Michigan's K-12 public school establishment is (once again) up in arms over "controversial" legislation to remove a minor restriction on private and home-school students who take advantage of existing “dual enrollment” programs to take a course at state colleges and universities. The Detroit Free Press reports: "Many in the K-12 community have raised concerns, primarily about the appropriateness of using public money for nonpublic students."

In fact, the “appropriateness” claim is merely the latest public school establishment attempt to protect its turf. Under current law, private and home-school students already get state support for dual enrollment. The proposed bill simply removes a requirement that to be eligible, they must enroll in at least one course provided by a public school district.

School districts get state money for nonpublic school students enrolled in those mandated single courses. In addition, the state covers the college tuition payments for dual enrollment students, but the money passes through the school district which, depending on the cost, usually gets to keep some.

This is not the only way the state legally assists private and home-school students; claims that it represents some type of "back door school vouchers" are intentionally misleading exaggerations. Nonpublic school students already have access to public school transportation systems, can concurrently enroll part-time in "nonessential" public school courses, and can participate in public school extracurricular activities.

From a broader perspective, it's hard to justify not supporting any high school students in Michigan who want to take advantage of dual enrollment opportunities at state-funded colleges and universities. That is, of course, unless the real goal is protecting a special interest’s turf rather than doing what’s right for Michigan’s young people.