Thursday, December 19, 2013

Expand Michigan Schools of Choice program

Michigan’s  Mackinac Center for Public Policy has come up with a great idea: Expansion of the state’s Schools of Choice program..

About 100,000 students in Michigan attend a public school other than the one to which they are assigned through the program, a 144 percent increase from a decade ago, according to a new study conducted by the center.

“The fact is that nearly as many students choose a different conventional school district over their own as do those who choose charter public schools,” according to Audrey Spalding, director of education policy and author of the study. “We found that parents utilize Schools of Choice to send their students to districts that have higher test scores and higher graduation rates.”

The study also includes policy recommendations to help give students access to better options by easing restrictions on geography and funding, and limiting districts’ ability to pick and choose incoming students. Currently, Schools of Choice is only permitted between districts within an intermediate school district or one that is contiguous. About 80 percent of Schools of Choice students attend another district within their own ISD.

“This geographic limitation should be eliminated so that students would be free to attend any district outside of their own that they wish,” Spalding said. “Districts should also be able to open schools outside of their current boundaries.”

Spalding cites the West Bloomfield and Clintondale districts, each of which enrolls more than 1,000 Schools of Choice students, saying “It’s certainly possible they could make use of the ability to open a school in the community of non-resident students they serve.”

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