By Nancy Derringer, Bridge Magazine
Nearly 20 years into the experiment, public-school academies -- charter schools, as they are more popularly known -- would appear a rousing success. An enthusiastic Michigan Legislature, as part of a comprehensive reform package, lifted the state cap on charters late last year. The charter ranks, now at 256 schools, can start growing next year and operate without a state cap in 2015.
The schools, which already educate almost 120,000 students at an average of 470 students per school, play a major role in Gov. Rick Snyder’s education philosophy, which emphasizes parental choice and market forces to drive improvement and innovation. But since the charter experiment started in 1993, data collected on both the state and national level suggest they are doing no better at educating students than are traditional K-12 public schools.