by Brian Washington
A school district in Michigan is returning to local control after being run by a private company that tried to turn a profit on the backs of school children in an underserved community.
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Mosaica, a national for-profit charter corporation, is pulling out of the Muskegon Heights Area because the company could not make a profit serving the students who attend school in the district.
Mosaica, which ran the district for two years, ran into some financial problems and had to receive two cash advances from the state to make payroll for its teachers and administrators. It also had to take on an emergency loan from the state to help keep the school doors open for students.
Parents, educators, and concerned citizens, who wanted more local control of the financially-strapped district which is now under emergency management, see Mosaica’s departure as a victory.
It means there’s no outside management company that must turn a profit to continue the business of the school,” said Muskegon Area Intermediate School District Superintendent Dave Sipka. “The model truly means that the future of Muskegon Heights is firmly in the hands of local people that care about their community.
Earlier this year, a group of concerned parents and citizens pulled together a proposal calling on the district to move away from for-profit management of local schools.
News about Mosaica’s departure from Muskegon Heights coincides with the release of the findings from a year-long investigation of Michigan’s 20-year affiliation with charter schools by the Detroit Free Press.
The investigation concluded that charter schools spend $1billion of taxpayer money with very little oversight or transparency.
It also cited examples of wasteful spending and a failure to close what it calls the “worst of the worst” schools. The report also concluded that Michigan has more for-profit charters than any other state and that these charters, when compared to public schools, do not provide a better education to students.
The investigation also found that some charter schools are innovative and have excellent academic outcomes—but those that don’t are allowed to stay open year after year, and a majority of the worst-ranked charters have been open 10-years or more.
Under Governor Rick Snyder, recently named one of the nation’s worst governors by Education Votes, Michigan has seen several financial and academically challenged school districts placed under the control of for-profit management companies looking to make money by operating charter schools.
Instead of giving these under-performing districts the funding they need to help all students succeed by providing smaller class sizes, updated technology and books, and other critical resources, Snyder has opted to hand out huge tax breaks—totaling $1.8 billion—to wealthy corporations that can more than afford to pay their fair share. These tax giveaways have resulted in huge budget deficits for 48 school districts within the state.
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