David Hecker: Public money should go to public schools
David Hecker is the long-time president of AFT Michigan. In this op-ed, he makes the case for keeping money out of private hands, and warns of yet another initiative to sneak more privatization past the voters.
For decades, the DeVos family and their ilk have crusaded to undermine public schools and funnel money into private schools, and unfortunately, they’re back at it again.
This latest push to defund public schools began in the Legislature, where Republican lawmakers passed bills that would create tax credits for “scholarship funds” that could be used at non-public schools, which is just a more roundabout way of taking public money that should be spent on public education and putting it into private schools. Thankfully, Governor Whitmer continued to stand on the side of public schools and vetoed the legislation, but the fight to stop this latest DeVos-backed initiative isn’t over.
A ballot committee with the misleading name “Let MI Kids Learn” has launched a ballot drive featuring a similar initiative to create a voucher-like program. This petition drive has been approved by the state Board of Canvassers and could start collecting signatures within the next few weeks.
And because of the way Michigan’s initiative process works, it’s possible for the Legislature to vote it into law themselves without Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature once the petition has garnered enough signatures, rather than putting it on the ballot so Michigan voters have a say. Under this process, 340,000 voters who choose to sign the petition could effectively outweigh the 2.26 million who voted for the Governor. We must defend the public education the vast majority of families rely on to make sure our taxpayer dollars support schools that are open to all.
With public schools across the state already struggling due to inadequate and inequitable funding, it’s more important than ever that we defend public education and ensure public money is being used to support public schools.