STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Some failing charter schools expanding across state

We know not all public schools are the same. Some are amazing, some are fine, and some are failing. The same is true about charter schools. 

And some operators of failing charter schools are being allowed to expand in the state according to a newanalysis from the group Education Trust Midwest.  

"Some of the fastest growing charter networks have been these charter operators that have been low performing," says David Zeman, who works for the group. "We support charter schools that make a difference, we just think there should be some common sense quality standards."

The state's removal of a cap on charter schools in 2011 did not include performance standards for charter schools wanting to expand. As Dustin Dwyer has reported, high performing charter schools say this hurts them just as much as traditional public schools.

According to the report, some of the schools being allowed to expand have just 6 percent of their students meeting state standards in math. Others have only two percent meeting state science standards. 

In the absence of state standards, it's left to advocacy groups like Excellent Schools Detroitand parents to try to get the word out about which schools are better, and why. 

Zeman continues, "We think that parental choice is very important. But why should parents have to wade through all the poor performers to find the high performing charter or traditional public schools?"

It's a question worth asking.  But the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, a charter school advocacy organization took issue with the report. Buddy Moorhouse says the reality of the landscape of charter school expansion is more nuanced than the report suggests.  Moorhouse also said, "What we support is what operators currently do, which is hold their schools to extremely high standards."

*This post has been updated