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Tori Sachs: Educational freedom is popular with parents this election Opinion

|Michigan parents are mad, and after more than two years of senseless, destructive education policies from unelected bureaucrats and Democrat politicians alike, they’re taking matters into their own hands.

Republicans get it. At the gubernatorial debate last week in Livingston County, there was agreement across the spectrum on one topic — giving parents the tools they need to help their kids succeed in school. By the end of the first of likely many debates, the big winner wasn’t on the stage — it was the mom watching from home while getting her daughter’s lunch packed for school the following day.

Democrats began to panic and sow disinformation on Republicans' education plans before the debate was even over. The same Democratic party has openly stated that they think parents shouldn't get a say in what their kids are taught.

The left knows they’re in trouble this election season — a new NBC News poll shows “The Democrat Party” is the most unpopular political figure or institution.

Instead of reading the room or the Virginia election results from last year, Democrats are doubling down on their fight to control our children.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed school choice scholarships for students, so parents are taking it upon themselves to get it done. Volunteers right now are collecting signatures on citizen-initiated legislation to send a new education funding proposal to the legislature for a veto-proof vote.

The effort, dubbed the Let MI Kids Learn campaign, would invest up to $500 million more every year in our state’s education system by allowing taxpayers to personally and specifically fund new student opportunity accounts for kids across the state.

Student opportunity accounts would provide direct support to families by helping them pay for online classes, summer school and after school programs, textbooks and curriculum materials, Wi-Fi, laptops, mental health services, behavioral and speech therapies, transportation, tutoring, tuition and a lot more.

Even better, it’s extra money. A report released last week found the scholarships would support kids while impacting less than 1% of the state’s school aid fund. In other words, these are new dollars, not dollars being stripped from our public school classrooms.

That would mean more money for families, not bureaucrats.

That would mean helping students catch up from the massive learning loss caused by Whitmer’s lockdowns.

That would mean giving parents a say — because parents know what their kids need better than anyone else.

No wonder every Republican on the debate stage embraced putting parents in charge of their kids’ education.

Strangely, Democrats on the evening of the debate and the days that followed attacked their opponents for wanting to deliver better funding for struggling students.

Parents have long memories.

They remember when Whitmer kept kids out of classrooms for months at a time.

Democrat support among parents plummeted further when Whitmer and her allies in local unions made sure the kids who were eventually allowed back in the classroom wore masks.

Learning losses surged. A pediatric mental health crisis exploded. Now even liberal, ivory-tower newspapers like The New York Times are running big headlines admitting school closures had catastrophic results for local kids.

It didn’t take parents two calendar years to figure that out — it took them about two minutes after Whitmer’s first lockdown order.

They’ve spent the years since filling school board meetings, chasing resources for their kids and now they’re gathering petition signatures.

Moms and dads have had enough, and I can’t blame them. Whitmer’s lockdowns did immeasurable damage to our kids, and it’s time for Democrats and the teachers unions to get out of the way.

Let’s put Michigan children first and give parents the tools — and education dollars — they need to help their students succeed.

Tori Sachs is executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund.