A long-time Mackinac Center idea made major strides last night when the Michigan House voted to (gradually) eliminate the arbitrary cap on university-authorized charter public schools. The Mackinac Center has been supporting the rights of parents to choose charter schools since 1988.
Below are examples of what we’ve said over the years on the issue:
Joe Overton, 2002: “When the Mackinac Center for Public Policy introduced the concept of charter schools to Michigan in 1988, one of the main purposes was to allow these schools to operate relatively free of the crushing bureaucracy that is killing public education today, and which robs teachers and administrators of the joy and professionalism of their important work.”
Robert Wittmann, 1992: “[C]ompetition cannot exist unless new suppliers are free to enter the market for educational services. One option currently under consideration is to ‘charter’ new schools into the public system. But, unless ‘charter’ schools enjoy reasonable autonomy, increased supply will not translate into ‘more and better choice.’"
Larry Reed, 1993: "When Wayne State University, for instance, opened its new 'charter public school' this fall, more than 5,000 applications came flooding in from all over Detroit for only 330 seats. As hundreds were given the disappointing news, there were voices from within the public school establishment opposing even this limited opportunity for the beleaguered children of Detroit. What kind of an educational system is it that preaches the virtues of parental involvement but seeks to penalize some parents who want the best for their children? What kind of people behave as though the system were more important than the kids?"
Dr. Ormand G. Hook, 1997: “One of the earliest advocates of the charter school idea was the Midland-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The law is now doing precisely what the Center urged years ago: ‘It is vitally necessary to free up the supply side of education, both to enhance competition and to create new opportunities for children in their respective neighborhoods.’ Signs are abundant that the general success of Michigan's charter schools is already goading other schools to find ways to improve.”
Dr. Ryan Olson and Deneen Borelli, 2007: “[P]olicymakers and education officials must resist the urge to add to charter schools the burden of further regulations concerning ‘quality.’ Quality is effectively addressed by the choices of education consumers — parents — and schools should not be hampered by more rules that limit how school leaders offer the educational services that parents desire.”
And finally, a helpful reminder:
Matthew Brouillette, 1998: "Charter schools are a step toward freedom of choice in education, but only full and fair choice among diverse government and nongovernment schools will ensure that parents have a vibrant array of options."