In Michigan, more than 151,000 students
attend 373 public charter schools. Public charter
school enrollment has increased every year for
the last 20 years.
The average public charter school student makes
annual gains worth two months’ of learning in
both reading and math. Controlling for socioeconomic
status, 42 percent of charter schools
are outperforming traditional schools in learning
gains in math, and 35 percent in reading.
Just 6 percent of charters are underperforming
in math and 2 percent in reading compared
to traditional public schools. Charter school
students outperformed their traditional school
peers in 52 of 56 outcomes.
Charters spend about 25 percent less on average
per pupil than traditional public schools, despite
serving a larger portion of low-income students.
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By eliminating the cap on the number of charter public schools that can operate in Michigan, Senate Bill 618, introduced by Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, would greatly expand the ability of education entrepreneurs to form new schools. Jalen Rose, former professional basketball player and Detroit native, is one such education entrepreneur. He recently opened the doors to a brand new charter school: Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.
Toya Putnam, a mother of two boys, chooses to send her seven-year-old son to a Detroit-area charter school in Roseville. Though some nonprofit organizations are urging the state to limit school choice in the City of Detroit, Putnam says it is incredibly important for her to be able to make the best educational choice for her family. Shopping around for the best school "wasn't a problem for me," Putnam said. "I don't want anyone else to pick and choose for my kids' future."
Detroit-area charter school parents say the best path forward in Detroit is to let charters schools flourish. "I prefer a charter. I have a choice, and I want the best education for my son," Lisa Cobb said. Lisa sends her son to Winans Academy in Detroit. In these video vignettes, you can hear parents’ individual stories. Detroit parents describe how they came to pick the charter school for their child, and why. Parents also talk about how they feel about attempts to limit choice in their city. "I don’t want to be told where I can send my child," Danielle Henderson said. Danielle grew up attending Detroit Public Schools, and now sends her son to Eaton Academy. "I didn't want my son to grow up in a system I grew up in," she said.
This video profiles Madison-Carver Academy and Cornerstone Health High School, two public charter schools in the city of Detroit. Both schools make use of blended learning, which allows each student to move at his or her individual pace through coursework. "[The] blended learning model is simply using technology to be able to diagnose learning disabilities, to be able to identify weaknesses and strengths, and develop digital content around that in order to help students be successful," said Madison-Carver Academy Principal Pamela Farris.
Give up on underachieving students. That was the harsh advice Dr. Roxana Hopkins heard at a school administrator conference 18 months ago. If a student entering middle school was already behind grade level, teachers should explain to the student's parents that their child likely would not receive a high school diploma, due to Michigan's new, more rigorous high school graduation requirements.
The metal bleachers in the middle of the school gymnasium fill slowly with expectant parents and playful youngsters. All of the adults are here on this warm spring afternoon for the same reason: to find out if their children will gain admission to South Arbor Academy, a Washtenaw County public charter school that has become so popular that it conducts a public lottery each spring to divvy up any openings in its K-8 program.
Last April, Michigan Capitol Confidential published "From Detroit to the Ivy League: One Student’s Journey," about Cesar Chavez Academy student Daniel Felix, who comes from a poor community but achieved high academic scores and letters of acceptance from many of the top universities in the country. The best research shows that students in charter public schools in Michigan gain an academic advantage over their conventional school counterparts. According to a study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), charter students in Detroit gain three months of additional learning compared to students of similar backgrounds in Detroit Public Schools.
It's a busy morning at Dove Academy in Detroit when third-grader David Harper walks into the central office, half-sheet of paper in hand. Assistant Principal Stacey Doctor stops him. "I want you to tell this person what you've done," she says. A visiting reporter winces, anticipating a confession of poor behavior and the likely consequences.
This brief examines the series of events that led to the Highland Park school district being converted to a system of charter public schools in 2012. Used as a strategy to help the district eliminate its large fiscal debt while still providing resident students with a local public school option, Highland Park's charter conversion is one of the first of its kind in the state and even the nation. During the first year of charter school operation, students demonstrated significant learning gains, with some grades posting academic growth far above the average Michigan student.
Cesar Chavez High School, a charter school in Detroit, Mich., ranked number two in the Mackinac Center CAP report card for high schools in 2014. Teachers and administrators say their success is based off of faith in the students and flexibility with the teachers.