LANSING — Last week, Republican members of the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee moved forward legislation that they say is meant to address learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the largest teachers organization in the state say there are better ways to help kids catch up.
"It's for students that are really falling behind in their education in Michigan due to COVID," said State Sen. Ken Horn who serves as Committee Majority Chair.
The legislation would allocate up to $1,500 per student for tutoring specifically in reading and math, before and after school programs and other educational support. As they are currently written, the money would be passed through a third party. The state’s treasury department would hire a company to manage multiple education vendors to create a marketplace of sorts that parents and students could choose from. The bills have not garnered support from Democrats.
“In its current form, this legislation is really nothing more than a half a billion dollar giveaway to for profit corporations," said Thomas Morgan a communications consultant for the Michigan Education Association.
Morgan says this money doesn’t really support parents or their students.
“This is just a giveaway to big corporations without any real taxpayer oversight or without any real input from education experts," he said. "You know, we believe that big corporations really don't need any more help. Parents and kids do.”
Horn, a Republican from Frankenmuth, says that the committee decided to allocate the money in grants instead of to schools;
“Because the parents are the ones that know which students are having the most trouble. And we have such a broad problem in our schools," he said.
State Senator Lana Theis, who also serves on the Senate Education Committee, agreed.
“What we know is that the people who best know the deficits of their children are the parents. They know where their kids are struggling," she said.
Morgan says that this money could be put to better use through programs that are already up and running and supporting schools as a whole.
"We have schools have existing programs to help our kids catch up. There's oversight. There's taxpayer oversight. There's input from educators. They need help. Our kids, local schools need help. Big corporations don't need any more help," Morgan said.
The legislation now goes to the full Senate for discussion and decision.
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