(The Center Square) – New polling data shows overwhelming public support for school choice and online charter schools among Michigan parents and voters.
The National Coalition for Public School Options Michigan Chapter research released Tuesday shows a strong majority of voters want the Legislature to reject Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 20% cut to full-time online schools.
According to the statewide poll, 80% of Michigan voters support parental school choice.
- 70% of voters agree that every student should have access to full-time virtual school.
- 86% agree that all public school students should be funded equally by the state regardless of where they live or what public school they attend.
- 61% believe the Legislature should continue to fund all students equally.
“These survey results underscore the importance of school choice and preserving full-time virtual learning options for Michigan families,” Amy Dunlap, a teacher and chair of PSO – Michigan, said in a statement. “Every parent deserves the chance to choose the best educational option for their children, and I’m not the least bit surprised to see voters oppose cuts to our public schools. The poll results come in the wake of Governor Whitmer’s call for a 20 percent cut to the per-pupil allowance for children attending full-time online public charter school in her FY 2024 proposed School Aid budget.”
School choice supporters say the proposed cut would slash thousands of dollars in per-pupil funding for thousands of Michigan’s most at-risk students. About 72% of students enrolled in full-time online charter public schools are economically disadvantaged – more than the 52% statewide public school average – and full-time online charter public schools serve a higher percentage of African American and minority students as compared to traditional public schools.
“It’s unacceptable that some students being told they’re worth less because they attend a different type of public school,” Dan Quisenberry, the president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, said in a statement. “This includes some of the most vulnerable children in the state – students who are dealing with medical and mental issues, students who are enrolled in their school because they fear for their safety, members of the LGBTQ+ community. These are students we should be looking to lift up; instead, they’re being held down. It’s just plain wrong to cut funding for at-risk kids.”
Students, parents, and teachers from various full-time online public charter schools statewide gathered at Heritage Hall in the Michigan state Capitol building today to showcase virtual learning in action.
The Digital Learning Day celebration allowed lawmakers and visitors to watch both full-time online teachers and students learning and interacting in real-time.
“I think giving these lawmakers a real firsthand glimpse into the world of full-time online education was a really powerful and positive experience,” Tonya Lowry, superintendent of Uplift Michigan Online School, said in a statement. “When you see these teachers and students in action, it immediately becomes clear that this approach to education works for the students who seek it out and that preserving it is not only important, but also just the right thing to do. No child’s education is worth less than another’s. Different but equal—that needs to be the message, and that’s what we expect from our lawmakers.”
WPA Intelligence conducted the study of likely Michigan voters. Respondents were contacted by phone via a live telephone operator interview from Feb. 1-4, 2023.
The study had a sample size of n=513 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.3% in 95 out of 100 cases.