The story in this week’s New York Times on charter schools in Michigan represents advocacy journalism at its most biased and inflammatory. Not only does the story blatantly misstate many of the facts about Michigan’s charter public school sector and the institutions that authorize them, it also willfully takes the entire story out of context, misrepresenting the broader picture of school improvement and growth statewide.
Charter schools are an important piece of a very large, coherent policy framework for boosting K–12 results in Michigan. Charters are subject to all the same laws, rules and regulations as any other public school, and are overseen not just by the same entities that govern all Michigan schools, but by an added layer of accountability: the authorizer.
This added accountability drives results. The top 3 high schools in the state, according to US News and World Report, are charter schools. A Stanford study found that students in charter schools in Detroit gain 3 months more academic growth than their peers per year. Charter schools also performed better on average on the state M-Step test than their traditional school counterparts.
These are facts that did not serve the agenda of the writer or publisher of this article. They are, however, facts that are important to parents, students and policy makers, and if the author had been interested in fairness and accuracy as opposed to advocacy, would have been included in his piece.