House votes to put students, parents first; lifts arbitrary cap on charter schools

LANSING–As students across Michigan end the fall semester and prepare to break for Christmas, the state House of Representatives on Wednesday approved Senate Bill 618, legislation to lift the arbitrary cap on charter schools in Michigan, empowering parents and putting children first.

Two-thirds of the state’s charter schools, most in urban districts like Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit, have waiting lists as parents demand more choices and better results for their children.

“Parents want the best for their children, and that starts with a quality education,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senate Education Committee Chair Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “Today’s action by the House of Representatives to lift the cap on charter schools and give parents quality options for their kids’ education is a critical step toward improving Michigan’s whole education system.”

SB 618 now heads back to the Senate, which is expected to send it to Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday for his signature.

In addition to today’s action to remove the arbitrary cap on university-authorized charter schools, the House is currently considering additional parent-empowerment reforms that would improve educational opportunities for Michigan children, including bills to:

  • Expand opportunities for cyber learning in Michigan;
  • Allow a majority of parents or teachers at a failing school to petition their district to convert the school to a charter;
  • Expand opportunities for public school districts to provide part-time services to non-public school students; and
  • Allow access to dual enrollment college credits for all high school students.

Pavlov applauded the speaker of the House and the chair of the House Education Committee for their work.

“The status quo is failing too many children,” Pavlov said. “That is something none of us, Republicans or Democrats, should tolerate. I commend the leadership of Speaker Bolger and Chairman McMillin in taking this major step toward breaking down barriers standing between our kids and their future.”

The education reform package is sponsored by Sens. Pavlov; Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton; Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan; Goeff Hansen, R-Hart; and Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc Township.