OU chartered schools offer the diversity of options envisioned by the Oakland University Board of Trustees when it approved the Public School Academy Chartering Policy in 1995. The scope of policy did not include a specified number of schools. Our first school opened its doors to 100 students in 1996. By way of this modest entry into the chartering arena, OU joined other universities, intermediate school districts, community colleges and local school districts across the state in responding to the call for more educational choice. OU has grown over the years and currently charters seven schools with over 4800 students.
The number of Michigan students who attend charter schools has grown from 12,047 students in 1996-97 to over 150,000 in 2018-19. The percentage of students in K-12 charter schools now stands at 9.3%. The charter school movement has served to increase the choices parents have in how and where to educate their children. Prior to the introduction of charter schools, children attended the geographically designated school assigned to them by their local district. If families were not satisfied with that option, they basically had two choices – send their child to a private school or move to another district. Charter schools have empowered parents by giving them a voice in the education of their child.
Charters have influenced parental choice within traditional school districts as well. The percentage of students utilizing inter-district choice options, living in one school district and attending school in another, has increased steadily since the introduction of charter schools. In 1996-97, the percentage of students attending schools of choice was 0.5% of all Michigan students. That percentage climbed to 4.9%, or 79,231 students, in 2008-09 as parents and educators began to see beyond the boundaries of their local school district and focus on providing increased opportunities for families.
The task of preparing the youth of today to be college or workforce-ready has made it crucial that K-12 schools deliver on their obligations to offer academic programs that reshape the focus of instruction and raise student achievement. With a resounding “yes,” Michigan parents have demonstrated that they want to have “choice” in deciding which schools their children attend.