The long-awaited study of education funding in Michigan was released today, and puts in black and white what we’ve known in our classrooms for years: school funding in Michigan is woefully insufficient and grievously inequitable.
The study was funded by the state as a result of legislation from 2014, which was championed by AFT Michigan and the Michigan Education Association and authored by former State Reps. Brandon Dillon and Ellen Cogen Lipton.
AFT Michigan and MEA issued the following statement regarding the study:
Adequacy Study Reveals ‘Shameful’ State of Education Funding in Michigan
Presidents of MEA and AFT-Michigan urge lawmakers to heed recommendations of new education funding study
LANSING — Today’s release of a study examining education funding in Michigan provides solid evidence that Michigan has failed to adequately fund public schools to achieve optimal student performance.
The study, conducted by the firm Augenblick, Palaich and Associates of Denver, determined that “notably successful” districts should have at least an $8,667 per pupil foundation grant. A “notably successful” district is defined in the study as one that meets above-average performance standards. Currently, the lowest-funded districts in Michigan receive approximately $1,100 less per pupil.
“The adequacy study released today proves what many of us in public education have been saying for years: Michigan’s education funding is inadequate, and it’s harming student performance,” said Steve Cook, president of the Michigan Education Association. “It is not a coincidence that the academically high-performing districts are also the highest-funded districts in the state.”
The study notes that 89 percent of Michigan school districts are funded below the notably successful threshold.
“We demand excellence from our teachers and we demand high achievement from our students, yet we fail to adequately fund our public schools to give those teachers and students a fair chance to achieve those goals,” Cook said.
American Federation of Teachers Michigan President David Hecker had this to say about the study’s findings:
“While money doesn’t guarantee results, the severe underfunding of Michigan schools — especially acute in urban districts with higher rates of special needs and English language learners — puts Michigan students at an extreme disadvantage,” he said “Considering we were once one of the best funded public education systems in the country, our current ranking (#38) is nothing short of shameful.”
The report specifically acknowledges the need for additional funding for districts with higher rates of special needs students.
“This study highlights the failure of our state to live up to the promise of a high-quality, equitable education for all students,” Hecker said. “We know poverty significantly impedes learning, and the study shows that providing equitable educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged students requires additional investment. It is clear that we are shortchanging students across the board and students from disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately harmed.”
Both Cook and Hecker are urging the legislature to move quickly and act on the report’s findings so that Michigan students can have the resources they need to compete in both higher education and today’s job market.
The Detroit Free Press reported on the study and posted the report in its entirety here.