2018-02-01 / Letters

Charters do a poor job of educating students

To the editor:

Let’s question the opinion piece by the Mackinac Center (MC) promoting school choice, and more precisely the for-profit charter and cyber schooling choices advocated by Secretary Betsy DeVos. The MC disparages the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO, Stanford University) without any supporting evidence. The fact is CREDO found for-profit charter schools had a negative impact on student math performance compared to traditional public schools. CREDO also found uneven performances among charter schools, even those run by the same nonprofit organizations. Worse, start up charters run by independent organizations had a negative impact on student learning in both math and reading.

New York University and the RAND Corp. did research on achievement in K-12 virtual schools. According to RAND researcher Andrew McEachin in USA Today, “As evidence stands right now, it would probably not be a good idea to expand the current model further.” Did the MC, which gets funding from the DeVos family, mention that Secretary DeVos has personal financial investments in “K12”, a Virginia based for–profit on line education company?

I’m perplexed why the Leelanau Enterprise continues to publish the faux research opinion pieces of the Mackinac Center. The MC has a national agenda funded by big money interests (SourceWatch) often of little concern locally (e.g., no charter schools, no for profit cyber programs, and a state policy on choice followed by Leelanau county schools). The drive by Secretary DeVos to syphon scarce money from our schools into for profit charters/cyber schools (and stockholder pockets) and private schools is not supported by the research or in the interest of our local communities.

The pattern of MC opinion seems to oppose local democratic institutional control (e.g., elected school boards and published attacks on zoning control) in favor of large money interests.

Dean Manikas
S. Maple City Rd.
Maple City

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I sent in a letter that

I sent in a letter that provides extensive research on Schools of Choice. I will be interested to see if Leelanau Enterprise will publish it. We spend a billion dollars a year on Schools of Choice with dismal results for most. Our test scores nationally continue the downward slope. Yet, our legislatures expands the program instead of focusing on what works.

@Dean Manikas: Thank you for

@Dean Manikas: Thank you for your attention to last week’s “guest view” concerning the “Reader's Forum: School of choice working in state” by Ben DeGrow, who is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s director of education policy. During his time outside of Michigan, Mr. DeGrow was described as “one of the most virulent anti-public education individuals in the state” by the Colorado Education Association Journal and I’m sure his “free thinking” opinions are subsidized by the MC. Maybe in the future the disclaimer “ I’m Betsy Devos and I approve this ad” could be included into the bio of said guest writer.