Michigan Schools Maxed Out on Charters, But Parents Want More

Written by Patricia Hawke for www.schoolsk-12.com

The children of thousands of families within the Michigan schools are on waiting lists for admittance to charter schools. Not only does this underscores the parents’ commitment to school choice, but it also indicates their desire for their children to have a better education — one they obviously do not believe they can achieve in the traditional Michigan schools.
Like many other states, the Michigan schools has a cap of 150 on the number of charter schools each district may have. These caps were seen as necessary in the beginning for a couple of reasons: (1) To ensure they were successful before they exploded on the scene, and (2) to ensure the traditional public schools were not lost all together.
The Michigan schools is currently maxed out at the 150 maximum university-chartered state schools. There actually are 230 charters in Michigan, but 80 are exempt from the cap. For example, a Native American operated charter comes under the control of the federal government and is exempt.
Enrollment in charter Michigan schools was at 91,567 during the 2005-2006 school year. That is 5.3 percent of all Michigan schools students that year and up by 10,000 students over the previous year.
Not all Michigan schools charters are successful, according to reports. Overall, however, they are succeeding for some students where the traditional schools have failed. Though charters schools are not for all students, many parents seek educational alternatives for their children to get them out of the mainstream and into more innovative methods to motivate their children to learn. Many parents are tired of the problems with the public school system that is inadequate and produces underachieving young adults. Charters become an even higher priority for parents with children in failing traditional schools, appearing to be their way out.
Basically, charters in Michigan are independent public schools that generally are chartered by a state university. They have more flexibility in how they educate Michigan schools students, not required to adhere to all of the rigid rules that traditional schools must follow. Though many people mistakenly believe that charters take the wealthy, white students away from the traditional Michigan schools, the fact is that charter students are predominantly urban, minority and low-income.
As with traditional schools, charters receive per student funding with the amount being the same for all students. For charters, this means that there are few operating as high schools, since it costs more to operate grades nine through 12. For example, there are only five high school charter schools out of 22 total charters in Kent and Ottawa counties, with one closing this summer.  More high school charters are needed with the long waiting lists and parents clamoring to have their children admitted.
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