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Study: Michigan is national leader when it comes to for-profit charter schools


Nearly 80% of Michigan’s charter schools are managed by private, for-profit companies, according to a new report from the National Education Policy Center.

The report shows that when it comes to privately-managed public charter schools—those run by Education Management Organizations (EMOs)—Michigan is a stark anomaly.

“There’s no other state that comes close to Michigan in terms of the private involvement in our public charter schools,” says Gary Miron, an Education Professor at Western Michigan University and the study’s lead author.

Nationally, just under 45% of all charter school students attend schools run by EMOs.

But in Michigan, that number is nearly 90%. And the vast majority of them attend schools run by for-profit EMOs.

Miron says in most cases, there’s little practical difference between the for-profit and non-profit management companies.

“They’re parts of large, corporate structures or national franchises…and they’re being operated, sometimes across the state, sometimes across the country,” Miron says.

“Most of the non-profit EMOs…they have a very similar structure as the for-profit companies that also operate these schools.”

Miron says both types of EMOs are “on the march” nationwide, with for-profit growth led by online-only “virtual schools.” The report calls that troubling, because of the “sketchy academic results reported by the schools that operate online.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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