5 Facts About Charter Schools

Grand Valley State University aims to separate fact from fiction regarding Michigan's public charter schools, so parents can be better informed about their educational options.

Charter schools are one of several types of schools families can choose for their children in Michigan. As of the 2018-2019 school year, there are more than 300 public charter schools, or “public school academies” as they are commonly called, operating throughout the state.

While there are more than 150,000 students attending public charter schools, there are still many misconceptions and myths commonly associated with this educational option.

“In an effort to help more students and families understand the facts versus the myths around Michigan’s charter schools, our office and staff have committed more time to working with community stakeholders to ensure the information that they have about charter schools is fact-based,” said Maria Montoya, Manager of School and Community Partnerships at Grand Valley State University’s Charter School Office.

“As one of the largest authorizers in the state of Michigan, we are committed to making sure families and communities truly feel connected to all of the schools we work with and that they understand how these schools are governed by us and the laws outlined by the state.”

Since joining the GVSU CSO team, Montoya and her colleagues have developed a list of five common charter school myths that they hear from caregivers, community members and families – and the facts parents need to know.

1. Myth #1: Charter schools ARE NOT public schools

FACT: Charter Schools ARE Public Schools

Just like traditional public schools, charter schools are tuition-free and open to all students. They are publicly funded based on enrollment and are held accountable to the same state and federal standards as traditional public school districts.

2. Myth #2: Charter schools ARE NOT required to serve special needs students

FACT: Charter Schools MUST Serve ALL Children

Federal law dictates that public charter schools cannot discriminate and must accept all students, including those with special needs. In fact, 97% of charter schools in Michigan have students with special needs enrolled.

3. Myth #3: Charter schools ARE NOT accountable to the public

FACT: Charter Schools ARE Accountable for Student Achievement

Just like traditional public schools, charter schools are accountable to public school boards and must meet state and federal standards. Plus, public charter schools also must meet requirements included in their authorizer contracts.

4. Myth #4: Charter schools perform no better than district schools

FACT: Charter Schools Do AS WELL OR BETTER Than Traditional School Districts

Numerous independent studies indicate public charter school students perform equal to or even better than their peers at traditional public schools in their studies.

5. Myth #5: Charter Schools pick and choose their student population

FACT: Charter Schools ARE NOT ALLOWED to Be Selective in Their Admissions

If a public charter school has a limited amount of seats, it must hold a lottery to enroll students to ensure everyone gets a fair chance to attend.

Michigan education matters

Insights from educators and community stakeholders on what families should know

“Our children are an extension of every adult living in our community, and my hope for education in Detroit is that every young person can thrive, grow, and reach for any star that they want… And that we as adults are creating every opportunity we can for students and parents to access those opportunities!”

 – Sandra Turner-Handy, Detroit Community Activist and Grandparent

“One of the things that many people don’t realize is that charter schools are held to the same standards as traditional public schools. We take children with all disabilities. We don’t ask if they have a disability. We are here to serve all children.”

 – Ernestine Saunders, Special Education Administrator, Cornerstone Education Group

“Parents need to understand, whether your child attends a charter school or a traditional public school, the most important thing that we must ask ourselves is, ‘Are they learning?’ All students can achieve if actual learning is taking place, and I am proud to run a school where my students learn every day.”

 – Edwynn Bell, Principal of Detroit Collegiate High School and Detroit Native

Grand Valley State University is committed to quality education for all students.

Whether it’s as one of Michigan’s fastest growing public universities or as the authorizer of 78 public charter schools serving more than 37,000 K-12 students, Grand Valley is shaping the future with access to high quality education.

In southeast Michigan, Grand Valley State University authorizes more than 40 high performing public charters schools.

If you’re interested in learning more about these schools, becoming a public charter school board member or volunteer, visit our website at gvsu.edu/cso or call 616-331-2240.


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