Labor unions are very powerful in Michigan, and the Michigan Education Association may be the strongest of them all.
That explains why the number of charter schools in Michigan has remained capped at a frustrating 150 for nearly two decades.
But that finally changed last week, when Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that will increase the cap to 300 charter schools in 2012, 500 in 2014 and eliminate limits altogether starting in 2015. That means school choice is on the march in Michigan, and traditional public schools will face increased pressure to measure up or lose thousands of students and millions of dollars of state funding.
The new law is a major defeat for the MEA and many public school organizations, who bitterly opposed the idea of increased competition.
Framers of the new law addressed a major argument against the expansion of charter schools by including new reporting and accountability standards for the non-traditional schools. The way we see it, more accountability will give good charter schools the opportunity to publicly demonstrate their unique ability to teach children who struggled in traditional schools.
At the bill signing ceremony, Snyder said the changes will give familes “good choices” and will result in a “program of quality,” according to the Detroit Free Press. We couldn’t agree more.