Thursday, May 28, 2015

Take Action on State School Aid Fund Today!

I just got this from Michigan Parents for Schools:

Dear Friends,
Once again, we wait to see what kind of funding our community K-12 schools will receive next year. All we have to go on are the three alternate plans produced earlier this yearOnce again, we wait for key lawmakers to emerge from secret talks in the proverbial "smoke-filled rooms" and tell us what's best for our schools. It's been a long time since parents have had a direct voice in those talks. But here we are - we are watching, and we vote.
Since it's hard to know what details are being negotiated, it's hard for us to advocate for one thing over another. We know that there will be no "surprise bump" in school aid revenue next year, which in recent years has allowed the legislature to appear generous at the last minute. So maybe it's time that we set down what we believe and what we want for our schools.
1) It's time to stop re-slicing the school funding pie, and instead make sure the pie is large enough for schools to do what we want them to do. Every school district should see its funding keep up with rising costs, and at a very minimum keep up with inflation. None of the three earlier budget proposals would do this. We need to restore the cuts made to school aid over the last decade, and we need to do so in a fair way.
2) Equal isn't always equitable. Some students need more help than others, and we need to make sure our schools can give all students the help they need. Our school funding system should offer more help where it's needed, and not at the expense of goal #1 above.
3) We know there are meaningful steps that can be taken to improve all schools. We've been discussing some measures to help all children become enthusiastic readers and others to provide the professionals who teach our children with feedback and support to refine their craft. And we don't just mean more testing. Whatever programs we choose as a state must be based on solid research and need to have their costs covered by increased funding - not by carving out existing funds.
4) Lastly, we've been flying blind for years, setting state school funding without checking to see if it was adequate. There is a law on the books which will require the state to conduct a study to see what it costs for schools to do everything we're asking of them. Our leaders should have the courage to perform that study, and not sweep it under the rug as some have recently suggested.
These are our basic principles. There is a lot of detail behind them, but this list covers the core ideas. Let's send a message to our lawmakers - it's time to stop playing clever games with school funding and instead do right by the children and communities of this state!
Thanks for making a difference,
Steve Norton
Michigan Parents for Schools

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