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When we think of states to look to in terms of free markets and the responsibility of personal choices, most of us wouldn’t think of Michigan first, or second. Let’s face it, Michigan wouldn’t crack most peoples’ top ten. However, Michigan is making progress; away from so-called progressivism. Michigan’s shiny new status as a right-to-work state is one of the biggest steps towards this new, freer Michigan. It is moving away from its union-tied nanny-state history. What should not be overlooked, though, is what Michigan is doing in education.
Michigan believes that every child should have the best education, but that this doesn’t mean the same education. That’s why Michigan has adopted school choice. Now, more than 80% of Michigan school districts have chosen to accept students under open enrollment. One in every 16 students, more than 97,000 total, have attended classes outside of their own communities in this school year which just drew to a close.
One thing that makes Michigan’s school choice different from that in other states is that the choice isn’t simply where the child is taught. Common Core is beginning implementation across the nation, and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for deviation from the federally-determined norms. Michigan, however, has stood strong against this intrusion, and will not be implementing Common Core standards. As Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) said "We don't need standards that tell teachers how to teach. Teachers go to universities to learn how to teach. Standards should focus on what to teach." A new omnibus budget specifically prevents the Michigan Department of Education from spending any money on implementing Common Core standards at this time, leaving it dead in the water. Michigan is only the second state to block Common Core, Indiana being the first.
Teachers in Michigan have tried to fight back, but their protests have been, putting it mildly, lackluster. A rally was held yesterday at Michigan’s capitol for teachers to show their support for traditional public schools. Despite the event being publicized on Facebook, progressive blogs, and a mailer which was sent to 8,000 teachers, they did not turn out in the numbers expected. In fact, estimates put attendance at about 500 people.
Parents and legislators are working together in Michigan to ensure that children across the state have the best options for an excellent education. Stopping Common Core is another step toward brighter futures for the children of the Great Lakes state.