Legislature considering school voucher bills during lame duck

In the final weeks of the legislative session, state lawmakers are considering bills that would strip away local communities’ ability to guide education policy, by creating a statewide "takeover district."

House Bills 5923 and 6004 expand the authority of the interlocal agreement between Detroit Public Schools and Eastern Michigan University that created the Education Achievement Authority, a virtual school district. The legislation would expand the EAA's current reach from Detroit to the entire state, allowing Lansing bureaucrats to assume many of responsibilities currently entrusted to local school board members, parents and educators. This would essentially eliminate the time-honored tradition of "neighborhood schools."

House Bills 5923 and 6004 represent a drastic change in how we fund education, as it creates a voucher system that inhibits school districts from properly managing resources for local students. This new voucher system would be much more extensive than any other that's been previously proposed, further eroding the public school system.

Moreover, the legislation does not provide any control to establish standards, create missions and goals, monitor performance or audit finances of these new schools.

Proponents of the legislation tout the Detroit EAA's alleged effectiveness, despite the fact that it has only been in place since the beginning of the 2012-13 school year. The Detroit EAA has not existed long enough to be ripe for fair evaluation, much less statewide implementation.

Finally, the legislation should also be of concern to local taxpayers, because it would allow a new state authority to confiscate local school buildings that have already been paid for by local tax dollars.

Yet despite its myriad flaws, the legislation could be voted on any day now by lawmakers in a rush to ram through bad education policy during lame duck.

Click here look up contact information for your lawmakers. Tell them Michigan citizens already rejected school vouchers, and to reject House Bills 5923 and 6004