Michigan charter school laws rank 15th in nation, drop from 10th place last year

Michigan charter school laws rank 15th in the nation, according to a recent study by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The criteria used for the study includes whether state law caps the growth of charter schools, whether multiple authorizers are available and the quality and accountability of the charter.

“We’re pleased the National Alliance recognizes the strength and performance of the ‘Michigan Model’ of charter schools,” said Cynthia Schumacher, executive director for The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University.

Michigan ranked 15th out of the 42 states that have laws that allow for charter public schools in 2013, dropping five spots from 10th in 2012.

Schumacher said the five-state drop is due more to the passage of some aggressive pro-charter laws in other states than anything negative happening in Michigan.

“We’re told that if Michigan were to address both funding equity and access to facilities that we’d move into the top-five of this ranking,” she said.

There are 134,896 students attending the 280 public charter schools in Michigan, according to the NAPCS.

Minnesota ranked first by strength of charter school laws according to the NAPCS, followed by Maine, Washington, Colorado and Florida rounding out the top five.

“Sixteen states made improvements leading to an increase in their scores, with 10 of these states making significant changes to strengthen their laws, including lifting caps, strengthening authorization and quality-control environments, and improving support for funding and facilities,” Schumacher said.

Michigan did not make any major changes in its charter school laws last year. Although Michigan’s ranking is down from a year prior, its overall score increased from 126 to 138 out of a possible 228.

Charter public schools provide choice and options for families unable to move to higher-performing traditional districts or pay private school tuition. CMU plays a significant role in the charter schools, Schumacher said.

“CMU, as the nation’s first and a leading university authorizer of charter schools, has been setting the bar for academic, financial and operational success in our schools since the mid-1990s,” she said. "The university is proud of the role it has played in transforming public education.”

CMU has charters for 59 schools throughout the state of Michigan.

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