A proposal backed by Gov. Rick Snyder which may, in effect, create a something of a free market for public educational choices in the state of Michigan deserves, at a minimum, a thorough debate.
At a glance, the Michigan Public Education Finance Act would allow public school students to attend state-funded classes in any other district, regardless of borders, The Associated Press reports. Students would be allowed to take their public funding with them, so to speak. Additionally, early graduation would be encouraged, with students qualifying for up to $10,000 in scholarship money at a rate of $2,500 per semester.
Students would be allowed to take classes online, as long as the coursework was offered through a state-funded school district. Districts would be encouraged to offer year-round schooling by spreading the 180-day school year over 12 months, AP said. The full report is available at the Oxford Foundation-Michigan website at oxfordfoundationmi.com.
Detractors - and there are more than a few - rightfully point out that the plan, which is reportedly going to be presented in the governor's budget message in February, will more than likely drain students, and educational dollars, out of struggling urban districts. Others suggest online classes deprive students of contact with instructors and other students.
Implementation would likely take place over about five years.
We look forward to this being debated thoroughly in the Michigan Legislature. Certainly, giving students and parents new and better educational choices has to be a good thing. That said, no one wants to see already hard hit inner city districts hit even harder by an exodus of students.
The upcoming debate should be an educational experience for all.