School Funding: Michigan's situation appears dour 2011.04.27
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is holding fast to his proposed cuts in K-12 education—cuts that could soon put a district like Morenci in the red.
He’s looking for districts to offer more courses on-line (that’s been done here), to share administrators (that’s been done here), to privatize some services (that’s been done here) and to reduce staff benefits (some of that’s been done, also).
So where does that leave Morenci? It’s left to face the brunt of the governor’s cuts while having already taken his suggestions for operating with more efficiency. Districts that didn’t already make cut after cut in recent years will have some fat to trim. Morenci has been working at it for years—first avoiding reductions that directly effected the classroom—and now it’s getting pretty lean.
It’s clear the new governor wants Michigan’s schools to function at a higher level, to be among the very best in the country. But his approach, to shift nearly $900 million to community colleges, doesn’t sound like improvement in K-12.
Forcing layoffs, increasing class size, reducing teacher benefits to make teaching a less desirable career path—how will this make us better?
Perhaps this only makes sense if the governor wants to shock school districts. Starve them into making change, and sacrifice two or three classes of students in the meantime while all the changes shake out.
We spoke to a state legislator recently whose first response was to blame Pres. Obama. Rather than showing appreciation for the federal funds that helped districts make it through last year, it’s only seen as a problem now to deal with the absence of the extra money.
The massive cuts to education are accompanied by very substantial reductions to business taxes, reducing the revenue available for schools.
The governor’s plan might make the state more attractive for business, but will families want to move into a state with schools in financial turmoil? Will students earning teaching degrees choose Michigan as a good place to work and live, as if there really were teaching jobs available?
Sadly, several legislators want to go even deeper than Gov. Snyder by slashing benefits for teachers and weakening unions.
Government has become such a dirty word. Maybe we should just remove public from education and we can all pay tuition. “Progressive” is also on the hit list of un-American words, but don’t worry, the word “progressive” isn’t likely to be tied to the phrase “Michigan education” anytime soon.
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