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Advocates Spar On Mackinac About Charter Rules In Detroit Schools Overhaul

MACKINAC ISLAND (WWJ/AP) - Advocates at a major policy meeting are sparring over new oversight of Detroit charter schools as part of a multi-million state bailout of the city's ailing K-12 district.

The proposed Detroit Education Commission, which would oversee the opening and closing of schools, dominated an opening debate at the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual conference on Mackinac Island Wednesday. The panel is a major sticking point as Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers consider addressing the district's enormous debt.

Republican businessman John Rakolta says he has "divorced" himself from a leadership role in the GOP because of its unflinching support for publicly funded charters - some of which are performing poorly.

But Dan Quisenberry of the Michigan Association of Public Schools Academies opposes more governance, saying Detroit schools and "city politics" shouldn't mix.

Sandy Baruah — President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, which hosts the Mackinac event — stressed that the chamber is long-standing supporter of choice and charter schools.

"We know that charters are the most successful and produce the best results in cities where there is a mechanism like the Detroit Education Commission to hold all schools accountable and contribute to the rational opening and closing of schools," Baruah said, in a statement. "The Commission is absolutely necessary to provide Detroit children and their parents the real choice in education they deserve."

The conference kicked off Wednesday afternoon and contunes through Friday. Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 for live, continuing coverage.

[More from the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference]

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