The decision moves the GOP-backed scheme forward to signature collection – and signals the beginning of Decline to Sign efforts by a ballot committee formed to oppose the measure: Protecting the Promise of Public Education.
“More than ever, Michigan’s public schools need adequate funding to serve students’ academic, social and emotional needs,” said Casandra Ulbrich, president of the State Board of Education, on behalf of the new committee. “Instead, the proposal approved for signature collection today by the State Board of Canvassers is yet another attempt by anti-public school groups to divert public taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools through voucher schemes.”
Former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has long been a proponent of voucher schemes, like this most recent one fast-tracked through the Legislature – and promptly vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Now, wealthy donors like DeVos are paying for a ballot measure to end run that veto and a vote of the people, hoping to collect enough signatures to place the money grab back before the Legislature.
“This most recent unconstitutional scheme would siphon at least half a billion dollars of public revenue each year to private schools – funds desperately needed to meet the needs of every public school student,” Ulbrich said. “The measure also discriminates against public school students – who make up 90% of Michigan’s student population – by capping scholarships they receive at $500 per year, as opposed to thousands for private school students.”
MEA members are encouraged to “Decline to Sign” this latest voucher ballot measure, and to educate others to do the same.
The petition’s sponsors have no intention of letting voters decide. They plan to press for passage by the Legislature after gathering a mere 400,000 signatures of Michigan voters – just 8% of those who voted in the last gubernatorial election – to bypass the governor’s veto and ignore the state Constitution’s clear ban on public money for private schools.
“That’s why Protecting the Promise of Public Education has been formed as a ballot committee,” Ulbrich said. “Parents, educators and other friends of public education need to stand against this latest attempt to violate our state constitution and the will of Michigan voters, who for decades have rejected voucher schemes at the ballot box.”