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Posted on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

EMU-authorized charter schools 2nd-lowest performing in Michigan

By Katrease Stafford

Charter schools authorized by Eastern Michigan University have the second-worst academic track record in the state, the Detroit Free Press reported.


Eastern Michigan University-authorized charter schools are among the state's lowest. file photo

A report completed by researchers at the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University shows EMU is second worst, behind the Detroit Public Schools. The report was compiled for the State Board of Education.

According to the Free Press, the authorizers were ranked based on how well their schools are doing academically, academic improvements, graduation rates for those with high schools and their achievement gaps.

EMU authorizes eight schools across the state.

Last October, EMU announced it was adding two charter schools in Detroit and one in the current Willow Run school district near Ypsilanti.

The schools are slated to open this fall. The new school at 1715 Forest St. in the Willow Run school district will be named Global Tech Academy. It will be the second EMU charter school in Washtenaw County.

Malverne Winborne, director of the Charter School Program at EMU, previously told that charters are "an ideal option for providing a quality education for the youth of Michigan.”

EMU operates charters in Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw and Genesee counties.



Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

I can't wait to see how good old EMU responds to this one. Just like Eastern.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

It is Just like Eastern to put the Charter schools where they will do some good for very challenged students. Ann Arbor does use charter schools to further segregate the advantaged students so they don't have to see working folk.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Well, I guess that's that! Charter schools don't work. I for one vote to just give everything that the NEA is asking for without question and hand the reins over to them. Who were we to ever doubt them? This instance of failure is enough for me to just deep six my entire understanding of charter schools - that's for sure.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 5:48 a.m.

Most of the best performing districts have Union teachers while most underperforming Charters are non Union teachers. The logic of blaming bad results on Union teachers escapes me.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

I hope you are being sarcastic. The NEA is run by a bunch of incompetents who are more concerned with protecting the rights of their members than with the education of the students.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

What a useless "study." They have shown correlation, not causation. When you intentionally locate your charter schools in rough communities full of poverty and unemployment, of course they don't get as good performance as other schools. Comparing "achievement gaps" is a bizarre metric too. This would rank a school where white students earn As and black students earn Cs as worse than a school where white students earn Bs and black students earn Fs.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

@Jonathan and others. I read the MSU report. Did you? Go through the report and you see some clear differences amongst 'authorizers', but a marked improvement in scores especially when taking into account race and economic situations. Clearly there are problems in some of the startups. GVSU seems to be among the best and most organized. EMU is relatively new to the game and it looks like they've picked up some of the worst performing school districts. I wish them luck. We've given the school districts a large number of years to dig the hole and bury these poor students. The good news is that with this kind of visibility, poor performing charters and authorizers can be replaced relatively quickly.

Marcy Davy

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

yes, thank you!

Katrease Stafford

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

In case anyone missed it, I linked to the full report in the article. Here's the link:

Jonathan Blutarsky

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

Sorry - a 10% MEAP pass rate is criminal by any standard. All Charter schools seem to do is nothing, well, except that less money is spent on the kids and more money goes into private individuals pockets. Teachers and most administrators get paid less which, no matter how you cut it, doesn't make it likely they have the best talent going in. Public schools are not businesses and should not be run for a profit!. About the best thing a charter has going for them is the parents have to actively enroll their kids, which means there's a spark of hope they might also take the time to see the kids get their homework turned in. Parents and communities need to take responsibility and get involved too


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

Again, what about the much more egregious failure of the Detroit Public School system? What about Benton Harbor, Flint and Saginaw? What about the dozen other low performing PUBLIC schools? Schools are NOT meant for the lazy and incompetent to pick up easy checks for doing poor work. Your outrage seems contrived to me. If you really cared so much about the kids you'd place this failure in the context of the numerous other failing school systems in this state--public or private. You have unfortunately decided to make this a partisan issue and that tells us all we need to know about what you are truly concerned with.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

You realize that many charter schools are non-profit, right? Also, I wouldn't assume that charters get worse talent, given that AAPS hires teachers and administrators based on race and gender rather than qualifications or experience.

Rob Pollard

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

I, too, would love an official response from EMU on this. If there are valid reasons why EMU's schools are second from last, let's hear it. Otherwise, it's pretty sad that a university that's marketing slogan is "Education First" is getting drummed by Saginaw Valley, CMU, Lake State - essentially everybody.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

Most of the analysis that I saw about charter schools, as reported at this website, are unconvincing at most. One can't simply compare a charter school with all the schools in the state, or even in the same district. One needs to look carefully at who the students are, and compare student performance at these charter schools with the schools that these students would otherwise have been in if they didn't choose the charter schools. The point of the charter schools is not that they provide the best education; the reason for their existence is that they provide a better education than the "default choices" of their students. If a student's neighborhood school is high-performing, this student is unlikely to choose a charter. If a student is from a wealthy family that can easily pay for private education, this student is also unlikely to go to a charter. If a student's neighborhood school is no good, the student is more likely to choose a charter. For those who chose charter, are they, as a group, performing better than the kids in their neighborhood who stayed at the neighborhood school? This would be a reflection of the value of the charter school.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

I really need, as Mr. "Swift" says, more information on this matter. Much filling in and reasons why are needed. Why is there no EMU defense? This is most disturbing.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

Why is there no response? Because this article is a regurgitation of something fom the Free Press via the Ypsilanti Reporter. Lazy reporting, if you want to call it that.

Marcy Davy

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

This is a ridiculous one-sided analysis of performance. If you were to compare these charter schools with the test results of their corresponding neighborhood public schools and THEN group those results by university you may have a better indication as to which authorizers are most successful. That information might actually prove helpful when deciding which school to send your child to. Of course Grand Valley has the best charter record and DPS has the worst by performance numbers alone. It really isn't an indication of the charter programs themselves but of the socio-economic hurdles in the communities students who attend these schools come from. I earned teacher certification under EMU's (excellent) teacher prep program AND have taught in an EMU authorized charter-- I have never witnessed any mis-management. When are people going to learn that student performance (at least as measured by standardized tests) are an indication of many factors, not just the quality of the school. Not every new school opens its doors with the same academic potential. In some schools most kids show up without even having eaten breakfast. If your basic needs as a human being are not being met then learning and school seem somewhat trivial by comparison.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.

Very good points, Marcy!!!

Marcy Davy

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

Also- your worse than average argument in the economically disadvantaged is totally legit but to call EMU second from the bottom isn't the same as saying worse than average. Only 59% of GV's students are considered economically disadvantaged while EMU and DPS are 79% and 75% respectively. GV also appears to have a very low rate of minorities when compared to EMU and DPS as well.

Marcy Davy

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

Rob, I guess I am reacting to the articles (both here and the free press) more than the report itself. These articles only cite the top to bottom rankings from Table 2 in the report, which are based on meap scores and graduation rates alone. To toss a story out there about EMU's (or DPS') ranking based entirely on meap scores and graduation rates does not provide a complete picture of this issue. It is nice that the Education Policy Center did account for socio-economic status at some point because students have been proving that it is critical to success for decades. Perhaps they should have used this data in calculating overall rankings as well (but they didn't)

Rob Pollard

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

Why is this a "wonderful" reply? What is unique about Grand Valley? Where are your statistics/evidence that EMU's schools have some disproportionate amount of kids who haven't eaten breakfast or face some unique socio-economic hurdles compared to schools operated by all other universities/colleges in the state? In fact, Table 9 in the report lists "Comparison of MEAP Proficiency rates by Subject, Grade and Economically Disadvantaged." EMU's schools almost universally do worse than the state average - in 9 out of 10 groups (e.g., Reading G5 or Science G8) , EMU does worse. They also do worse for 9 out of 10 groups those who are NOT disadvantaged. All of this doesn't mean EMU doesn't turn out some good teachers and have professors & students who care. But EMU, which prides itself on its Education focus, needs to do better. I would love an official response from the university. If there are factors that are being overlooked, it would be good to hear from them.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

Can't agree more. I hope more people read your comments carefully, especially those who report and conduct such "research".


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

A wonderful reply. This is a sketchy article, and as I said below needs far more analysis, of the sort you have just given.

tom swift jr.

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

It would be great if could do a follow up on this. EMU is a significant member of the educational community and had, at one time, been considered a leader in teacher education. If the University is allowing its Charter Schools office to tolerate such poor performance on the part of its chartered programs, without reviewing the charter and, if necessary, removing support, there is a serious problem. Is there any plan to speak to to EMU regarding this?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

well, the original local paper had to fold, while in other regions local papers survive. I don't expect better reporting from a blog than from the original incarnation- do you?


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

You're kidding, right? Follow-up would be considered reporting.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Read the article and then the report - Charter schools are showing themselves for they are - another swindle of taxpayers.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:21 p.m.

So what about the failing public schools? Are those swindles of the public as well?

Angry Moderate

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

How could you possibly get that conclusion from this report? It only compares charter schools to other charter schools...for all we know, even the worst of the 11 charters in the report could be above-average compared to the non-charters in their area. There HAS to be a "last place" in any ranking, but that doesn't make it "bad" compared to the alternatives.