Michigan Charter Schools Worried About Democratic Platform
Michigan charter school officials are telling Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to reconsider a party education platform. They believe it could result in the closing of charter schools. And they don’t think it’s an accident. Leaders of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies and Democratic former state Sen. Buzz Thomas of Detroit drafted a letter to Biden. It addresses the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force draft platform, announced last month, as a joint effort between Biden and Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. The charter school leaders say if the recommendations are adopted, the proposed changes in federal education funding policy would likely result in the elimination of every charter school in Michigan, and nationwide. The problem is a provision in the Democrats’ plan that gives local public school districts total control over funding for charters within each district.
It’s no secret that charter schools present a big challenge to public schools. Already in Michigan approaching 150,000 students are now enrolled in nearly 300 charters. It’s about money. Headcounts of enrolled students help qualify for government education funding. Candidate Biden is endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. Both unions oppose what they’ve characterized as unaccountable growth of charters. The NEA only supports charters that have been authorized by public school districts. There aren’t many. Its already an issue in Michigan with the state challenging the Federal Education Department’s distribution of virus support funds to schools, including charters. The charter leaders are making sure Democrat Biden hears their reminder that charters serve a disproportionately high level of students in poverty in Michigan, particularly black and brown students. The charter leaders say that includes half the students in Detroit and Flint. Closing charters would send those students back to public districts that the charter leaders say failed those students for decades.