Public Schools and State Spending

On Sunday, January 29, 2017, The Detroit Free Press ran a long article about public schools written by Nancy Kaffer. I agree with almost all of the points she makes. It’s well worth reading the whole thing, and studying the map of schools which the State Reform Office has said should, according to their performance standard, be closed. Here are a few pithy excerpts from the article:

“… the state’s failure to make the city’s schools right — yeah, this one is on the state, which created the charter system and has run Detroit’s public schools for most of this century — is the biggest stumbling block in Detroit’s still-tenuous recovery …”

and

“If you measure a plan by its viability, by its own standards, the State Reform Office’s plan isn’t a plan at all. It’s another in a long line of fake solutions for real problems — but that’s essentially the unofficial motto of school reform in Michigan.”

and

“… the promise of school choice has been empty on two fronts. When the state was debating its charter school law back in the mid-1990s, advocates said that charters would provide quality options for parents in cities like Detroit and that the competition charters introduced into the educational landscape would improve traditional public schools.

As the map [part of the article, not reproduced here] shows, neither has happened.”

and finally,

“… none of the state’s ill-conceived reform efforts accepts the reality of what it will take to turn a struggling school around.

The schools on the state’s list are concentrated in high-poverty areas. That’s not surprising, because there’s a strong correlation between poverty and low academic performance.

Pragmatic reform would understand that, and accept that the state must devote more resources to schools that educate children living in poverty — just as the state’s own education funding study, completed last year, showed.”

The state legislature is currently having a big discussion about rebuilding “infrastructure,” by which they seem to mean how much money should be allocated to rebuilding roads and bridges. Public schools are in fact critical infrastructure for our society, at least as much as roads and bridges. Since the budget of the state is limited, every dime that is spent on roads and bridges is a dime that will not be spent on schools. The debate about public spending should not just be about roads and bridges ($4.1 billion out of a total 2017 budget of $54.9 billion). The debate should include schools and prisons and all the rest of the items in the $54.9 billion the state will spend.

You can look at the budget Snyder has proposed at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/budget/FY17_Exec_Budget_513960_7.pdf
and form your own opinion about how the money should be spent. When you know what your priorities are, be sure to tell your State Senator and State Representative: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(1ctsfujshglylrbrqpeadejd))/mileg.aspx?page=legislators

[photo from http://www.goobingdetroit.com/post/138053792161/if-you-are-interested-in-the-state-of-public]

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