Right Direction: School funding increase appreciated 2016.06.29

We’re quick to criticize politicians in Lansing when it comes to education issues. They give us plenty to pick at.

Giving public dollars to private schools, taking money from local districts and passing it on to new charter schools, unfunded mandates, new paperwork demands, changes in testing programs, cutting funding, shifting funding, giving an increase in state aid and then taking it away in other measures—there’s no shortage of maneuvers from legislators to keep public education struggling.

Today, with the release of Michigan’s budget for school funding, we have to instead say “thank you” for what’s to come in the next school year. State aid will increase from $60 to $120 per pupil, varying with the financial status of particular districts.

For Morenci, that means an increase of $120 or about $80,000 for the year. And— surprise!—this year the figure is supposed to remain at that level. It’s not a case “take this increase but we’re reducing these other areas” for a net gain of nothing. 

The increase is deserving of applause, but we must admit that it’s a weak applause. Is $80,000 going to turn Morenci’s finances around? Of course not, nor will this year’s state aid come close to solving the financial difficulties of dozens of Michigan’s school districts that are on the brink of going under.

For many legislators, interest in charter schools and private schools seems to take precedent over the good old-fashioned public school, leaving education in Michigan in a fragile state.