The Mackinac Center’s Workers for Opportunity initiative has become an increasingly recognizable force when it comes to state-based labor reforms. Thanks in part to our leadership, lawmakers from at least eight states are taking actions that would either extend right-to-work liberties or further protect public employees’ right to make informed choices on union membership. When most legislative sessions close in May or June, it’s possible we will see over 1 million workers’ rights expanded.
This work builds on our long-term success here at home. Ever since right-to-work took effect in Michigan in 2013, over 33% of teachers (to pick one occupation) have become more informed of their rights and chosen to withdraw from union membership. In our conversations with lawmakers across the country, we find that Michigan is still an example for demonstrating the importance of ensuring that employees are not only free to exercise their rights, but have the power to do so.
The Mackinac Center’s impact beyond the state’s borders is not confined to the workplace, however. We recently launched a multistate strategy to work alongside others to advance proposals that help parents work together in response to the widespread closures of in-person classroom learning. Many students have suffered from inadequate virtual education programs offered by public schools, and parents want to respond. Many have come together in small community settings so their children could safely benefit from socialization and customized education approaches that meet their specific needs. Called “pod learning,” this approach lets parents share the responsibilities of financing and arranging educational programming, making it a much more feasible and affordable option for two-parent working families than going it alone.
State policymakers have sought the input of organizations like the Mackinac Center as they seek to reform state laws in ways that will empower parents interested in pursuing pod learning opportunities for their children. A number of barriers and legal threats to pod learning arrangements exist, including the inability of parents to use a portion of their children’s per-pupil funding toward expenses they incur. These barriers limit the number of families who can pursue pod learning.
Currently, we are working with allied organizations and lawmakers in Michigan and in three other states to explore opportunities to remove these barriers and secure the pod-learning option for parents.
As we approach the end of another school year marked by COVID-driven policies, the Mackinac Center is raising the banner for more parental choices and fewer government restrictions on how our students can learn and thrive. And in doing so, we believe the cause is too important not to look outward for opportunities to bring these options to families around the country.