Statement regarding DPS Legislation Approved by Michigan House

Please attribute the following statement to Jared Burkhart, Executive Director, Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, regarding DPS Legislation approved by Michigan House:

“The Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers is pleased to see a solution that focuses on parents and students in the City of Detroit. Creating an accountability system that will close failing schools, both charter and traditional, will help students gain the best education possible. Michigan authorizers will continue to work tirelessly to ensure students from every background obtain a quality education.”


For additional information about the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, please visit:

Charter Supporters Continue to Oppose Limits on Parental Choice in Detroit

Please attribute the following statement to Jared Burkhart, Executive Director, Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers:

“Even some charter school supporters that attended today’s press conference with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan do not support the flawed Senate version of the DEC. We continue to support an education system that empowers parents to make the best choice for their children, not a politically appointed commission. Our focus is not on protecting DPS but rather providing the best education for all students.”

Detroit Charter Schools Remain Open, Educating Children

Detroit Teacher Sick-Outs Aren’t Good For Kids

Jared Burkhart, executive director of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, discusses the DPS sick-outs (teacher strikes) and DPS reform legislation on the Frank Beckmann show. He also discusses the Charter School Board Member Lobby Day, which is taking place today in Lansing to educate lawmakers about charter schools and the authorizing process.

Charter schools deserve equal funding for special education

This letter to the editor originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press on 4/16/2016:

Rochelle Riley’s column last Sunday on charter schools and children with special needs is baseless and its key anecdote supposedly happened 20 years ago. State law prohibits discrimination of students with special needs. Around 9% of charter school students enrolled in charter schools have special needs, and many have wonderful success stories. This is not some small “unknown” number as is stated in the article. It is verified by Michigan’s Center for Education Performance and Information, the same database that holds all other educational data for the state.

In Detroit, DPS receives additional funding from the Act 18 special education millage that charters do not have access to. The Detroit Public Schools budget shows that they receive an extra $41.3 million dollars just this school year to educate special needs students. Its no wonder DPS can offer many extra programs with that kind of money. Parents have chosen charter schools for their children for a variety of reasons that are specific to their child. Charter schools in Michigan serve special needs students throughout Detroit. The key to making these programs even better is to stop discriminating against charter schools and demand that special needs students are funded equitably in Detroit.

Jared Burkhart

Executive Director, Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers

Schumacher: How we keep charter schools up to par

Originally posted on The Detroit News on March 20, 2016.

Never before have parents been given more influence and flexibility to determine which education options are best suitable for their children. Before the advent of charter schools, a student’s ZIP code was the primary factor governing where they would attend school.

But now, parents have the right to choose. The demand for charter schools is at an all-time high, with nearly three million students enrolled in charter schools around the country and all but eight states with charter school laws on the books.

Basic CMYKEach state has different laws governing charter authorizers, the entities permitted to legally issue charter contracts. Authorizers set clear performance standards and are responsible for “overseeing compliance by the board of directors with the contract and all applicable law.”

Michigan’s approach has resulted in more options for parents, evidenced by the now 303 charter schools in the state educating almost 10 percent of all students. The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University became the nation’s first university authorizer more than 20 years ago and we currently authorize 62 of the state’s charter schools which serve more than 30,000 Michigan students. In the city of Detroit, nearly 6,000 students attend nine charter public schools that we authorized.

Providing choice is only valuable if it represents quality choices, something that not all authorizers have been able to adequately provide. Authorizers are the key to holding schools to high standards, by both nurturing those who deliver on their expectations and closing schools that cannot offer the quality education that students deserve. As authorizers, we must hold ourselves accountable not only to the law, but also to families and students.

While many of the state’s authorizers have already adopted and implemented nationally recognized standards and best practices, the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers sought to create a mechanism that ensures all authorizers are doing more than simply meeting their statutory responsibilities. The end result of the council’s work is an authorizer accreditation system developed in conjunction withAdvancED, one of the world’s leading accreditation organizations.

The authorizer accreditation system is an intensive program consisting of an internal self-assessment and multi-day external review where authorizers are evaluated according to current law and accepted standards. The process is designed to be rigorous to ensure that authorizers are assessed based on a complete review of all aspects of charter authorizing. The criteria by which authorizers will be evaluated include intervention in low performing schools, such as closure, ensuring quality options by prohibiting authorizer shopping, establishing a comprehensive process to ensure no conflicts of interest exist on charter public school boards, and ensuring greater transparency in operations and academics for charter public schools.

As the charter school movement continues to grow, accountability for schools and authorizers must remain a central focus. Michigan is pioneering charter authorizer accountability through accreditation. We encourage other states to follow suit and establish an accreditation system as the standard for successful charter school authorizing.

Accreditation ultimately leads to what matters most — better educational outcomes for students.

Cindy Schumacher is the executive director of the Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University.

Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers Issue Statement in response to Senate passing DPS Legislation

For Immediate Release

March 22, 2016

Contact: Jared Burkhart
M: 517-403-8533

Please attribute the following statement to Jared Burkhart, executive director, Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers regarding the Senate DPS Legislation:

“We are stunned and deeply saddened the Michigan Senate would actually pass legislation that will result in fewer choices for Detroit parents and fewer educational opportunities for their children. These bills protect the Detroit Public School System that has long left behind the students of Detroit academically while being financially driven into the ground time after time. The Senate’s late addition of a Detroit Education Commission only resurrects and props up the old failed DPS system.

Seventy-nine percent of Detroit charter schools perform better than DPS schools and that is a primary factor why parents choose charter schools. Those who want to reduce competition from charter schools and preserve DPS are looking out only for themselves and not the children.

The losers are the parents and state taxpayers. This legislation will limit parents’ education choices for their children and continue to throw away taxpayers’ dollars. The winner is the Detroit political system that isn’t interested in making necessary changes to provide a competitive education landscape with accountability. Additional state tax dollars without any real education reform only means the cycle will continue in Detroit.”


About the Council:

Members of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers seek to advance public school choice and accountability by supporting high-quality oversight and serving as a unified voice for authorizers across Michigan.

Teacher 'Sickout' Protests Shut Down Almost All Detroit Public Schools

Charter Schools Remain Open

DETROIT – The largest in a series of rolling sickouts by Detroit Public School teachers nearly shut down the entire district Wednesday.

no schoolAccording to NBC News, “All but a dozen or so of the city’s 100 public schools were closed Wednesday, forcing most of the district’s 46,000 students to stay home.”

Think about that. Nearly 50,000 students didn’t get a chance to learn anything, and parents were left scrambling to find a way to take care of their children. Many of the students eat their meals at school. When they are closed, students lose that option.

Thankfully, the other half of students attending public schools in Detroit attend charter public schools. Charter school authorizers, teachers, and staff remain committed to educating their students throughout the various sickouts.

Ingrid Jacques with The Detroit News said this about the teacher strikes in her January 20 article, “No excuse for DPS teacher strikes”:

Such a widespread teacher sickout is clearly a strike, which is illegal in Michigan. Public employees are not allowed to strike, but that obviously isn’t scaring these teachers. That’s because current law makes it tedious for school administrators to prove strikes took place, as well as punish offending teachers and their unions.

Under the law, teachers can face fines or losing their job. But the law needs to be changed so that district officials can discipline striking teachers in a much more prompt fashion. Senate Education Committee Chair Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, is working on legislation that would do just that, and he should pursue it as quickly as possible.

Teachers have given lots of reasons for striking, from support of ousted Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn to bad school conditions to the fact President Barack Obama visited Detroit Wednesday.

In the end, the reason doesn’t matter. There is no excuse to block that many children from the classroom.

These actions by teachers are another example of why conversations regarding DPS schools are failing to focus on the kids.

Too many of our children have been ill prepared for their next steps in life due to the failures of outdated systems.

Instead of keeping children away from their classrooms, we must instead focus on allowing students to access academic programs that provide them the same opportunities as students in every other city in this state and country.

Parents and their children deserve an educational system that serves them, not one that leaves them on the street. If DPS is going to let them down, we have an obligation to provide them with quality alternatives.

Letter: No sickouts for charter school teachers

All charter schools in Michigan were open Tuesday. Sadly, the doors were closed at Cass Tech High School in Detroit leaving students home coming off a recent three-week holiday break. Teachers called in sick as a form of a protest.

No sickout for charter school teachers

Cass Tech, representing the shiny success model of DPS schools and one of the largest public schools in Detroit, was dark because teachers were not concerned about meeting the needs of their students and parents. Students have to compete to attend Cass Tech. But they sat at home rather than receiving an education in the classroom. Teacher sickouts have closed numerous schools and kept students home in December.

These actions by teachers are another example of why conversations regarding DPS schools are failing to focus on the kids. Teachers had three weeks to go to Lansing and protest their grievances rather than doing it on the dime of taxpayers and the future of Detroit students.

Too many of our children have been ill prepared for their next steps in life due to the failures of outdated systems.

The focus should never be about the preservation of jobs or governance models. The focus must be on allowing students to access academic programs that give them the same opportunities as students in every other city in this state and country. Charter schools were open.

Jared Burkhart, Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers

Originally appeared in The Detroit News.

New joint report shows Michigan cyber charter schools outperform other states in math and reading

Michigan charter authorizers hold online schools accountable

Lansing, Mich. – A new joint report shows that Michigan cyber charter school students are outperforming their counterparts in other states. According to the study of online charter schools in 18 states – conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University (CREDO), Mathematical Policy Research, and Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington – Michigan online students showed more growth in reading and math than their peers.

Compared to the other 17 states, the study shows students attending Michigan online charter schools perform the highest in math and second highest in reading. According to the report, “Practices in those states who are producing positive results may hold useful lessons for the remaining states.”

“The results of the study are promising considering the student makeup in Michigan cyber schools included a significant amount of high school dropouts and other at-risk students. Michigan authorizers hold their cyber schools to the high standards we expect from every school and it shows in the results of this study,” said Jared Burkhart, executive director of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers. “We will continue to support the high standards and accountability measures that lead to high performance.”

The study also points out that the aspects of the Michigan model of online education, which includes teacher monitoring of students academic growth, are important in student achievement. Michigan authorizers have implemented specialized ways to oversee the schools effectively including individualized enrollment monitoring and specialized financial reviews.

“Cyber schools are a growing way to provide educational opportunities,” said Burkhart. “Studies like this will help provide the research that is necessary to improve outcomes for all students.”

Michigan currently has approximately 6,800 students attending seven charter cyber schools. During much of the time period studied, Michigan only allowed charter cyber schools to operate if at least 50 percent of students were high school dropouts.

Click here to read the complete study.


The joint study included analyses of online charter attendance by state. In the full-data general case analysis, researchers used statistical methods to control for differences between states. In the online charter by state analyses, researchers examined the impact of online charter attendance by each state as compared to the state’s average student academic growth. In Figure 5 and Figure 6, the zero line is the average growth of a cyber student in the state. A positive effect size means the average online charter student had stronger growth than the average comparison. A negative effect size means growth for online charter students was weaker than the average virtual control record (VCR) comparison student.

Figure 5 shows the impact for online charter students in reading. Michigan had positive effect sizes in reading.

Figure 5: Online Charter Effect Size by State, Reading


The 0.00 line for this graph represents the average Traditional Public School (TPS) Virtual Control Record (VCR), White, non-poverty, non-ELL, non-SPED student. *Denotes significant at the .05 level. **Denotes significant at the .01 level.


The effect sizes by state in math are shown in Figure 6. Michigan cyber students performed higher than counterparts. In 14 states, the impacts on math growth of attending an online charter school were significantly weaker than the comparison group. Three states had effect sizes, which were not different from the comparison groups. The math and reading results show there is a large amount of variation in the effectiveness of online charter schools in promoting academic growth in students attending those schools.

Figure 6: Online Charter Effect Size by State, Math


The 0.00 line for this graph represents the average TPS VCR, White, non-poverty, non-ELL, non-SPED student. *Denotes significant at the .05 level. **Denotes significant at the .01 level.


FREEP: A path toward improving charter schools in Michigan

Article originally published in the Detroit Free Press:

One of the beacons of educational hope in Detroit can be found at Detroit Achievement Academy, a small school on the city’s northwest side. The school is only 2 years old, but it’s already experiencing amazing results in both math and reading. When the first-graders were assessed at the end of last year, school officials discovered they had experienced an average of nearly 11/2 years of growth in math.

DAA - Let's do this

A year-and-a-half of math growth in just one year? That’s remarkable. Then again, it shouldn’t be remarkable. It should be the norm. And the fact that it’s happening at one school in Detroit should give us hope that it can happen at every school in Detroit.

But currently, students in Detroit and across Michigan are falling behind the rest of the country. In our state, only about 1 in 4 fourth-graders is proficient in reading. In Detroit, the numbers are even worse, with 93% of eighth-graders in Detroit Public Schools reading below grade level, according to 2011 data.

With statistics like this, there should be universal agreement that something needs to be done now. Improving the education environment in Detroit must be a priority, but agreeing on how to go about fixing our schools has been more difficult. Many groups and individuals have come out with competing plans and it shows how much work there is ahead of us.

This need for improvement expands well beyond Detroit. That’s why in a series of recent town halls, members of our organizations discussed ways to increase standards to ensure access to high-quality school options for all kids in Michigan. Although we have different ideas about how to approach this issue, we feel encouraged by where we do agree. Our shared commitment to ensuring that every child in Michigan has access to a great education inspired us to keep working until we came to some shared beliefs on solutions.

Our shared solutions have two simple goals: Increase the number of high-quality schools and decrease the number of low-performing schools. We can do this, in part, by focusing on improving the laws that govern charter school accountability, while raising the bar to only allow high-quality charter authorizers in our state.

To do this, we propose creating a statewide A-F report card for all schools, an accountability system that includes both growth and proficiency. This system should include easy-to-understand information that parents can use to make education decisions; be transparent and easy for schools to understand the factors involved and the goals they are striving to achieve, and lastly, once this system is in place, we must use the data to ensure schools are educating our kids.

Our second solution is ensuring charter school authorizers are held to high-quality standards for authorizing. Authorizers failing to meet these standards or who consistently authorize poor-performing schools should have their authorizing authority suspended or revoked. We expect authorizers to evaluate and hold schools to high academic standards, so we should expect them to deliver equally high standards for filling this key role.

Third, we all agree legislation is needed to stop “authorizer shopping” — a practice where low-performing charter schools attempt to find a new authorizer to avoid accountability. Schools slated for closure must not be able to find an escape path, because a bad school is one of the biggest threats to our educational system.

Finally, transparency is essential to having an open and honest conversation about the quality of our schools. We suggest expanding the input of parents, neighborhoods and communities in the process of reviewing applications for charters. This information is required now, but more can be done to truly build partnerships with “communities” as a charter school is being developed. This kind of transparency will ensure people’s voices are heard, and it will give authorizers the chance to be influenced by people who will be affected most by their decisions: families.

Let’s work together and take the right steps to ensure that all of our schools live up to their original intent, which is to provide families with high-quality school options. It is time to start a conversation in the Capitol and make the necessary changes to the laws that our kids need. Let’s keep finding a way forward.

Gary Naeyaert is executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project.
Jared Burkhart is executive director of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers.
Dan Quisenberry is president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.
Lindsay Huddleston is state director of Students First-Michigan.