Friday, June 08, 2007

Building Satellite Educational Facilities by Akindele Akinyemi


I am a man who is about developing public polices that will benefit those in need. That is why we need to bring people to the table on both sides of the aisle.
One thing Democrats, Independents and Republicans must begin to discuss is pushing for more charter schools in urban communities across Michigan. Especially in areas like Flint and Detroit.
But there is a type of charter school that has not been discussed and that is the concept of satellite charter schools.
The concept of satellite schools, business-school partnerships, presents an interesting alternative to charter schools facing the problems of facilities and up-front costs. Companies large and small are demonstrating that the size of the organization should not preclude a business from considering this option for its employees. For example, the Garden Inn Hilton Hotel in Detroit, Mi could provide an area with approximately 20 students each. The 19 downtown businesses In Des Moines, Iowa 19 downtown businesses came together to form a consortium to support the formation of a school show that cooperative arrangements between multiple companies can also be a successful option for satellite schools.
How come we have not discussed this widely in Detroit I have no idea.
Satellite charter schools are designed to serve the children of the employees of the sponsoring company, usually in agreement with the local school district. Local school districts usually have the authority to make these types of enrollment decisions, often considering it a geographic boundary decision for the school. Preference is then given to children of employees to attend the schools.
To make available the satellite-charter school option for both interested charter school organizers and businesses, legislative action may be necessary in all but one charter-school state.
However, the existing charter laws in other states do not allow for charter schools to target their enrollment in the same way. As public schools, charter schools are not allowed to discriminate in their enrollment decisions. At most, charter schools are only allowed to specify in their charter the academic program that they intend to offer (e.g., programs for at-risk or special-education students), but are not allowed to discriminate based on race, sex, national origin, residential, or geographic location. When are we going to get to the point of developing plans for a work site-based charter school at a school like the University of Michigan-Dearborn or Michigan State University in East Lansing?
If I was a candidate running for state representative in 2008 in District 10 and I wanted to bring in the new educational leadership to my campaign I would propose legislation that allow the creation of charter "schools-in-the-workplace". The intent of the legislation would be to increase business partnerships in education, reduce school and classroom overcrowding, and help offset the high cost for educational facility construction. To carry the intent out, the legislature encourages the formation of business-partnership schools through charter school status. The bill would also state the following:
A charter school-in-the-workplace may be established when a business partner provides the school facility to be used: enrolls students based upon a random lottery which involves all of the children of employees of that business or corporation who are seeking enrollment and enrolls students according to the racial/ethnic balance provisions Any portion of a facility used for a public charter school shall be exempt from ad valorem taxes.
The second part of this section poses incentives for businesses to participate in this program. Businesses enjoy exemption from taxes for the formation of work-site school partnerships with regular public schools. Businesses will also be able to enjoy this exemption through the partnerships with charter schools.
The satellite-school concept provides an option to charter-school organizers looking to solve their facility and resource concerns. Allowing for satellite charter schools also would provide an option to Michigan state lawmakers when deciding how to equitably provide resources to students of charter schools. If legislators continue to ignore the facility and up-front resource issues that charter schools face, then the prospect of effective educational reform through charter schools will surely fade. While not completely insurmountable, these issues continue to keep some charter schools from teaching students even for a single day.
The time is now for true educational reform. For those who have aspirations of running for State Representative next year in 2008 I highly recommend that you take a look at reforming education to bring Detroit to the next level.

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