That’s why I was so concerned and disappointed to learn of the latest school voucher petition that, if successful, would disinvest in our state’s public education. This proposal would reduce revenue for public school programs like ours that prepare students for successful careers. Instead, the voucher proposal would siphon off funding from private schools through tax credits for wealthy individuals and businesses.
This ballot initiative comes at a time when Michigan public schools need fair and adequate funding more than ever to meet the unique needs of our students. This includes meeting the many new academic, social, and emotional needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our public schools are key to helping public school students — who make up 90 percent of the state’s students — compete for the jobs of tomorrow. We should double the success of these students, including CTE programs that offer training and even certification before graduation.
Instead, this measure will drain $500 million each year from the state coffers needed to pay for these programs.
Michigan’s workforce is struggling to fill tens of thousands of jobs. Our public schools are playing a key role in filling these positions with qualified candidates and supporting Michigan’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
Our children compete for jobs on a global scale, and our public schools are key to preparing future Michigan entrepreneurs for success. This proposal would only hamper our ability to prepare our children for the jobs of the future and stifle our economic recovery.
This voucher program also violates Michigan’s Constitution and the will of voters — who for decades have rejected these blatantly unconstitutional attempts to give public money to private schools.
Republican lawmakers fast-tracked the concept in the fall, only to be met with a swift veto from Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Now, in an effort to end this veto and voters, the anti-public school supporters behind this voucher system are collecting signatures to make this bad political law.
They need the signatures of only a fraction of voters to get their proposal approved in the GOP-controlled Legislature, without the approval of the governor or the majority of voters.
It’s not democracy. It is an affront to our public schools and programs that help prepare students for well-paying jobs.
This proposal is a slap in the face to public school educators like me who struggle every day to meet student needs given the challenges of the pandemic, educator shortages, and student mental health issues.
Before the pandemic, teachers were already leaving the profession in droves due to pay issues, disrespect from politicians and more. These losses will increase exponentially if educators learn that some of the funds that pay them will be diverted to private schools.
This latest trick of the vouchers will also dissuade future educators from entering the profession. This is especially concerning for CTE programs, whose demand continues to grow and evolve, requiring the brightest and best educators.
I urge readers to refuse to sign this dangerous petition, which jeopardizes the future of our children and threatens Michigan’s economic recovery.
Join me in championing our public school students as well as the skilled workforce and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.