School Choice in Michigan

Published November 1, 1999

A petition drive organized by Kids First! Yes! is under way in Michigan to collect 302,711 signatures to place a voucher question on the November 2000 ballot. The group’s plan first would modify the state’s constitution to remove the current prohibition on indirect aid to private schools. Second, in districts where the dropout rate exceeds 33 percent, students would be eligible to receive vouchers up to $3,100 to help pay for tuition at a private school.

Schools already are scrambling to improve their dropout rates so that students would not be eligible for vouchers if the ballot initiative is approved by voters.

Voucher advocates looking for support from Republican Governor John Engler didn’t find it. Engler has been cool to the voucher plan and told the Detroit Free Press that he has “never supported vouchers’ in his nine years in office.

A valuable new source of background information on vouchers in Michigan is “School Choice in Michigan: A Primer for Freedom in Education,” by Matthew J. Brouillette of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Although Brouillette focuses primarily on Michigan, his 80-page report also provides an informative introduction to the origins of government schools in the United States; a review of different types of school choice; and responses to many of the myths that opponents propagate about school choice.

Brouillette’s report is available from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 140 West Main Street, P.O. Box 568, Midland, MI 48640, phone 517/631-0900.