Click for audio Michigan’s Next Assignment: School Choice

Fifty junior high students from Shelby Township near Detroit were surprised to learn they will not be attending high school with their friends like they thought they would. Thanks to a plan that redraws the school district boundaries, the students will be transferred out of their familiar surroundings and into new schools.

One student complained to The Detroit News that "it’s just not right" to have to move to a new neighborhood just to attend a particular school. Unfortunately for him, his parents and most other Michiganians have little choice. Under our public school assignment system, schools choose the students based on where they live, rather than parents choosing the schools.

Michigan law prevents most parents from exercising greater school choice. Students have to go to the school the government picks for them, unless they can afford to pay tuition to attend another school.

The plight of these fifty students is just one reason the law must be changed. Allowing parents to choose schools will prevent not only arbitrary splitting up of friendships and families, it will also increase parental involvement in education.

Putting Michigan families in control of where their children attend school is one assignment the state should be happy to give. After all, no one cares more about a child’s education than the parents.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.