DETROIT -- An effort to amend the Michigan Constitution to allow the use of public tax dollars for private and religious school tuition ended in a resounding defeat yesterday in our statewide election.
In a landslide victory, roughly 68 percent of Michigan voters said NO to school vouchers, despite the fact that supporters of the ballot proposal outspent voucher opponents 2 to 1. In Detroit, more than 80 percent of voters rejected the measure.
The credit for this victory goes to the people of Michigan and to the grassroots efforts of ALL Kids First!, a coalition of more than 250 organizations that came together to oppose Proposal 1. Working together, they built a network of community members who could inform friends, family, neighbors and community members about the damaging impact that vouchers would have on public education and on the neighborhood schools where most students will remain.
The ACLU of Michigan was proud to have been a leader in this coalition, which managed to get its message out in one of the most expensive campaigns around the country. We also note that today's victory marks the third time that such a proposal has been defeated in the state. In 1970, 57 percent of voters approved a constitutional ban on public aid to private schools. In 1978, 74 percent of voters defeated an attempt to remove that ban.
Finally, we salute the efforts of our friends and colleagues in California, where a similar voucher initiative was overwhelmingly rejected by voters.
Voucher proponents who claim to be speaking for the people should now respect the will of the people and end their misguided attempts to force this unconstitutional and unfair program on our nation's students.