Legislative Shenanigans on “School Choice”

The Senate Education Committee is meeting tomorrow to discuss a set of bills that has not been made public, apparently has the support of the four Republican members and could be voted out of committee, without even one hearing with an informed public. Why are they conducting a hearing on a set of bills not yet made public? Even if they don’t vote it out of committee, the process is most unusual, certainly not transparent.

While bills to repeal and replace Common Core languish in the House and Senate, it appears Lansing politicians are swiftly moving to create a new scheme to control the educational pathways of individual students, education savings accounts.  With lofty rhetoric about competition, choice, and free markets, state lawmakers have been promoting tax credit scholarships, education savings accounts, and backpacks full of cash.  These reforms would actually diminish choice and increase control over individual students, including students in private and homeschools, because they will become a form of “public education.”

Here it is in black and white from Teresa Mull, Education Fellow with the pro-school choice, Heartland Institute:
“Delivering families access to alternative forms of education—whether it be in the form of online classes, learning therapies, homeschool textbooks, tutoring, or private schools—is the purpose of tax-credit scholarships, education savings accounts, and vouchers, all of which are forms of “public education,” since public tax dollars fund the programs.”

Private and home schools will be forced to act more like a public school. The control hasn’t gone away, it is just expanding to include students who were previously NOT participants in “public education.”

Anything with the word “public” in the phrase means there will be strings and regulations attached.   With that thought in mind, consider this new package of six bills SB 544 – 549 which are set to be introduced tomorrow (Tuesday 9/12) in the Senate to create Education Savings Accounts in Michigan.    Oddly, the content of the bills is not currently available for review on the Michigan Legislature website.

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Phil Pavlov, has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow afternoon, which means, there is no opportunity for the public to review the package before the hearing. The Senate Education Committee has seven members, four Republican and three Democrats.  All four Republicans are sponsors of an individual bill in this package;  which means the committee could pass the bill out of committee tomorrow without public review or input if  Senator Pavlov decides to take a vote.

Since the bills are not public, we cannot be sure of the content. But we are quite concerned, especially considering this very suspicious process.

Quite frankly, we expect more from Republican leadership, especially Senator Patrick Colbeck, who wants to become Michigan’s next governor.  Will legislative shenanigans prevail?