Letter: GVSU charter schools deliver results
This fall nearly 32,000 students across Michigan are beginning their school year in a Grand Valley State University chartered school, and another 7,700 students are on waiting lists trying to enroll in a Grand Valley chartered school.
Parents are entrusting their children to the professional teachers and administrators leading these schools and trusting that Grand Valley is partnering with each of the schools and their governing boards to ensure a safe and effective learning environment.
The reasons for selecting a Grand Valley-chartered school are different for each family. Some families seek innovative programming like at Early Career Academy’s program in Troy where students earn an associate degree in addition to a high school diploma; other students seek a more intimate learning environment like the small class sizes at Detroit Achievement Academy.
The reasons for selecting a different school are not important, however; what is important is that Michigan students have excellent school choices and many are seeking those quality choices.
Choice in public education has been controversial since it began just 20 years ago. The reasons for opposing and embracing school choice and charter schools are too often political and based on misperceptions and not focused on results.
Despite the fanciful rhetoric against the charter community, the results for Michigan’s charter schools are exceptional. The most unbiased study of the Michigan charter community was published by Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes in 2013. It found that “the typical student in a Michigan charter school gains more learning in a year than his or her district school peer, amounting to about two additional months of learning in reading and math.”
The results for Detroit students (27 percent of the state’s charter students) are even more pronounced. This past spring, Grand Valley-chartered high schools across the state graduated 91 percent of enrolled students and are sending 70 percent of those graduates on to college.
These are real results, earned by real students, and supported and led by families and professional teachers and administrators who are experts in teaching and learning.
During this fall’s election season, do not lose focus of the results of the charter community. From the required student outcomes included in each Grand Valley charter to the growing enrollment waiting lists, GVSU-chartered schools deliver results to families and communities. Politicizing students and the schools they freely select detracts from the results that our teachers and administrators deliver for our students on a daily basis.
Timothy H. Wood, Ph.D.
Special Assistant to the President for Charter Schools
Grand Valley State University