Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Too Many Schools for Too Few Students

At a time when Rick Snyder is telling everybody except rich people and business owners that Michigan needs "shared sacrifice," one area of possible savings is consistently being overlooked.

Charter schools.

This experiment has drained 100,000 students from Michigan's traditional public schools, contributing to the deficits many of them face, which will get worse under Rick Snyder's cuts to school aid, even as the school aid fund has a $600 million surplus.

The idea was that charter schools would provide competition and improve achievement. They've provided competition for students, but have done nothing to improve achievement. Charter school students do no better than public school students and they take money away from traditional public schools, dragging down achievement levels there.

The available tax dollars are being spread over more and more school buildings, each with its own overhead. In fact, a recent report forecasting that 150 public schools face deficits included many charter schools.

Even as Snyder calls for more and more consolidation of local governments and services, he has said absolutely nothing about consolidating charter schools back into traditional public schools. Could it be because their teachers are mostly non-union and lower paid?

On top of that, the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools wants to turn dozens of traditional public schools into charter schools to help solve the district's financial problems. How does that solve anything? If there are too few students for the number of schools -- due to the creation of many charter schools -- why does creating more charter schools solve that problem?

We're not getting anything for the money taxpayers are dumping into the schools. It is time to begin reigning in this failed experiment and not expand it.

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