Friday, January 25, 2013

Open Letter to Senator Rick Jones on K-12 Funding Resolution

Dear Senator Jones:

I realize I do not reside in your district nor is my school district located there, but I wanted to pass along my gratitude for your courage in proposing a joint resolution to "require that all local school districts receive the same amount of total state and local per pupil revenue for school operating purposes." I believe that Chris Andrews from The Bridge Magazine expressed it very well today when he wrote, "David Arsen, professor of educational administration at MSU, said the state's first funding priority should be for an inflation adjustment to the per-pupil grant, something that hasn't happened in several years. He said the cuts over the past several years have reduced the quality of education that Michigan students receive." ~ How does Michigan rank on spending for K-12 schools?, Mlive.com.

I hope that others in the state legislature and Governor Snyder himself would sign on to your initiative to raise the equality of funding for Michigan's public school system, but at the same time, I encourage you and others to look beyond equality to a more meaningful measure of equity that ensures our urban, low-income, special needs, and ELL students have the same advantages, material supports, quality teaching and other necessities to compete with their suburban and more affluent peers. I would like to suggest that Michigan undertake a study similar to one by APA Consulting that costed out public K-12 education in Pennsylvania not too long ago (emphasis added 1/3/15). It used an extensive process to set an equitable funding level based on the needs of particular students. This makes much more sense than Michigan's current funding formula that doesn't take into account that every child in every public school district is being held to the same academic standards regardless of financial resources available to support him or her along their quest.

The Pennsylvania study is available on the APA Consulting website at http://www.apaconsulting.net/reports.php. I encourage you, your staff, and fellow Senators to review it and consider a similar study in Michigan.

Thank you again for your support of public education. On a side note, one of our most esteemed alumni, Deb Traxinger, is a science teacher at Grand Ledge High School. Deb was a standout basketball player at Lee High School and Michigan State University.

I hope you don't mind but I have forwarded a copy of this letter to Senator Mark Jansen who represents our district.

Best wishes for the coming legislative session.

David Britten
Lieutenant Colonel, USA, Retired
Superintendent of Schools