New blended learning charter schools to open in Michigan

Following an emerging trend of public schools embracing blended learning instruction, Michigan has announced that it will open 32 new charter schools this fall that will include three cyber academies and three blended learning schools in addition to offering traditional classrooms.

According to The Detroit News, the charter schools will be publicly funded and open to all students, and many will be opened in urban areas of the state where these types of schools are already present, including Detroit and Flint. Several towns will also be receiving their first charter schools under the initiative.

Currently, Michigan operates 276 charter schools, serving approximately 8 percent of the student population. Although they are not private, charter schools are independent of public school districts, which gives them more freedom to implement innovative approaches to education.

The purpose of charter schools is to improve the nation’s public school system, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and because they are publicly funded they are held accountable to state and federal academic standards. More than 2 million students are enrolled in charter schools across the US, according to the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

For several of the new charter schools in Michigan, the flexibility they are allowed means they will be able to take a blended learning approach to education, melding online instruction with in-classroom teaching. The Oakland FlexTech Academy in Novi, Mich., for example, offers flexible schedules for students who must work during the day or who are serious athletes, according to The Detroit News.

Although there have been no complaints about opening blended learning charter schools, some education advocates in Michigan are concerned about the operators that have been chosen to run the schools.

The Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education advocacy group, has expressed concern that the chosen operators for six of the 32 new charter schools have a history of students with low test scores, according to MLive. The Michigan Association of Public School Academies, however, disagrees.

“It’s enriching to see more high-quality, innovative choices for students,” MAPSA President Dan Quiesenberry said in a statement. “The new schools that will be opening this fall all fill very specific educational needs. We’ll have several new schools that will be managed by proven, high-quality, professional educational providers that have excellent track records throughout the country.”

Of the 32 new schools in Michigan, 27 will be chartered by state universities, one by a community college, three by local school districts and one by an intermediate school district. The focus of each charter school will vary, from preparing students for careers in law enforcement to emphasizing community service or offering bilingual college prep.

Because there are such a variety of possible approaches to blended learning, each of the three charter schools embracing this model will offer a slightly different mode of instruction.New blended learning charter schools to open in Michigan


Want to learn more about blended learning in Charter Schools? Check out our latest case study Partnership for Blended Learning | Establishing a new culture for disadvantaged learners