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State Board of Education recommends greater oversight of charter schools

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The State Board of Education passed a resolution this week asking the state Legislature to pass a host of changes to charter school administration.

Board members say the reforms would increase transparency, while proponents of charter schools say the board is unfairly targeting their field.

Charter schools, while remaining as public utilities, are allowed to contract services from for-profit businesses. Board members say this relationship leads to murky deals that the public has a right to know about.


“While the original notion of charter schools as laboratories of innovation came from teachers unions, that purpose has now largely been lost to predatory for-profit charter management organizations, education ‘reformers’ — I’m using my air quotes — and politically motivated special interest groups,” said Mitchell Robinson, a Democratic member of the Board.

The reforms would allow the department of education to approve or deny charter school construction or expansion, as well as require charter schools to publish details of contracts with charter management companies.

But charter school supporters say the changes aren’t necessary and limit education choices for Michigan families.

“They want to monopolize, the system. They don’t want competition,” said Beth DeShone, executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project. “They don’t want families having the freedom to choose an education that fits their children’s needs. And so this, in my mind, is nothing more than one more attempt for them to hamper families from having an education that’s going to fit their needs.”

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