Michigan Private School Enrollment Quickly Rising
An initiative aims to give parents more options
As schools adopted virtual learning and pandemic restrictions, many Michigan parents chose to move their children from district to private schools. Now that the pandemic is waning and restrictions are easing, most kids are staying where they are.
Michigan’s public schools enrolled 1.44 million students in the 2021-22 school year – 56,000 fewer students than in previous school year. Researchers found that parents were more likely to choose private schools if they were zoned for a district that opted for virtual learning during the pandemic. Overall, the state saw a total drop of 3.7 percent compared to the 2019-20 school year.
Now, some are asking what will happen to the taxpayer funding for these students – estimated to be as much as $300 million. In 2021, lawmakers voted to create a scholarship fund which would allow parents to enroll their children in the schools they deemed best for them. However, Gov. Whitmer vetoed the legislation.
Polling indicates more than 75% of Michigan voters support the right of parents to choose what school their children attend. School choice proponents are counting on this support to bypass Whitmer’s veto.
The Let MI Kids learn initiative is aiming to fund each student directly and let parents choose how to spend the dollars allocated to each child. Michigan Student Opportunity Accounts could be spent on a variety of educational needs including tuition, online classes, textbooks and curriculum materials.
The Let MI Kids Learn ballot committee, formed Nov. 1, will begin collecting petition signatures in favor of the opportunity scholarship package. “If the group collects 340,000 signatures (find a petition signing location here) and the Michigan House and Senate approve the legislation, it automatically becomes law.”
“This exciting legislation gives new opportunities to learn to children, and new choices to tens of thousands of Michigan parents,” said Fred Wszolek, spokesman for Let MI Kids Learn.
“But Gov. Whitmer stands in the schoolhouse door with her veto pen, determined to strip families of any choice, and deny children the money they deserve for educational opportunities. We’re just as determined to veto Whitmer’s veto with our petition.”
Paid for by Mighty Michigan and authorized by Let MI Kids Learn