“Study after study shows our kids are falling behind,” said John Austin, State Board of Education President. “They all tell us we are not adequately funding student learning and providing the support to teachers and educators to do their job. It’s time we get serious about financing education in Michigan.”
Austin noted that Katie Haycock, director of the widely respected national organization Education Trust described Michigan’s once proud education system as in “freefall” at the Governor’s Education Commission last week. “It is very clear why we are dropping in education compared to other states,” said Austin. “High-performing states like Massachusetts doubled real spending on education and teacher training in return for higher expectations and greater accountability.” The study reviewed by the SBE Tuesday also recommended significant increases in funding for poor students, non-english learners and special needs students.
“We’ve made the same reforms as Massachusetts,” Austin said, pointing to Michigan’s rigorous content standards for students, teacher evaluation, and school accountability systems. “But to date, Gov. Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature have refused to back our learning standards and greater demands on educators with investment in our schools and support for our educators to improve their skills. Instead the Legislature promotes gimmicks like online only schools and an “anything goes” charter school policy that fails to educate children, particularly those most vulnerable, but does succeed in putting our tax dollars in the pockets of for-profit educators.”
Austin also called for Snyder to drop his appeal of a June court ruling that found the state’s 3% forced payroll deduction for public school employees unconstitutional. “Rather than invest in our frontline educators, Gov. Snyder continues to waste tax dollars to prevent the return of $550 million to public school employees that was illegally taken from their retirement accounts,” said Austin. “We can put Michigan’s education system back where it belongs, the envy of the nation. But only by investing in and supporting our schools, students and educators.”