Lansing Republicans have quietly been working for months on a package of “education reform” bills that would undermine public education by allowing an unlimited number of for-profit charter and cyber schools to open and receive taxpayer funding. How radical are these proposals? Well, the Washington Post called them “Michigan’s embarrassing school reform legislation,” while the Huffington Post decried the bills for their lack of quality controls.
Those “quality controls” that the bills lack are simply the same standards that all public schools are required to meet. Quality controls proposed by Democrats as the legislation was debated at a House Education committee meeting this morning included:
- Requiring charter schools to provide transportation;
- Requiring charter school operators to prove “demonstrated performance” before opening additional schools;
- Controlling the profits of charter authorizers, so they can’t just make a quick buck off Michigan schoolchildren;
- Banning charters from contracting with for-profit companies.
You probably could have guessed that the Republican majority rejected every one of these requirements.
Republican Sen. Phil Pavlov is the author of the bills and chair of the Senate Education Committee. He has taken campaign money from the Great Lakes Education Project, a group funded by the DeVos family, whose vigorous support for recently recalled Rep. Paul Scott was revealed several weeks ago by Progress Michigan. In the House, Republican Rep. Tom McMillin, currently under fire for taking orders from the anti-MEA Mackinac Center, also happens to be the new chair of the Education Committee.
But it’s Speaker Jase Bolger who is really pulling the strings to pass this legislation; just ahead of today’s vote, a legislator who had been considering voting no on the bill was removed from the Education Committee and replaced by a yes vote.
Bolger recently took a $25,000 contribution from the CEO of National Heritage Academies, a for-profit charter authorizer that operates 43 schools in Michigan. See for yourself how Bolger’s spokesman responds over Twitter when confronted about these unnecessary and embarrassing bills: