Letter: School funding remains grave problem

As project director for the School Finance Research Collaborative, I read with great interest the Detroit News column by Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, criticizing the recent Michigan State University report that determined Michigan is not adequately or fairly funding its schools.

Last year, the collaborative produced Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study, which has provided a roadmap to fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach and making it fair for all students. Our current approach treats all students as if they have identical needs. Quite the opposite, there is no one-size-fits all approach to educating our kids.

The School Finance Research Collaborative study determined the base cost of educating a child to Michigan’s academic standards, with additional funding considerations for special education,English Language Learners, students living in poverty and Career and Technical Education programs.

Right now, many of our schools are struggling to meet state performance standards, and students will only continue to fall behind if we don’t provide the support services necessary to prepare them for college and the modern workforce.

We don’t stand alone in its call for a new, fairer school funding approach that meets the needs of all students. Michigan’s school funding adequacy report of 2016, a recent report by Business Leaders for Michigan, and former Gov. Rick Snyder’s 21st Century Education Commission report all identified school adequacy as a key factor in improving student performance across our state.

In 2017, former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s Special Education Funding Subcommittee Report determined Michigan underfunds special education by roughly $700 million every year.

Now is the time for Michigan to invest in the success of all students, regardless of income, zip code, learning challenges or other circumstances. We owe our kids no less.

Wanda Cook-Robinson

program director

School Finance Research Project

Originally published in the Detroit News (2/5/19): https://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/letters/2019/02/05/abortion-school-funding/2766879002/