The new cyber charter, Great Lakes Cyber School, is possible after last year's uncapping of charter schools and seems set to recruit students, and public funding, from Okemos, East Lansing, Haslett, and surrounding districts as well as statewide. Its website promises:
Great Lakes Cyber Academy families will receive one desktop computer and monitor per household. Each eligible household will also receive an internet subsidy while actively enrolled. Payments are made three times a year: December, March, and June. Families not enrolled for the entire payment period will receive a pro-rated payment. Subsidies are not available during the summer months. Great Lakes Cyber Academy (last accessed May 26, 2013).K12 Inc., which operates in Michigan, is embroiled in a lawsuit after billing for students who were no longer using its services. The lawsuit was filed by K12 Inc.'s own shareholders. Ex-workers claim cyber-charter operator manipulated enrollment figures, TheNotebook.org, Jan. 22, 2013. As we previously discussed, Louisiana has been rife with fraud from online charter companies. Push to stop "Vouchers for Vendors." Okemos Parents for Schools, May 23, 2013.
Non-partisan education advocacy group Education Trust-Midwest, which supports the concept of charter schools, condemned the expansion of Michigan charters noting that operators who are operating failing schools in Michigan are opening even more charters.
Amber Arellano, the group's executive director, said in the statement that while the group supports high-quality charter schools, the group is concerned by some of the operators in charge of the schools. "Too many of the new charter schools opening are run by operators who are failing to do right by our parents and students," Arellano said. Education advocacy group slams operators of some new charter schools, MLive, May 24, 2013.Michigan law relies on operating companies, which may be for-profit, and authorizing charter entities to oversee cyber charters. A vast array of entities are able to charter schools. One of Michigan's largest charter authorizers is Bay Mills Community College, a small Upper Peninsula community college.
While supporters of online K-12 education argue it can extend opportunities to students in rural areas, Great Lakes Cyber Schools' published recruiting schedule is focused on urban areas with comprehensive public school systems such as East Lansing, Troy, Ann Arbor, and Lansing. Great Lakes Cyber Schools, (last accessed May 26, 2013).
As several news outlets have reported, 32 new charter schools are set to open in Michigan in the fall. Other Lansing-area charters set to open in the Fall are International Academy of Lansing, a K-2 chartered by Grand Valley State University, and Macomb Montessori Academy-Lansing, a K-6 chartered by Lake Superior State University. LifeTech Academy, a 9-12 cyber charter authorized by Eaton Rapids Public Schools will open in Eaton Rapids. MLive has the complete list.
With 276 charter schools already operating, according to the Detroit News, Michigan has one of the highest number in the country. The number of charters in Michigan has climbed rapidly in recent years.