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Action alert: charter school bill goes to Senate floor

There is still time! Tell your Senator we need to help our public schools, not undermine them with more charters.

There is still time to let your state Senator know that your support Michigan's public schools and oppose the changes embodied in Senate Bill 618. That bill, now on the Senate floor, would:
  1. Remove any limits on the number of charter schools in Michigan;
  2. Allow charter schools to operate a network of schools under one charter, setting up shadow school districts;
  3. Permit school districts to contract-out instructional services (privatize teachers);
  4. Remove any requirements that staff of district-authorized charters, or teachers employed under contract with an outside body, be covered by existing collective bargaining agreements;
  5. Exempt charter school property from property taxes.
As you can see, this has less to do with improving the education of our children than it does with encouraging the growth of charter schools and the outsourcing of instruction.

Please take action now! Contact your state Senator about this bill!

At Michigan Parents for Schools, we don't have a problem with charter schools in principle, as they were originally conceived. The original intent of charters was to give the educators running them the freedom and flexibility to innovate. But that is not what we have today. As reflected in this bill, charters are no longer seen as a tool to help improve our public schools. Instead, charters are now seen as "the answer," as a replacement for traditional public schools. That is a mistake.

Why we oppose this bill:
  • Leaving kids behind -- Expanding the number of charters will simply bleed students and resources away from traditional public schools, forcing many of them into a downward spiral of budget cuts and enrollment declines. This will not, in any way, help those children whose families do not have the resources to actively search for alternatives, to apply to and then help their children attend a charter school. But it will work to hollow-out our traditional public schools.
  • Fragmenting our community -- Public schools exist for more than just the preferences of current parents. We as a community build and govern our schools as a way of producing thoughtful and productive citizens. Our public schools have long been a way of bringing our diverse population together, to force a common identity as Americans. Encouraging charters to create fragmented educational enclaves has exactly the opposite effect.
  • Private profit from public dollars -- Right now, in Michigan, a majority of charter schools are operated by private, for-profit, management companies. Expanding the number of charters is essentially creating a huge business opportunity funded with public dollars. We can think of no reason why a small group of investors should profit on the backs of our children - any surplus should be plowed back into their education. School districts are expected to be very transparent with their finances, but the private firms operating charters do not have to open their books at all. At the very least, any organization providing instructional services should be a non-profit required to open its books to the public - to make sure public money is being used for a public purpose.

Our alternative? Traditional public school districts are very capable of being as flexible and innovative as charter schools, provided they have the resources and skilled leadership to do so.

Shouldn't we be focusing our efforts on these districts, that serve the majority of our students, to make sure we meet the needs of all our children and our entire community?

Please tell your state Senator to vote NO on SB 618 and focus on improving our schools rather than undermining them. Take action now! 

Thank you for joining with us!

Steven Norton
Executive Director
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