Friday, February 20, 2009

House Education Committee Moves to Expand Government Control Over Public Education

The Michigan Constitution guarantees a free (taxpayer funded) education for its children. The state has to provide a free education, but are they required to mandate that every child actually attends? Apparently, the House Education Committee believes parents need additional guidance.

This past week, they moved HB4030 to the floor for consideration. This bill raises the compulsory attendance age to 18 from the current 16. On the face of it, it seems like a good thing. We don't want our children dropping out of school, do we? But data suggests there is little, if any benefit by this action. States that allow students to "drop out" at age sixteen have similar graduation rates (and in some cases better) to Michigan.

So, why bother? Could it be more about education employment than education itself? Consider, according to the House Fiscal agency, an additional 30,000 students would be enrolled. At 25 kids per classroom, that means 1,200 new teachers alone, not including support personnel. At the current rates, that would result in, perhaps $1 million in fresh dues for the education union. And, what do they do with that money? They lobby the legislature for more union-friendly legislation and they financially support more union-friendly candidates for office.

But, aside from that, the fact is, at over $7,600 per student, the School Aid Fund would need an additional $230 million, money the state does not have and which taxpayers are likely unwilling to provide.

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