Senate Ed – Transparent now, but still a bad idea

Last week, we warned you the Senate Ed committee was announcing and hearing some bad bills. Fortunately, perhaps due to our disclosure, no vote was held. but these terrible bills are again on the Senate Ed Committee agenda for tomorrow.

Anyone who believes in less regulation should be appalled. These ESA bills are bad for kids no matter who, no matter how they are educated. very disappointing.

Earlier today, this note was sent to Senator Colbeck. Quite frankly, I cannot understand how any small government, conservative politician could possible vote for these bills, let alone sponsor them.

Dear Senator Colbeck,

I am writing to express strong concerns about the package of bills to create education savings accounts.   I oppose the package of bills.   My concerns are with the fiscal impact of the bills and the impact as it relates to educational freedom in our state. My concerns relate to students in all types of educational settings but specifically to home and private education.

​This new program introduces new government regulations and restrictions, something I thought you opposed.  Additionally, the cost of creating this new system appears to be enormous and challenging to even estimate.  Quoting from the fiscal analysis of the bills provided with the bills,

“The bills would have a significant fiscal impact on to the Department of Treasury, Department of Education, and local school districts. The impact on the Department of Treasury would be significant for both one-time and ongoing costs. The administration, oversight, auditing, security, and data storage of the Enhanced Michigan Education Savings Program (E-MESP) would involve the student financial services, investments, and accounting divisions of the Department. At this time, the exact cost of creating an information technology system in one year is difficult to estimate as it would need an initial capacity of roughly 1.5 million accounts (roughly the number of K-12 students enrolled at present), and it would need to have the capacity to expand each year by the number of newly enrolled students (roughly 120,000 annually).”

I also have specific concerns as it relates to allowing the MDE to designate other organizations to receive payment from the program.   This sets up a form of accrediting education service providers for payment, which in previous budgets has required that the education service providers adhere to Michigan specific standards.  This ​negatively impacts the ability to maintain a open and free market for true choice, which exists now for Michigan private and home education.

As Teresa Hull, a research fellow with the Heartland Institute, stated clearly,

“Delivering families access to alternative forms of education—whether it be in the form of online classes, learning therapies, home-school 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.”

The package of bills that you have created lead to an costly “alternative” form of public education.  Some may argue that this gives parents control but it does not.  Your bills make it clear:  In order to participate​,​ a parent has to enroll their child, then they can use available cash donations for any MDE approved education service provider.  In previous budgets that has been limited to those that adhere to Michigan content standards.

The enormous cost of the program make it a challenge to sustain long-term similar to the Michigan Promise Scholarship for two-years of community college which closed and left many students without the funds they thought would be available to further their education.

A system that allows money to follow the child is a means to control the choices of the individual child in the same way that state/federal dollars flowing to a district control the district.

Milton Friedman said it well, “The only thing worries me about school choice is government intervention.”

The Education Savings Plan you have created is choice WITH government intervention.