The Detroit Free Press created FAKE NEWS about Michigan Charter Schools

My local paper, the Detroit Free Press, openly lied, this past weekend, about Michigan charter schools, with the following article:

More Michigan schools are failing: Most are charters

I saw the headline, and thought I would read the article.  The second paragraph caught my eye:

The Michigan Department of Education released the list Friday of 21 school districts that officials will begin having discussions with — based on poor performance on the state’s standardized exam. Charter schools are considered school districts in Michigan.

The public school districts that are failing, according to the article, follow:

  • Baldwin Community Schools
  • Ecorse Public Schools
  • Flint Community Schools
  • Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • Muskegon Public Schools

There are four public schools in the Baldwin Community School District.  There are three public schools in Ecorse.  There are forty-nine public schools in Flint.  There are ninety-one public schools in Grand Rapids.  There are nine public schools in Muskegon.  Between these failing districts, we have a total of 156 schools.  In fairness, not all of the schools in those failing districts are failing, but there are (ironically – according to another Detroit Free Press article) a total of 120 failing public schools in Michigan.  There are more than ten times as many failing public schools in Michigan as there are failing charter schools, and yet the Detroit Free Press has the audacity to tell us that most of the schools that are failing are charter schools.

We can also compare the number of public and charter schools in the state to see the percent of each that are failing.  According to the State of Michigan, there are 895 public schools in Michigan, 13.4% (120) of which are failing.  There are 306 charter schools in Michigan, of which 5% (16) are failing.

By comparing each failing charter school to entire failing school districts (rather than to individual failing public schools), the Detroit Free Press is intentionally creating a false narrative, or in other words, delivering fake news.  The headline says, “More Michigan schools are failing: Most are charters,” and yet there are only sixteen failing charter schools, state wide, compared to 120 failing public schools.

For the Detroit Free Press article headline to be true, 16 would have to be more than 120, and 5% would have to be more than 13.4%.  The truth is that there are more than ten times as many failing public schools in Michigan as there are failing charter schools, and that public schools are, on average, almost three times as likely to fail, than are charter schools.  The truth is quite literally the exact opposite of what the Detroit Free Press reported.

What the American public deserves to know is that failing charter schools go out of business, whereas failing public schools do not.  When a charter school fails, the parents whose children go to those schools are forced to send their children to schools that are not failing.  When a public school fails, the parents whose children go to those schools are forced to keep sending their children to the same failing public schools.

The media also lies continuously about charter schools harming public school systems.  While it is true that charter schools are funded with taxpayer dollars, and that the tax dollars that go to charter schools would go to public schools if there were no charter schools, it is also true that public school funding, per capita, is not hurt by charter schools, as each student sent to a charter school is one fewer student for public schools to teach.  In many districts, charter schools get only a percentage of the money allocated to teach a given student, in which case public schools’ per capita funding actually rises when parents send children to charter schools.  Furthermore, charter schools only gain footholds in those areas where public schools are failing, so good public school districts have nothing to fear from charter schools.  The only public school systems that need to fear charter schools are those public systems that are failing, and those school systems deserve the competition charter schools deliver.  More importantly, the parents in such areas as Flint, Michigan, deserve the opportunity to send their children to schools where their children have the opportunity to succeed.

Please take a moment to contact the Detroit Free Press at letters@freepress.com, and let them know that you do not appreciate their fake news!  Also let them know that the Daily Libertarian sent you!

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