Letter: School adequacy studies critical

In recent years, state legislatures, state education departments and advocacy groups in more than 30 states have sponsored education adequacy studies to objectively determine the funding levels needed to educate all children to high standards. These professional studies have introduced transparency and rigor to a previously opaque and often arbitrary process.

Providing lawmakers with the very best, most accurate and most reliable data is an imperative first step before any debate on improving public schools occurs.

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PRESS RELEASE: SEMCOG hails work of School Finance Research Collaborative

Southeast Michigan Council of Governments report supports effort to reexamine how Michigan funds its public schools

DETROIT, Mich. — The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) today announced its support of the School Finance Research Collaborative’s efforts to reexamine how Michigan’s public schools are funded to best serve all students. SEMCOG, which represents Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, endorses the Collaborative’s work in its new report, Providing Quality Education for All Students: A Comprehensive Approach

“The support of SEMCOG, representing all of Southeast Michigan, is a major endorsement of the School Finance Research Collaborative’s mission to help all public school students achieve and succeed, regardless of their circumstances,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Oakland Schools superintendent and Collaborative member. “This new report signals that key Southeast Michigan stakeholders recognize a top-notch public school education is essential to prepare all students for college and successful careers, and to continue Michigan’s economic comeback.”

The Collaborative, a broad-based and diverse group of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, business leaders and education experts from Metro Detroit to the U.P., is supporting a new school funding adequacy study. The study, which is now underway, is using multiple methodologies to determine the true cost of educating all students.

“In our study of Michigan’s public schools, it quickly became apparent that our current school funding system is broken and obsolete, and that we must return to the drawing board to prepare all students for the 21st century workforce,” said Donald Hubler, co-chairman of the SEMCOG Task Force. “The Collaborative will provide Michigan policymakers with the best, most complete and most accurate information needed to set all students on a path toward bright futures.”

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

PRESS RELEASE: Renowned student achievement expert joins School Finance Research Collaborative

Dr. Randall Eberts, Upjohn Institute for Employment Research president, brings expertise in academic success research to school funding group

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Dr. Randall Eberts, President of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and a pioneer in student achievement analysis, has joined the School Finance Research Collaborative, the Collaborative announced today.

“I look forward to lending my experience and expertise in securing the best, most comprehensive data on student achievement to the School Finance Research Collaborative,” Eberts said. “Over the past several years, it has become evident that the way we fund Michigan’s public schools is obsolete, and we must take a fresh approach so all students have the opportunity to succeed after graduation, whether that means college, technical training, apprenticeships or jobs.”

In his current role, Eberts studies factors that contribute to student academic achievement, as well as the effects of collective bargaining and education policy decisions on student performance. Before joining the Upjohn Institute in 1993, he was assistant vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Eberts was previously the senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is a former associate professor of economics at the University of Oregon, and a former visiting professor at Texas A&M University.

“Through his research, Randall helps prepare all public school students to achieve and succeed, which is the biggest challenge we face in Michigan in the ever-evolving and global 21st century workforce,” said Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan and a Collaborative member. “He has seen first-hand how we must have the very best and most reliable data to provide a high-quality public school education that prepares all students for bright futures.”

Eberts received his doctorate in economics from Northwestern University.

The School Finance Research Collaborative is a broad-based and diverse group of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, business leaders and education experts from Metro Detroit to the U.P. who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.

The Collaborative is bringing together top industry experts to reexamine the state’s approach to funding K-12 schools to ensure all Michigan public school students are fully prepared for college and careers.

The Collaborative is supporting a school adequacy study using multiple methodologies which is now underway. The study, expected to be completed in early 2018, will provide policymakers with the best, most complete and most accurate information on what it truly costs to educate all Michigan public school students.

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

PRESS RELEASE: Renowned advocate for Detroit children joins School Finance Research Collaborative

Skillman Foundation CEO Tonya Allen brings experience serving city’s underserved students in taking a fresh look at public school funding

DETROIT, Mich. – Tonya Allen, President and CEO of the Skillman Foundation and a recognized tireless advocate for Detroit and the city’s undeserved children, has joined the School Finance Research Collaborative, the Collaborative announced today.

“I am honored and excited for the opportunity to bring the voice of Detroit’s children, particularly those facing economic, social and other hardships, to the School Finance Research Collaborative as we take a fresh look at how we fund Michigan’s public schools,” Allen said. “It’s clear in Detroit that the way we fund our schools is broken and must be revamped to serve students in all corners of the Mitten, regardless of their circumstances. It is critical that the voices of all Michigan students, from the inner cities to the suburbs, to our rural areas and the U.P., are heard as we reexamine how we fund our schools so all students can achieve and succeed.”

For two decades, Allen has led innovative, results-driven plans to improve her native Detroit and its public schools. At the Skillman Foundation, she has helped develop and design key education improvement strategies, including Excellent Schools Detroit, Michigan Future Schools and the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren. She was the driving force behind the 10-year, $100 million Good Neighborhoods Initiative, a program that works toward positive change in Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Before joining the Skillman Foundation in 2004, Allen worked as a program officer for both the Charles Stewart Mott and Thompson-McCully foundations. She founded and was executive director of the Detroit Parent Network, an organization dedicated to improving educational options for children. Allen also led the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Rebuilding Communities Initiative in Detroit.

“Tonya Allen’s commitment and passion for the education of children speaks for itself and has for a long time,” said Jim Stapleton, Detroit area businessman, Regent Emeritus at Eastern Michigan University and a member of the Collaborative. “To have her lend her incredible reputation to our effort only speaks to the importance of the work we’re doing.”

Allen has received statewide and national recognition for her philanthropic work, including being named to the Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40 List” and receiving Rolling Stone Magazine’s Brick Award given to activists under age 30. She was named a Detroit News Michiganian of the Year in 2015, a Crain’s Detroit Business “Newsmaker of the Year” in 2015 and one of the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “5 Nonprofit Innovators to Watch” in 2013.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s degrees in social work and public health, all from the University of Michigan.

The School Finance Research Collaborative is a broad-based and diverse group of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, business leaders and education experts from Metro Detroit to the U.P. who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.

The Collaborative is bringing together top industry experts to reexamine the state’s approach to funding K-12 schools to ensure all Michigan public school students are fully prepared for college and careers.

The Collaborative is supporting a school adequacy study using multiple methodologies which is now underway. The study, expected to be completed in early 2018, will provide policymakers with the best, most complete and most accurate information on what it truly costs to educate all Michigan public school students.

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

Opinion: Find out what it costs to educate a child

As superintendent of Bloomfield Hills Schools, I oversee one of Michigan’s well-funded public school districts. I am proud of our schools and students.

But it doesn’t make sense that all schools are funded through a broken, obsolete system that is unable to account and adjust for local district circumstances. Each Michigan public school district faces unique challenges.

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