February 26, 2020
Report 409, Memo 1161 | February 2020
Report – Improving Oversight of Michigan Charter Schools and Their Authorizers
- All schools are judged on performance, but charter schools replace the democratic accountability historically used for traditional school districts with market accountability. The idea is that successful schools will thrive and drive innovation in education and unsuccessful schools will close; however, strong oversight is needed to ensure the productive use of public resources and the well-being of children. - Responsibility for charter school oversight in Michigan has been largely delegated to the entities that authorize the schools, 87 percent of which are universities and community colleges. Neither the state superintendent nor other state officials have significant oversight powers over authorizers and the important responsibilities entrusted to them, creating a disconnect with the public and reducing accountability. - Enhanced oversight of the authorizers is key to good oversight of charter schools. Several steps could be taken to strengthen oversight of the authorizers: The state superintendent could adopt administrative rules that set out requirements for the authorizers and provide better oversight, the legislature could enact statutes that define oversight expectations and responsibilities, and the legislature could make charter school authorizing a privilege that must be earned and maintained.