New charters don't meet quality standards

Legislation this year opened the door to the establishment of more charter schools. This fall, 31 new charters opened. Unfortunately, six of the 31 new schools are managed by operators who didn't meet the state's average for low-income students, according to a report by Education Trust-Midwest. Mosaica, Leona Group, Edtec Central, Education Management and Networks, Solid Rock Management Company and Midwest Management Company manage schools that failed to meet the state's average 33rd percentile on the state's Top to Bottom rankings.

Education Trust's Director of Content and Communication, David Zeman, said, "The entire premise of the charter school movement was that their schools offered both innovation and higher academic achievement than persistently low-performing traditional public schools. It is our view that this modest bar is the least we should expect before allowing operators to expand."

Just this fall, the emergency manager in Muskegon Heights handed over the school district to Mosaica, while the emergency manager turned the control of the Highland Park School District over to the Leona Group.

The new charter school legislation took care of quantity, but it did nothing to impose quality standards on current charter school operators. The state really has no say in shutting down schools that don't meet performance standards. That's the responsibility of the operators. MEA pushed hard for more accountability from charter schools, but for-profit, private companies seemed to have more influence over legislators than professional educators.