Flanagan wants more accountability from charter school authorizers

In a meeting last week, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan made it clear to Michigan's state school authorizers that he's going to hold them accountable-especially when it comes to poor performing authorizers opening up any new schools. In Michigan, local and intermediate school districts, community colleges and public universities can authorize charter schools.

Authorizers who operate three or more charter schools were invited to hear Flanagan's plans which were motivated by the Detroit Free Press investigative report, "State of Charter Schools." Flanagan told the group that "we've been doing this for 20 years and it's time to look at our practices."

The report revealed that Michigan charters receive nearly $1 billion per year in taxpayer money with little accountability or transparency on how that money is spent. The newspaper also found that charter school students on average don't do any better academically than students in traditional schools, and MDE has never suspended an authorizer for poor performance. 

Those in attendance didn't shy away from the idea of being evaluated, but they just want the process to be fair. They were also concerned that accountability measures could impact their decision to open up charter schools in "challenging areas." 

Flanagan told them that he plans on establishing rigorous principles for measuring transparency, academic and financial practices, and conducting a thorough review of each authorizer. And he plans on moving ahead as soon as possible.