows kids, or has any interest in our future should read."
Free Press reporters spent a year investigating Michigan's charter schools and are rolling out their findings all this week. According to the Freep, more than 140,000 Michigan children are enrolled in charter schools and, based on the data, we are failing most of these kids. That's because, in part, the state has some of the weakest laws regulating charters, so schools stay open long after they've proven they just can't get the job done in terms of improving student achievement.
In a nutshell, here's what the Freep's investigation turned up:
Wasteful spending and double-dipping. Board members, school founders and employees steering lucrative deals to themselves or insiders. Schools allowed to operate for years despite poor academic records. No state standards for who operates charter schools or how to oversee them.
The Detroit Free Press investigative series, State of Charter Schools, runs all this week. Do yourself a favor and check it out.