LANSING (AP) – A state House committee approved a measure Wednesday that would allow for more public charter schools in Michigan, and supporters said they believe it could gain final passage by the end of the year.
The Republican-led House Education Committee voted 11-6, mostly along party lines, in favor of the legislation, which would end some numerical and geographical limits on charter schools. The bill, narrowly approved by the Republican-led Senate in October, now awaits a vote on the House floor. “We’re confident, but I don’t want to make it sound like a done deal,” said Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, which represents charter schools in the state. “There’s always work to do. It’s a big issue.”
The state has 255 charter schools or public school academies, with more than 110,000 students. Most of the schools are authorized by state universities. Supporters say more should be allowed to boost educational options in public schools, particularly for students now in poor-performing traditional school districts. Democrats oppose the bill and say it appears to be an effort to help charter schools that are sometimes run by for-profit companies at the expense of other public schools. Senate Democrats say they’re introducing a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban for-profit K-12 schools in Michigan, a measure that’s unlikely to advance in the Republican-led Legislature.
Opponents of lifting the caps on charter schools also say the plan does not provide enough oversight or do enough to ensure quality of the new schools.
The charter school proposal is one of many that supporters say would allow more choice for families attending public schools in Michigan. Other bills that Republicans are working on would let students transfer to other public schools more easily by requiring districts with space available to participate in Michigan’s “schools of choice” program. Another bill would allow a broader choice of online learning options. — Senate Bill 618.
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