A bill in the Michigan Legislature that would allow charter, nonpublic, and home school students to participate in traditional public school athletic programs has supporters cheering and opponents crying foul.

The bill, which is endorsed by Governor John Engler, has drawn fire from many local school district officials. They argue that it’s not fair for students from other schools to participate in public school athletics in place of enrolled public school students.

Opponents also have legitimate concerns that the bill could lead to state micromanagement of public school athletics, a local responsibility.

Supporters of the bill counter that everyone pays taxes to support the public schools, so all students are entitled to benefit from the public schools’ comprehensive athletic activities.

How can these reasonable but conflicting arguments for local control and expanded extracurricular choice be reconciled?

The ultimate solution is to provide the most local authority of all—parents—with the freedom to pay for the schools they choose for their children and to not pay for the ones that they don’t.

A tuition tax credit or voucher that helps parents send their children to the school of their choice would do just that. And laws that integrate all students into public school athletics wouldn’t be necessary.

 

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.

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