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MI Parents: Keep the Public in Public Education

Proposals for organization & funding of K-12 education in Michigan

Prepared for State Board of Education, 13 May 2014

Pres. Austin, Supt. Flanagan, and members of the Board:

Preface

Michigan parents value their local public schools and appreciate the hard work being done by all those who bring life to public education. No institution is perfect, and local public education is no exception. But parents are painfully aware of the struggles faced by our schools, driven in part by policy decisions at the state level - which have reduced our direct investment in K-12 education - and in part by changes in the Michigan economy, which have put our families and communities under tremendous stress.

Michigan public education is not "broken;" it has weathered tremendous blows over the last 15 years that have reduced its ability to serve all students as well as we want it to. Any proposals to change the structure and funding of our public schools must address this fundamental fact. >>>>Click below to read more

Education is not like toothpaste

Special sections: 

Getting clear about "profit" in our public schools

No matter what some people say, local public schools don't make a "profit." But many charter school operators do. Is that what's best for our kids?

After years of quiet, malign neglect, the issue of profit in our public schools has become a topic of public discussion. What's the problem? The problem is that we are starting to see a separation between the "school" and the companies that run the schools and hire the people who actually teach our kids. That is where the issue of profit raises its ugly head. Because where there's profit, there's also an incentive to use the political process to create more.

Departments: 

Latest on the 2018-19 School Aid budget

Michigan School Aid Budget - state of play as of May 9

[Update: versions of the budget passed by each chamber.]

State budget timeline:

  • January: top state economists meet to make tax revenue projections (Consensus Revenue Estimation Conference)
  • February: Governor proposes a budget, based on the revenue estimates
  • March-April: Legislative appropriations subcommittees develop their own alternatives; horsetrading begins
  • May: top state economists reconvene to update revenue projections, which must be used to comply with balanced budget amendment
  • May-June: Using the May projections, Governor and legislative leaders hammer out agreement on basic budget numbers; appropriations committees adjust individual bills with new numbers. "Supplemental" spending bills adjust current year budget to revised revenue projections.
  • May-June: Individual spending bills are rolled into omnibus budget bills; final horsetrading before passage and Gov's signature

After an unusually long wait, both the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on school aid issued their alternatives to the budget proposed by Gov. Snyder in February. As expected, the two legislative chambers made moves to be more generous during this election year, though the details are not always so generous. When things like that happen, it's time to check your wallet.

The table below outlines some of the most important provisions of the budget, contrasting the Governor's, House, and Senate versions. As both subcommittee chairs usually say, their alternative bills are meant to "start discussions." For parents and other concerned citizens to have a voice in that discussion, we need to know what is going on and what is at stake. Use this table to familiarize yourself with the alternatives and then join the discussion with gusto. There's lots to choose from.

Things to note:

  • Diversions from the School Aid Fund to the community college and higher education budgets, which used to be covered by the general state budget before Gov. Snyder took office, represent almost $800 million or roughly $535 per pupil in lost K-12 funding;
  • House and Senate both commit to giving for-profit cyber charters the same funding as regular schools;
  • House continues the controversial payments to private schools for "state mandates" like background checks and fire drills;
  • House and Senate also continue to fund several "pet projects" of dubious merit; House confers a blessing on a particular preschool curriculum published by a for-profit company.

This is your government at work! But ask yourself: who, precisely, are they working for?

Don't be fooled by the pension smokescreen

The REAL issue here is that these bills would hang a $46 BILLION millstone around the necks of our public schools for the next four decades. And if recent budget moves are any indication, that cost will be borne solely by the students and staff of our "traditional" local public schools.

By the numbers: how the school aid budget proposals affect students

[With corrected data] Each year, we try to bring some clarity to the school aid budget debate by showing how it affects students around the state. How many students are going to receive how much of an increase (or cut)? How many students will have their school's funding keep up with inflation? How do the proposals shake out for low-income students in particular? The graphs attached to this article are one way of trying to answer that question.

Budget update: the perils of plenty

The state's top economists met last week to forecast state tax revenues for the next fiscal year, and they found both good and bad news. On the good side, projected revenues to the state School Aid Fund were higher than previous estimates, making some $153 million more available for the current fiscal year than estimated in January. Estimated revenues for next year (fiscal 2018) were also revised upward, adding almost $190 million to projected revenues, mainly on the strength of higher sales tax collections.

Got Jargon? Technical terms defined

The education funding and policy world in Michigan is filled with jargon and technical terms that make the whole subject confusing for non-specialists. We'll use this document to try to clarify some of those terms for parents who want to gain a better understanding of the K-21 policy debates in our state.  

Letter to US Senate on DeVos nomination for USED

Dear Chairman Alexander and members of the Committee,

We write to you today, on behalf of thousands of parent advocates across the State of Michigan, regarding the nomination of Mrs. Betsy DeVos to serve as United States Secretary of Education. Unfortunately, we cannot support Mrs. DeVos' nomination and ask that the Committee vote not to confirm her for the post.

As advocates for strong local public education in the State of Michigan, we have considerable experience with Mrs. DeVos' priorities and efforts in the field of public education. Sadly, her priorities do not match those of the people of Michigan and her efforts have not been in the best interests of our school-age children.

Interesting times

Dear Friends,

We are clearly living in interesting times. Last week's election results were completely unanticipated by polls and most pundits. As a result, this is a time of great uncertainty as we all strive to understand where events are likely to take us.

Inside:

  • Washington turmoil
  • Upcoming issues in Lansing
  • Please support MIPFS!

While many issues have been grabbing headlines in the last few days, our responsibility is to monitor education policy and that is why I am writing you today.

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