Statement from State Rep. Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak) on his no vote on Senate Bill 618 which lifts the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in Michigan:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“The evidence of numerous peer reviewed studies is unambiguous - charter schools in Michigan do not perform better than community-governed public schools and, in fact, are heavily represented among the lowest performing schools. This despite the fact that charters can weed out difficult-to-teach kids and avoid offering education to middle and high school students who invariably cost the most to educate. Michigan has embarked on a massive experiment by ushering in private corporations and commercial values into the realm of our state’s most important public good: public education. This experiment has failed. It is unconscionable that we would allow the expansion of charter schools without establishing firm quality standards for all publicly-funded schools and procedures for making sure that operators of low-performing public schools are not permitted to open new schools. Charter schools operate without the same mechanisms for transparency, accountability and local control that are mandatory for traditional public schools. By uncapping them in this way we run the risk of getting an education system that in a few years looks a lot like our nation’s health care system:a high-cost, low quality mess, riven with conflicts of interest and almost devoid of public accountability. We don’t want this for our kids or our state’s future. Our focus, instead, should be on ensuring that every student in Michigan has access to a great public education.”