Last Monday, a team of charter educators and advocates, along with MAPSA, attended a special hearing hosted by the MI Civil Rights Commission (MCRC). For us, the goal was simple: address the significant misinformation about charter schools shared in the recent "Education Equity in Michigan" report.
First, I want to say THANK YOU to all the educators and advocates who helped us prepare for that hearing. We are incredibly thankful for our panelists, who did an outstanding job demonstrating our work and our value to MI students and families. We’re also thankful for the many people who sent messages to the Commission, and who submitted comments that we shared separately after the hearing. Our voices were HEARD.
And while we shared many FACTS about our schools - that they are public, accountable, transparent, serving students in every way, and more - we were not the only education advocates in the virtual room.
Most notably, MI State Board of Education Vice President, Dr. Pamela Pugh, came on just before our folks - and she had quite the speech prepared.
I encourage you to listen to the five minute clip to get the full effect - but in short, Dr. Pugh told bold-faced lies, shared inaccuracies, and attacked our movement - even stating that she believes it’s the RIGHT thing to “stabilize traditional public schools by retaining 25% of funding from every student who chooses to attend a charter school or school of choice.” Even though that would leave all charter students with just 75% of their foundation grant.
Though her remarks were not based in truth, they were quite familiar. We’re used to being attacked this way; we’re used to spending precious time fighting to get the definition of “charter schools” corrected, instead of spending that time having the important conversations. Frankly, it’s getting old.
I wish that Dr. Pugh’s comments had no effect on the Commission - that they saw through those lies. However, when one Commissioner boldly made a motion to dismiss the report’s recommendation to take 25% of all charter students’ funding, the Commission ultimately declined to vote - saying they’d like to see a “financial analysis” before making such a move. Even though our voices were heard, that horrible recommendation remains.
It’s not okay for members of the MI State Board of Education, like Dr. Pamela Pugh, to tell lies about charter schools - as a public school advocate, she should have our back, or at the very least know the facts.