LANSING, Mich., July 23, 2020 — The Michigan House of Representatives narrowly approved a package of bills late yesterday aimed at moving Michigan’s public schools to reopen. Almost half of the House of Representatives voted no, questioning why the bills were introduced without consultation from local school districts who are working on their own reopening plans. Opponents of the package site increasing pressure on legislators from for-profit online schools as the reason behind the partisan school reopening package. Only Republicans sponsored House Bills 5910 (Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Twp.), 5911 (Greg Markkanen, R-Houghton), 5912 (Andrea Schroeder, R-Independence Twp.), and 5913 (Anette Glenn, R-Midland) in the package.  In response, State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) had the following to say:

“With more and more for-profit virtual schools making their way into the Upper Peninsula recently, the Republican-sponsored Return to Learn bill package further opens the door for them to thrive up here. These bills allow for a voucher program where students can pick different education providers for online classes throughout the day. They would also allow unqualified, non-certified contracted instructors who work under for-profit education groups to replace certified teachers who teach online courses.

“Our public schools need flexibility as they put together their reopening plans. What they don’t need is for-profit educational institutions taking advantage of our public school funding during a pandemic. Your hard-earned tax dollars fund our schools.  Thankfully, the governor will veto these bills and protect your money from getting funneled to these for-profit institutions, whose positive track record of educating our students hovers well below failing.

“As one of the most bipartisan legislators in Lansing, I strive to see issues from multiple views. However, the details within this bill package are so deceptive to the taxpayer and your hard-earned money that they deserve harsh public criticism. If you are parents who have school-aged children, you should be alarmed that such poorly written legislation was introduced and crafted by your state representatives and private education group lobbyists who stand to profit off your kids in a time of crisis. I look forward to getting the politics out of our public school reopening plans and starting over with legislation to help our local school districts, truly giving our educational professionals- superintendents, teachers and school board members a say in what’s best for our students and our communities.”

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