Public school advocates launch effort to stop DeVos-backed school scholarship proposal – Natural Self Esteem

LANSING, MI — A new MI Kids For Our Schools electoral committee said during its virtual launch Wednesday that all options are on the table to stop the Betsy DeVos-backed Let MI Kids Learn ballot initiative, by public school advocates say they would create an unconstitutional coupon system in Michigan.

Continue reading: Betsy DeVos says ballot initiative would allow parents to take control of Michigan’s education

While the committee didn’t provide details on Wednesday about the actions it would take other than encouraging residents not to sign the Let MI Kids Learn ballot proposal, it did hint at a possible legal challenge if the proposal violates those for the Adoption required signature requirement should reach the state legislature.

“I would say all options are on the table and I would be surprised if organizations like ours that believe this is unconstitutional and didn’t challenge it based on these constitutional issues,” said Casandra Ulbrich, president of the State Board of Education , during a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

Together, the two Let MI Kids Learn petitions would change Michigan’s tax laws to allow donors to apply for tax breaks on their contributions to “scholarship-giving organizations,” or newly formed nonprofits that would provide funds to parents and families for students who meet certain criteria fulfill. Individuals or corporations making donations would be entitled to income tax credits equal to their donations.

Critics of the plan say it would help wealthy individuals and businesses avoid their fair share of taxes. The law would allow donors who donate money to a nonprofit organization, or what the proposals’ architects call “student opportunity grants,” to receive tax credits for their donations.

The occasional scholarships could be used for tuition or fees for attending a private school, tutoring or extracurricular activities, and other educational resources. Depending on income, eligible public school students could receive up to $500, while students with disabilities could receive up to $1,100. Have MI Kids Learn set a maximum of $500 million in tax credits that can be claimed and a 20% annual increase for the next five years.

The election committee has had paid circulators collecting signatures since it was approved by the Board of State Recruiters in November.

“Michigan’s public schools are not for sale,” Ulbrich said. “We have a huge selection. This isn’t about the choice. It’s about the privatization of education. This is about taking public education money and giving it to private institutions that are not accountable to taxpayers, don’t have to report to anyone and can use that money as they please.”

DeVos, who served as former President Trump’s U.S. education sweetheart, has backed other private-school efforts that weren’t popular enough with voters to move forward, but Ulbrich cautioned that those efforts are different because of the state’s legislative process regarding citizen initiatives be.

“What’s new is the political calculus that DeVos uses to gamble on lawmakers bypassing traditional legislative checks and balances and denying voters the right to even consider these proposals,” Ulbrich said.

The two Let MI Kids Learn petitions reflect Republican legislation that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rejected last October. If the petitions gather just over 340,000 signatures, the policy could be passed by the legislature without requiring the governor’s approval. Any law proposed by an unsolicited application may be passed or rejected by the Legislature without amendment within 40 calendar days of receipt by the Secretary of State.

“These aren’t scholarships for kids, these are vouchers,” said Andrew Brodie, superintendent of Flat Rock Community Schools and president of the Michigan Association of School Administration board of directors. “The Let MI Kids Learn petition would provide tax credits for private school tuition.”

Opponents of the proposals have argued that the system’s implementation conflicts with the state constitution, which requires Michigan to maintain and support a system of free, public elementary and high schools.

Democrats have pointed to the state’s Blaine Amendment — Michigan’s constitution prohibits “payments, credits, tax exemptions or deductions, college credits, grants, or loans of public funds” that are “provided directly or indirectly in support of a student’s attendance at.” every non-public school.”

For MI Kids consists of educational groups such as the K-12 Alliance of Michigan, Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators, Michigan Education Association, and others. The committee has reported receiving nearly $450 in donations in kind from the Michigan Education Association and the American Federation of Michigan Teachers.

DeVos and members of her family donated $400,000 to the Let MI Kids Learn voting committee in December, campaign financial reports show.

READ MORE FROM MLIVE:

Read petitions before you sign them, the group warns

Petition for a “voucher-style” school scholarship scheme approved by the state agency

Here are all the proposals competing for election this year

The conservative group begins collecting signatures on a petition to tighten Michigan’s voting laws

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