Will research or emotional appeals sway votes for SB 619?

SB 619allowing for the expansion of cyber schools—could see action this week on the House floor. While MEA leaders, members and staff have continued to send the message to their legislators that there is no reliable research or data to support such a move, SB 619 supporters are trying to use emotions to sway legislators.

The Michigan chapter of the National Coalition for Public School Options (NCPSO) has stepped into the fight by posting heartfelt letters on its website targeting legislators and urging them to vote “yes” on SB 619.

Written by parents, the form letters tell how cyber schools are helping their gifted students excel, their failing students catch up, and providing their students with health and developmental issues an alternative to traditional public schools.

NCPSO makes the claim that nearly 10,000 Michigan students are being denied the opportunity to attend a cyber school. Individual letters exploit student stories to make the case that cyber schools are the only way to get customized, personal access to a certified teacher; provide safety from bullying; and allow a student the flexibility to speed ahead or slow down their lessons.

NCPSO’s claim that “over 80 percent of Michigan voters believe that certain types of students should have access to full-time virtual public schools” is reinforced in the closing of the letters, “I am sure that school administrators and union lobbyists will tell you that the existing public school system provides the perfect solution for every Michigan student, but I am here to tell you that isn’t true.”

It’s clear that cyber schools supporters don’t hesitate to distort the truth and play on emotions. But we have facts and research on our side that can be found in MEA President Cook’s testimony before the House Education Committee and in the February issue of the MEA Voice. Use them to educate your state representatives on the impact unlimited cyber schools will have on public education in Michigan.