A backdoor voucher plan that failed to pass in the wild Lame Duck legislative session in December has reappeared in a pair of House Bills that got a hearing in the House Education Committee this week.
HB 4626 and 4627, first introduced by term-limited Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw) last year, would create a new type of school or district exempt from many existing requirements under the Revised School Code.
A number of concerns have been raised about the proposal by education groups, including the Michigan Association of School Boards and MEA. The bills would allow the board of a school district to apply to the state Superintendent to operate as a public innovative district.
Such a designation would allow a school or district to enact “competency-based education” and remain exempt from some state requirements for school hours and days, curriculum, standardized assessments, and teacher credentialing.
In addition, the bills’ “any time, any place, any pace” catch phrase is poorly defined but appears to allow credits to be granted for extended learning activities, including but not limited to independent study, private instruction, team sports, performing groups, internships, community service, and work study.
This will set up a type of “parochiaid” and “cafeteria style” voucher program. The state constitution prohibits tax dollars from funding private schools, and Michigan voters have overwhelmingly rejected vouchers in the past.