Michigan bill: Let students choose districts

Michigan will consider letting students choose their school district, reports the Detroit Free Press.  Per-pupil funding would follow students to their public schools of choice.

The proposed Michigan Public Education Finance Act would  provide for learning at “any time, any place, any way and at any pace,” said Richard McLellan, who developed the proposal for Gov. Rick Snyder.  Districts would not “own” students.

The bill would:

• Allow students to access online learning from across the state, with the cost paid by the state. Districts that provide online courses would receive public funding based on performance.

• Provide a framework for funding based on performance, once the proper assessment and testing mechanisms are in place.

• Give scholarships of $2,500 per semester, to a maximum of $10,000, to students who finish high school early.

• Encourage year-round schooling by having a 180-day school year spread over 12 months instead of nine, with a break of no more than two weeks.

Naturally, there’s lots of opposition. Don Wotruba, deputy director for the Michigan Association of School Boards, said the state already is pursuing online learning and school choice. “But it’s monitored,” he said. “The answer is not to say, ‘Here’s the money. Make your own choices.’ ”

Tennessee is considering vouchers for low-income students, reports Ed Week.

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  1. Open enrollment is not a new or revolutionary idea – it’s been in place in states like Colorado for years. It’s a good idea and should be mandatory. The proposal to also provide learning “at any place and any pace” is an positive challenge to the outdated and entrenched idea of “seat time.” That 180-day, k-12 factory model is quite outdated and inefficient. That said, many of the union concerns about access are quite apt and must be addressed.

    • Meh. Union “concerns” are inevitably, and understandably, self-serving. *A* teacher might, or might not, be a decent individual but a group of teachers, especially with pay, benefits and job security at issue, is rather more likely to be representative of some of the less savory and more self-interested aspects of human character.

      At heart what this bill is about is to “Remove district ownership of students”.

      It’s that “ownership” that creates the monopolistic dynamic that’s the heart of the problems of public education and what those defending the current model are forced to defend by various misrepresentations like “local control”.

      Effectively “owning” the kids in the district allows those who benefit from the district to be indifferent to the quality of the education they’re offering as well as the safety of the schools they run. Most parents, due to financial considerations, effectively have no choice but to send their kids to awful, ineffective schools which is a state of affairs that’s worth defending for those who draw their livelihood from the current system as well as those who’ve decided blind themselves to the current system’s shortcomings for ideological reasons.

      Gratifyingly, the public seems to have finally lost patience with that model and there’s not a state in the union in which the model’s not under attack and successful attack in most states. I suspect the public education system will look drastically different in five years.