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Michigan’s Governor Whitmer Implements Budget that Deems Public Charter School Students Less Valuable than their District Counterparts

Michigan’s Governor Whitmer Implements Budget that Deems Public Charter School Students Less Valuable than their District Counterparts

October 29, 2019

Washington D.C. – Today, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released the following statement on Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to implement budget cuts to Michigan’s charter schools:

Governor Whitmer recently red-lined more than 100 budget items approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature. In an unprecedented budget cut to 10 percent of the state’s public-school students, Governor Whitmer brought the hyper-partisan dysfunction rampant in Washington D.C. to Lansing, Michigan. Governor Whitmer’s budget cut calls for the omission of a $240 increase in per pupil funding to charter school students, costing some charter schools as much as $600,000 this year.

Charter school students, who are all public-school students, are the political weapon Governor Whitmer is using to bargain with legislators in a state budget battle. The legislature approved an increase in per-pupil funding for all public-school students—yet Governor Whitmer eliminated the increase for charter school students, meaning some public schools will still get increased per-pupil funding from the state, but others won’t. The budget cut is a damaging blow to Michigan charter school students who already receive 27 percent less funding than their district school counterparts.

“Charter school students should not be used as pawns in a political game. We cannot let Governor Whitmer deem charter school students less valuable than other public-school students, a disparaging view that could set political precedent and negatively impacts tens of thousands of our nation’s most underserved families,” said Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president of state advocacy and support at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Michigan charter schools largely serve low-income students and students of color. Governor Whitmer’s attack on charter schools is in direct contradiction to the Democratic party’s ideals of empowering underserved communities.”

On the 2017 M-STEP, the statewide student performance test in Michigan, Detroit charter schools scored twice as high as their district school peers. There are 294 charter schools and more than 350 charter school campuses serving more than 150,000 charter school students in Michigan. Nearly half of Flint and Detroit students attend charter schools. According to a 2015 study by Stanford University’s CREDO, on average urban charter school students gain 40 days of learning in math and 28 days of learning in reading per year in comparison to their traditional public school peers.

The news out of Michigan shows a new low in today’s polarizing politics. Charter school supporters from the left and right need to join forces to ensure public school students are not treated as political collateral damage.

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