charter schools

Allen Academy is unimstakably a former Catholic church.
Allen Academy / via Facebook

How do you decide if a so-called “failing” school should shut down, and is there a right way to do it?

Three Detroit charter schools shut their doors forever at the end of this school year.

One of them, Allen Academy, was one of the city’s very first charters. And its closure leaves a wake of upheaval.

"The kids are going to be better off"

The ornate, red-brick complex on Detroit’s west side is unmistakably an old Catholic church.

The Saint Theresa of Avila parish closed in the 1980s. Since 1999, it’s been Allen Academy.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Three Detroit charter schools are closing and two are merging this year, adding to the school turnover and churn families in that city are seeing.

One of the larger charters, Allen Academy, is being shut down because of poor academic performance.

“The test scores over the last several years, they’ve been outperformed by the resident district, Detroit Public Schools,” says Ron Rizzo, director of the Charter Schools Office at Ferris State University, which authorized Allen Academy.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

 

Governor Rick Snyder has signed an education budget for the coming fiscal year. But there are questions about a provision that will send $2.5 million to private and religious schools for state mandates such as fire drills. The provision could run against a section of the state constitution that says no public money can be used to support private or parochial schools.

Snyder acknowledged there may be legal issues with the budget. “But at this point, I thought it appropriate to move ahead and let’s address the legal questions separately,” Snyder said.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan with students at the Detroit Promise Zone scholarship announcement.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is making a final push for a larger role in the city’s education landscape.

Duggan stood alongside some charter school operators and Detroit Public Schools officials Tuesday, in support of a Detroit Education Commission.

That commission is being debated in Lansing as part of a larger, bankruptcy-style restructuring for Detroit Public Schools, which needs hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid if it’s to open doors in the fall.

Auchter's Art: Tough to be a Michigander

May 27, 2016
John Auchter / www.auchtoon.com

CARTOONIST POV:

How much do I like beer? Well, I can tell you this: My wife and I recently traded a large and well-maintained trampoline for a single 12 ounce bottle of Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Those who know me would likely say that was out of character. (Not the trading things for alcohol — that actually is in my wheelhouse.) No, I'm talking about the deep appreciation for something like Founders KBS — a high-end, critically praised consumable. I'm really more of a eat-because-I'm-hungry, water-from-the-faucet, breakfast-cereal-for-dinner kind of guy.

There is no agreement at the state Capitol about how to fix Detroit’s schools and time is growing short as the possibility of a default looms. But, it’s not Republicans versus Democrats on this one. This is a showdown between Republicans.

Michigan school boards are struggling to fill seats.
wikimedia user motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM


Michigan's Schools of Choice program is now 20 years old.

In some parts of the state, the competition for students can be intense. Public school districts put up yard signs, families are sometimes offered gifts to sign up for a school out of district, and the number of publicly funded, privately run charter schools has increased.

Apple with books
Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new report out today from Education Trust-Midwest says some charter school authorizers in Michigan aren't doing their jobs very well.

The report says some of the entities that open and oversee charter schools have made marginal improvements overall, but performance remains low when compared to leading education states.

Survey: Detroiters want more school choice

Nov 4, 2015
From a Detroit classroom
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Seventy five percent of Detroiters think Detroit parents need more school choices for their children.

That's according to a recent poll of 600 Detroit residents, nearly half of whom are parents of school-aged children. It was commissioned by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, which represents charter schools.

Well, the weekend is almost here, and here’s a radical idea to consider between football games. I think the time has come to get rid of charter schools.

That’s right – get rid of them, all of them. Many or most of them don’t work, and all of them are draining resources from our conventional public schools and helping further destabilize education.

Ryan Stanton / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

UPDATED: 8:35 am on 10/22/2015 The federal government paid at least $1.7 million to 25 Michigan charter schools  that never opened, according to a report released this week by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

The Wisconsin-based media group "conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy," according to their website.

Henrico Prins / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A charter high school in west Michigan now has two airplanes for students to use to learn to fly.

A contribution from the Delta Air Lines Foundation allowed the school to buy a Cessna 172.

“My first flight was actually in the new plane. 

moare / MorgueFile

Michigan expects there will be a shortage of teachers in certain subjects this school year. Early childhood, special education, foreign language and a variety of occupational teachers are facing a “critical” shortage.

New charter school to focus on Chaldean heritage

Aug 5, 2015
flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new charter school in Madison Heights hopes to preserve Chaldean heritage. 

Keys Grace Academy will be open to any student, but school officials expect most to be Chaldean. It will serve children from pre-kindergarden through high school. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A tiny public school district in northwest Michigan has found an unusual way to raise big money.

Manistee Area Public Schools has had its share of budget problems. 

“Several years ago we were very, very low on our fund balance,” Kenn Cott, the assistant principal of Manistee High School/Middle School explained.

Fewer charter schools opening in Michigan this fall

Jul 15, 2015
Classroom
BarbaraLN / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Association of Public School Academies says only seven new charter schools are opening for the 2015-16 school year.

That's down from 17 new charters that opened last year, and 32 in 2013.

Dan Quisenberry, president of MAPSA, said there's been a steady decline since state lawmakers voted to lift the cap on university-authorized charters in 2011.

The drop, he said, is a sign the state's authorization system is working.

Detroit charter school teachers working to unionize

Apr 15, 2015
Liza Lagman Sperl / Flickr

Teachers at three charter school districts in Detroit could vote as early as next month on whether to unionize.

Teachers at University YES, University Prep Academy and University Prep Science and Math have filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board to be represented by the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff (ACTS). ACTS is a union local affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

user Wonderlane / Flickr

There's wide agreement among education experts that teacher quality is the most important school-based factor in how students do in school.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Student enrollment at Muskegon Heights has been declining since the 2009-10 school year.

Five years ago, student enrollment at Muskegon Heights schools was double what it is now. But for the first time since 2009, student enrollment was stable this year. Technically, enrollment was up 5 students.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan charter school authorizers are trying to come up with independent ways to evaluate themselves.

Authorizers help create charter schools and are supposed to hold them accountable. They’ve been under a lot of scrutiny lately.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says seven charter school authorizers in Michigan are no longer at risk of suspension. Charter school authorizers help create charter schools and are supposed to hold them accountable.

But last summer Flangan warned 11 charter authorizers they were at risk of being prevented from opening new schools until they did a better job holding their existing schools accountable.

gop.gov / gop.gov

This week, Jack Lessenberry and Zoe Clark discuss legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse service to LGBT couples, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan’s call for a moratorium on charter school expansion, and Candice Miller’s announcement that she won’t seek reelection.


What's the most memorable thing a teacher has said to you?

Mar 2, 2015
Wikipedia / National Archives & Records Administration

Most of us can remember an influential teacher, or a significant moment we had with a former teacher.

Whether they were words of advice or words that put you in your place, these teachable moments can ring in your ears from school days gone by. 

Chatfield School

UPDATE: A pro-charter group says the methodology used in the Education Trust-Midwest report is deeply flawed.  A link to The Center for Education Reform's critique is included at the bottom of this article.

When Michigan's charter school experiment began 21 years ago, the hope was charters would be better than traditional public schools.

"The majority of them are actually not delivering on that promise," claims Amber Arellano of Education Trust-Midwest, a Kellogg Foundation-funded non-profit that says it is non-partisan, and "agnostic" on the question of who operates schools.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Opponents of charter schools are failing to make effective arguments for their position against them, while proponents are creating a stronger consensus for them finds a study conducted by Michigan State University professors Sarah Reckhow and Matt Grossman, along with University of Rochester PhD student Benjamin Evans.

The Michigan Department of Education has called it the most serious federal criminal case involving a Michigan charter school since the state gave the green light to charter schools in 1994.

Traverse City optometrist Steven Ingersoll will go on trial tomorrow on seven criminal charges of bank fraud and tax evasion.

Education reporter Chastity Pratt Dawsey wrote an article for Bridge Magazine that explored the charges.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Saginaw school district could soon be out of debt. And it can thank the defunct Buena Vista School District. 

The school board voted tonight to accept a $5 million offer for the old Buena Vista High School from an educational services company.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Many school districts around Michigan own buildings they are not using. 

A state lawmaker wants to make sure those buildings don’t fall to the wrecking ball if another educational institution wants to buy them. 

Last week, the Saginaw Board of Education voted not to accept a multi-million dollar offer from a local charter school for a building the district was trying to sell. The board then voted to use state funds to tear the building down.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Saginaw school officials face big decisions about some of the district’s buildings this week. Wednesday, the Saginaw School Board may vote to sell the old Buena Vista high school to an out of state education company.   The sale would net about five million dollars.

Sharon Drummond / flickr

Two reports out this week show Michigan as a stark outlier when it comes to charter schools.

One, from the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, shows that 55% of Detroit public school students are now enrolled in charters—up from 51% just a year ago.

That’s the second-highest percentage of any city after New Orleans. 

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