Politics has a way of torturing language enough to make an English teacher scream.

Take for instance one debate surrounding school choice. Opponents of choice who fear that voters will prefer tuition tax credits to vouchers are attempting to confuse voters by calling tuition tax credits a voucher.

Voucher and tuition tax credit plans in other states have both resulted in improved student performance by giving parents more freedom to choose the best schools for their children. But that’s where the similarities between the two end.

Vouchers are subsidies—like food stamps, where government sends voucher coupons to select recipients who exchange them for food at a grocery store. The store returns the coupons to the government, which writes a check to the grocer for the face value of each coupon.

Tax credits are like tax deductions. People who give to charity, for example, can pay less in taxes by deducting the contributions from their taxable income. The government never takes the money or writes anyone a check so there is no subsidy—or voucher—involved.

Michigan parents who can’t afford to send their children to a better school deserve better than political smoke screens from special interests willing to abuse language for their narrow agendas.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.