Education
9:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Michigan legislators seeking to create 'Wild West' of unregulated schools?

State Board of Education President John Austin published a commentary in MLive yesterday.

He's raises big concerns over a series of education overhaul bills working their way through Michigan's lame duck legislative session.

Austin writes these bills have the potential to upend Michigan's public school system.

These would allow a host of new schools and learning venues to be created. Working together, these proposals would replace a coherent education reform strategy—that has enjoyed bipartisan support, with a “Wild West” of unfettered, unregulated new school creation, decoupled from the goal of improving learning and student outcomes.

If implemented, it could erode or destroy completely our current public schools and education system in favor of a chaotic, often for-profit-provided education marketplace.

This legislation creates an unlimited and largely unregulated marketplace of new online schools, for-profit-run schools, schools run by businesses, universities, community organizations, and municipal governments. It would allow new authorizers to create schools in any location, for any reason, with little oversight.

If the bills aim to create a robust school choice marketplace, Austin writes, then the bills should explicitly say this.

He says debate should then occur as to whether all families in Michigan would truly have access to all the options.

The bills he's questioning are HB 6004, SB 1358, and a "yet to be introduced financing bill."