MDE can’t agree on charter school recommendations for Legislature

The Legislature won’t be getting advice any time soon from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) regarding expanding charter schools and other elements of the so-called education reform package (SB 618-624). The usually cohesive group couldn’t come to a consensus on recommendations to lawmakers after a lengthy discussion and two votes.

In a letter, the Board recommended that charter school authorizers and management companies show past successes. They also recommended strengthening transparency and accountability guidelines.

Those in opposition to lifting the cap on charter schools wanted more state regulation on how those schools are governed since SB 618 “opens the floodgates for schools that have not proven themselves.”

Supporters of the legislation and the recommendations claimed that charter schools have “proven superior in terms of accountability” since 50 charter schools have been closed while the MDE hasn’t closed any traditional schools.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan was concerned that the Board may lose its chance for input if no recommendations are made. However, SB 618 has already passed the Senate and moved to the House.

Board member Kathleen Strauss, who didn’t support the recommendations said, “There is legislation. It’s passed the Senate already. When they did that on the Senate floor it just showed me they weren’t looking for any advice.”