Limiting School-of-Choice Options for Michigan Students Hurts All of Us

After enacting a misguided plan to end worker freedom in Michigan earlier this year, Gov. Whitmer and the state Legislature have now set their sights on dismantling academic freedom for K-12 students.

In February, the governor recommended an alarming 20-percent per-pupil reduction for public charter cyber academies as part of her fiscal year 2024 budget. This could be the first salvo in an overall strategy by the governor to severely limit school-of-choice options for our kids.

Cyber schools, or virtual schools, allow students to take required courses completely online. This important school option often serves students with special needs, including young people who may now be immunocompromised due to the pandemic. Many students who faced extreme cases of bullying at traditional schools also have found refuge and safety in cyber schools.

Michigan parents should be empowered with the freedom to choose the educational environment that best serves their children, regardless of where they live.

The governor’s previous rationale for the online charter school funding cut is dubious at best. She had said cyber schools don’t have to pay for expenditures such as physical infrastructure needs, but a large portion of per-pupil funding goes to help educate students and pay teachers. In addition, cyber schools have expenditures that traditional schools don’t have, like paying for important online security measures.

The simple truth is that Gov. Whitmer and the Democrat majority want to protect traditional public schools from competition and accountability in order to serve their union benefactors. It’s also the same reason they worked to gut our state’s landmark Right-to-work law.

Unfortunately, the move to limit school transparency and accountability has already begun. The governor and our state Legislature have repealed Michigan’s third-grade reading law that required schools to take accountability for student success. They’re also taking troubling steps to repeal a law that requires the state to publish easy-to-understand A-F letter grades for all Michigan schools based on each school’s performance.

As the state budget process continues to heat up, please contact your local legislator and tell them to advocate for measures that expand academic freedom and choice so all children have the best chance for success in life.