MIDLAND, Mich. — Michigan students would have expanded access to a multitude of educational opportunities, as detailed in a new paper released today by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Flex Learning is an innovative plan to provide students, particularly those from economically disadvantaged households and rural regions, more learning options.
All middle and high school students would have the option to enroll in any class or educational program offered by any public school in Michigan. The courses could be virtual, part of a career and technical program, a community college or university class or approved training from a private provider. Students could also use funds to participate in apprenticeship programs and internships.
This hybrid style of learning would provide students a wide array of opportunities, limited only by their designated per-pupil funding and what families determine best suits their educational needs.
“Every student in Michigan is unique and deserves access to a variety of options that will help propel them to success,” said Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center and author of the paper. “By expanding opportunities for those in low-income homes and rural areas, students will be able to utilize the tools already afforded to those in affluent schools.”
Some districts offer flexible options for their students, but enrollment is limited to those living within the district and the seats available through Schools of Choice. Flex Learning would enable school districts, public charter schools and other educational agencies to provide courses to any student in Michigan. Those courses would be funded by a portion of the per-pupil spending that the state already allots for each student. A student’s home district would still track the progress of these students and would be paid for doing so.
The program relies on performance-based funding. Half of the student's costs would be paid up front and the other half would be reimbursed after the student successfully completes the program.
There have been obvious benefits for students who have taken advantage of similar programs. Julia Fuller, a mom from rural Calhoun County, has witnessed firsthand the benefits of her children being involved in a variety of different courses. After their local district failed to meet the needs of some of her children, Fuller began homeschooling. Over the past 10 years, her family has been involved with the Gull Lake Virtual Academy & Homeschool Partnership. Through the academy and partnership, two of her daughters have been able to attend classes such as pottery, photography and horseback riding.
When asked about the importance of having a variety of options for her children, Fuller responded, “It’s really about helping each child become the most they can be and actualize their potential.”
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
Please consider contributing to our work to advance a freer and more prosperous state.