School Policy: Politicians continue to puzzle 2016.05.04

It’s not that rare to leave a Morenci school board meeting with a feeling of disbelief at the latest education proposals coming out of Lansing.

Morenci superintendent of schools Mike McAran keeps up to date on proposed legislation and passes the news on to his board members.

This week he told about a proposal that would change the state constitution to allow public education dollars to go to private schools to pay for special education needs. If parents choose to send a special needs child to a private school, the state’s per pupil funding of more than $7,500 would follow the child into that school through a voucher.

Voucher systems favored by a Saginaw area state senator have been voted down by taxpayers twice in Michigan, first in 1978 and again in 2000. Proponents describe vouchers as an “equalizer.” Others say there is nothing equal about giving taxpayer dollars to a school that can pick and choose who it allows in.

There’s some legislative support from both the House and Senate for a measure that would send public funds to private schools to reimburse them for the cost of complying with state health and safety mandates. Not even the public schools are reimbursed for those costs.

The lack of support for traditional  public schools shown by many Michigan legislators just seems nuts. So much money is going to charter schools and academies while dozens of public schools are barely surviving.

The only recourse is to talk to your representatives, write letters and check voting records. Keep that in mind when it’s time to vote.