Click for audio Tuition Tax Credits and the Michigan Constitution

Michigan has been an education reform leader through measures such as charter schools and in-district school choice, but now it’s falling behind other states. The state constitution blocks Michigan school children from the most promising school reform—expanded school choice. Maybe it’s time to change Michigan’s constitution.

School choice, already working in Cleveland, Arizona, and Minnesota, allows parents more freedom to choose the best school for their child. Most Michigan children are assigned to their school by arbitrary district boundaries. Parents who believe the best school for their child is a private school have to pay twice for education—once for tuition and again in taxes for the public school they don’t use.

The constitution prohibits parents, relatives, or businesses who pay tuition for a K-12 student to take a tax credit for a portion of tuition, even though tax credits for college tuition are perfectly legal. Why is school choice good for 18-year-old college students, but bad for 18-year-old high school students?

Michigan’s constitution should not penalize parents for choosing the best school. A tuition tax credit amendment would expand opportunity for students and move Michigan toward the forefront of educational excellence.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.