LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Tom Barrett on Tuesday applauded the Senate’s approval of bills that would work to give parents more options to support the education of their children and provide access to more learning resources for students struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic of the last year and a half has created many unique challenges for educators, parents and students; and recently reported declines in statewide M-STEP scores are just another indicator that shows us more can be done,” said Barrett, R-Charlotte. “Every student deserves a fair shot to succeed. I feel strongly that helping parents, who are primarily responsible for the education of their children, to gain access to the resources that will best benefit an individual child’s educational needs is vitally important to the future success of Michigan students.”
Under the Let Kids Learn Plan, Senate Bill 687 would create Michigan Opportunity Scholarship Accounts that can be used by families for education or learning expenses — both inside and outside the classroom, including tuition and fees for public, nonpublic or online K-12 schools; career and technical education programs; Wi-Fi and laptops; textbooks and materials; transportation; occupational, behavioral and speech therapies; mental health services; and more.
The plan prioritizes scholarships for students receiving free and reduced lunch, students in foster care and students with disabilities. Additionally, any student in a household with an annual income within 200% of the free and reduced lunch program threshold would also qualify, effectively meaning any family earning less than $98,000 per year would be eligible.
The scholarship accounts would be funded by donations from Michigan taxpayers. Senate Bill 688, sponsored by Barrett, would create tax credits for contributions to scholarship-granting organizations and the deduction of funds distributed to student opportunity scholarship accounts.
“The Let Kids Learn Plan will work side-by-side with our schools and educators to give parents better access to the educational tools their children need and provide students with greater opportunities to learn and be successful,” Barrett said. “It is a plan that all stakeholders can get behind.”
Michigan would join several other states that offer similar education savings accounts and tax-credit scholarships if the Let Kids Learn Plan becomes law. SB’s 687 and 688 now go the House of Representatives for consideration.