It was with wild fanfare that the state’s Republican legislature and Republican Governor enacted their reforms for the state’s public school system. Among the panaceas was charter schools, a ‘90s education fad that gives individual parents the right to send their children to state-approved public charter schools at public expense. Politicians reasoned that less-bureaucratic charter schools would teach students better than traditional public schools because charter schools wouldn’t be subject to the same mandates that the state had heaped upon public schools. Furthermore, traditional schools would be forced to compete with charter schools as they lured thousands of students and millions of dollars away from traditional public schools. Competition from charter schools would then lead to all-around better schools in the state as traditional public schools improved themselves to remain competitive with the cutting-edge charter schools.
The charter school program aimed to allocate educational resources via market mechanism by shifting towards freedom of contract. However, the plan unfairly mixes individual decision making with the expenditure of public tax dollars. Moreover, the competition through which legislators sought to improve education throughout state schools has failed to materialize as students enrolled in Michigan charter schools remain a drop in the bucket.
In this paper, I will show how the charter school movement represents a limited shift towards freedom of contract and explain why this shift is unfair to the taxpayers of the state of Michigan. Further, I will argue that the market mechanism has not yet become a factor in public educa...
... middle of paper ...
... other today, but as the numbers indicate, an effective market for K-12 education is a long way off. Personally, I do not believe that the salvation lies in charter schools or an individualist approach to educating children. Instead, I think it takes a village, or even the entire state, to come together as a community and reach consensus on ways to improve the existing educational infrastructure in the state, i.e., traditional public schools. Granted, needs are not the same across the board, but there are innovative programs that have worked in some areas that could be successfully repeated in other areas.
Competition is not the salvation. Cooperation is the means by which we will improve schools in Michigan. In the words of one Michigan educator, “We should not waste our time implementing schools of choice, we should work to create choice schools in Michigan.”
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