The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Michigan Petition Drive:
An Attack on Public Education

Feb 14, 2022

"Let Michigan Kids Learn.” Who wouldn’t agree with this? Above all, given what parents and students have gone through in the past two years—it’s what every parent deeply wants for their children.

But beware: wrapped up in these nice words, under the guise of caring for Michigan’s kids, is a petition drive, impelled and bankrolled by wealthy conservatives. Former Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos gave $400,000, and a Washington, D.C. group called “Get Families Back to Work” gave $875,000, and the Conservative State Government Leadership Foundation gave $475,000, among others. This is not a grass-roots campaign, where parents and teachers are volunteering to improve public education in Michigan. No, it has teams of paid circulators, whose job is to collect 340,000 signatures to establish voucher-like scholarship programs for private schools. So, under the pretense of providing scholarships to needier Michigan kids, individual and corporate donors can receive massive tax deductions.

Nearly a quarter of Michigan’s personal income tax collections are earmarked for public education. If this law is enacted, it could cut state revenue for education by as much as 500 million dollars in the first year. It could cost Michigan a billion dollars annually by the fifth year, according to a Senate Fiscal agency analysis.

Twenty years ago, DeVos and the rest of the conservative establishment led a failed attempt to create a school voucher system in Michigan. That school voucher proposal was rejected by 69% of Michigan voters. Now the “Let Michigan Kids Learn” petition drive is another attempt to do the same thing. But this time, if the necessary signatures are gathered, the legislature can enact into law this attack on the public education budget. No signature of the governor nor a vote of the population will be required.

What is the old saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” It’s capitalist democracy in action: all the legislation you can buy!