Why Michigan charter schools need more regulation and oversight

Written by Jack Lessenberry for Michigan Radio

There are those who say newspapers are dead, a relic of journalism’s primitive days before Google, before phones in our pockets connected everyone to everyone else.

Well, there is no doubt that the traditional economic model that allowed “dead tree journalism” to flourish is in trouble. There’s little doubt that lots of us no longer have the reading habits needed for so-called “long-form” journalism.

But there’s also no doubt that this is a tragedy, because at their best, newspapers do something other media can’t. That’s on display this week in the Detroit Free Press. The newspaper spent a year investigating Michigan’s charter schools and how the state oversees them.

Yesterday, the paper began rolling out a mammoth, eight-day series unlike any I’ve ever seen. These are stories that everyone in this state who has kids, knows kids, or has any interest in our future should read. I should stress that these are in fact “stories,” not a bureaucratic report.

They make for fascinating and – so far – depressing reading. The installments tell the tale of an education experiment run amok. Charter schools were started exactly 20 years ago as an alternative to public schools that weren’t doing the job. Today, nearly one in every ten Michigan students is in a charter school. Read the entire post…