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Democrats call for hold on new charter schools

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for a halt in new charter schools until there are rules that ensure more transparency and accountability.

They say the rules should require private, for-profit charter operators to reveal more about how they spend their per-student state aid payments.

“They’re not willing to tell us how they’re spending taxpayer dollars and, unfortunately, we’ve just seen too many cases of the temptation to make money getting in the way of providing the best quality education for our children,”  said state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores.

Charter school operators say they’re being unfairly targeted.

“This is about choice,” said Dan Quisenberry of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. “What we need to be thinking about is: Are parents able to make the kind of decisions they need to make to choose their school? We think they are. This seems to be saying Lansing has a better idea about how parents can make choices.”

Quisenberry says the current rules are sufficient to ensure accountability to taxpayers and parents.  He says the legislation is an effort by Democrats to create an election year issue.

Republican majorities in the House and the Senate are unlikely to hold votes on charter school bills before the end of this year.