A new group of public school supporters has launched a campaign to stop former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ “Let MI Kids Learn” ballot petition effort.
The group is pursuing two petition campaigns that, when combined, would create a scholarship program to assist families in paying for private education while also providing a tax credit to people and businesses who donate to the program.
482 Forward, the American Federation of Teachers Michigan, the K-12 Alliance of Michigan, the Michigan Association of School Boards, the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators, the Michigan Education Association, the Michigan Education Justice Coalition, the Michigan Parent Teacher Association, and the Middle Cities Education Association are all members of the For MI Kids, For Our Schools coalition.
The idea, according to the organization, would divert hundreds of millions of dollars from Michigan’s public schools.
“This is about privatizing education,” Casandra Ulbrich, the State Board of Education’s president, stated. “It’s about stealing public funds and handing them over to for-profit entities that aren’t accountable to taxpayers.”
“Private schools don’t have to take a youngster who shows up at their door,” said Alyssa Heard, a parent of a special education student in the Detroit Public Schools. “Public schools, on the other hand, do. They are unable to select who should be educated.”
The coalition is urging voters to reject the proposal on the ballot. Because the Republican-controlled Legislature may enact the ballot measure if the petition campaign collects 340,047 valid signatures from registered voters, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer could not veto it. If this happens, it will never make it to the ballot box for a statewide vote.
Last year, Republicans in the Michigan Legislature passed laws that were nearly identical to the petition, which Governor Whitmer vetoed.
The proposal’s supporters argue that it supports school choice.
The proposal will not pull money away from public schools, according to Fred Wszolek, a spokesman for Let Michigan Learn. He expects a large number of scholarships to be used for vocational training, tutoring, and homeschooling, as well as private school education.
“After witnessing firsthand how their children are educated over the last few years, I believe every parent would respond, “No!” Schools haven’t improved in 20 years, and it’s time to attempt something different,’ says the author “Wszolek stated.