Taking down Michigan’s bigoted Blaine Amendment is a tough challenge. Through it all, the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is proud and honored to represent five families who are looking to change Michigan for the better. While each story is unique, all are supported by a common theme – families who want to provide their children with the best education possible face an obstacle erected in state law.
Located in Kalamazoo, the Hile family quickly noticed during the COVID pandemic that virtual learning was not a good match for their bubbly and energetic kindergartner. After all, kindergarten should be a time for children to learn how school works, how to sit at a desk, hold a pencil and socialize with classmates. The Hiles were able to move their daughter to a local Christian school, but with some sacrifices: the cost of tuition, as well as some future support she would otherwise receive from the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship fund.
The Leitch family of Charlotte also realized that their local public school was not the best option for their children, though it happened years before the pandemic. They, too, have very energetic children, and they felt they were not benefitting from the public school system. When the pandemic forced a switch to virtual learning, the family began to look for other options. They moved to a private Christian school for the 2021-22 year, but with three children, the costs are significant.
The Lupanoff family of Grand Rapids were proud supporters of their local public school. Having sent one adult son through the system already, they are parents to daughters, both in high school. As time passed, the girls began to grow uncomfortable with the curriculum, and the family looked for other options. A local Christian school welcomed both daughters, but once again, tuition is an expensive and real obstacle.
For the Jacokes family, their satisfaction with their son’s high school quickly declined during the COVID pandemic. After some searching, they found a private school that would meet their needs, but they now have to budget around tuition payments.
Most of the five client families were able to place their children in a school that better fits their needs, at a great financial cost to themselves. But not all of them can afford to do so. The Bagos family of Royal Oak, for instance has been forced to keep twin boys in a school that isn’t a good match. With their finances restricted by a recent move into the district they thought would be right for them, they can not afford to pay tuition to the local private school. But they cannot afford to move out of the district, either, leading to them feeling trapped, like they were being held hostage by the school itself.
Each of these families has been restricted in some way by Michigan’s antiquated Blaine Amendment. We hope to be able to provide them, and the rest of Michigan’s parents, a positive outcome in the months and years to come. You can learn more about the Mackinac Center’s case, including in-depth profiles on each of the families at mackinac.org/kids.