US Charter School Experiments

Charter schools can employ teachers who fall outside normal certification by obtaining “emergency certification” through the State Department of Education. The same rules apply to day-to-day substitute teachers in Michigan who pay for their own emergency certification through the State Department of Education.  Emergency or temporary certification is also needed for substitute teachers who end up in long-term or regular teaching positions referred to as having emergency certification but working in a regular teaching position.

FTE - Defined as Full-time Equivalency and Millage Levies - The amount of money each school district receives per student in the state of Michigan.  FTE is also known as “Count per Pupil”. Every student counted in Michigan’s schools receives an FTE of $7,850 per pupil.  The FTE accounts for base funding, or the amount of money that is supposed to cover the basic educational needs of one student. The real difference comes when the traditional public schools have additional money collected through property taxes to add to the basic funding or FTE.

Charter schools cannot levy the additional taxes and must run their schools on the basic FTE of $7,850.  In Michigan, a certain number of mills used to finance schools go to the public-school system collected from a city's property taxes.  According to Michigan Law, local school districts can levy a general property tax to finance school operations.  Michigan's voters approved Proposal A in 1994 that says all revenue raised from a regional millage stays with the public-school districts in that region. The law requires the collected revenue is distributed based on the number of students in each school district (Michigan Department of Treasury, 2010).

Two mills, for example, represent a tax of varying size depending on the taxable value of a primary home. On a primary home with a taxable value of $50,000, a two-mill increase in property taxes would generate $100/year. Those schools in affluent districts have higher property taxes based on property worth.  In addition to the millage, each public school receives the Michigan FTE of $7,850.  Each student in the affluent northern districts of Metropolitan Detroit could receive $16,000 per student for school operations.  Look the difference between students in charters receiving $7,800 as opposed to suburban districts receiving $16,000 to educate their students.  The difference is over two times as much.

Another assumption that has surfaced recently is that charter schools provide an educational system that is cheaper to operate because teacher salaries and other costs are lower.  DPS has lost 69% of its student population in the past five years. The causes for the loss are the expansion of charter schools, student dropout, and students moving from Detroit.

In Detroit, private and religiously affiliated schools may not apply for charters because of religious coercion. A government must stay separate for the benefit of both. Charter schools exist in the Detroit metropolitan area with predominantly Mexican and Arab populations. In these schools, ethnic affiliation pertaining to language, dress, distinctive and national, religious customs and holiday observation is part of the school curriculum.

Star International Academy in Dearborn Heights is authorized by Oakland University.  The school teaches culture and history within the Arab culture. Star International exalts its ability to provide an education enabling Arab ethnic traditions, values, and experiences. Cesar Chavez Academy in southwest Detroit has mostly Mexican ethnic groups enrolled. Caesar Chavez Academy’s website shows an array of ethnic Mexican culture and dresses with ethnic music playing in the background. The Detroit Metropolitan area has 5 campuses where Arab cultures account for most of the student body.  Both schools’ curriculum, subject matter, and themes relate and coincide to the high concentration of Arab ethnic groups attending Star International Academy in Dearborn Heights, and Mexican ethnic groups attending Cesar Chavez Academy in southwest Detroit.

The northern Detroit Suburbs spend two times the amount of money per pupil than the City of Detroit to educate each student. Michigan property taxes determined to fund before the passage of Proposal A in which school funding transferred from mainly local property taxes to a two percent increase in the sales tax. Michigan’s School of Choice provisions in Section 105 and 105c of the State School Aid Act allow school districts to enroll nonresident students and count them in membership without obtaining approval from the district of residence.

Most suburban traditional public school districts do not participate in schools of choice because more money per pupil is spent than received from the state in full-time equivalency (FTE) count per pupil. A student must reside in the city where he or she attends school. In some of the northern Detroit suburbs charter schools have popped up which enroll former DPS students. The charter school building is in a suburb giving the appearance of a suburban school. The charter school is not supported by taxes levied against homeowners within that city, but the students enrolled in the charters are Detroit residents. The charter school only receives the FTE for each student from the State of Michigan.

References education
If Charters are so wonderful, why aren't Suburban schools embracing privatization of their school districts? The ploy is the same.  Declare Urban City schools "Inferior" so that private corporate entities, like those in the State of Michigan, take over school districts to make a profit.  The same scenario exists with private prisons.  Use public money for private corporate gain.  Another good example of using the US economy and public money for profit is happening in the White House.  

The US Charter School Experiments make the Tuskegee Experiment look like the greatest unscrupulous GANGSTER party ever thrown. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study or Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was an infamous clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service. The purpose of this study was to observe the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural African-American men in Alabama under the guise of receiving free health care from the United States Government.

"Charters have become a backdoor for corporate profit.” Report estimate that education can be a $1.1 trillion business in the US. State educational funding continues to be cut, and budget imbalances are worsened by the transfer of public tax money to charter schools.

The Michigan Charter School Study or “Charter Fodder” is the ongoing infamous quantifiable study conducted between 1994 – Present by the US Department of Education. Under the guise of “Schools of Choice” by the US government. The purpose of this study is to observe the natural progression of survivability, concerning struggling students in America’s urban areas. Urban students are not given equalized resources or educational services.  

If Michigan were to reform its traditional public schools into charter schools, the state could save $3.5 Billion annually. Just think!  What if the entire US transforms its public-school system into a charter system? The American Public School System could save $200 Billion annually.  Maybe Betsey DeVos the current Secretary of Education was hired to dismantle and privatize the American traditional public school system so that for-profit corporations can line their pockets with educational payoffs.

The cities of New Orleans, Louisiana, after Hurricane Katrina and Detroit, after the historical bankruptcy of the largest city in the Nation used the consequences to change traditional public schools into cheaper run charters. Urban students became “Human Experiments” for what could happen to children who were considered “under-educated.” When charters first appeared in the urban areas of Michigan, especially Detroit, every corner church had a minister who opened a charter school hoping to receive THE BIG PROFIT WINDFALL. Parents and students were given a “bill of goods” lauding CHARTERS as CHOICE.

By 2015, a federal review of a grant application for Michigan charter schools found an “unreasonably high” number of charters among the worst-performing 5% of public schools statewide. The number of charters on the list doubled from 2010 to 2014. Fifty-five (55%) percent of Detroit’s city schools are charters.  With states making cuts in education, charter schools not only become a new model of educational reform but also offer an idyllic replica to cut spending immediately while keeping the educational foundation intact.  The average Michigan charter school spends $2,200 – $4,352 less per pupil than the average school district to educate each student (Coulson, 2010; MAPSA, 2010; Michigan Department of Education, 2010).

Charters have become the solution to central city schools in Detroit, Michigan. The Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) affirms that 62% of Michigan’s charter students are students of color, and 58% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (MAPSA, 2010). Charter schools cannot levy mileages or sell public bonds like traditional public schools. Because of reliance directly on Michigan’s per-pupil funding (FTE) of $7,580, the number of funds for each student averages $2,200 - $4,352 lower than what the traditional school system receives. Detroit Public Schools’ (DPS) Financial Manager used the charter school conversion as one strategy to resolve the two-billion-dollar City deficit the district faced during bankruptcy. Most charters in Detroit, Michigan, lease school buildings from DPS which were closed because of declining enrollment. 

Several charter schools operate in bordering suburban districts and are popular because of the proximity of being in a suburban city and not Detroit proper.  The difference is that students attending the suburban charter school are Detroit residents who can pat each other on the back and brag about going to a suburban school. 

The rationale remains to distinguish inconsistent funding for traditional and charter schools, student population rates by segregation, poverty, startup challenges including building infrastructure, high teacher attrition rates, alternative teacher certification, student mobility rates, creaming students, and special needs provisions. The national charter school teacher attrition rate is 40%. The charter school student attrition or mobility rate is 25%. 

The main objective of DPS Financial Manager was to cut $515 million dollars from the deficit by transforming schools into charters.  By turning one-half of the district’s schools into charters, money was saved because of the abolishment of teacher union contracts and collective bargaining. 

Charter school teachers earn $10,000 - $15,000 less per year than traditional public school teachers. The teachers are at-will employees who can be fired at the drop of a hat, do not have a pension system, and in most cases, must buy their own health insurance.

Thirty-five percent of a charter school's teaching staff may be non-certified.  Charter schools have more staffing flexibility while traditional public schoolteachers must comply with the highly-qualified clause in Every Student Success Act (Replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Legislation. Charter school teachers can accept any assignment within the school even if it is outside the grade level or subject area of his or her original license.