Michigan Spends Hundreds of Millions Supporting Private Schools

But liberal commentator believes small amount added this year is 'clearly unconstitutional'

A recent article written by commentator Jack Lessenberry and published by the state’s public radio network was titled: “Taxpayer money directed to private schools is clearly unconstitutional.”

Lessenberry stated that “the only exception the Constitution allows is that, ‘the legislature may provide for transportation to or from any school.’”

ForTheRecord says: Lessenberry must not be aware that the state of Michigan already provides millions of dollars worth of other benefits for students in private schools.

For example, under a shared-service program, public school teachers go into private schools to teach non-core subjects such as music or other electives, for which public school districts are reimbursed by the state. Last school year, the state paid some $100 million to public school districts for these services.

Last year, the Michigan Department of Education also gave $20.8 million to private pre-school providers. The state also handed out $34 million in college tuition grants to students at private schools, including religious institutions such as Grace Bible College, Great Lakes Christian College and Madonna University.

“The notion we have this ironclad prohibition against spending public dollars to support private school education is a myth,” said Gary Naeyaert, executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project.

The Michigan Supreme Court recently declined to consider giving an “advisory opinion” on a one-year appropriation inserted into the current state budget. The money reimburses private schools for expenses considered unfunded state mandates.