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Michigan’s Charter Law Embodies Best Practices, Allowing Successful Schools to Thrive

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How Lawmakers Can Recognize Best Practices, and Build on Them

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
June 27, 2014

The state of Michigan was one of the first in the U.S. to boldly embrace charter schools as a way to meet parental demand for more and better educational opportunities, introducing renewed accountability to the public system. Over twenty years later, Michigan’s charter school law continues to serve as a national model.

“Michigan’s charter law has many bright spots, allowing for an environment that fosters a vibrant charter sector where a number of quality schools can grow while still being held accountable for results,” said Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform (CER).

Michigan is one of only five states to earn an ‘A’ on CER’s 2014 Charter Law Rankings & Scorecard. A key strength of Michigan’s charter law is that it allows for independent, multiple authorizers, permitting universities to oversee charter schools.

Universities like Central Michigan University (CMU) have the infrastructure and resources to properly act as managerial stewards of charter schools, leaving dedicated school leaders and teachers to focus on their top priority of helping kids learn. These same teachers can work under an independent employment structure and are rated on performance, honoring them as the professionals they truly are.

“Strong laws mean strong schools, which translate into greater outcomes for students who benefit from an environment that best fits their learning needs,” said Kerwin.

Statewide, 42 percent of Michigan charter schools outperform traditional public schools in math, and 35 percent outperform in reading. Annually, the typical Michigan charter student will make gains in math and reading equivalent to two additional months of learning compared to their traditional school peers. In Detroit, a city where it’s estimated that 47 percent of adults are functionally illiterate, annual learning gains for charter school students jump to three months.

“Lawmakers must focus on how to build upon Michigan’s successes, which have made it a shining example for other states to replicate,” said Kerwin.

“Rather than limit quality schools from expanding, policies must focus on lasting reforms that aid the ability of parents to decide the best possible educational opportunity that’s right for their child.”