2011-12-22 / News

Gov. lifts cap on charter schools, GB disagrees

BY AMANDA BRANIECKI 810-452-2647  abraniecki@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC — Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law lifting the cap on charter schools in Michigan, but the Grand Blanc Board of Education says the law could be detrimental to the district.

First introduced in Michigan in 1994, the state currently has 255 charter schools, which are independent public schools that offer parents and students options in education. At the time, a cap was set on charter schools because they were new to the state.

The new law however, signed by Snyder on Dec. 20, will raise the cap to 300 charter schools by the end of 2012 and 500 schools through 2014. By 2015, the cap will be completely removed.

“Charter schools play a critical role in providing Michigan students and parents with alternative educational options,” Snyder said in a press release. “This reform gives families who are trapped in failing schools more freedom to take control of their future.”

The Grand Blanc Board of Education however was against lifting the cap on charter schools with Secretary Martin Ray stating the law is financially driven and does not take into consideration the best interest of public education for all students.

“The gist of this in their minds is to allow the free market to determine what good public education is,” Ray said. “I hate to counter that, but I have to. I don’t think the free market has the best interest of our children at heart. It is a financially driven situation that also puts power into a handful of people who can actually steal our schools away from us.”

Board President Debbie Hancock said she believes there is a place for charter schools, but that she too was against lifting the cap.

“I do believe there is a place for charter schools. They are here and we are not against competition, but we also want to keep the control here,” Hancock said. “(We don’t want) to allow somebody mandating who is coming to our building if they don’t live in this district when we have a process in place for that.”

Grand Blanc Township resident Craig Banasiak however disagreed stating that the board’s concerns were unfounded.

“Grand Blanc Schools are never going to be stolen unless you are doing such an abysmal job that 51 percent of the district thinks they need to take control,” Banasiak said. “This is for the people stuck in horrible, rotten districts with horrible, rotten teachers.”

Under the new legislation, charter schools will be held to the same standards as other public schools such as participation in state assessment tests and student growth models.

Charter schools must accept anyone who applies to attend their schools.

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