Irwin Blasts Republican Bill to Expand Charter Schools

Public schools to feel effects of legislation in Michigan
Thursday, December 15, 2011

LANSING -State Representative Jeff Irwin (Ann Arbor) yesterday criticized Senate Bill 618, passed by the House on a vote of 58 to 49, which would remove the limit on the number of charter schools in Michigan and eliminate other restrictions on the location of charter schools.

“This bill will draw even more resources away from our public school system and our classrooms,” said Irwin. “An expansion of charters in Michigan means a mess of new school bureaucracies, spending public money that is unaccountable to the public taxpayer.”

House Republicans passed this measure despite data that shows charter schools underperforming traditional public schools in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Education reports that there are a total of 205 charters in Michigan. Of the 205, 107 total schools preform in the bottom quartile and 52 are in the second to the bottom quartile.

“When 75 percent of charter schools demonstrate below average performance, we should be focused on improving charters instead of working to replicate these abysmal results,” said Irwin. “Charters cherry-pick their students, target the lower cost elementary students so that they can reap the full per-pupil allotment from the state and charters still underperform traditional public schools that must pay for transportation and special education.”

Despite the data, House Republicans doubled down on charter school expansion and rebuffed numerous Democratic amendments aimed at demanding quality from these schools to provide the best education to children in Michigan.

“I strongly urge Governor Snyder to veto this atrocious legislation when it arrives to his desk,” Irwin continued. “Our students deserve the best schools. Instead House Republicans have slashed school funding despite a huge surplus in the School Aid Fund. Now, they are draining even more resources from our public schools by greatly expanding the number of charter schools, even when the operators of these schools are routinely failing our students.”