Detroit Free Press releases three-year investigative report on charter schools

Dive Brief:

  • Michigan spends $1 billion on charter schools but lacks adequate oversight to hold them accountable to taxpayers, according to a three-year investigative report by the Detroit Free Press.
  • The report, which was published Sunday with related stories to follow throughout the week, focuses on Michigan's weak charter laws, stories of wasteful spending, schools not following the state's financial disclosure law, and charter school real estate ventures.  
  • The report looks closely at National Heritage Academies, a charter school management company based out of Grand Rapids, MI, but with schools nationwide. While Michigan has many NHA schools, the report points to the fact that Indiana and New York have both been critical of the company.  

Dive Insight:

This three-year investigation is an important piece of journalism as it raises important questions about charter schools, which have autonomy over public dollars. While the report is quick to point out not all charter schools are bad, what it tries to drive home is the fact that the ones that aren't good are not being shut down due to Michigan's lax charter laws.  

According to the report, "Michigan law provides no statewide standards for how the boards of school districts, community colleges and public universities that authorize charter schools should monitor a charter’s performance, or when a charter should be revoked. Michigan has 40 authorizers — from rural districts with one charter to Central Michigan University with 64 — and, as a result, standards and oversight are inconsistent."

Filed Under: K12 Policy & Regulation